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The Cherokee Lottery

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For the first time in poetic form, The Cherokee Lottery treats one of the greatest tragedies in American history, the forced removal of the Southern Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. When gold was discovered on Cherokee land in northern Georgia in 1828, the U.S. Government passed the Removal Act, and 18,000 Cherokees, along with other southern tribes--Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks--were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma territory. Herded along under armed guard, they traveled in bitter cold weather and as many as a quarter died on what became known as "The Trail of Tears." In powerful poetry of epic proportions, which Harold Bloom has called his best work, Smith paints a stark and vivid picture of this ordeal and its principal participants, among them Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, and Osceola, the Seminole chief.
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Table of Contents

Journey to the Interior The Eagle Warrior: An Invocation The Cherokee Lottery The Trail The Talking Leaves: Sequoyah's Alphabet Old Cherokee Woman's Song The Crossing The Pumpkin Field The Buzzard Man Christmas in Washington with the Choctaw Chief At the Theater: The Death of Osceola The Players The Choctaw Stick-Ball Game Song of the Dispossed The Buffalo Hunter Sitting Bull in Serbia The Burning of Malmaison The Artist and His Pencil: A Search for the Purebloods Full Circle: The Connecticut Casino Acknowledgments and Notes Picture Credits

About the Author

William Jay Smith (born 22 April 1918) is an American poet. He was appointed the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1968 to 1970.


"William Jay Smith has been one of our best poets for more than sixty years, and The Cherokee Lottery is his masterwork; taut, harrowing, eloquent, and profoundly memorable." --Harold Bloom|"[This] is a powerful collage of occasions having to do with the "removal" of the southern trives to the west, and each glimpse is made striking and poignant by the pen of William Jay Smith. The book tells much that I had not known, and tells it with compelling art." --Richard Wilbur|"[William Jay Smith's] exploration of a shameful episode in American history, in verse moved by irony and humor as well as by tragedy, is a major work by one of our most accomplished poets."--Daniel Hoffman

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