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Slavery in the Cherokee Nation and the Freedmen Controversy


            Throughout the years, slavery has played a dominant role within the Cherokee Nation, inevitably affecting thousands of African Americans, American Indians, and Europeans alike. Within the last decade, a vicious battle has come alive between the Cherokee people and freedmen. These freedmen, who have been denied their right to remain within the Cherokee nation, are descendants of slaves held by the Native American tribe. The purpose of this research is to outline a brief history of slavery within the Cherokee Nation, key conflicts, and the resulting outcomes. .
             Before Europeans journeyed to North America and brought African slaves with them, Africans and Native Americans actually had a lot in common. Slavery existed, but in a much different context. Peace and diversity were commonalities: ‚ÄúDiverse societies flourished in Africa and the Americas for thousands of years before Europeans colonized them. In this hemisphere, there were hundreds of Native nations, each with its own spirituality, language, system of government, and land base. In Africa, societies ranged from complex kingdoms to hunter-gatherer communities, with many tribal, religious, and linguistic differences. But the peoples of these continents had many things in common. Many considered themselves stewards of their ancestral homelands. African and Native groups also held similar ideas about animal spirits, the guiding presence of ancestors, oral traditions, a living world, and extended family relationships" (IndiVisible).
             Today, the world only thinks of slavery as it pertains to Europeans selling or holding captive African Americans. Also, it is widely taught that white Europeans introduced slavery to North America upon their arrival since certain more violent types of slavery were introduced. However, there is a history of slavery long before white men stumbled upon the Americas. Forms of slavery that existed before Europeans arrived in North America were quite different than the form of chattel slavery developed elsewhere (Gilio-Whitaker).