Indigenous Diplomacy and British Romanticism During the Removal Crisis


On July 8, 1829, just months before Andrew Jackson announced to Congress the Indian Removal policy that would lead to the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Phoenixnewspaper published Felicia Hemans’s poem “The Indian with His Dead Child” in its poetry section. With its lines about a grave “[b]y the white man’s path defiled,” the poem provided a poignant commentary on the Cherokees’ looming alienation from their traditional land. Sixteen Hemans poems appeared in the newspaper between April 1828 and December 1829, making her the most prolific poet in the CherokeePhoenixat this time, and thus a major factor in the transmission of British Romantic poetry and its values to the readers of the first Native American newspaper.

This paper considers the way in which Hemans’s poetry, and British Romanticism more generally, might connect to the wider culture of 1802s and 1830s Cherokee communication by situating these poems within the diplomatic discourse of the Cherokee Nation internally, as well as at the state and federal levels. It examines what happens when we reintegrate poetry into diplomatic discourse, particularly Indigenous discourse, and what we might learn about British poetry by thinking of it within the frameworks of Indigenous diplomacy.


Nikki Hessell is Associate Professor at the School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies at Victoria University Wellington. 

Date & time

Tue 01 Oct 2019, 4.30–5.45pm


Theatrette (2.02), Sir Roland Wilson Building, Building #120, McCoy Circuit, ANU


Nikki Hessell (Victoria University Wellington)

Event series


Penny Brew
02 6125 4357


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