- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (December 18, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812240561
- ISBN-13: 978-0812240566
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,793,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century
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"Yarbrough makes an important contribution to the study of relations between American Indians and African-descended people by showing how slaveholding Indian nations, in the context of their relations with their slaves in the nineteenth century, developed a distinctive racial ideology in an effort to restrict citizenship in their nations and protect Indian sovereignty."—Joanne Pope Melish, author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780-1860
"This book takes on a significant topic in American history in a new way. . . . A wonderful contribution to literatures in the history of marriage, race, and Native American history."—Ann Marie Plane, University of California, Santa Barba
"Yarbrough marches to a minefield, crosses it, and emerges having deftly dismantled and examined the explosive topics of sex and gender, race an nationality, custom and law among brown, white, and black people."—Chronicle of Oklahoma
About the Author
Fay Yarbrough teaches history at the University of Oklahoma.
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Top Customer Reviews
Some people incorrectly say, "History repeats itself." Well, this book starts off with the example of a man who kills a Cherokee and replaces her with a Black slave and the other Cherokees accept it. However, the Nation later wrote laws saying whites could marry Cherokees but Blacks could not. Both in this book and in the recent controversy, no matter how culturally-identified these Blacks are with Cherokees, they get consistently treated as other or less than. This book also points to the process of racialization. Before the pilgrims, Cherokees would have seen themselves as completely different from other indigenous tribes. In this book, as time goes on, the author points out to how non-Cherokee Indians become a part of the Cherokee society.
This book does not tackle race alone; it speaks of how gender informs the topic as well. The Cherokees were originally a matrilineal society, but as they assimilated they were introduced to European patrilineal patterns. Numerically, it became important to count the children of Cherokee men and not just those of Cherokee women, with the caveat that the children were not part Black, according to the book. White men who married into the Nation had to take a loyalty oath and the author spells out why white women did not have the same requirement. Currently, in Black and Asian-American communities, one gender is more likely to practice exogamy than the other. Here the author speculates as to why more Cherokee women outmarried compared to the men.
Law professors of color have warned, "Never play the oppression sweepstakes!" However, this can ignore the reality of when one group is privileged over another. This book spoke of how Cherokee elites were often part white and so they were happy to accommodate that group. The author notes that the Cherokee Nation only abolished slavery because the US forced it to. It only gave rights to Freedmen for the same reason. Though whites may have had limited rights in the Nation, Blacks always had fewer rights than them.
Interestingly, the book chapters get Blacker as one keeps reading. You hear more about Blacks living in the Nation and their accessing the courts. I know countless African Americans who are incredibly proud to have Native American ancestors. The author explains why that is the case in contrast to the discrimination detailed thoroughly in the beginning chapters of the book.
I hate hearing about Black people being oppressed by anybody, so I can't say this was a pleasurable read. However, the book is well-organized, very interesting, and written in a way that non-academics could understand too. I applaud the author intensely for her effort.