Hobomok and Other Writings on Indians

The Silent Retreat: Indian Removals as Represented by Hobomok and The Pioneers

The Silent Retreat: Indian Removals as Represented by Hobomok and The Pioneers

The historicity of the Indian removals that took place during the 19th century in the United States is one that has been embellished in literature and dramatized in film. The most poignant of the Indian removals came during the presidency of Martin Van Buren, who enforced a treaty that led to the Trail of Tears—a grueling migration that led to the death of nearly 4,000 Cherokee Indians. The policy aimed at pushing Native American tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River is frequently represented as incessantly violent and brutal, and though atrocities did occur, many leaders reluctantly and despondently agreed to treaties and quietly retreated into the wilderness of the west without any bloodshed.

The novels Hobomok, by Lydia Maria Child, and The Pioneers, by James Fenimore Cooper, both conclude with the image of a solitary Native American peacefully recoiling from white culture. To some extent, the endings reflect the silent tragedy of the warless—yet coerced nonetheless—flight of thousands of Native Americans during the 1800s, though the dignified departures of Hobomok and Natty Bumpo do not align with the shameful and heartbreaking exit of...

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