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Ties That Bind

The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom

Tiya Miles (Author)


Paperback, 327 pages
ISBN: 9780520250024
August 2006
$29.95, £19.95
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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

1. Captivity
2. Slavery
3. Motherhood
4. Property
5. Christianity
6. Nationhood
7. Gold Rush

8. Removal
9. Capture
10. Freedom
Epilogue: Citizenship
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
Selected Bibliography
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.
Along with a fascinating biography, this book offers an utterly original angle on American history itself.—New Haven Review
“Miles more than lives up to the high standard she sets for herself.”—Joshua Piker H-Net Reviews
“With advances in technology and scholarship, more are empowering themselves to dig into the past; and generational shifts are fueling a new urgency.”—Nia Ngina Meeks Bibliomane
“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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