Janus' Home


been advising the Cherokee to follow white ways, keep livestock, grow corn, cotton and flax. Hawkins introduced Western methods of cotton agriculture and cloth production. By the first years of the 19th century, western agriculture and slaveholding had been introduced in earnest on Cherokee lands.

Slaveholding as practiced by the Cherokee had deep historical roots. Traditional indigenous forms of bondage involved captive/adoption practices that had been in place for centuries. Early interaction with traders in the 18th century saw a "rapid development of foreign manufactured goods," which in turn made "slaves very desirable possessions."4 Consequently, intertribal warfare escalated, and the capture and sale of potential slaves came to be viewed as a highly profitable industry. In this way traders had a massive influence upon changing Cherokee views toward bondage practices. "As a southern Indian tribe, the Cherokees had extensive contact with a white slaveholding society which set the standard by which the Cherokee measured their progress toward 'civilization.' Consequently, the Cherokees in their flight from 'savagery' established a system of plantation slavery."5 With the dawn of the 19th century and the American "policy of pacification and civilization, the slave's role changed from product to producer."6

Slaveholding as we know it was implemented at the same time that Western agriculture was initiated. A concurrent development to these implementations was the creation of a wealthy mixed-blood slaveholding elite. These men typically had some childhood education at the missionary schools and had some white ancestry. "Only 17 percent of the people living in the Cherokee Nation in 1835 had any white ancestors, but 78 percent of the members of the families owning slaves claimed some proportion of white blood."7 Slaveholders comprised 8 percent of the Cherokee Nation. Of this 8 percent, "39 percent could


4. Theda Perdue, "Cherokee Planters: The Development of Plantation Society Before Removal," in The Cherokee Indian Nation: A Troubled History, ed. Duane H. King (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1979), 111.
5. Ibid., 110. Perdue is the leading authority on Cherokee slaveholding.
6. Ibid., 112.
7. Ibid., 117.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 |28