African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to by Celia E. Naylor

By Celia E. Naylor

Forcibly faraway from their houses within the past due 1830s, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians introduced their African-descended slaves with them alongside the path of Tears and resettled in Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma. Celia E. Naylor vividly charts the reviews of enslaved and unfastened African Cherokees from the path of Tears to Oklahoma's access into the Union in 1907. conscientiously extracting the voices of former slaves from interviews and mining various resources in Oklahoma, she creates an interesting narrative of the composite lives of African Cherokees. Naylor explores how slaves hooked up with Indian groups not just via Indian customs--language, garments, and food--but additionally via bonds of kinship. analyzing this tricky and emotionally charged historical past, Naylor demonstrates that the "red over black" courting used to be not more benign than "white over black". She provides new angles to standard understandings of slave resistance and counters prior romanticized rules of slavery within the Cherokee country. She additionally demanding situations modern racial and cultural conceptions of African-descended humans within the usa. Naylor unearths how black Cherokee identities advanced reflecting complicated notions approximately race, tradition, "blood", kinship, and nationality. certainly, Cherokee freedpeople's fight for reputation and equivalent rights that started within the 19th century maintains even this present day in Oklahoma.

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Extra info for African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)

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Sensing this initial turmoil, enslaved African Cherokees living 25 On the Run in Cherokee communities sought to benefit from, and even contribute to, the unruly state of a√airs after arrival. Unlike free Cherokee citizens who engaged in the sociopolitical mayhem as a way of demolishing old adversaries, resolving conflicts, and solidifying the Cherokee Nation itself, enslaved African Cherokees capitalized on the political tensions in order to amplify the discord in Cherokee domestic a√airs and to achieve some distance from the boundaries of bondage.

One drop of ‘‘black blood’’ automatically restricted one’s free status in the slaveholding regions of the 28 On the Run United States; whether one also possessed ‘‘white blood’’ did not erase the restrictions imposed by the legalized stigma of blackness. Although blackness certainly shaped one’s enslaved and free status in the Cherokee Nation, ‘‘Cherokee blood’’ in conjunction with free status guaranteed limited rights to biracial African Cherokees—rights not granted to those free people of African descent with no ‘‘Cherokee blood’’ lineage.

During Reconstruction, African Cherokees engaged in a new struggle to define their place as ‘‘free’’ members and citizens of the Cherokee Nation. In my examination of the Cherokee Nation in the wake of the Civil War, I concentrate on the challenges of Cherokee freedpeople (formerly enslaved African Cherokees) in the Reconstruction era to attain equal rights as Cherokee citizens—not as citizens of the United States. Although similar to the constitutional and legalistic challenges of African American freedpeople in the United States proper, African Cherokee freedpeople’s struggle centered on their development, articulation, and preservation of their sense of a unique African Cherokee national identity.

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