This landmark two-volume set is the richest and most important extant collection of information about traditional Cherokee culture. Because many of the Cherokees’ own records were lost during their forced removal to the west, the Payne-Butrick Papers are the most detailed written source about the Cherokee Nation during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
In the 1830s John Howard Payne, a respected author, actor, and playwright, and Daniel S. Butrick, an American Board missionary, hastened to gather information on Cherokee life and history, fearing that the cultural knowledge would be lost forever. Butrick, who was conversant with the Cherokees’ culture and language after having spent decades among them, recorded what elderly Cherokees had to say about their lives. The collection also contains much of the Cherokee leaders’ correspondence, which had been given to Payne for safekeeping.
This amazing repository of information covers nearly all aspects of traditional Cherokee culture and history, including politics, myths, early and later religious beliefs, rituals, marriage customs, ball play, language, dances, and attitudes toward children. It will inform our understanding and appreciation of the history and enduring legacy of the Cherokees.