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
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