Complexity of history

Went to check on a date while reading a story, and came across a bunch of fascinating information about Major Ridge, a Cherokee leader in the early 19th century. The first mention of him that I encountered was in an article about the Trail of Tears, which said (I didn't know this) that the US Supreme Court had "ruled that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign," and thus that the US could not remove the Cherokee from North Georgia unless they agreed in a treaty to be removed. Ridge was a leader of a very small minority among the Cherokee Nation, and he signed the treaty allowing removal; the US Senate ratified that treaty by a single vote.

Which is already much more complex than I'd ever heard the Trail of Tears was; my vague memories were simply that it was yet another atrocity of early Americans, forcing the Cherokee out of their homes and land. I had no idea that there were those among the Cherokee who wanted this removal. So I followed the link to find out more about Ridge, and it turns out he was not the straightforward betrayer of his people that the simple history makes him sound. As a young man, he grew sick of combat; later, his wife acquired a spinning wheel (in a push by President Washington to get the Indians using European technology), and Ridge was so impressed by this that he started making friends with settlers. I get the impression that he was basically an assimilationist. The article ends: "As brilliant a statesman and politician [as] Ridge had been, he is forever doomed to [be remembered as] betrayer of [the] Cherokee Nation. No other Cherokee has [had] a greater [effect] on the tribe."

Nothing is as simple as it looks.

(Standard disclaimer: reading two Web pages does not constitute proper research; I don't know how accurate the information in those pages is.)

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