Why Acorn Whistler Was Murdered And What It Means Term Paper

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Native Americans Type: Term Paper Paper: #73246614 Related Topics: Revenge, Colonial America, Native American, Native Americans
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … prologue of Piker's Four Deaths sets the stage of a violent colonial world in which a handful of Cherokee are murdered in a sneak attack by a group of Creeks within a half mile of the Government offices in Charleston, just one day after the Creeks led by the warrior Acorn Whistler had made assurances to the Town that it would not harm the Cherokee or persist in its war with that tribe. The murder on April 1, Fool's Day, is one that is meant to provoke -- both the reader and the citizens of the town at the time when it happened. Piker gives special attention to the way in which a head of one Cherokee was found in the road, the body some ways off, all the victims scalped: the scene is gruesome and appalling and sets the bloody tone of the book with its graphic emphasis on what life was really like in the early days of the New World (2).

It also sets the frame for the type of man that Acorn Whistler was: a man who could make "pretty" promises to the colonials while at the same time his people were plotting a bloody revenge against the tribe with whom they were at war. For some, it was a callous act of violent nonchalance -- but, as Piker notes, it was also an act for which Acorn Whistler would pay with his own life just some few short months later, even though no one could really say that he was directly responsible for the attack, since he had been "drinking" in town at the time of its execution (4-5). In fact, as Whistler himself pointed out, the attack had been done by a group of Lower Creeks -- who were not exactly followers of Acorn Whistler, who was an Upper Creek (5).

Thus, the murder of the Cherokee caused relations between the Upper Creeks led by Whistler and Charleston to become severely strained, with the threat of disarmament and prison soon circulating. For that reason, Whistler and his group left, following the example of the Lower...


The British colonials, like Glen, came to understand that Whistler and the Upper Creeks were blameless in the affair -- but Whistler would still be killed by his own later, as though his death were meant to send a message.

What was the message? Piker asks again and again in the Prologue, discussing how the execution of Whistler meant and still means different things for different people. Essentially, Acorn Whistler was a complex man, a natural leader, and one skilled in the art of self-promotion -- one also hailed as a great king. But there were complexities beneath these adulations, which were often made by his own self -- complexities such as his willingness to resort to violence for political ends, his love of drink, his tendency for violence as well as his tendency towards peace, and his, of course, penchant self-promotion. Why then did this skilled Upper Creek leader and "king" come to die, if he was so desirous of keeping the Peace among the Creeks, Cherokee and Whites?

That is the question that Piker aims to explore through the various stories related to Acorn Whistler and he sets the stage for this exploration in the Prologue and Introduction, which gets more into the bigger questions at stake -- such as why did Whistler's own nephew kill him -- and who was protected by then having Whistler's nephew killed (9)?

Piker traces the reasons for Whistler's execution to the "broader historical issues" of the day (9) -- the politics, the institutions, and the affairs among the colonials and the Native American tribes. Everything was strained in terms of trust, organization and survival. In a sense, Piker suggests that because Whistler aspired to be a leader among the Creeks, he had a target on his back, since in this world of mid-17th century ambition, anyone who sought to influence inevitably came into conflict with others who sought to influence even more.

The subtexts of the four stories that Piker discusses in the book relate to the four points-of-view that he offers in terms of how to look at Acorn Whistler's murder: he looks at the "imperial, national, local and colonial" and…

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