THE BOOKS

 

Art T. Burton is a historian who fell in love with the Wild West as a young man. The books below are a culmination of his research into African-Americans in the Wild West and how they shaped history. All books are available for purchase on Amazon. 

BLACK, RED, and DEADLY

ISBN 978-0-89015-994-1

Cherokee Bill, one of the meanest of the mean, was hanged for the murder of thirteen men by the time he was twenty. Author Art Burton recounts the exploits of Cherokee Bill and other black and Indian outlaws and lawmen in Black, Red, and Deadly, the story of law and lawlessness in the Indian Territory. He also tells of Dick Glass, the most notorious African American outlaw during the 1880s; Ned Christie, the most feared Indian outlaw of his time; the Rufus Buck gang, who gained instant notoriety with murder, plunder, and rape; as well as others who rode the trail of crime. The author introduces Ezekiel Proctor, the only man with whom the U.S. government made a treaty; Indian policemen known as "Lighthorsemen"; fearless Sam Sixkiller; black men who rode for Judge Parker, the "hanging judge," such as Grant Johnson; and Bass Reeves, the greatest manhunter of them all. African Americans were hired as peace officers because of their knowledge of Indian Territory. All-black calvary units built Fort Sill in the 1870s and kept settlers in check before the Land Run of 1889 when Oklahoma Territory was opened to settlement.

BLACK, BUCKSKIN, and BLUE

ISBN 978-1-57168-786-9

Black, Buckskin, and Blue takes an in-depth look at African Americans who were scouts and soldiers on the United States western frontier during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The author explores the incidents and adventures black men were involved in during the westward movement as scouts and soldiers. Bypassing the radical hostilities they endured in frontier towns - well covered by other books - the author examines military incidents involving black soldiers and desperadoes, as well as certain critical military engagements in which they made important contributions. This book is a continuation of the research begun by the author more than a decade ago for Black, Red, and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territory, 1870-1907.

Black Gun, Silver Star

ISBN 978-0-8032-1747-8

Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves appears as one of “eight notable Oklahomans,” the “most feared U.S. marshal in the Indian country.” That Reeves was also an African American who had spent his early life as a slave in Arkansas and Texas makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable. Bucking the odds (“I’m sorry, we didn’t keep black people’s history,” a clerk at one of Oklahoma’s local historical societies answered a query), Art T. Burton sifts through fact and legend to discover the truth about one of the most outstanding peace officers in late nineteenth-century America—and perhaps the greatest lawman of the Wild West era.

 

Fluent in Creek and other southern Native languages, physically powerful, skilled with firearms, and a master of disguise, Reeves was exceptionally adept at apprehending fugitives and outlaws, and his exploits were legendary in Oklahoma and Arkansas. A finalist for the 2007 Spur Award, sponsored by the Western Writers of America, Black Gun, Silver Star tells Bass Reeves’s story for the first time and restores this remarkable figure to his rightful place in the history of the American West.

Cherokee Bill: Black Cowboy-Indian Outlaw

ISBN 978-1-68719-130-2

Once upon a time in the late nineteenth century, there was an outlaw that captured the imagination of the American public like no other. He can be compared to John Dillinger or Pretty Boy Floyd of the 1930s. Like both of these men, he garnered national press for his exploits; the well-known New York Times had a running commentary on his actions and deeds. This outlaw's name was Crawford Goldsby, better known as Cherokee Bill.

Cherokee Bill was every bit as colorful and outrageous as any criminal of the western frontier, perhaps even more so. There were a few things about him that made him truly unique for a famous desperado of the purple sage. First and foremost, he was an African American living in the Indian Territory. He was also Native American, Bill was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, as a freedman, from his mother's lineage.

Compare Cherokee Bill to Billy the Kid, (Billy Antrim), of New Mexico Territory fame. Although both outlaws received national media attention for their crimes while they were living, Billy the Kid was remembered and immortalized in books and films in the twentieth century; this did not occur for Cherokee Bill. Art Burton's newest book will help change that.

© 2020 by Aisha Okala.