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Interview with Tiya Miles, 2011 recipient of a McArthur Genius Award.

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Unearthing a Cherokee-Slave Narrative at a Plantation Home

by David McGuire, guest contributor

Chief Vann House MuseumAn exhibit detailing the construction of the historic house mentioned. (Photo courtesy of Chief Vann House Museum)

Some stories in our families, and in our culture, get passed down. Some lay hidden, or are actively forgotten. Public historian Tiya Miles has worked on the latter — unearthing the painful histories of African slave ownership by Cherokees in the 19th century.

In this short excerpt from our upcoming show, “Toward Living Memory,” Miles explains how one fragment of an archival document led to a meaningful change at the plantation home of Cherokee Chief Vann.