Compiler Robert J. Conley’s encyclopedia on the Cherokees is not intended to be an exhaustive collection of information on the Cherokees but a quick reference tool. It achieves its goal; Conley, himself a Cherokee, covers many topics and people in this book.
The Cherokees are divided into three Federally recognized tribes or nations: the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokees, and the United Keetoowah Band. There are others who claim to be Cherokees but are not members of any of the three recognized nations.
After a short introduction to the Cherokee people, Conley presents many entries in the typical A-to-Z encyclopedia format. He covers people, like chiefs, celebrities, contemporary Indian scholars, artists; places; and cultural and political terminology, like clan names and institutions. A sampling includes Joe Byrd, Sequoyah, Cherokee language, ghigau, Longhair, Anna Mitchell, Jane Osti, John Ross, Redbird Smith, Joe Thornton, Echota, medicine, removal, and many other entries. Most of the entries, which vary in length, are about people. There are many black and white illustrations throughout the book, and Conley provides see references (there is no cross-referencing). A bibliographical essay concludes the encyclopedia.
Robert J. Conley, a member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, has written more than seventy books. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Midwestern University, Wichita Falls, Texas and has taught at several colleges and universities as an English professor and as a director of Native American Studies. He is the author of The Cherokee Nation: A History (February 2008), Cherokee Medicine Man (2007), Sequoyah (2002), The Peace Chief (2001), Medicine War (2001), and many other works of fiction and nonfiction. This encyclopedia is highly recommended as a quick reference on the Cherokees to those interested in general Native American studies or the Cherokees in particular. Conley’s forthcoming The Cherokee Nation: A History will be complemented by this encyclopedia.