Source:Halliburton, R. Red over Black

Source Red Over Black
Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians
Author Halliburton, R
Place Virginia, United States
Mississippi, United States
Kentucky, United States
Missouri, United States
South Carolina, United States
West Virginia, United States
Arkansas, United States
Texas, United States
Alabama, United States
Florida, United States
Georgia, United States
Louisiana, United States
North Carolina, United States
Tennessee, United States
Subject Ethnic/Cultural
Ethnicity / Culture African American
Publication information
Type Book
Publisher Greenwood Press
Date issued 1977
Place issued Westport, Connecticut
Periodical / Series name Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies
Halliburton, R. Red Over Black: Black Slavery among the Cherokee Indians. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1977).
Family History Library
Harold Washington Library Center (Chicago)6th Floor, ReferenceOther


An important contribution to African American and Native American History:

"As a descendant of African Slaves of the Cherokee Nation, this book has had a profound impact on my understanding of Oklahoma history, our respective African American and Native American legacies, and how assimilation is not a viable solution for any culture. The relationship between African Americans and Native Americans has been, from the time of forced removal, through the Civil War, reconstruction, land runs, statehood, oil discovery, miscegenation laws, civil rights, and subsequent history leading to the recent "vote," very complex indeed." --Olon F. Dotson (Amazon user published 2009-02-21)

Person-of-Color Unity Denied:

"According to Halliburton, Cherokees had black slaves and did not treat them better than white masters would have. They discouraged interracial unions and would not allow part-black Cherokees to become tribal members. They did not have a pronounced abolitionist movement like whites had. They did not promote person-of-color unity; they clearly saw blacks as inferior. Further, whereas modern whites may be ashamed of their slaveowning ancestors, modern Cherokees are not. If the truth is the truth, I may have to let my P.C. assumptions go. Still, there are many things that make me skeptical about this book.

"Unlike other historians who write, "This is the general trend and here is an example of it." Halliburton will give an example of Cherokee oppression of blacks and imply that the entire Cherokee Nation must have acted in the same way. I've forgotten the difference between inductive logic and deductive logic, but this author seems to use the method that modern Westerners have rejected. He brutally minimizes the impact of the Trail of Tears; you would think the Cherokees just wanted to have a fun adventure and wanted to come to census on moving, rather than being forced out by the very racist President Andrew Jackson and his administration. He points to many wealthy, male Cherokees slaveowners; did poor or female Cherokees feel differently about slavery? Halliburton cites numerous Cherokee laws against Cherokee-black miscegenation. However, white states had those same laws and it didn't stop white men from fathering children with black slave women. Why does Halliburton say nothing about sexual liaisons that must have gone on between Cherokee slaveowners and black female slaves?

"Please remember that Halliburton is a black professor. He is writing for a black book series. His book is written in the 1970s, during the height of the Black Power Movement. He teaches in the Southwest. Was his purpose to say that black are more oppressed than the many Native Americans in the region where he lives? Was this book meant to ensure that blacks get the same or more benefits than what tribal members would receive in Southwestern colleges? Some legal thinkers assert that it's bad to play "the oppression sweepstakes" in which group X tries to maintain that they suffered more than group Y. Halliburton seems to not care about that concern.

"The Cherokees were known for accepting white culture much more easily than other tribes. Couldn't having slaves be just one more example of that? Halliburton says little on how whites encouraged Natives and blacks to distrust each other. Maybe that is what is playing out here. If Halliburton is correct, than why do so many African Americans (myself included) claim to have Native American blood? Why did Katz's "Black Indians" book sell so well? Why do people of many races want black-red unity to exist? How is Halliburton's book helpful to modern projects to encourage black-red unity? Who benefits from his research and absolutist descriptions?

"This book frustrates me so badly, even as I try to keep an open mind toward what the author is saying." --by Jeffery Mingo (Amazon user published 2005-10-06)

Usage Tips

  • Document Type: Book
  • ISBN: 0837190347 : 9780837190341
  • OCLC Number: 2644717
  • Notes: Includes index.
  • Description: x, 218 p., [5] leaves of plates : ill. ; 22 cm.
  • Series Title: Contributions in Afro-American and African studies, no. 27
  • Responsibility: R. Halliburton, Jr.

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Link to the Cherokee Heritage Project Page