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The Story of Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Dr. Tiya Miles chronicled the history of the Chief Vann House

On February 6, 2012, the American Studies Programs at Kennesaw State University sponsored 2011 MacArthur fellow, Dr. Tiya Miles, as the featured Spring 2012 MAST Program guest speaker. Dr. Miles spoke about the research which spawned her book, The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story, which was based upon her work at the Chief Vann House in North Georgia. About 60 history students, faculty and community members interested in the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee nation were in attendance. Dr. Miles studies intersections between Native-American and Afro-American History and is a professor of history, Afro-American & African Studies, and Native American Studies at the University of Michigan, where she is also an affiliate in the Women’s Studies program. Her first book, The Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom was the winner of the Organization of American Historians’ Frederick Jackson Turner Prize and the American Studies Association’s Lora Romero prizes in 2006. Dr. Miles said, “Rather than viewing the Vann House as a symbol of Georgia’s proud history, or, as the Georgia Historical Commission deemed it, ‘the show place of the Cherokee Nation,’ I see it as a sieve for contemporary place-based identity formation and as a site of historical struggle for human dignity and survival.” (3). Dr. Miles will be chronicling the intersection of lives between the White, Cherokee, and African-American inhabitants of the Chief Vann plantation, one of the richest plantations owned by a Cherokee in the early 19th Century. “Working together—as students of history; lovers of old, magnificent buildings; southerners, northerners, westerners, foreigners, Cherokees, blacks and whites—we can unwrap this grand old home’s glittering façade, open wide its multistoried windows and doors, and allow the memories and meanings of all who dwelled there to flow through our understanding like a cleansing breeze. In the resonant words of Southern writer Alice Walker, the way forward is with a broken heart.” (197) Dr. Miles received her A.B. in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University, an MA. In Women’s Studies from Emory University, and her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Posted: February 8, 2012

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