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Twenty-first century United States Census results stoke a wildfire racial conversation that sweeps far beyond Kituwah, the ancient mother town of the Cherokee People in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Cherokee People of the Fire and their hidden descendants who passed as white are engaged in an expanding talking circle over questions of identity and belonging. Circe Sturm, an interdisciplinary anthropologist with Sicilian, German, and Mississippi Choctaw ancestry, is quick to state that she was not raised on tribal land or in tribal community. Though her readers do not know how she checked boxes indicating her race on the US Census form, she is clear about her aspiration for the book, Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century. Sturm invested over fifteen years of research toward realization of her vision for greater political understanding about a topic that arouses a conflagration of polarized perspectives.
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