In Monuments to Absence, Andrew Denson takes an innovative approach to the subject of Cherokee removal by exploring how and why people have commemorated it. In highlighting the long, and often surprising, history of memorializing the Trail of Tears, Denson makes an important contribution not only to the history of the Native South and to traditionally black-and-white studies of Southern memory, but also to the study of commemoration, memory, and public history in general.

The book begins with a robust overview of Cherokee removal and immediate memorialization. Denson then charts three phases of commemoration. In the 1920s and 1930s, newfound interest in Appalachia highlighted the region’s indigenous history. As southern boosters tempted tourists, they presented dramatic, tragic, and romantic tales of removal. North Carolina’s Eastern Band of Cherokees played a central role in much of this commemoration, yet this memory work...

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