African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens

African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens

by Celia E. Naylor

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807877548
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/15/2009
Series: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 376
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

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

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Celia Naylor has produced a bold, well-written book on a highly provocative and critically important topic, the story of African American people who were enslaved not by Europeans but by Native Americans. The work is bold and original because it does not shy away from two central contradictions: that slaves and their descendants can partially identify with their former masters, and that people who have experienced racial prejudice themselves can adopt racial prejudice against others. Anyone interested in the comparative history of slavery, western history, identity politics, and the intersections of race, culture, and nationalism will count this work as essential reading.—Circe Sturm, University of Oklahoma

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