How is the Heading “Cherokee” treated by LCSH?

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – September 2016

Question: How is the Heading “Cherokee” treated by LCSH?

Submitted By: Fred W. Hay, Appalachian State University

In addition to “Cherokee Indians” there are thirty-seven headings that begin with the word Cherokee. Of these twenty-eight are directly related

to the Native American group of that name.

Those which don’t refer to the people are

  • “Cherokee automobile (Not Subd Geog),”
  • “Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (S.C.),”
  • “Cherokee Group”
    • (Broader Terms: “Geology, Stratigraphic—Pennsylvanian” and “Groups (Stratigraphy)—Middle West”),
  • “Cherokee Hills Byway (Okla.),”
  • “Cherokee Lake (Tenn.),”
  • “Cherokee National Forest (Tenn.),”
  • “Cherokee Sewer Site (Iowa),”
  • “Cherokee Strip (Okla. And Kan.),”
  • “Cherokee Trail.”

Both “Cherokee” and “Cherokee Indians” are used to refer to the indigenous people of the Southeastern US and their exiled descendants in the West. The term “Cherokee” cannot stand alone but always serves as an adjective for describing a discreet subject related to the people (e.g., “Cherokee boys (May Subd Geog)”). There have been changes to replace “Cherokee Indians” with “Cherokee” (e.g., “Cherokee Indians—Art” to “Cherokee art”).

“Cherokee Indians (May Subd Geog)” may be modified by terms not inherent to Cherokee culture (note that “Cherokee culture” is not LCSH):

  • “Government Relations,”
  • “Land Tenure (May Subd Geog),”
  • “Legal Status, laws, etc. (May Subd Geog),”
  • “Mixed descent (May Subd Geog),”
  • “Relocation (May Subd Geog),”
  • “Taxation (May Subd Geog),”
  • “Treaties,” and “Wars, 1759-1761 (May Subd Geog)”
  • as well as by Free-floating Subdivisions (e.g., “Kinship,” “Cultural assimilation”).

Broader Terms for “Cherokee Indians” include:

  • “Five Civilized Tribes,”
  • “Indians of North America—Oklahoma,”
  • “Indians of North America—Southern States,”
  • “Iroquoian Indians.”

For “Cherokee—Mixed descent,” the Broader Term is:

  • “Racially mixed people—United States”

and for “Cherokee—Wars, 1759-1761,”:

  • “Indians of North America—Wars—1750-1815.”

There is also the heading:

  • “Cherokee Indians in literature (Not Subd Geog).”

Note: The former heading “Cheroki language” has been replaced by “Cherokee language.” The Cherokee language is part of the larger Iroquoian language family and there has been much speculation as to the interactions between these two peoples and if and how they are related.

Cherokee Indians can be subdivided by all free-floating subdivisions available under ethnic groups. For instance, LCSH has “Cherokee Indians—Antiquities” and “Cherokee Indians—Religion.” However, there are other topical subject aspects which do not free-float under ethnic groups and which must be established individually for each tribe. Therefore “Pueblo weavers” is part of LCSH, “Cherokee weavers” has not yet been established. The LC or a SACO library can establish this heading if they receive material on this subject. These are called “subject headings based on a pattern.” Examples of these types of subject headings already established for Cherokee Indians include;

  • “Cherokee baskets,”
  • “Cherokee law,”
  • “Cherokee women.”

Examples of these types of subject headings which are NOT established yet are:

  • “Cherokee weavers”
  • “Cherokee textile fabrics.”

There are seven LCSH with inverted headings where “Cherokee” modifies the primary subject  (e.g., “Folk songs, Cherokee”). There are also terms which formerly used “Cherokee” which have been superseded in LCSH with ones which don’t (e.g., “Cherokee Indian Removal, 1838-1839”—now “Trail of Tears, 1838-1839”).

It is interesting that LC has not yet created a heading for the popular casino on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina.