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Publisher's Summary

With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Choctaw people began their journey over the Trail of Tears from their homelands in Mississippi to the new lands of the Choctaw Nation. Suffering a death rate of nearly 20 percent due to exposure, disease, mismanagement, and fraud, they limped into Indian Territory, or, as they knew it, the Land of the Dead (the route taken by the souls of Choctaw people after death on their way to the Choctaw afterlife). Their first few years in the new nation affirmed their name for the land, as hundreds more died from whooping cough, floods, starvation, cholera, and smallpox.

Living in the Land of Death depicts the story of Choctaw survival, and the evolution of the Choctaw people in their new environment. Culturally, over time, their adaptation was one of homesteads and agriculture, eventually making them self-sufficient in the rich new lands of Indian territory. Along the Red River and other major waterways, several Choctaw families of mixed heritage built plantations, and imported large crews of slave labor to work cotton fields. They developed a sub-economy based on interaction with the world market. However, the vast majority of Choctaws continued with their traditional subsistence economy that was easily adapted to their new environment.

The immigrant Choctaws did not, however, move into land that was vacant. The U.S. government, through many questionable and some outright corrupt extralegal maneuvers, chose to believe it had gained title through negotiations with some of the peoples whose homelands and hunting grounds formed Indian Territory. Many of these indigenous peoples reacted furiously to the incursion of the Choctaws onto their rightful lands. They threatened and attacked the Choctaws and other immigrant Indian Nations for years.

©2004 Donna L. Akers (P)2016 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"With graceful writing, Akers beautifully seamlessly incorporates Choctaw language and worldview into her analysis and announces herself as an important new indigenous voice in historical scholarship." (Journal of Indigenous Nations Studies)
"Akers, a member of the Choctaw Nation, clearly posits that she is providing an "insider's" perspective and intends to show that Choctaw culture survived the juggernaut of assimiliation… She achieved her objective in a commendable fashion… a balanced and readable account." (Journal of the West)

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  • Jan
  • United States
  • 05-25-16

A proud people more honest than the government

Apparent thesis documenting the beliefs and history of a people who populated the North American SouthEast until forced to leave by government bigots. I used to think that Jefferson was somewhat honorable, "All men are created equal" and all that. However, it seems that he was no better than any other crook, and ordered his agents to cheat these and other indigenous peoples out of their rightful properties. Already known is the revenge/hatred by Jackson of all indigenous people and the horrors that he forced upon them.
This study goes into the matriarchal society of the Choctaw, and how their belief system clashed with the bigoted society moving into and across North America, as well as the hostilities from the people who were effectively dispossessed by their banishment to an inhospitable land so alien to their homeland.
There is much information presented that is probably unfamiliar to most people who were not intimately affected by what happened to the Choctaw.
This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBOOM.
The narrator gave her presentation as if a lecture, and therefore spoke more slowly so as to enhance the listener's ease in notetaking.
Addendum: In 1847 during the Irish potato famine, the Choctaw Nation of Native Americans donated money to assist with famine relief. The Irish have just completed a monument of appreciation. “These people were still recovering from their own injustice. They put their hands in their pockets and raised $1m in today’s money. They helped strangers. It’s rare to see such generosity. It had to be acknowledged."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very Dry History of the Choctaw

What did you like best about Living in the Land of Death? What did you like least?

I liked the origination story of the Choctaw people. I had never heard it. I find it intriguing that traveling for 43 years to a sacred forever home is part of their origination tale. It is unusual in that the actual origin is unknown or not considered important enough to pass down. There were many interesting details in this story. One comes to know them well because they are reiterated more than once. This detracts from the story.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Some aspects of the history are fascinating. The U.S. strategy of getting Choctaw leaders into debt and then trading debt forgiveness for land was new to me. The 53 minute introduction was a critique of other historical treatments of the Choctaw nation. While it is important material, it needed an editor. It could have been covered in half the time. This is the definition of extreme academic padding.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Sally Martin?

Not unless she was on crack. The narrator has a relaxed voice and gives an insipid delivery of a very repetitive book. The audio quality was good and she reads accurately, but the combination of the repetitive material and her calm, slightly monotonous voice kept putting me to sleep.

Was Living in the Land of Death worth the listening time?

Yes, it represents a little know area of history and some parts of it are very interesting.

Any additional comments?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Living in the land of Death

This is a long, but interesting history of the other histories and how they were compiled about the Choctaw and 4 other nations recognized by the government at the time.Sadly a lot of the misinformation was second hand because no on did first hand interviews.I was amazed and appalled at much of the info.Sally Martin did a fine job narrating.I was provided this book free by the author,narrator or publisher.

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  • Reg
  • McKinney, TX
  • 03-17-17

Trail of Tears History

This is a thorough, comprehensive history of the Choctaw nation from 1830-1860 and beyond. There is history related to the social structure and culture of the tribe; along with its traditions and chief figures. Foremost, it details the time period leading up to the relocation and resettlement of tribal lands from the east coast to west of the Mississippi river. I particularly enjoyed learning about some of the main figures of the tribe, the matrilineal lineage of the family, how it was women who made major decisions , how they fought for girls to be educated along with boys, and how the Choctaw Nation slowly recovered not only from being uprooted and unceremoniously dumped into hostile and barren territory but also from disease and natural disasters that almost wiped them out. Another part I found very informative was how the U.S. government allotted the Indian nations lands but did not respect their way of life or their ingrained culture and social structure. If they were going to make the Choctaws their own nation within the U.S., there should have been more respect given to how the society worked. Instead, the church and government worked together to undermine the native culture and traditions and replace it with ‘western’ culture and U.S. values.

There is no doubt that the U.S. was set on taking Indian land. There is no doubt that the Indian nations were not treated fairly or with respect by Andrew Jackson or anybody else in government at that time and for many years before or afterwards. There is no doubt that the pervasive message to the tribes was to assimilate or be forcibly assimilated. There is no doubt that after the ‘relocation’ the tribes were treated despicably by the government and the courts.

My one criticism of this history is that there is absolutely no responsibility taken by the tribes themselves. Over and over again, the use of alcohol is used to get them drunk before ‘negotiations’ take place. This is given as a reason why many actions were taken by the tribe. But their own culture taught moderation in all things. Yet alcohol was overused continuously and after a couple of times, wouldn’t it have been a better strategy to abstain when going to these ‘negotiations’ so no blame could be placed on alcohol later for bad deals? The truth is their own people sold the tribes out time and again. There is no discussion about the many times tribe members sold tribal property and land for a pittance of what it was worth. After recounting these horrible actions, the author always places blame squarely on the U.S. representatives and puts no responsibility on the tribes for not learning to avoid alcohol when negotiating. I would have liked to see the author take a more balanced approach of recognizing the U.S. duplicity and steadfast intent on taking tribal lands and yet be able to see tribal shortcomings as well and talk about where their own strategy, or lack thereof, steered them wrong and how they did not appear to learn from their interactions with the corrupt U.S. government.

Another area I think is important to point out is that the U.S. government, technically, did not have to give the tribes any land for themselves or recognize them as their own nations. I can’t think of another country in modern times that has, in essence, conquered another land and yet still recognized them and allotted space for the entire people. The tribes in Canada were certainly not treated this way. And in Europe and South America it is unheard of. The slaves of the south were expected to integrate after emancipation. The tribes themselves would take conquered foes as slaves and thus integrate them into the tribe over time. Conquered nations are generally assimilated into the cultures of those who take over. I think it is extraordinary that the tribes have done so much with the little they were given as ‘compensation’ for their displacement but I have to be honest and recognize that it is extraordinary that the relocation happened in the first place.

The narration by Sally Martin was good. I enjoyed her voice and would listen to other audiobooks she has narrated. I listened to the audiobook on 1.5 speed which may have helped with the slow speed of her delivery.

I received this audiobook for free through Audiobook Boom! in exchange for an honest review.

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really good information

I enjoyed this choctaw perspective of choctaw history. however the reader wad a bit monotone, and mispronounced a lot of the choctaw words.

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Comprehensively Choctaw

This book gives a comprehensive history of the Choctaw tribe. I knew little of them before this book. The Choctaw's were one of the last civilized tribes. The Choctaw women were not view as inferior as women were at the time in White culture. Choctaw's viewed reading as important and really supported their children going to school. Not just the boy but they wanted their girls in school long before society thought they should. One common theme throughout the book as westward expansion really screwed the native Americans.

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Eye opener

Would you consider the audio edition of Living in the Land of Death to be better than the print version?

Easy listen.

What does Sally Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Good narration. Would listen to more of her narrations.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Eye opening story of the Choctaw nation, and Native Americans in general.

Any additional comments?

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.<br/>

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  • EP
  • Walnut Creek, CA United States
  • 06-19-16

History of the Choctaw Nation

Where does Living in the Land of Death rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Three of the greatest tragedies/crimes in human history:<br/>1) The Holocaust<br/>2) The African Slave Trade<br/>3) The Dispossession of Native American Land by European Colonists<br/><br/>This audiobook extensively chronicles the tragic history of the Choctaw Nation as it struggles to cope with the arrival and expansion of the White population into the Choctaw's ancestral lands, circa 1830.<br/><br/>Although most of us know how the story ultimately ends, the shocking and sordid details described in this audiobook will leave listeners disgusted and ashamed of the U.S. government for using its laws to STEAL Choctaw land and to (nearly) destroy an entire ethnic group.<br/><br/>The research behind this historical account is impressive, and it is narrated quite well.<br/><br/>This is a great audiobook!

Any additional comments?

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.

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I never knew most of this information

This is an excellent story. I love factual history. This reveals more information about the underhanded things the government and local officials did to the indigenous people of The America's. I thought I knew a good bit about the Choctaw Indians, but this book included some facts that I know are not ever going to go in the main stream history books.

I am especially interested in the Trail of Tears. In Georgia, it started in the Sautee Nacoochee Valley and carried on out West to some of the worst land available. This is a very intense story.

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Sally Martin did a great job narrating this audiobook.

This audiobook was provided by narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

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Interesting look into the Choctaw nation...

What did you like best about this story?

The plight of the Choctaw Nation and their struggles which gave the reader an insight into corrupt US leaders who made their lives difficult.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made the appreciate the struggles and plight of the Choctaw Nation.

Any additional comments?

"I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom."