Pain of 'Trail of Tears' shared by Blacks as well as Native Americans
The Trail of Tears is an epochal moment not only in Cherokee history, but also in Black history.
February 25th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

Pain of 'Trail of Tears' shared by Blacks as well as Native Americans

Editor's Note: Tiya Miles is chairwoman of the Department of Afro-American and African Studies, and professor of history and Native American studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of "Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom" and "The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story."  She is also the winner of  a 2011 "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation.

By Tiya Miles, Special to CNN

(CNN) - African American history, as it is often told, includes two monumental migration stories: the forced exodus of Africans to the Americas during the brutal Middle Passage of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the voluntary migration of Black residents who moved from southern farms and towns to northern cities in the early 1900s in search of “the warmth of other suns.” A third African-American migration story–just as epic, just as grave–hovers outside the familiar frame of our historical consciousness. The iconic tragedy of Indian Removal: the Cherokee Trail of Tears that relocated thousands of Cherokees to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), was also a Black migration. Slaves of Cherokees walked this trail along with their Indian owners.

In 1838, the U.S. military and Georgia militia expelled Cherokees from their homeland with little regard for Cherokee dignity or life. Families were rousted out of their cabins and directed at gunpoint by soldiers. Forced to leave most of their possessions behind, they witnessed white Georgians taking ownership of their cabins, looting and burning once cherished objects. Cherokees were loaded into “stockades” until the appointed time of their departure, when they were divided into thirteen groups of nearly 1,000 people, each with two appointed leaders. The travelers set out on multiple routes to cross Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas at 10 miles a day with meager supplies.

At points along the way, the straggling bands were charged fees by white farmers to cross privately owned land. The few wagons available were used to carry the sick, infant, and elderly. Most walked through the fall and into the harsh winter months, suffering the continual deaths of loved ones to cold, disease, and accident. Among these sojourners were African Americans and Cherokees of African descent. They, like thousands of other Cherokees, arrived in Indian Country in 1839 broken, depleted, and destitute.

In addition to bearing the physical and emotional hardships of the trip, enslaved Blacks were enlisted to labor for Cherokees along the way; they hunted, chopped wood, nursed the sick, washed clothes, prepared the meals, guarded the camps at night, and hiked ahead to remove obstructions from the roads.

One Cherokee man, Nathaniel Willis, remembered in the 1930s that: “My grandparents were helped and protected by very faithful Negro slaves who . . . went ahead of the wagons and killed any wild beast who came along.” Nearly 4,000 Cherokees died during the eviction, as did an unaccounted for number of Blacks. As one former slave of Cherokees, Eliza Whitmire, said in the 1930s: “The weeks that followed General Scott’s order to remove the Cherokees were filled with horror and suffering for the unfortunate Cherokees and their slaves.”

Although Black presence on the Trail of Tears is a documented historical fact, many have willed it into forgetfulness.

Some African Americans avoid confronting the painful reality of Native American slave ownership, preferring instead to fondly imagine any Indian ancestor in the family tree and to picture all Indian communities in the South as safe havens for runaway slaves.

Some Cherokee citizens and Native people of other removed slaveholding tribes (Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles) have also denied this history, desiring to cordon off forced removal as an atrocious wrong that affected only Native Americans. By excluding Blacks (many of whom had Native “blood”) from a claim on this history, these deniers also seek to expel the descendants of Freedmen and women from the circle of tribal belonging. For it is the memory of this collective tragedy, perhaps more than any other, that binds together Cherokees who draw strength from having survived it.

As a researcher whose work focuses on African-American and Native American histories, I have encountered this resistance. A few years ago, I spoke on the subject of Blacks in the Cherokee removal at a conference of the National Trail of Tears Association. One member of the audience, a Cherokee instructor of Cherokee history, insisted that this was an historical event only for Cherokees, a story that rightfully belonged to them alone. This is a view shared by a former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, who reportedly implied in a published remark that descendants of Freedpeople do not deserve tribal rights because they did not suffer the collective trauma of removal. The Trail of Tears is a sacred story to the Cherokees, as in special and set apart. It carries a meaningful lesson across time and space—about greed, injustice, and the perseverance of a people staring into a bleak and unknown future. However, a potent story shared with others is not necessarily diminished by the sharing; it might instead grow stronger in its ability to enlighten.

For Black History Month, I collected the opinions of individuals rarely asked about their view of the Trail of Tears: descendants of slaves owned by Cherokees. Common themes in the responses I received were pain at having their history publicly denied and pride in their ancestors’ ability to survive multiple trials.

Kenneth Cooper, a Cherokee Freedmen descendant and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has researched his family history through oral and documentary methods, has a great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Still, who walked the Trail of Tears. Cooper said, “At least one of my ancestors was on the Trail of Tears—by double compulsion. The U.S. troops compelled his mixed-white Cherokee owner, who compelled my ancestor to come and, presumably, provide for his needs.”

Terry Ligon, a descendant of Choctaw and Chickasaw slaves who writes a blog about the topic, was frustrated because “the typical story about the ‘Trails of Tears’ speaks to the horrors of uprooting ‘Native Americans’ from their homes...[while] the story that rarely gets told is the tears shed by people of African descent who were enslaved within these same tribes of ‘Native Americans.’”

Olon Dotson, a professor of Architecture at Ball State University, said his great-great-great- grandmother, Betty Mantooth Teichmann Childers Starks, was born to an enslaved woman en route on the Trail of Tears. When Dotson found out about this hidden chapter of his family’s history, he felt “angered and betrayed,” and his anger was not only directed at Indians. “The feeling of betrayal,” he said, “was derived from the customary portrait of American history, as taught and understood, which paints the Five Civilized Tribes merely as victims of cruel and racist policies with little or no mention of the African American experience in the context. I was prepared to pounce on any African American who felt compelled to express pride in their Native American heritage at the expense of their African blood.”

Some descendants expressed no outrage, but simply wanted the experience of their ancestors to be remembered and respected. Olive Anderson, a descendant of slaves owned by the Cherokee Vann and Bean families, feels proud of her ancestors’ bravery, both during Removal and the Civil War, when her great great grandfather, Rufus Vann, fought with the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers. “Let it be known,” she said, “that our ancestors walked, fought, loved and died to make this country what it is today.”

The Trail of Tears is an epochal moment not only in Cherokee history, but also in Black history. Descendants of slaves owned by Native people therefore claim this story as rightful heirs. Kenneth Cooper concluded in his remarks to me: “I don’t see how Cherokees...can separate the history of the tribe from the history of the Freedmen; they are irrevocably intertwined, before, during, and after the Trail of Tears.” The intertwined histories of Freedpeople and Cherokees, of African American history and Native American history, of all groups in this great and varied nation of ours, is a historical reality that may prove to be one of our greatest strengths.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Tiya Miles.

Posted by
Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Ethnicity • History • Native Americans • Race • Who we are
soundoff (499 Responses)
  1. martinezfelin

    Reading this article shows the importance of speaking about this part of Cherokee history and other Native American nations who owned slaves. Removal is a very important event that does unite Indians, as Miles states in this article but it is a fact that African-American slaves were present. I think that this does not diminish the importance or the gravity of removal, instead it includes the slaves who had to go through this. But before removal –slaves were already present in the Cherokee nation, I think that history needs to be known and it should not be a taboo subject. For people whose descendants were Afro-Cherokee, Freed Blacks, or slaves not recognized in this history, it is disrespectful.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Lena B

    In order to have a complete and cohesive history, we must possess all the facts. The truth is that African slaves were owned and abused by both Natives and white Americans during the 1700's. Natives also were oppressed and forced to assimilate to white culture by white colonialists who came to America. Both groups were subjugated, and both suffer discrimination today. Now that we have these facts, it is not the time to place one oppression as more "legitimate" or "meaningful" than another oppression. These hierarchies of suffering will not create complex understanding of racial interactions and how to improve them. It is true that the ownership of slaves by Natives complicates a blameless view of Native people and makes it more complicated to wrestle with the idea of racial hierarchy. However, it is important to accept these facts and place them in our historical context in order to learn about American race politics rather than trying to figure out where we can place blame.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Fran S.

    The point Tiya Makes is one she always seems to go back to. You can't exclude any history of the United States without discussing the involvement of all groups involved. Making experiences personal and specific to a group has proved to undermine the historical facts of en event in its entirety. This also has to do with the exposure of the history. Native American studies is something that isn't taught in full detail until higher education classes and even then the works are biased based on the context and the perspective in which they are written. The stories of African Americans have been taught and talked about from different perspectives, usually from white Americans and white Europeans, but when spoken about and written about from the perspective of another ethnic minority, the historical facts are unknown to the general population. In these types of accounts there is some underlying race issues which Tiya addresses in "Ties that Bind" that are reflected in this article especially when it comes to Afro-Cherokees and their narrative as opposed to just Cherokee or white narrative. The question that comes up is how do you retell this history without focusing on a specific ethnic group but just as a collaborative important historical event?

    November 8, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Danielle

    "One member of the audience, a Cherokee instructor of Cherokee history, insisted that this was an historical event only for Cherokees, a story that rightfully belonged to them alone."

    Although this is only one opinion, it indicates a larger desire within certain fields of academia to hoard history and make it belong to a particular group. Understanding American history from a Native perspective is invaluable, but it should still be open to the same scrutiny applied to Eurocentric versions of American history, which ignore significant peoples and misrepresent certain events. It is unsurprising to see some Natives and scholars of Native studies wishing to exclude Africans, African-Americans, and Afro-Cherokees from this narrative of forced removal. Doing so conveniently hides the ugly truth of Cherokee participation in the slave trade. Miles's work is crucial to understanding the ever-shifting roles of blacks in the trajectory of Native history - a history that is often discussed but hardly analyzed in relation to other ethnic groups.

    November 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dustin

    While I agree that the narrative of black slaves and mixed Cherokees deserves rightful recognition and that its denial is unacceptable, I see danger in likening this narrative to that of the Middle Passage or the Northern Migration. Just in terms of the sheer number of people who were affected by the horrors of the latter two, I think likening the Black experience during the Trail of Tears to the other two migrations would detract from the gravity of those migrations and would serve as a point of unneccesary contention for those who may have been affected by the latter two migrations (especially the Northern migration). I am in no way trying to detract from the seriousness of the Black experience on the Trail of Tears, it would just seem more beneficial to explore knowledge on the subject for the sake of that knowledge and out of respect for those who suffered.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Micayla Tatum

    This article wasn't shocking to me. Time and time again people have had problems with demarcating the existence of more than one group within tragedies. Think of the Holocaust and how leading scholars in Israel lead for calls of not calling other genocides, genocides in a fear that it will detract from the legitimacy of their claims. It's sad, but true and somewhat expected.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tom

    i think that everyone holds some part of their cultural or ethnic heritage as some intricate part of who they are a s a person and how the would define themsleves as an individual. blacks and native americans have had very distinctive histories filled with numerous hardships that are hard matched by many other ethnicities and races in america. thats not to say that one hardship is greater than the other, it isn't fair to get into the "who had it worse" sort of game. but the reason i think people can get so heated over an article like this is that an event like the trail of tears is a hardship that, in public opinion, was something unique to the cherokee people. to think of slaves and mixed slave-cherokee people undergoing this hardship together takes away from its uniqueness to the cherokee people and turns it into both a black and native american hardship. now that it was both native americans and slaves being oppressed through the trail of tears, if i where a descendent of the cherokee people, i can no longer say that "these were the trials and tribulations my people had to overcome and because of it, i am a proud member of the distinct cherokee race" because my ancestors were not the only ones to overcome it, which makes my cherokee-ness less unique.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jack

    Many of the comments that have been posted seem to attempt to defend the hardships of either Black's or Native American's. Why is it that a race would hope to be considered unfairly treated? In my opinion those who try and deny history do so in order to preserve their image as the 'good guys'. As it stands both Native Americans and African Americans have faced hundreds of years of hardships brought on by the Whites. This is a historical fact that cannot be denied. What Miles brings up is the less understood history of the slave-holding Native Americans. The fact that Native Americans held slaves does not make the trail of tears any less of a tragedy. Miles does not write this article nor her book with the goal of crowning the black race as the most oppressed. She merely seeks to enlighten a under taught part of history. Any argument over which race had it worse are irrelevant and misguided.

    April 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nala04

    Having read all your comments I feel that many of you believe that Miles tries to present Cherokees as oppressors and cruel slaveholders. Having read her book "Ties that Bind" I know that Miles tried to be as objective as possible by giving a lot of information about Cherokees and how and why slavery was introduced into their nation. Her way of gathering all these information to present us a story that mirrors the actual happening adds to her objectivity. Histoy about Cherokees used to be written by educated, mixed-white people who were intellectual and political leaders. When looking at history we need to become aware of where this history comes from (who wrote it, where, when and for what purpose). Although history can never be fully objective (historians don't only write history, they make history) Miles tres to give us an insight into the Cherokee community that also consisted of enslaved people.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KEB

    It seems like some of the people who are upset about this article feel that way because this changes their perceptions of Indians or supposedly "detracts" from the hardships that Indians faced. I believe it is important to challenge this expectation of Indians as the eternal victim. It's okay to feel bad, because the treatment of American Indians was terrible; I do not believe that we should allow guilt to cloud our ability to see mistakes or flaws that Indians have made, though.

    And another thing–this isn't just an article filled with complaints or accusations. Nor is it a rehash of "the same old stuff" as many people have implied in their comments. It is an important addition to the the portrait of American Indians (if there is only one to speak of, that is) that creates another layer in our understanding of interactions between the inhabitants of America.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Richardro

    The Texan president Miraebu Bonuparte Lamar disliked the Cherokee and Natives in general. He made the decision to escort them out of Northern Texas. Chief Robert Bowles, the descendent of a Scottish man and native mix, was eighty three years old.

    Lamar didn't trust any of them, and since the Mexicans were trying to get them to align to push out the Texan government and Mexico would reclaim the Texas.

    The Texan- cherokee war took place in July 16th and 17th in 1839, and the rest of the Natives flad, Chief Bowles was mutilated by a Texan soldier, and he even kept some of his scalp.

    To be fair to Lamar, there was clearly a national security risk to Texas by some of the Natives, but not all. President Houston was the only Texan to be fair to the Natives, not blind, but opening in friendship. But Texans just didn't like them, and neither did the government.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. Proudtobewhite-till I read these racist responses

    Wow... why do people get so inflamed? This article is not trying to say everything about American history, nor is it trying to say everything about the Trail of Tears. Every single thing written on the internet is not meant to evoke your small-minded opinions, so stop responding as such. This is simply presenting some information long forgotten or perhaps never known to average Americans, and informing us that we've been mistaken by providing actual evidence. See, intelligent people who have thoughts that take longer than a knee-jerk's length to form like to incorporate this kind of information into their overall understanding of the world, so please stand by while reasonable people learn something from this brilliant article.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • tkelly


      March 9, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hendl

    Thank you so much for this article. I certainly knew about the Trial of Tears, and that there were Native Americans who owned slaves, but had no idea that there were a lot of Blacks who also were on the Trail of Tears. btw – I speak to HIgh School classes about the Holocaust (my parents are Holocaust Survivors) and I always emphasize all groups who were victims. When I talk about the Blacks who were in Concentration camps and Labor camps, I always get shocked reactions, especially from Black students. FYI, at least 500 Blacks died at Dachau. Others were in horrific forced labor camps, and many died there. History is history, and we should be exposed to ALL of it.

    March 3, 2012 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Hyacinth

      Greetings Hendl,
      I was always curious as to the whereabouts of the Black people during those times of the Holocaust. Surely, Nazis did not leave Black people in peace. Please share with me where I can get direct access to this knowledge, preferably in its original written form. Much appreciated.

      March 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pdubya

    Im white, educated and proudly southern. I have an African immigrant neighbor in a small 3000 person town in rural Texas. He is a great guy-we believe in many common issues and he and his family have offerred to look out for my family while I work night shift or called out on an emergency-I m a cop. I m a liberal by no means-I try to see folks as individuals and not groups. Get rid of hyphenated Americans.Look for things we can all agree with-good schools, lower taxes helping our fellow Americans before foreigners. Incorporate BHM in schools daily with others ethnic groups as a part of the total American history story-warts and all. Content of character, values and the golden rule works for me.

    March 3, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Sambaman

      You my friend sound like a TRUE American, the type of Americans I would love to meet when travelling in the US.

      March 4, 2012 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Beautiful_Histories

    Fortunately, the Obama Administration was all over this issue and reversed it. It was done quietly.

    March 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  16. jheg

    I came to this whole exchange kind of late and haven't read all the comments, but...

    The last I heard, most accepted scientific evidence to date indicates that modern humans of all types originated on the African continent. Which sort of makes all this a family feud, huh?

    February 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  17. southernlady55

    I dont feel that the author was trying to diminish native american suffering in relation to african american suffering. I'm black, and I think this is just an informative article. I'm 25, and from mississppi and as a little girl i remember the 1st time that I saw that i was of native american descent. I was 6 and was taken over my grandmother's house to meet great aunts that had never seen me. they were twins in their early 90's and were clearly of native american descent. and they spoke a language to each other that i had never heard mixed with english. to this day i have never heard anything similar to the language they were speaking. and now i'm 25 and searching for a story to go along with those two ladies that i only saw 3 times before they passed. my grandmother was able to give me every name and birthdate she could remember before she passed. and now my father and i are try to put 'OUR' puzzle together. i dont feel the need to be able to check native american on a census, i just wanna know my family's past

    February 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      We have a similar history in our family. We are all four races. One grandmother looks mostly native american and I people tell me it is clear I have Native American blood. National Geographic as a program for $99 that tells you your racial ancestry based on genetics. It is very cool. Best Wishes

      March 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Interested Reader

    The most significant contribution of this piece is that the author illuminates part of history that is rarely taught and/or understood. Remember that he who doesn't know history is destined to repeat it. I have been enlightened and am proud that someone did this research.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Name*pmorgan

    Ever heard of the ' THE TRAIL OF BEERS'?

    February 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |


    February 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  21. AK

    I was surprised by the vitriol expressed in some of these posts. I read the article and simply found it interesting. I did not put near the emotion into it that many of those compelled to write comments. The article did not attempt to diminish the pain and suffer of Native Americans. The author’s only aim was to illustrate a more accurate picture history. I really don’t think the author objective was to falsely insert Black Folks into this tragedy; or to earn pity in the minds of others; or to make some feel guilty.

    What is to be gained?

    I understand the people on the extremes of an issue are generally the most likely to post comments. That said…I found some of the comment offensive and non value adding. Remember, sometimes silence is better than speaking.

    Read the article for what it states. Try not to add your own narrative.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  22. breyle


    February 28, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • JAG

      They were never property and were set free, after their debt was paid.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
      • Kat

        While Breyle is clearly just a racist, your comment is not entirely correct. Please read "Lost German Slave Girl" by the law historian John Bailey. Many slaves had less than one Black grandparent and thus were White by today's race construction. These slaves were worth less (and cost less) since they would be able to hide better when they run away. It is all detailed in the book, very fascinating, cause it shows again how we construct race by excluding and including people in the histories we tell (rather than just telling what we can prove historically)- just like the exclusion of the Freedmen from Cherokee history.

        February 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lisa D

        As an AA, this is quite interesting and should be a fascinating read, thank you. As I have always felt, hiding history will do us no good. As we all can see, it makes us resentful and impetuous with presumptuous denial of facts. What a day it will be when all is discussed. I had an Asian American professor at NC State that did a great job of opening my eyes, especially coming from someone who had nothing to gain or lose. LOVE HISTORY!!!!!

        March 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  23. thinkingoutloud

    The point is this happened many years ago...I did not own slaves and not one person i know has ever served as a slave, so why should you get reperations or be treated like your above me. This whole Issue has been blown out of proportion. Yes There were slaves brought from all over the world, however would thier lives be so much better starving to death. Another fact that has been brought into the equation is the rape that transpired during this time. Rape was not as condemed during this time (i am in no way agreeing with it) but now it is a crime and it still happens daily. On top of that rape happened often in africa. I do not consider myself racist but i do believe in what i know and that is to treat people with respect until they prove to me they are not worthy of my respect.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • TheWiz71

      The whole "this happened many years ago, so let's get over it" thing ignores the plain and simple fact that the legacy of slavery, or the genocide of the Indian peoples of the Americas, or the Holocaust, and other injustices which were perpetrated on a mass scale, are carried on down through generations, and are still being felt in our own time, whether we like it or not. Let's remember that Jim Crow, which was the direct result of slavery, is not ancient history but is actually living memory. To simply say "it was a long time ago, so let's forget it" is to dishonor those who suffered, and to ignore the duty we have right now to mitigate the legacy of such past evils right now.
      And, by the way, no slave owner was ever, ever persecuted for rape, as slave women were not persons under the law – whereas rape of any kind is a felony today, so equating what happened then to what happens now is like comparing apples and oranges. I won't even get into the ludicrous nature of the rest of your comments.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
      • thinkingoutloud

        this was not a comment of "this happened many years ago" So forget about it!!!!! This was merely a statement of it did happen many years ago so lets learn from it and move on to a better future....The DEEP cuts of not only slavery but also mentioned the holocaust which was an attempt to EXTERMINATE a religion will never be able to heal if we keep putting our fingers in it and agitating it. I do believe if you dont remember the past it will repeat itself. I am not suprised to your quick tongue lashing at my post as it seems of your nature to try to degrade someone else so quick as opposed to view an opinion as an OPINION...Thank you for your input and i will consider your words and try to see why you were so quick to anger at my words. Prime example of hatred in this world.

        February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
      • thinkingoutloud

        and i was not comparing the rape of yesterday to the rape today....I cannot change what happend yesterday. I can Try to prevent it from happening today(which is the reason i said it still happens today). There are many things that happened yesterday that i do not agree with, however WE do have the power to change what is yet to come.

        February 28, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • malonebash

      This is a response to nonsensicalthinkingoutloud. I would argue that in this day and age you would be hardpressed to find anyone who owns slaves in this country even though some of you would like nothing better than the return of the old status quo of 150 years ago. Additionally I find it amusing that so many whites live in the fantasy world of mistaken belief that all of their ancestors where antebellum landowning genttry when in fact slaves even though they were underfed ate better than poor whites. The world is falling apart around us yet the racist practice their evil craft rather than work with other ethnic groups and religions to save this planet for the survival of their mutual progeny..

      February 28, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
      • thinkingoutloud

        I agree that i would be hard pressed....Really? For you to say that most "Whites" would like to go back to the mentality of thier ancestors is ill stated. Im sorry that you believe this and am shocked that you would express this. This sounds racist to me and very stereotypicall.

        February 28, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
      • Lisa D

        @thinkoutloud, he, "M," said some and you have generalized and took out of context his words with "most." From someone who has lived in the deep south and watches the Republican debates constantly, it is OBVIOUS, that "SOME" would love for slavery to exist again. As Michelle Bachman said, "Blacks were better off as slaves." Rick Perry needs to target practice in his acres of forest called, "N*ggerHead." Rick Santorum, "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebodyelse's money." Newt Gingrich, "Black kids can learn how to work by giving them janitorial jobs at school." and lastly, Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, whose religion up until 1976, said that blacks were the "lost race" of Cain and deserved their cursed punishment in life.

        I AM INDEPEDENT, there is alot about Obama that does not make me want to vote for him again, HOWEVER, until the Republican party and the people that are in it show some different ideologies other than "hating" the black race, they will not get my vote and I will continue to acknowledge that "SOME" white people want nothing more than for me to be the "animal" slave they view in their own "hate-filled" reflection.

        March 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Andrew

    Black history is American history, what idiot decided we needed a special month for just black history.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      The same idiot who realized that if NOT for Black History Month.....Black History and the contributions of Blacks in American History would be......ignored.

      OK.....next stupid question.......

      February 28, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
      • TheWiz71

        Thank you, Retired Army. Hear hear!

        February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve1959

        Really? What contributions?

        February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
      • Retired Army

        Steve......your response is EXACTLY why there needs to be a BHM. Just the fact that you would ask such a question validates its need.

        Now.....pay better attention to what's being 'honored' during BHM so that you won't have to ask such a silly question in the future.

        February 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ph03nixx

      lol. Like!

      February 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  25. DAVE

    I am of Native American Decent. Africans, Whites, and every other race were captured and as you call it enslaved into our tribes. The difference is Native Americans then obsorved their "prisoners" into our tribes giving them the same rights. Africans may have been enslaved and a few may have been on the Trail of Tears. That does not change the fact that my people were exterminated and considered of no use (even as slaves to whites.) while your Africans joined the white calvery and helped to exterminate us. Guess you failed to teach that in your history least it make Africans look bad. Get over your race everything and every event is not about your past.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • ABC

      I agree. As terrible as the whites (and I am white) were to the blacks, the treatment of Native Americans was worse. Why do I say this? Because blacks were necessary for the economic success of some of the wealthy, whereas for the whites to occupy the continent it was advantageous to kill the Indians. And they did.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Dave.....don't get bent. WHAT YOU IGNORE here is that in the 18th and 19th centuries, literally thousands of Native American scouts were in the employ of the U.S. Government.....working with U.S. Military units.....helping them to remove native tribes from their lands, waging war against and killing other native people/tribes.

      So no.....it wasn't just the Whites that killed Native Americans.....and there weren't hordes of freedmen aiding Whites in the Killing of Native Americans; other Native americans had a hand.....and significant hand.....in the slaughter.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JAG

      It's all about programming through oppression; this is a very powerful tool.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      So in conclusion, every race crapped on other races and no one has a claim to be on the bottom...get over all this stuff and try to better your economic position by bettering yourself! With all the govt programs for education that are provided for MINORITIES you should not have a problem....

      February 28, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • malonebash

      No it is not about just Black people the reason for history is record what was and his but attempt to tell the whole story because to leave gaps in the narrative is an invitation for revisonism.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • EDB

      Please understand that this story is, in no way, trying to right the many wrongs that occurred in history.
      The story of Cherokee and Black relations is long, complicated, and cannot be simply put. Saying that all Cherokees were good to their slaves or nice slave owners is both ironic and not entirely true. It is very difficult to imagine a situation in which another person is owned as being good in any way. We can comment on the quality of life of African Americans enslaved by Cherokees, which has been recorded in numerous accounts to be better than that of African Americans owned by Whites; however we must remember that there are a wide variety of accounts and untellable cruelties carried out by both parties on their slaves.
      The matter of citizenship that you bring up is quite interesting. Slaves owned by Cherokees were not considered citizens at any point in their slavery and were forced to work for their masters without pay. Black slaves could gain citizenship only if they were freed in Cherokee Country West or, in the case of the Shoeboots family, applied for and were granted citizenship. This process is not simple, however. In this particular family although their ancestry could be traced back to a prominent Cherokee figure and his slave Doll, out of a group of five siblings only two were granted citizenship. And even if citizenship was granted, it took years to build the relationships required to feel like part of the Cherokee community.
      I hope this helps clarify some confusion.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Andrew

    So silly to have a black history month. Morgan Freeman said "when is white history month", "well I don't see why their is a black history month", "that is what breed resentment, special treatment for certain races."

    So do black people really want equality and be treated like whites, or do they want this special treatment liberals are so fond of that Morgan Freeman speaks of breeding resentment.
    Liberals are soooooo DUMB

    February 28, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Yeah.....sooooooooooo silly to have a Black History Month.

      And there's NOTHING you can do about it except to moan and complain. very good......I'm happy you have the right to moan and complain.....about just about everything that ails you.

      Hope you fell better soon.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JAG

      I'm sure blacks would trade black history month for equality in a heartbeat.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • MissusPowell

      History is important as they are the stories of all people(s) by people who lived it, gave their lives-in many cases, and contributed to our NOW in many ways. Also, it is important to learn the mistakes of our pasts as well as the lessons from those mistakes, so we don't make the same mistakes again. To the racists who write here, get over yourselves because not one of you is better than anyone else on this planet earth.

      February 29, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Doranda

      Morgan Freeman proves the saying this time that "A fool can be thought intelligent until he opens his mouth."

      March 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Phil

    Get over it.....I could tell you what it is like to be white in America and hated for it.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • TheWiz71

      Oh poor oppressed you.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • malonebash

      Oh the sad plight that white people have in America. But then again maybe you are a seer. Who knows what the latino majority will have in store for you in 3 years.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
      • Tom

        You are right. In a few years, under the NEW LATIN leadership, we will be MEXICO NORTH...sure makes us white folks happy to look forward to this. I guess all those ILLEGALS from Mexico will now be the leading politicians here in Mexico North and the poor Guatamalans will be forced to go home....the more things change the more they remain the same

        February 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Andrew

    There is no shortage of black people at CNN who want to write only about black peoples history. I think their are about 15 stories every day about current black problems or historical black problems. They can't even let the Native Americans have their own problems, they must be part of that too. CNN must have 10 black people who just write about black problems. This isn't Central News Network, it's BNN, Black News Network. CNN is obsessed with black peoples problems, not so much other minorities.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • JAG

      It doesn't feel good, does it? Bias creates negative emotions and resentment.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      Andy......If you have such deep issues with CNN......why are you here?

      Why don't you just Slither back over to FauxNoise to get your daily dose of satisfaction?

      And BTW.....CNN has NEVER stood for "Central" News Network, you uninformed dolt.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • multi-racial rainbow

      I see you missed the point. I think it is great the tie between black americans and Native Americans are highlighted in this article. There are lots of black people who are part Native American and why shouldn't they understand their history, it is cool understanding ones background.

      March 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  29. TheWiz71

    @ExConSrvTv and others like him or her – To all those who are saying that the Cherokee deserved this because they weren't educated, or what have you, you need to learn your history. The Cherokee people were a sovereign nation in the American southeast. they had treaties with the United States government. They were settled, had become Christian long before the the expulsion (which, to the 19th Century mind was a key component of being "civilized") and were propagating European style education for their young people. The wealthy white landowners of the southeast coveted their lands, however. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokees against their expulsion by Georgians and those members of other states who wanted their land, by President Jackson refused to enforced the ruling, saying that the Chief Justice could enforce it himself – and advised the southerners to light a fire underneath the Cherokees to let them go. This had nothing to do with pacifying a hostile people, nor did it have to do with an uneducated people being made to face the consequences of their ignorance (one of the key Cherokee leaders was actually university educated and married to a woman of European descent). It was all about the rich and powerful being greedy, and, fueled by racism, that greed getting the better of justice and the rule of law.

    February 28, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  30. exCONsrvtv

    Every race has been enslaved and mistreated at one time or another. This is how life works for the weak and uneducated. It's not my fault that my ancestors or someone else's were in that situation and I'm not going to feel sorry for them that they allowed it to happen. Embrace education or it will happen again.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  31. JAG

    Too many earthquakes beneath the sea of our culture (not just slavery) has produced a massive wave in black society that has impacted the entire nation. We've all seen the destruction left behind when the waters subside; it's unfortunate that culture has memory, and traditions are handed down (even those of despair, hatred, violence, hopelessness and resentment). Barriers that have been burned into the consciousness of a culture are hard to remove. Children raised in an abusive home need a lot of love to recover; for blacks, America has been an abusive home and love is in extremely short supply. Since love cannot be legislated, laws will never change the heart of a man.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  32. w l jones

    The first Black who were made slave here in America were the Aboriginal people from East and west Africa. They came here hundered of thousand of years ago on there own ..even before all other races exited on this planet. Matter of fact when we get to other planets you will find Black people up there as well.

    February 28, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  33. Pedro

    Geez, even the Cherokee's can't have their trail of tears...

    February 28, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • oy

      Who said they can't? Why are they denying that the slaves they owned shared that history?

      February 28, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve1959

        You miss the point. There were over 50,000 Native Americans enslaved. Do you count them when you talk of slavery? The very first slaves in America were lifelong endentured servants from Britain. Do you ever consider them? Of course the biggest problem with this whole story is the fact that since 1803 Native Americans and Free Blacks were not legally allowed to own slaves.

        February 28, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  34. Calvin

    February is almost over 🙂

    February 28, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • oy


      February 28, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Get a Life


      February 28, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • TheWiz71

      Only those who really don't care about history would choose to denigrate the study of any part of it. And those who don't care about history (or are rewriting it to suit their own political agendae – I'm lookiing at you, TEA Partiers and Glenn Beck) are the same ones who are leading us into a new dark age.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  35. Brian

    A few facts: Yes, Africans were captured by other Africans and sold into slavery. Africa at that time was simply too dangerous for slave traders to venture inland. One million Africans were brought by Europeans into the Americas as slaves. Ten million Africans were brought by Muslims into the Middle East as slaves, and they continued this practice long past our Civil War. The United States outlawed the importation of slaves less than 30 years after declaring our independence and our navy vigoursly went after slave traders.

    February 28, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  36. davinia

    Not all White Americans are unfeeling about the pass atrocities of people of color. I was fortunate in doing a genealogy historical research and found some amazing things that brought tears to the Whites and Native Americans I shared it with; unlike when I shared it with Black Americans who had no emotions, but showed hatred and jealousy. In order to move forward, the Black diaspora happened, its time to stop the hatred, forgive, educate, and move on. We are the better for it, and can do great things with the gifts we possess we can make a difference for the greater good in our community, society, and the WORLD.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
    • jzaks

      Well said.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Esteemed

      I absolutely agree!!!!!!!!!!

      February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  37. lance corporal

    what a grand mix we are and all the better for it!
    please come the day we simply find our differences interesting
    and nothing more

    I'm not christian but I've always seen power in the phrase
    forgive my trespasses and I forgive those who trespass against me
    true freedom lies in forgiveness

    February 28, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • lance corporal

      as I....

      February 28, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Fearfighter17

      Its nice to hear those words. Thank you lance corporal..forgiveness is the heaviest of all swords to wield..

      February 28, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
  38. qwedie

    If the Black Africans had not sold there own people then you would have nothing to talk about. I feel bad that Blacks must remain in the US against there will. There must be some way that you can go home (back to Africa) to find happiness.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Victorious

      History is so important, from the begining of time there have been slaves and just about every culture and nationality has experience the pain from it. All , any of us can do is to simply respect it, learn from it and appreciate the fact that it is history.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • YogerTheOgre

      @qwedie – I like it here just fine. I learned to make lemonade with lemons. Not all black people feel the way you think...

      February 28, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
      • Victorious

        It is so clear that "qwedie" have some issues that will take time for him/or she to sort out.

        February 28, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • lance corporal

      we do know about african collusion in the enslaving of their brothers BUT that is only what started it, when it turned in to the massive industry feeding the southern USA it was no longer a "black owned" business.... BUT
      what problem do you have with telling historical stories?? do you like stories about william wallace, rob roy etc?? they make movies about those........ don't ya think you could allow other groups to explore their past? maybe even find it interesting?? certainly nothing to complain about

      February 28, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Fearfighter17

      Qwedie..this is our home...Forever......

      February 28, 2012 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Esteemed

      Wow, your are nothing short of comical , lol. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are exactly the "type" that Rick Santorum is looking for, unfortunate that you will never get any further along than you are as you are so consumed with race that you show that you are ill equipped to fight the war on class. Elitist politicians use socially and politically daft and uneducated people like you to push their agendas. However, I could not possibly expect you to even understand this comment as you appear to intellectually challenged on every level. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 28, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
    • MixedinNC

      Qwedie, just a hint: it's "their", not "there". Don't let your misuse of language betray your ignorance; your opinions do that for themselves.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
      • ellen

        we all make spelling and syntax errors- it usually has nothing to do with intelligence or education.

        February 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • w l jones

      Ninty percent of all black slave did not did not come from Africa those black of the Aboriginal inhabitian of all America both North and south America when the continet split away from Africa so stop saying most of them came by way of slavery they were here all the time. Bless.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Tom

        HUH !!???

        February 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Cora

    Dear fellow white people,

    Stop denying white privilege!

    Concerned Cora

    February 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • DarthFiend

      Dear Concerned Cora,

      I have no guilt for being white. Why do you think I should?

      An Unrepentant White Male

      February 28, 2012 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
      • w l jones

        If all white go back to theirs ancient homeland we would not have this talking point ..notice didnot say go back to Europe that were black land go to the point go back to Northern China where you all came from. .if the Chinese have you all.

        February 28, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Stop spreading myths because everything is about money not color of skin.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      I do not deny white privilege, I embrace it.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      My earliest memory is of living in a Ford Pinto. My family had to rely on food stamps and welfare for years. Most of my clothes were donated or hand me downs. My mother put herself through school and became a paralegal. She was able to lift herself up out of poverty and become respectable. I myself now work for a major bank. I’m by no means rich but with a little responsibly I was able to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Where is this privilege you speak of?

      And so you know there are more black people in my office than white.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  40. Debbie

    Wow! To Black Mystery Month: there is an adage my Father would say which applies double for you: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt". Next time you think you have something to add, just let it go.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Debbie

    Wow! To Black Mystery Month: there is an adage my Father would say which applies double for you: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your moth and remove all doubt". Next time you think you have something to add, just let it go.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAG

      But if it weren't for fools, how would we distinguish the wise?

      February 28, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Hillary

      Debbie, while that adage may be relevant in other settings, I don’t think it applies to this article. Miles is not trying to detract from the wrongs that the Cherokee’s suffered during the Trial of Tears. Rather, her goal is to add to the public’s perception about the Trial of Tears. Her article is based on fact. The Cherokees did in fact own slaves, and those slaves did endure the Trial of Tears. While this doesn’t coincide with the preexisting idea many people have that the Cherokees were purely victims, it is better to acknowledge that some Cherokees were slaveholders than deny the truth. In my opinion, presenting a skewed version of history is more offensive than hiding a less-than-pleasant fact. In this case, it is certainly better for Miles “to open her mouth” and remove the public’s misconceptions than remain silent and let the public be fooled.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Jim

    Save the history for the History Channel and try reporting the news CNN.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC


      February 28, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
    • oy

      I'm sorry, is someone forcing you to read this article?

      February 28, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Agreed Jim.
      This has nothing to do with the news and little to do with history. It’s another creative rewrite to make a very small aspect into something greater by riding on someone else’s tragedy. But that’s just par for the course for this topic.

      February 28, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  43. Mikey

    It seems each person holds their own experiences, or those of "their people" in the highest regard. They carry the most weight. They're the most meaningful. Which is the same thing as saying the rest aren't as important. Which is crap. Instead of focusing on the past, why not on the future? That applies to race, creed, color, religion, politics, panty size – *everything*. Let it go. Quit managing what was and start working on what will be.

    Just another in a very long list of reasons why I can't stand people.

    February 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • paincake

      And we can't stand people like you. Our history is important and shows us how we got to where we are and how to avoid the same mistakes. There is nothing in this article that wreaks of self pitty yet you seem to label it as such. "The end is the beginning is the end".

      February 28, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  44. hrdwrkjoe

    thats better!

    February 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakota

      It amazes me to here the quips about being "educated" and "getting the facts straight" . What would the basis of that endeavor be ? The white European version of written history shoveled at stundents in this country that is for the most part not thiers despite the rape pillage and conquering of it by their ancestors. You whites dont get it, you descended from one of the most atrocious, vicious self depricating societys in history. Im speaking of the one you desended from before you arrived here. Maybee you should educate yourself about the society you descended from prior to coming to this country were you are so proud of your generally fictionalized history. You spit on african americans and my people

      February 27, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • J

        Oh brother .. talk about giving it a rest.

        February 28, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
      • jim

        The operative phrase here is "conquering of it by their ancestors". You were conquered, after which the land was no longer yours. You own only those things you can defend against anyone who would take them from you. No other definition of ownership makes any sense in a fundamentally violent world.

        February 28, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Sean

        What you don’t seem to get is that ALL races share the negative sides of humanity. Blacks and Indians owned slaved. They warred with each other like everyone else. The difference was and is: white societies are more successful.

        Get over it.

        February 28, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  45. hrdwrkjoe

    why will NOTHING POST?

    February 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  46. D

    There were black slaves who were the property of Native Americans? Okay thanks for writing this I didn't know. However, I find it pretty annoying that more emphasis, in all aspects of society, is placed on the subjugation of blacks in America- in the past and the present. Yes, slavery was bad, but for god sakes it also happened everywhere else in the world! Including Africa! I feel that Native Americans deserve more of a voice and more focus because when this "great" nation was built by stealing the land of Native Americans (I don't care who was running away from religious persecution), committing atrocious acts of genocide, wiping out entire native cultures, and forcing the NATIVE peoples to move from the fertile land that they have lived on for generations in exchange for living on infertile reservations. Because of America, through slavery and the many other hardships people of color have had to endure a new African-American culture was born, but because of America the Native American cultures were destroyed.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
1 2