Intergenerational Testimonials and the Politics of Black Cherokee Belonging


ACLS Project Development Grants




This project problematizes how we think about Blackness, land, indigeneity, and belonging by offering a reading of the citizenship applications and land deeds of William Shoe Boots and his descendants in the nineteenth century. The analysis focuses on the legal documentation—comprising citizenship applications, appeals, and land deeds—pertaining to William and his descendants; it reveals a Black Cherokee politics of collective place-making in which the family produced their own archive and their own print record through their awareness of the power held by these court documents. Termed as collective, intergenerational testimonials, these applications and appeals reveal the radicality of the family's insistence on a recognition of themselves as Black and Cherokee.