Revisiting the “trail of tears”

Over in Cherokee, North Carolina, there is a pageant called “Unto These Hills” that tells the story of the Cherokee people, from their initial contact with Europeans through their forced resettlement to Oklahoma during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson.

By 2006, attendance was dwindling because the story being told was not an accurate statement of the actual history. The play was written by a white man paid by the tribe to construct a positive narrative of their tribal history as victims of the European invaders.

Now the Smithsonian bravely has reopened a subject that you might find shocking – the enslavement of blacks by the native Americans.

Non-Indians like Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren who spin the narrative of the spiritual purity of the first migrants into the Western Hemisphere have some explaining to do. Many black descendants of slaves know they have a mixed genetic makeup that includes Native American tribes. When you think of plantation owners holding slaves in the South, you probably don’t picture a Cherokee Indian standing at the front door.

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5 Responses to Revisiting the “trail of tears”

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    How many of the blacks were enslaved by native Americans or even the British that brought them to these shores? My understanding is that the Brits were engaged in a slave trade where they traded with African slave holders in return for goods manufactured in Britain:
    “Trading ships would set sail from Europe with a cargo of manufactured goods to the west coast of Africa. There, these goods would be traded, over weeks and months, for captured people provided by African traders. European traders found it easier to do business with African intermediaries who raided settlements far away from the African coast and brought those young and healthy enough to the coast to be sold into slavery.”

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Less than 5% of the Black Africans taken to the Western Hemisphere were taken to the colonies that would become the United States. The Spanish were mostly indirectly involved – they hired others to do the dirty work – England was a big player. In grade school, I was taught about the triangular trade. Slaves to the Caribbean, Rum and sugar to the Americas, manufactured goods to Africa. The British colonies didn’t need slaves from Africa – they had Irish slaves. But after the industrial revolution got in full swing, the Irish slaves were needed in England. Florida was a Spanish colony until 1821.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        The French supplied slaves to the new world too, including the Mississippi Delta and Louisiana although most of their trade was to the Caribbean, including Haiti.

        Until 1822, Florida was a destination for escaped slaves from the British colonies.

        In 1822, Florida became a territory of the US and slavery was permitted. Slaves who had escaped to Florida then escaped from Florida to Cuba and Andros Island in The Bahamas.

        Glenn Beck said yesterday that today the world has more slaves than it did during the period when slavery was legal in the United States. Obviously the population is much bigger, but that is still a huge tragedy.

  2. briand75 says:

    I find this interesting. The “trail of tears” was about a forced march to a reservation led by the Army – or so I thought. Some white liberal did false stories on the tribes? No surprise there.

    Now we have Indian slave owners. Really? Shows me that people who look different have always been faced with issues – it isn’t just white folks.

  3. Fred Stiening says:

    A key part of the story at “unto these hills” is the execution of Tsali, the leader of their tribe who was given up by his tribe in return for a promise that the remaining Cherokees could remain in the mountains of NC

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