African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens / Edition 1

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Overview

Forcibly removed from their homes in the late 1830s, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians brought their African-descended slaves with them along the Trail of Tears and resettled in Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Celia E. Naylor vividly charts the experiences of enslaved and free African Cherokees from the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma's entry into the Union in 1907. Carefully extracting the voices of former slaves from interviews and mining a range of sources in Oklahoma, she creates an engaging narrative of the composite lives of African Cherokees. Naylor explores how slaves connected with Indian communities not only through Indian customs—language, clothing, and food—but also through bonds of kinship.

Examining this intricate and emotionally charged history, Naylor demonstrates that the "red over black" relationship was no more benign than "white over black." She presents new angles to traditional understandings of slave resistance and counters previous romanticized ideas of slavery in the Cherokee Nation. She also challenges contemporary racial and cultural conceptions of African-descended people in the United States. Naylor reveals how black Cherokee identities evolved reflecting complex notions about race, culture, "blood," kinship, and nationality. Indeed, Cherokee freedpeople's struggle for recognition and equal rights that began in the nineteenth century continues even today in Oklahoma.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fine book taken in the spirit of reawakening an interest in an oft-neglected area of African American and Cherokee history. . . . Draws on an impressive array of sources. . . . Provides a timely record of African participation in the nation."—Chronicles of Oklahoma

"Naylor nimbly works with sparse and sometimes problematic evidence (such as the Works Progress Administration's slave narratives) to render a sensitive and sophisticated telling of hardship and suffering, overt and everyday resistance, acceptance and disfranchisement, and adaptation and exclusion. . . . An enormous accomplishment."—The Journal of American History

"[A] remarkable book. . . . Not only well-written history but timely as well. . . . A must read for anyone researching Native Americans, ethnicity, or race relations."—Great Plains Quarterly

"[A] sweeping, evenhanded study. . . . Naylor has pieced together a sophisticated portrait of slavery in the Cherokee Nation."—Canadian Journal of History

"An outstanding job of illustrating the intricate sociopolitical interactions between bondsmen and their Cherokee masters. . . . Helps illuminate the history of African Americans in the Cherokee Nation. . . . An excellent scholarly work to aid in research

"Offers a thorough and descriptive history of the people who were at the center of this controversy. . . . Naylor skillfully mines the Work Progress Administration collection of ex-slave narratives to recreate the lives of people of African descent in the

"Provocative and impressive . . . elucidate[s] a highly significant area of study within Indian slave-holding communities. . . . Highly recommend[ed]."—Georgia Historical Quarterly

"A welcome contribution to one of the more important trends in the historiography of southeastern Indians: the recent expansion of scholarship on race, slavery, and the struggles of freedmen within the Five Tribes."—American Historical Review

"Will take its rightful place as a significant contribution to the topic of nineteenth-century African-Indian relationships."—H-Net Reviews

"A rich and textured glimpse of life, work, love and loss in Indian Territory."—West Virginia History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Celia E. Naylor is assistant professor of history at Dartmouth College.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 On the Run in Antebellum Indian Territory 25

2 Day-to-Day Resistance to the Peculiar Institution and the Struggle to Remain Free in the Antebellum Cherokee Nation 51

3 Conceptualizing and Constructing African Indian Racial and Cultural Identities in Antebellum Indian Territory 75

4 Trapped in the Turmoil: A Divided Cherokee Nation and the Plight of Enslaved African Cherokees during the Civil War Era 125

5 Cherokee Freedpeople's Struggle for Recognition and Rights during Reconstruction 155

6 Contested Common Ground: Landownership, Race Politics, and Segregation on the Eve of Statehood 179

Afterword 201

Appendix Treaty with the Cherokee Nation, 1866 221

Notes 239

Bibliography 313

Index 343

A section of illustrations and maps follows page 110

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