My research focused on the turbulent relationship between the Cherokee Nation, White Americans, and Black Slaves during the Civil War Era. Before the war, with the threat of losing their land, many Cherokee tribes assimilated to southern culture and owned African slaves to prevent losing their sovereignty over their lands. Despite their efforts to appease the American government, they were removed from their land under President Jackson’s Indian Removal Act in 1830. Forced west into Oklahoma, many Cherokee tribes brought their slaves and southern ways with them. In a way, this gave them status in the racial hierarchy and allowed the Tribes to participate in the American economy. Although they were discriminated against because of their race, many Cherokees treated their slaves similar to White plantation owners. In my paper, I explore why the Civil War caused division in the Cherokee Nation. Though many were eager to fight for the Confederacy, many desired to remain neutral and some sided with the Union.
Image: Cherokee Confederate veterans of the Thomas Legion at the 1901 annual reunion. Credit: North Carolina Dept. of Archives and History.