The Cherokee Diaspora: A History of Migration, Survival, and Pride

Time Period
1764 to 1824
1825 to 1860
Media Type
American Indian History
Gregory D. Smithers

On December 3, 2015, Gregory D. Smithers delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "The Cherokee Diaspora: A History of Migration, Survival, and Pride."

According to the U.S. Census, almost one million Americans self-identify as Cherokees. Wherever one travels in the United States, someone is likely to lay claim to a Cherokee ancestor somewhere in their family tree. In fact, travel as far afield as Scotland, Hawaii, or even Australia, and chances are you will meet someone who insists that they are descended from Cherokee forebears. How can so many people, scattered all over the world, claim to be Cherokee? Historian Gregory D. Smithers addresses this question in his new book, The Cherokee Diaspora. He reveals for the first time the origins of the Cherokee Diaspora. Smithers takes the reader back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to uncover the impact of migration and forced removal and the importance of land, tradition, culture, and language in defining what it meant to be Cherokee while living in diaspora. The story of the Cherokee Diaspora is a remarkable tale of bravery, innovation, and resilience.

Gregory Smithers, an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializes in Native American history. He is the author of The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

Want to listen to an audio-only version of this lecture? Listen now on Soundcloud.