Breaking the Chains

Breaking the Chains book cover “The compelling, provocative story of the resistance and courage of African slaves in their never-ending struggle for freedom…important history.” — USA Today

Though they have never appeared in a school text, Hollywood movie or a TV show of the Old West, Black Indians were there as sure as Sitting Bull, Davy Crockett and Geronimo. Their story began at the time of Columbus, ranged from North American forests to South American jungles, and the jewel-like islands of the Caribbean.

The first freedom paths taken by runaway slaves led to Native American villages. There black men and women found a red hand of friendship and an accepting adoption system and culture. The sturdy offspring of Black-Indian marriages shaped the early days of the fur trade, added a new dimension to frontier diplomacy, and made a daring contribution to the fight for American liberty. Early Florida history was determined by a powerfull alliance that fought the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines to a standstill for forty years.

Like other intrepid frontier people, these dark Americans braved every peril for a slice of the American Dream—freedom, a safe home, family happiness and a piece of one’s own land. In the chronicles of the Americas their long, arduous quest for freedom is still a neglected chapter.

Through careful research and rare antique prints and photographs, this book reveals how black and red people learned to live and work together in the Americas to oppose white oppression. Here is an American story that reveals a little-known aspect of our past and shatters some myths.

Additional reviews

“In his Breaking The Chains, which earned the Carter G. Woodson award, Katz chronicles how resistance by Africans marked the era of slavery. It shows how slaves battled for dignity and liberty in fields, cities, through education and religion, by joining maroon colonies, by staging revolts or fleeing on the Underground Railroad. Katz shows how slaves transformed the Civil War into a battle for freedom and brought about the Union victory. “This book will force many readers to reexamine their assumptions about American history… Young readers will be fascinated and better informed for having experienced this book,” wrote School Library Journal. Striking photographs highlight this unknown heritage.”
Black Child Magazine, February/March 1997