What Happened to the Ph.D.?
(The dissertation and two comments pull up under a Google search of Charles H. Holzinger. They are available from the Smithsonian.)
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERSISTENCE OF ABORIGINAL CHEROKEE PERSONALITY TRAITS
Following three summers spent on the Cherokee Reservation in Big Cove, North Carolina, doing research for his Ph.D., my father published the above dissertation. Following are three brief excerpts:
If we ask what type of early childhood experiences would lead to a personality marked by the inhibition of affectual expression, particularly hostility; by a characteristic wariness and even suspiciousness of others; by an inability to deny even implicit requests, and a resentment of authority, we would be led to anticipate childhood experiences very similar to those which have been described.
The same neurotic tendencies observable in Cherokee personality today were implicitly present aboriginally, but they were held in check by a value system which precisely buttressed the points of greatest latent weakness, and there were roles and a belief system in which these values could find satisfying expression. There was a high valuation placed upon independence and autonomy precisely because there were deep unconscious dependency longings. Generosity was highly valued because the basic character structure would lead individuals to be grasping and selfish. There were strong values relating to bravery and courage because the inner urges were to withdraw in the face of any threatening situation. And finally, there was strong valuation placed upon self-restraint because there were strong aggressive impulses.
The Cherokee of Big Cove today typically show traits of passivity, apathy, suspiciousness, and dependency that would in the event of the removal of all outside sources of support seem to make even their biological survival questionable. These traits can be seen as the neurotic warping of the underlying character structure.
Experts in the new field of anthropology reacted with shock and dismay at this negative depiction of an entire culture. Two experts on the Cherokee published extremely negative comments and one, John Gulick, listed specific steps that should be taken in research in the future to prevent such a travesty from ever being written again.
My fathers Ph.D. was gone. His career was then limited to F & M where tenure prevented his being fired. His nickname became Cherokee Charlie.
None of his children ever knew what happened to the Ph.D. Like everything else in my family, it was kept a secret. We were told all of our lives that my father was brilliant; an intellectual, an educator and a wonderful professor. We were told this over and over and over again as if being a professor were akin to being God. And, we believed it. And like everything else in our childhoods, it was a lie.
More to follow...