July 03, 2006
More on the problems with Little Tree
The Education of Little Tree and Forrest Carter
Huhndorf explains how this helps to reinforce Carter's own white supremacist views: "By poignantly relating this story [of the Trail of Tears] and by defining Natives, quite literally, as children of nature, the narrative raises an important problem: the legitimacy of white Southerners' claims to the lands previously occupied by the Cherokees and, by extension, white ownership of any Native lands. Like Gone to Texas, though, The Education of Little Tree immediately attempts to resolve this problem to the benefit of white Southerners by distorting historical facts. Those Cherokees who fled to the mountains during the removal, as the novel tells the story, found fast friends among the mountain folk . . . . [The novel] imagines a 'kinship' between the outlaw and the Natives: both Confederates and Indians ostensibly share both common values and a common enemy in the 'guvmint' that dispossesses and otherwise persecutes them . . . . these similarities between mountain folk and Indians ultimately render the former the proper heirs of Indian land and, in this particular case, the proper heirs even of Native cultures and identities as well" (152-53).