Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree


Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree

Alcohol and the Sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation

Izumi Ishii

Indians of the Southeast Series

278 pages


April 2008


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2008


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree examines the role of alcohol among the Cherokees through more than two hundred years, from contact with white traders until Oklahoma reached statehood in 1907. While acknowledging the addictive and socially destructive effects of alcohol, Izumi Ishii also examines the ways in which alcohol was culturally integrated into Native society and how it served the overarching economic and political goals of the Cherokee Nation.
Europeans introduced alcohol into Cherokee society during the colonial era, trading it for deerskins and using it to cement alliances with chiefs. In turn Cherokee leaders often redistributed alcohol among their people in order to buttress their power and regulate the substance’s consumption. Alcohol was also seen as containing spiritual power and was accordingly consumed in highly ritualized ceremonies. During the early-nineteenth century, Cherokee entrepreneurs learned enough about the business of the alcohol trade to throw off their American partners and begin operating alone within the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees intensified their internal efforts to regulate alcohol consumption during the 1820s to demonstrate that they were “civilized” and deserved to coexist with American citizens rather than be forcibly relocated westward. After removal from their land, however, the erosion of Cherokee sovereignty undermined the nation’s ongoing attempts to regulate alcohol. Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree provides a new historical framework within which to study the meeting between Natives and Europeans in the New World and the impact of alcohol on Native communities.

Author Bio

Izumi Ishii is a lecturer at the Institute for Language and Culture at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.


"Ishii has tackled the tricky topic of the evolving customs Cherokees developed to deal with alcohol, and has done so brilliantly."—C. R. Kasee, CHOICE 

"Ishii's work is an excellent historical account of the regulation of alcohol and the Cherokee Nation. . . . Professional historians and students of Cherokee history should read this book."—Bill Corbett, Chronicles of Oklahoma

"Ishii uses a combination of legal records, official correspondence, and personal papers to move beyond anthropological or sociological considerations of why indigenous people consumed alcohol and to reveal instead the impact of alcohol on the Cherokee Nation, not only in the personal lives of those who imbibed strong spirits, but also on the political fortunes of the Nation."—Fay A. Yarbrough, Journal of American Ethnic History

"But for a few notable exceptions, historians have failed to grapple with the complexity of the historically variable use, sale, and prohibition of alcohol. Izumi Ishii's Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree: Alcohol and the Sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation begins to correct this neglect by breaking free from stereotypes that have haunted previous historians and by focusing on the larger structural and political meaning of alcohol in one nation."—Kerry Wynn, Journal of Southern History

"Ishii's historicization of Cherokee drinking provides an interesting new interpretation of an old, widespread perception of Native America."—Rose Stremlau, Western Historical Quarterly

"Passionately and meticulously, Ishii has recognized and historicized Cherokee agency. . . . [Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree is] so compelling that it is a must read for general and scholarly audiences."—Rowena McClinton, American Historical Review

Table of Contents


Indians of the Southeast Series Preface


Chapter 1:  Alcohol Arrives

Chapter 2:  A Struggle for Sovereignty

Chapter 3:  The Moral High Ground

Chapter 4:  Alcohol and Dislocation

Chapter 5:  A Nation Under Siege

Chapter 6:  The Feminization and Nationalization of the Cherokee Temperance Movement 




Also of Interest