This beautifully written book tells the haunting saga of a quintessentially American family. It is the story of Shoe Boots, a famed Cherokee warrior and successful farmer, and Doll, an African slave he acquired in the late 1790s. Over the next thirty years, Shoe Boots and Doll lived together as master and slave and also as lifelong partners who, with their children and grandchildren, experienced key events in American history—including slavery, the Creek War, the founding of the Cherokee Nation and subsequent removal of Native Americans along the Trail of Tears, and the Civil War. This is the gripping story of their lives, in slavery and in freedom.
Meticulously crafted from historical and literary sources, Ties That Bind vividly portrays the members of the Shoeboots family. Doll emerges as an especially poignant character, whose life is mostly known through the records of things done to her—her purchase, her marriage, the loss of her children—but also through her moving petition to the federal government for the pension owed to her as Shoe Boots's widow. A sensitive rendition of the hard realities of black slavery within Native American nations, the book provides the fullest picture we have of the myriad complexities, ironies, and tensions among African Americans, Native Americans, and whites in the first half of the nineteenth century.
List of Illustrations
Shoeboots Family Tree
PART ONE. BONE OF MY BONE: SLAVERY, RACE, AND NATION—EAST
7. Gold Rush
PART TWO. OF BLOOD AND BONE: FREEDOM, KINSHIP, AND CITIZENSHIP—WEST
Coda: The Shoeboots Family Today
Appendix 1. Research Methods and Challenges
Appendix 2. Definition and Use of Terms
Appendix 3. Cherokee Names and Mistaken Identities
Tiya Miles is Assistant Professor in the Program in American Culture, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, and Native American Studies Program at the University of Michigan.
“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
Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association
Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, Organization of American Historians
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