Southern Indians, including the Cherokees, have to a considerable degree been excluded from histories of the Old South. This is demonstrated by a perusal of general histories and other historiographical writing. In numerous works there is no mention of Indians. Where mention is made, it too frequently in only with regard to the colonial struggles among France, Spain, and England for control of the Old Southwest. Consequently, there is paucity of information about black slavery among the Southern Indians in general and the Cherokees specifically.
A considerable Afro-American historiography exists and some material treating Indian and black relations is readily found. Unfortunately, these materials do not often refer to the institution of black slavery within the tribes. When perfunctory references to black slavery among American Indians in general and Cherokees in particular are found, they all too frequently contain misinformation, unsubstantiated generalizations, and faulty analysis and conclusions. They have provided a distorted image of the subject that has become accepted by most scholars of all races. Consequently, a twisted stereotype has continually been projected.
From earliest times, the Cherokees appear to have been one of the largest and most advanced Indian tribes. They were an ethnocentric people and believed that they were superior to others, regardless of their tribes, races, or origins.
Both the Spanish and French used black slaves on their expeditions of discovery into the Indian country, and when the Cherokees first met these Europeans, they saw black men bearing burdens, performing labor, tending livestock, and acting as body servants. The Cherokees did not at that time or subsequently develop an affinity with blacks as brothers of color, both oppressed by the white man.