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African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens Celia E. Naylor The University of North Carolina Press


31st October 2011 History Books 2 Comments

“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

“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 researching African Cherokees from slavery through the turn of the twentieth century.”
-North Carolina Historical Review

“A well researched, documented, and presented study. Recommended.”
-Choice

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

“Naylor succeeds in her stimulating analysis. . . . A fine contribution to the new scholarship on race, culture, and sovereignty in the United States. Naylor’s thorough research and interpretation provide the basis for what should become a creative further inquiry into the history of the freed people of all Five Nations in Indian Territory.”
-Western Historical Quarterly

“A rich and textured glimpse of life, work, love and loss in Indian Territory.”
-West Virginia 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 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

“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 nineteenth-century Cherokee Nation.”
-The Journal of Southern History

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

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&#151language, clothing, and food&#151but 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.

“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 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

“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 researching African Cherokees from slavery through the turn of the twentieth century.”
-North Carolina Historical Review

“A well researched, documented, and presented study. Recommended.”
-Choice

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

“Naylor succeeds in her stimulating analysis. . . . A fine contribution to the new scholarship on race, culture, and sovereignty in the United States. Naylor’s thorough research and interpretation provide the basis for what should become a creative further inquiry into the history of the freed people of all Five Nations in Indian Territory.”
-Western Historical Quarterly

“A rich and textured glimpse of life, work, love and loss in Indian Territory.”
-West Virginia 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 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

“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 nineteenth-century Cherokee Nation.”
-The Journal of Southern History

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

Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance

A critical and Indian-centered contribution to Native American studies in particular and postcolonial studies in general, and a turning point in the same way that Deloria’s Custer Died for Your Sins and Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties were turning points in this field. There will be no going back to familiar ways of doing business in Native American studies after the publication of this book.–Thomas Biolsi, author of Deadliest Enemies: Law and the Making of Race Relations on and off Rosebud Reservation

Inclusive and wide-ranging in scope, this important volume succeeds like no previous work in defining and describing the new Indian scholarship that has evolved since the 1960s. . . . An ideal book for Indian studies classes at the undergraduate level.–Donald Lee Fixico, author of The Urban Indian Experience in America

Native peoples of North America still face an uncertain future due to their unstable political, legal, and economic positions. Views of their predicament, however, continue to be dominated by non-Indian writers. In response, a dozen Native American writers here reclaim their rightful role as influential voices in the debates about Native communities at the dawn of a new millennium.

These scholars examine crucial issues of politics, law, and religion in the context of ongoing Native American resistance to the dominant culture. They particularly show how the writings of Vine Deloria, Jr., have shaped and challenged American Indian scholarship in these areas since the 1960s. They provide key insights into Deloria’s thought, while introducing some of the critical issues still confronting Native nations today.

Collectively, these essays take up four important themes: indigenous societies as the embodiment of cultures of resistance, legal resistance to western oppression against indigenous nations, contemporary Native religious practices, and Native intellectual challenges to academia. Individual chapters address indigenous perspectives on topics usually treated by non-Indians, such as the role of women in Indian society, the importance of sacred sites to American Indian religious identity, and the relationship of native language to indigenous autonomy. A closing essay by Deloria–in vintage form–brings the book full circle and reminds Native Americans of their responsibilities and obligations to one another–and to past and future generations.

Ranging from insights into Native American astronomy to critiques of federal Indian law, this book strongly argues for the renewed cultivation of a Native American Studies that is much more Indian-centered. Without the revival of that perspective, such curricula are doomed to languish as academic ephemera–missed opportunities for building a better and deeper understanding of Indian peoples and their most pressing concerns and aspirations.

Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance










  • 2 responses to "African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens Celia E. Naylor The University of North Carolina Press"

  • Rajesh Kumar Sinha
    22:06 on November 3rd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    …that should be required reading in all cultural diversity courses and beyond. This compilation covers Native politics, law, spirituality, and culture, by scholars influenced by the lifelong work of Vine Deloria, Jr. The legal section opens the reader’s eyes to the truth of the broken treaties and Supreme Court decisions that have shaped the lives of Native people for two and a half centuries (a truth not covered in public schools today). The spiritual sections cover not only what was lost but what is still being misappropriated today. I’ve heard it asked “Who will take up the work of Deloria now that he is gone?” The scholars who contributed to this book seem ready, willing, and able to do just that!

  • Markita Heras
    16:40 on November 4th, 2011
    Reply to comment

    A must have and must read for any scholar of Native American politics, law and culture. This book allows any scholar to understand the impact that Deloria has had on Native American Studies. David Wilkins’ essay is precise and opens avenues of legal exploration that will have an effect on the rights of tribal nations.

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