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A Review of

Slavery and Evolution of the Cherokee

Society 1540-1866

by Theda Perdue

In this well-written book by Theda Perdue, he discloses much of the history of slavery among the Cherokee people and their evolution during this 326 year period. He begins with their abduction by the Spanish. Perdue gives a remarkable

comparison of the two very different views of slavery experienced by two very different cultures. He states that even though the Spaniards captured the Cherokee for use as slaves, they misunderstood that the Indians had an egalitarian social

system. The Cherokee system also included distribution of power and labor. Thus, the Cherokee accepted their slavery as a natural part of domination by the strongest. The Cherokee misunderstood the Spanish form of slavery which was one of


During the first years of contact with the Europeans and the African people, the Cherokee were only peacefully inquisitive. The Indians need for European trading goods grew. Because of this need, the Cherokee began waging war to supply

slaves to the Europeans in return. Thus, corrupting the Cherokee lifestyle.

Theda Perdue tells of the destruction of tribal ways due to the embracing of a belief foreign to the Native American way of life. According to Perdue, the U.S. government, after the Civil War, decided that cheating the Cherokee for any

reason was justified because of genuine or imagined betrayals.

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