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Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom Paperback – August 7, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Along with a fascinating biography, this book offers an utterly original angle on American history itself.
(New Haven Review 2009-03-23)

From the Inside Flap

“In this lyrical narrative about Shoeboots, Doll, and their descendants, Tiya Miles explores the constant push and tug between family connections and racial divides. Building on meticulous and inspired historical detective work, Miles shows what it might have felt like to be a slave and reassesses the convoluted ideas about race that slavery generated and left as a legacy.”—Nancy Shoemaker, author of A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America

Ties That Bind is a haunting and innovative book. Tiya Miles refuses to avoid or cover over the most painful aspects of the shared stories of Indians and African Americans. Instead, Miles passionately defends the need to explore history, even when the facts provided by history are not those that contemporary people want to hear.”—Peggy Pascoe, author of Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (August 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520250028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520250024
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard L. Pangburn VINE VOICE on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, let me say how much I enjoyed this book. It is a work of tremendous research informed by a mature mind which deeply understands the roles of history and story in creating self-identity.

I was alerted to its existence by Ilene Shepard Smiddy, author of DAUGHTER OF SHILOH, also a splendid narrative/adventure retelling a part of the Shoeboots story, but centering on Clarinda Allington and her children.

Dr. Miles provides us with a helpful family tree in the front of the book, and inside there are maps that help orient the story. The historical asides and reflections using Toni Morrison's BELOVED are treasures. Inside too are several illustrations and pictures, including one of a Shoeboots descendant. The text is divided into logical chapters. The notes are easy to follow and delicious to read, and they are followed by a full bibliography and a comprehensive index.

I would like to see the notes expanded to include the family of Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps a grandson of Shoeboots, or of one of the Shoeboots, and who entered the mainstream population in Kentucky as a free black.

As Dr. Miles points out, there was more than one individual who was referred to as the Boot or Shoeboots (and other nicknames, in both English and Cherokee), and I suspect that this was a concept name involving the crow or the rooster--the hero of a Cherokee parable. It is fascinating to read about here, and her arguments are engaging. Highly recommended reading!
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Format: Paperback
Ties that Bind challenges the traditional view of American slavery and shows that both slavery and interracial relations extended to the Cherokee Nation. This innovative book reads as a personal history of the Shoe Boots family as well as an academic look at the lives of Cherokees from the late eighteenth century to the removal of Native Americans to present day. Miles argues that the interconnectedness of race in the South profoundly shaped the Cherokee culture, including the Shoe Boots family.
The book began in the 1700s with the early history of the Cherokee warrior Shoe Boots, and then described his relationship with his slave Doll whom he acquired in the late eighteenth century. Between 1802 and l805, Shoe Boots began having an intimate relationship with Doll and they had children together. Miles then explored Doll and their children’s place in the Cherokee society, a place that was different from their father’s based on their race. Doll and her children struggled to be identified as Cherokees even though Shoe Boots petitioned for his children to be given Cherokee citizenship rights. While their children became citizens of the Cherokee nation, Doll was not and was still thought of as just as slave.
Miles incorporates an abundance of secondary sources and literature into the book which separates it from most other scholarly works. While the book highlights the Shoe boots family, it also discusses the Cherokee nation as a whole, which is both a strength and weakness. While the book provides an interesting combination of family and national history, the author could have better balanced and interwoven the two. A book written about the Shoe Boots family or the Cherokees alone could have been more effective. Also, Miles’ argument is weakened by her lack of information about Doll, and much of her argument is based on assumptions and rhetorical questions. Regardless, this book is well written, compelling and appealing to both scholars and non-scholars alike.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides excellent insight into a little known part of American history. Few people realize that some American Indian tribes (particularly the "Five Civilized Tribes") practiced slavery and this text delves into the complex relationships resulting from it. The impact of the practice has repercussions still felt today. Most importantly, it reveals the rarely addressed interaction between African-Americans and Native Americans dating back to the earliest history of the United States.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Previous histories have painted Native Americans as passive victims whose only interactions with U.S. citizens were negative and interactions with African Americans were nonexistent. In Ties That Bind, Tiya Miles challenged these traditional views by discussing the relationships between these two groups. Through the lives of the Shoeboots family, a mixed household, where Cherokee Shoe Boots was the patriarch who married first a white woman captive and then an African American slave named Doll.

Miles used the Shoeboots family’s experiences to illustrate the larger interactions between Native Americans, whites, and African Americans in the nineteenth century. Her sources reflected this attempt to intersect race, gender, and legal status. Miles analyzed local newspapers, census records, and court documents to piece together a specific story of the Shoeboots family. She then researched primary and secondary to both fill in the gaps of the Shoeboot legacy and to discuss the larger world of the U.S. South and the interactions between the different races and genders. For instance, Miles put forth the novel, Beloved, to discuss the experience of female slaves as a mirror to what wife, mother, and slave Doll must have felt.

Miles made a convincing claim that the traditional history of the interactions between Native Americans, whites, and African Americans should be challenged and even rethought. The intersections of these different races and genders through the lens of the Shoeboots family revealed that all groups were not isolated in this new, interconnected nation.
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