“Subjugation is what they are unacquainted with . . . there being no such thing as coercive Power among them.” - George Milliken Johnson about the Cherokee.
“Subjugation among them, they can’t be compelled to do any Thing nor oblige them to embrace any Party except [as] they please.” - Raymond Demere wrote in 1757.
"The Cherokees used the metaphor of seven directions to explain this emphasis: North, South, East, West, Up, Down, and Where You Are. The position of Where You Are put the individual at the center of her universe, with the other six directions dependent on her. While this symbolic position honored the individual as the star in her own universe, it also implied that she possessed the power and the opportunity to keep that universe in balance. The Cherokees viewed this balancing act as the product of lifelong self-discovery. To this end, they offered a tolerant environment for artistic, sexual, philosophical, and spiritual experimentation. To reflect this they also allowed children to change their names as they grew and explored themselves. An act of heroism, a discovered talent, a cultivated physical or spiritual trait, even a famous relative could be cause for name-changing. The community thereby encouraged the individual to define and redefine himself freely throughout the course of his life.
This concern for individual liberty translated into politics. The Great Law of Peace included a section akin to the U.S. Bill of Rights, protecting the freedom of worship, speech, and assembly. The Cherokees limited town size so that all citizens could have the opportunity to speak in each council session if they so desired. Both republics were gender-blind, allowing women and men the same opportunities to participate and, if elected, to lead. (Indeed, the Cherokee language had no gendered pronouns. “He speaks in council” and “she speaks in council” both translated as “a Cherokee speaks in council.”) This inclusiveness led to political equality under the constitutions. Divorce law and property law, for example, unlike its counterparts across the ocean, recognized no difference between men and women.
The value the Amerindians placed on the individual meant that the power of the group, be that the town, region, nation, or confederacy, had to remain limited. Participation was one check on the power of government. Control could not rest with one party or faction alone because any leader had to build a coalition to survive." - Clara Green (copied from a book at the public library at age 11.)