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.