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The Real History of Black Native Americans

• Sep 26, 2015

*Editor’s note: A prior title of this piece included a playful reference to African Americans erroneously claiming to have ‘Indian in their family’. Many of our commenters rightfully found this title offensive and dismissive of the many African Americans who have Native American blood and show reverence for their Native American culture. We apologize and have changed the title to be reflective of the piece’s intent — shining a spotlight on a cultural subset that is often overlooked.*

afro native american cherokee girl

Throughout the years many black people have laid claim to Native American heritage. Interestingly, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates’ research claims that the average African American actually has very little Native American blood — less than 1%. However, behind the talk of ‘high cheekbones’ and ‘red skin tone’ there actually is a fascinating history of African American and Native cultures combining.

Although there are over 500 federally recognized Native American tribes, only 5 were considered to be “civil” during the colonial period. These 5 tribes which consisted of  Cheek, Chocktaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole had adopted colonial practices such as Christianity, written constitutions and plantation slavery. Yes, native Americans were coerced into owning black slaves under the direction of British colonists, in efforts to secure the Transatlantic Slave trade. The colonists felt native Americans who accepted slavery would not harbor fleeing runaway slaves.

Five-Civilized-Tribes-Portraits

Slavery within the Native American Nations

The only tribe that rejected bondage slavery was the Seminole “in favor of a system of friendship and alliance with their black members.”

Like European slaveowners, Native americans adopted Slave Codes to control their black population by hindering runaways and preventing them from learning how to read and write. It was required for members of the nation to catch runaway slaves.

However, the concept of slavery varied tremendously from what was seen in white-owned plantations. Because bondage was seen as a violation of the human spirit and will to be free, many observers noticed the chains were placed loosely upon slaves which upset white slaveowners. Only the Chickasaw upheld the reputation of treating slaves as poorly as white slaveowners.

Former Cherokee slaves detailed their experiences in interviews in William Katz’s book, “Black Indians”:

Johnson Thompson, eighty, and a former Cherokee slave, said: “The master never punish anybody, and I never see anybody whipped, and only one slave sold. Lots of slave children didn’t ever learn to read.”

Some even have stories of slaves who were able to earn money to purchase their freedom:

Rochelle Ward, ninety-one, remembere: “Some of the slaves work around and get money and pay this money to their master for freedom, so there was some freed before the close of the war.

British colonies posed many treaties with the Native American nations for the return of fugitive slaves. However, because of the adoption system which existed among the nations new members were welcomed and offered full protection.

When whites argued about the right of private property in owning people and insisted Africans were inferior beings, the Indians shrugged, “no.”

Notable Black Native Americans

Picture 215

Wildfire Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia Lewis who previously went by her Chippewa name of Wildfire was a prominent artist of the 19th century.

black native americans

Diana Fletcher

Diana Fletcher was a member of the Seminole nation but was later adopted into Kiowa. She was said to be a school teacher at the schools built for black native Americans.

Black Native Americans Today

In 2007, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled black members who were brought into the tribe by Native American slave owners or freedmen, before were no longer to be considered members of the tribe. This decision means black members would no longer be eligible for free healthcare and education benefits.

Similarly in 2000, after receiving $56 million in reparations from the U.S. government for land taken in Florida, the Seminole nation restricted its membership to those who could only prove their lineage via the Dawes Rolls. The Dawes Rolls authorized by the U.S. congress as a requirement to negotiate with the Five Civilized Tribes to convince them to agree to an allotment plan and dissolution of the reservation system. Citizens of the tribe fell under several categories: by blood, marriage, freedmen(formerly enslaved by Native Americans) and Delaware/Lenape.

Despite the adversity, black native Americans have continued to foster a community to preserve their culture. These photos were taken at the first annual Mountain Eagle Place Inter-Tribal Pow Wow in Virginia.

black natve americans mountain eagle place4

Nataska Humminbird

black native americans mountain eagle place2

Maimouna Youssef, Navasha Daya, Nataska Humminbrd

black native americans mountain eagle place3

Maimouna Youssef

black native americans mountain eagle place

What is your knowledge behind the Black Native American population?

Sources: Black Indians by William Loren Katz

About Rinny

Texan by birth, Los Angeleno by situation. Lover of Tame Impala and Shoegaze music. Comedian by trade. Macaroni and Cheese connoisseur by appetite.

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Lullaby___Interrupted
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Lullaby___Interrupted

This reminds me of being in elementary school in the south and having a teacher say that native Americans were extinct. Even though one had gottene ready for school that morning.… She also came to school withe the next day to have a conversation with said teacher.…this article seems to be written from the same mind set, as if native Americans no longer exist…they do just more so west of the Rockies, which leads me to my next question; what is a “typical African-American??? Does that mean individuals who reside along the east coast and southern states and have been… Read more »

water7apple
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water7apple

Great (and needed) article!

sanjidude
Guest
sanjidude

According to my older southern relatives, many wavy haired, light skinned blacks claimed they were part Native American rather than admit their family members were taken advantage of by white males in their communities in the early pre Civil Rights era. I believe them.

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

As a child, we use to “brag” about having Cherokee in our families. As time went on, I actually knew very little about it. I did know in 2007 they did “something” to eliminate blacks from the tribal roster. Thank you for a very enlightening article!

jazzythoughts
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jazzythoughts

It seems to me in my research that the truth is yet to be recognized although it’s not due to lack of public record documents and photos-many drawings have been white washed and plenty of pictures show black natives in north and south of the Americas. These people were killed or enslaved so that history would not associate it seems any new incoming “cargo/stock” with the lands in question. Marrying into as well as the breeding out much like what was used in Brazil was used for the remaining natives with deeds to their land. This “land” issue was the… Read more »

jazzythoughts
Guest
jazzythoughts

It seems to me in my research that the truth is yet to be recognized although it’s not due to lack of public record documents and photos-many drawings have been white washed and plenty of pictures show black natives in north and south of the Americas. These people were killed or enslaved so that history would not associate it seems any new incoming “cargo/stock” with the lands in question. Marrying into as well as the breeding out much like what was used in Brazil was used for the remaining natives with deeds to their land. This “land” issue was the… Read more »

bri
Guest
bri

bglh, and most public Historians, when are y’all going to learn that five civilized tribes=/= all the tribes that people claim ancestry from. Also, you do realize that very FEW Native tribes have ever given their DNA for these tests right? So just because a test says no, doesn’t mean their family lied about native ancestry, it could simply mean they do not have any DNA samples available for the native tribe they do descend from. I don’t understand why people like gates will make such a statement when he can only base it on those that have been tested… Read more »

LittleBabyBug Jones
Guest
LittleBabyBug Jones

i gathered that the article is in reference to black people who claim that they have native somewhere back up in their family tree. these are usually people who are referencing a family member from slavery, whose name they don’t know; they usually don’t know the tribe or have pictures of the person- it’s simply from hearsay. when the vast majority of black people believe they have native american in their ancestry from about 4–6 generations ago, that’s when i become skeptical. but that’s what this article is about, not about people like yourself who are living with and surrounded… Read more »

Alexious Johnson
Guest
Alexious Johnson

I understand what you are saying, and you are right…but part of my issue is the fact that in a generation or so, I am going g to be someone grandma and possibly great grandma, and in claiming g their ancestry they may be faced with similar attitudes…

Ty-Rhoanda
Guest
Ty-Rhoanda

I see what you are saying, but I have to disagree. BOTH of my great-grand parents (paternal) are Siksika natives born in Montana. They moved to Ohio and had my grandmother, whom had my father and his siblings. I was born and raised in Michigan. You see? A lot of us “east coasters” claim our ancestry by right of bloodlines. Not by simply wishing to be something that we are not. I am black, but I am also Siksika or what some would call “BLACKFOOT”! Just like my grandmother, I never cared for tribal benefits. We only cared to keep… Read more »

Camille
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Camille

I don’t like the tone of this article and others like it either (and there are a LOT of them). There is ALREADY enough out there trying to discourage black/native mixes from acknowledging all their ancestors, and a lot of it is for monetary reasons. I find it sad that when people google Black Native American or Black Indian, they are just as likely to find this type of article as an informative one. It almost seems like some sort of campaign! Saying that you personally don’t have Native blood is MUCH different than trying to tell other people what… Read more »

EM
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EM

Exactly!

Chelsz
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Chelsz

I agree.

Alexious Johnson
Guest
Alexious Johnson

I have seen your profile pic on various other articles and I knew precisely who_what you were!!! Not something I consciously look for but my mind subconsiously(sp) registers familiar faces!! Everyone has the right to he proud of who the are…it doesnt mean distancing yourself from African roots, to me it means distancing yourself from the one drop rule meant to enslave those with even the slightest African ancestry and denying us the recognition of our entire being…

Camille
Guest
Camille

I know what you mean. My parents are both from mixed families (my dad’s side is Louisiana creole) and I’m very familiar with the look of both those groups and similar ones. I’m thankful that I never had any conflict about what I am because my mother always told us that we were black and indian. I tend to go by black the most because I live in Texas and most people who aren’t from North Carolina don’t know what a Lumbee Indian is. The common practice of Indian men purchasing the freedom of their black wives and children goes… Read more »

Neka
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Neka

We were born and raised in Baltimore where I was always told “stop lying” whenever I admitted to having American Indian ancestry on my dad’s side. Ten yrs ago I met a Lumbee woman who looked so much like my grandma (dad’s mom) I swore we were related. Three years ago, I finally asked my grandma if the family rumor that we are Indian is true and she said, her great-grandfather was Lumbee from NC. Her grandmother (his daughter) moved to VA where her tribal affiliation was not recognized and her daughter (my grandma’s mother) then moved to MD were… Read more »

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

ITA We shouldn’t be telling people what they are as if they can’t know their heritage. I also self identify as black so no distancing here. 9 times out of 10 if the subject of me being part native american comes up it’s because someone asked me about it based on my features. Or it’s because they see a photo of my great grandmother who looks straight native. My great grandmother said out of her mouth her father was half white half native. Her mom had white father and had a mom who was black and native. Btw I have… Read more »

GumboGodess
Guest

Caddo here.

B. Lee
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B. Lee

True, but I don’t think all of the black natives were “mixed”.

LBell
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LBell

Not only do most black Americans claiming Native ancestry not have it, most white Americans claiming Native ancestry don’t have it either. Still waiting for Skip Gates to do a show on THAT…

cnucmecnu
Guest
cnucmecnu

Most blacks claiming native American ancestory are ashamed to admit their white ancestory. Most whites claiming native American ancestory are looking to cash in on affirmative action and minority status for government loans to start a business.

Kupkake
Guest
Kupkake

True

Alexious Johnson
Guest
Alexious Johnson

Was thinking the very same thing!!!

Camille
Guest
Camille

I also think a lot of white people claim native ancestry to cover/explain small amounts of black blood and the features that go with it. I think there was a LOT more passing than people think.

Lolalao
Guest
Lolalao

Totally!!!

Sharon Simmons
Guest
Sharon Simmons

Was raised thinking I had Native American ancestry, so I did DNA testing and I learned I was 67% Sub-saharan African and 33% European- no Native American.

My family members have high-cheek bones…but so do many African tribes.

Gates has written an article about people claiming Native American ancestry. Most people do not and the ones who do have about 12%.

LBell
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LBell

Like a lot of folks on my father’s side, I have dark skin, kinky hair, high cheekbones, and a relatively small and straight nose. For years I’ve heard strangers say about the last two “that’s the Indian in you.” Lately I’ve responded with, “How do you know that’s not the AFRICAN in me?” There’s more DNA diversity in Africa alone than there is in all the other continents combined…which makes sense when you consider where humans came from.

AMETHYST BUSH
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AMETHYST BUSH

“So when a DNA test comes back saying you are 28 percent Finnish, all it’s really saying is that of the DNA analyzed (most companies don’t analyze all of your DNA), 28 percent of it was most similar to that of a completely Finnish person.” http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2016/06/dna_testing_cannot_determine_ancestry_including_elizabeth_warren_s.html Sharon, you can translate that to say your DNA test does not prove you are not Native American. Don’t know if you did Ancestry.com, but I was told they only test about 2% of your DNA, which if true, would mean only 2% of your DNA is 67% African. In addition, what they are… Read more »

Spirit
Guest
Spirit

White people are the absolute worst about claiming “my grandma was half cherokee” and nobody questioning it. Prime example: the current chief of the Cherokee nation. He’s white. 1/32 Cherokee only. However they kick out black ppl with way more cherokee blood. This is what irks me about the issue. I have DNA, I have family records- even ancestors on the Dawes but I don’t claim it because quite frankly they have shown an open hostility to black while embracing and celebrating whites with even a drool on NDN blood.

Tiffany Williams
Guest
Tiffany Williams

The whites are called five dollar Indians because Native Americans had a lot of benefits whites wanted so they paid a white person in charge of handling Native American benefits five dollars and they were suddenly Native Americans.

firegirl05
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firegirl05

This is so true. As a matter of fact there was a documentary discussing how whites paid …yes paid their way on the Dawes to have land. So they basically paid their way to be wrote down in the book as a native american. I honestly think that native american were copper toned(red skin).…not what we see today.

Dee Hines
Guest
Dee Hines

It’s sad how much history we’ve been denied. If people read usurps from some of the first journals of ”the new world” they would know that there were black inhabitants along with natives that intermarried. But it’s odd that most people aren’t taught that most Native tribes also had slaves and also raped or had black slaves as mistresses. I read an old letter to one native man, demanding that he stop producing children with his black slave and that if any more were born he would be fined and all of his current children would loose their status as… Read more »

GumboGodess
Guest

That’s how it goes.

Dee wat
Guest
Dee wat

I have to completely agree! I do not understand this movement to try and discredit those who have Native ancestry. The story is much more complicated then presented here. Literally hundreds of Natives were labeled Black by the stroke of a pen. Some as a survival technique, an others by state decree. But claiming Native heritage should not be cause for ridicule. The history of Africans and Natives actually show more alliances against Euros then not. But Mr. Gates seems to have overlooked that history completely.

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

I appreciate the historical information and the photos. However, I think the title of ‘you probably don’t have indian in your family’ to suggests that we black people are all either ignorant of or just guessing at our native ancestry. I think you should have noted that the type of DNA test Dr. Gates uses will only look at your direct maternal or paternal line depending on if you are male or female. In one episode I watched he couldn’t tell his black woman guest what African tribe she was connected to because she had a direct link to a… Read more »

Camille
Guest
Camille

I have wondered how they test for blood from tribes who are supposedly extinct. Do they even bother having it on file?

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

They don’t have DNA on all groups of people. For one thing not all groups will agree to submit it and secondly places like the US which is a melting pot it would be hard to find people who are not so genetically mixed that they can isolate what that NA gene is. For example if they wanted to trace your African DNA they would compare it to people living in dif areas of Africa now.They can’t compare to dead people. If they don’t know what gene they are looking at I think they make it up. Everyone freaking knows… Read more »

Cosita
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Cosita

Thanks BGLH. Other than that one issue I thought it was a good article.

GumboGodess
Guest

Caddo Indian here.

Valk
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Valk

I totally agree with you . I ceased from watching Dr. Gates many moons ago.

FreeTea
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FreeTea

And what of those of us that DO have documentation and genetic tests to show NA ancestry? How much do we have to have to claim it? What if we don’t know what tribe it’s from and/or we weren’t raised in the culture?

I just don’t understand why any White person can say “Oh yes, I’m part Irish,” without any one questioning the claim, but any time a Black person lays claim to a non-Black line of heritage, we need papers, certificates, and photos to show that it’s real. Why can’t we be Black but also know that we’re Other?

Eddie Kopitzke
Guest
Eddie Kopitzke

It comes down to money. First Nation peoples get a multitude of benefits for basically giving up their right to sue the government. It’s more or less a way of making sure that the so-called undeserving don’t get said benefits. That’s really the long and short of it.

Kupkake
Guest
Kupkake

This is so true. My Grandmother (my mother’s mom) is a Full bred Cherokee, and so was her mother. Her Father was a Black American. My Grandfather ( Mother’s dad) was a Black/NATIVE American.

MY FATHER(mom) was Native.. not sure what tribe but his father was a Black Englishman. So what am I then America.

Like it was mentioned White people say they have Multiple races and it’s no question..Not fair. They hate for us to be proud of our Heritage. I love me some me!! I’m very proud of my Cultural Background!
Be Bless

euda
Guest
euda

I realize this is an old comment but it is interesting to me…perhaps the white person claiming to be “part Irish” is not asking for anything — is it possible that the documentation required is because the USA give monetary “apologies” to NA?

Akecheta Lonewolf
Guest
Akecheta Lonewolf

I believe it to be solely in fear; to use the excuse of monetary gain as a reason to shut people out! Most so-called black-American fair far better, than many of the so-called native individuals who live on a reservation.

Now, why would any black person who has a good job and live in a nice apartment want to jeopardize all that, by moving into a reservation and receiving a stipend from the government? I think most American “blacks” such as myself, would just like to know their heritage, not take over someone else.

shantel
Guest
shantel

White people go through the same problem when they claim their native blood in this day and age …get mocked and made to look like fools. The hypocracy coming from all sides is ridiculous there are plenty euro natives and afro natives. People do have the paper work to prove it to. My best friends father is 100% native lineage on both sides and she is half and has a people giving her hell all the time about it. …her mother is white and Chinese.

ThatsRight
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ThatsRight

I wish people did not believe hype like this! Africa was not the only place in the entire world that had melanin rich people with wooly hair. America is the birth place of our ancestors. The people that runs the 5 nations today are not Indigenous to America. The so called Native Americans that owned slaves were basically white. It’s a lot of confusion. When they say that NA went through genocide, it was through paperwork, and renaming us something else to cut us off on our lineage. For you to be native to a country, all you have to… Read more »

GumboGodess
Guest

Very true. My fam is from Natchitoches, LA, and that is a special city that keeps up with facts. I’m Caddo Indian, French, African, and a little porteguese. But to the world I’m just another little black girl.

GumboGodess
Guest

Very true. My fam is from Natchitoches, LA, and that is a special city that keeps up with facts. I’m Caddo Indian, French, African, and a little porteguese. But to the world I’m just another little blaqq girl.

GumboGodess
Guest

Very true. My fam is from Natchitoches, LA, and that is a special city that keeps up with facts. I’m Cad do Indian, French, Afric an, and a little porteguese. But to the world I’m just another little blaqq girl.

DLB
Guest
DLB

Very true. Very true. On RT TV, they are running a documentary of the freedmen of the cherokee nation. They stated the cherokees owning slaves were the white ones & it is these same ones that pushed to get the Black freedmen from being members of the nation. It’s funny, they say the freedmen aren’t cherokees by blood, but if these white ones were to be dna tested, they would fail. Actually, the Black freedmen were put on the freedmen rolls because they looked Black…at least that is what the documentary stated.

Truman
Guest

Freemen were slaves owned by American Indian and got an alloment of land because the federal government deemed it so . It did not mean that the blacks were any part American Indian. However they just like the white owners mixed with the blacks and had offspring.A lot of blacks use use this to say that they are American Indian. not so

Lauren Kirk
Guest

I found this article somewhat interesting…In my case, I have on both sides of my family a strong native american gene. My great grandmother was black-cherokee , and on the other side some of my 4x’s great grandparents were natives as well. I’ve got the high cheekbones, the long nose, and the red undertones in my skin.

maralondon
Guest
maralondon

Those features you mentioned are native to Africans too. It is said that the Moors from Africa settled in the Americas before any native Indian. The so called natives are the result of mixing just like the Indians in Asia and the Chinese in China for example.

Montgomery Martin
Guest
Montgomery Martin

Yes. Except the kushites were here before the end moors (same thing goes for Europe ).

Melani
Guest
Melani

“African-American” people are going through the same identity crisis of the “colored” people of South Africa. Everyone who was not 100% black, white or Indian were just chucked into the same bucket of “coloured”. This left our people with no roots whatsoever — never white enough, never black enough. Just hanging somewhere. I can personally claim to be indigenous black, Khoisan, white (English great grandmother, German paternal grandfather) and Indian (maternal grandfather). My husband is Belgain (mother) and French (father) with some Egyptian (maternal grandfather’s forefathers). My kids have 3 nationalities (passports): South African, French and Belgian. I laugh at… Read more »

Black Jew
Guest
Black Jew

Why don’t you just stay out of their land and so what if you have children that are “MUTTS”. You “WHITE PEOPLE” need to leave these “AFRICANS” alone haven’t you caused them enough “TROUBLE” and yes, I agree that you “WHITE PEOPLE” need to go back to your land and I’m not talking about the “AMERICAS” but the “CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS” where it’s cold and dark. You, “WHITE ASS BITCH” talk about “NARROW-MINDED” you stupid “NEANDERTHAL” with the DNA of “DEMONS and BEAST” and you want to call someone “NARROW-MINDED”, LOL. You need to realize these “BLACK” people are the “ONLY… Read more »

Aerielle Harris
Guest
Aerielle Harris

Yeah in my family my great grandmother on my fathers side was seminole and my mothers father was seminole. I really liked this article though 🙂

Neickha
Guest
Neickha

There is a documentary on YouTube about black natives which I watched a few years back it was very informative and interesting.

Kevin Bacon
Guest
Kevin Bacon

My maternal grandparents have NA ancestry. Her father had a full NA mother/black father and her mother has NA down the line as well from her grandparents.

Medusa
Guest
Medusa

My grandmother who passed away a few years ago (mom’s side) was Cherokee Indian and from New Mexico. I consider myself African American, not Native American, but I do have roots. When I look at the drawing of the Cherokee man in the article, his face shape/bone structure is very similar to my mother.

Janet
Guest
Janet

My Mom was raised on a reservation in OK. Pawnee is our nation, members of the Turtle Clan.

GumboGodess
Guest

Caddo.

Sabrina black
Guest
Sabrina black

Interesting!

mibtp
Guest
mibtp

Yea, this is why I no longer blanket agree to Indian reparations as they refuse to acknowledge black people who were taken as slaves and raised as Indians, as legit. Such a double standard.

bri
Guest
bri

That is not true for many Native people; The ones that refuse to acknowledge blacks are the ones who have been fully brainwashed with the mindset of US Vs, THEM. I haven’t seen that mindset to be true of the majority of Native people.

Dal-Ham W Payton
Guest
Dal-Ham W Payton

Why does the ancient Olmecs and Mayans look Negroid in facial features? The term India was developed from the word Ind, Indi, and Indus meaning Negro, BlacK, Ethiopia and Ham. The Spainish first arrives in the Americas they use the word Indios which means Black. Which is very descriptive term that refer to Melanin dominant people. Also the original the depictions the Natives of the Americas were of melanin dominant complexion. Also the words America and Africa are both Kushite Ethiopian and Kemetic Egyptians in origin.

Montgomery Martin
Guest
Montgomery Martin

BAM! finally someone else that knows that the natives were afrikan kushites. The east Indians are also kushites.

Merywaja
Guest

Ancient olmecs and mayans look asian to me. Spaniards used to call the oriental part of Asia ‘Las Indias Orientales’, when Colombus arrived to America, he thought that land was ‘Las Indias’ and that’s why they called the natives ‘indios’, not for their colour. And Indios doesn’t mean black in spanish, it means natives of India, or a short way to call the native americans. ‘Negro’ means black, and there isn’t other word to say that in spanish, so ‘indios’ doesn’t mean that, and it’s not a descriptive spanish term to call melanin dominant people, like i said, it just… Read more »

Loyal Royal
Guest
Loyal Royal

This isn’t surprising to me. My mother’s family did a family tree and was able to trace to having ancestors that are Cherokee, Sioux, Blackfoot and Cheyenne. I however identify myself as African American because that is what my parents and grandparents are.

Cassa Blanca
Guest
Cassa Blanca

Look how fast some of you were to distance yourselves from the Africans in the appropriation article. But all up in tht “Indian” ish. As said previously, can always trust blk folk to be blk folk. So long bglh… Think you should have just stuck to the hurrrr.…

Ruthie
Guest
Ruthie

There are a lot of Black Indians in San Diego, California. There are 18 Native American Tribes in San Diego County, more than in any other county in the United States.There are four Indian Nations indigenous to the San Diego area: Kumeyaay, Luiseno, Cupeno and Cahuilla.13 of the 18 reservations in San Diego, including Sycuan, are Kumeyaay.

Montgomery Martin
Guest
Montgomery Martin

A Cherokee from new Mexico? ?? Hmm.

Medusa
Guest
Medusa

Yes, the state of New Mexico. I’m not familiar with my grandmother as she passed in ’01 when I was 8, but my guess is that her family perhaps moved there from another location. She was a quiet person from what I remember and didn’t like to talk much about herself. But she WAS Cherokee Native American. My mom considers herself African American but is literally pale as a white person despite having darker parents, and has the features (high cheekbones and bone shape/structure) like the man in the drawing above who is part of the Cherokee tribe. My grandmother… Read more »

Craig Hehanni Vann
Guest
Craig Hehanni Vann

Yes there were Cherokee in the southwest I found a relative by the last name of Vann living on a pima reservation in Arizona in the late 1800s married to a pima man. A lot of Cherokee people fled persecution and were taken in by quite a few nations from the southwest. It’s very true but I can see how you’d be skeptical. This land was once spacious and wide and people always used there God given right to change ggeographical location as they deemed fit out of a sense of survival.

Marisol
Guest
Marisol

My father is 100% Creek. He looked like a dark complexion man with curly hair and blue/grey/green eyes. It’s nothing to brag about, but I must admit that we were not allowed to have a white friend as much as set foot on our land…to this day. He didn’t mind us having a white friend, but they were not allowed in our home…

Mike Adams
Guest
Mike Adams

I guess my Cherokee great grandfather was an illusion. he looks just like my grandmother. my grandmother had a picture of him on the wall until she died. this article isn’t true. Blacks and indians were having sex a lot

Shunya D. Wade
Guest
Shunya D. Wade

As a Black-Native woman and one from one of the five civilized tribes (Creek) I would have to say this article has a number of inaccuracies. First, many of the five civilized tribes had relationships with Blacks before slavery was imposed. I’d say check out the French-Seminole war. My tribe has had Black members for over 300 years. My BF’s tribe has a good number of Black members as well. 50% of Native Americans are mixed, probably more honestly. About half of those who are mixed are mixed with Black. It would be more accurate to state that about 25–30%… Read more »

Jim Cole
Guest
Jim Cole

Please tell me what happen to our Black race, I know of our slavery but I feel that something is being kept from us because we were never African american we only mixed with them via slavery. We are Blacks which I believe are Southern Indian people of the land we now call America.

Val Farr Samuel
Guest
Val Farr Samuel

As I discover in doing my own research, the majority of the ancestry of black people were first indigenous to this land called America by the European. Even the world Indian is incorrect to be used on indigenous peoples of this land. Prior to the arrival of the European the word Indian nor America was not utilized by indigenous peoples of this land. The slave trade did take place but not as we have been told. There were only about 350,000 slaves taken from the cost of West Africa which were taken to the islands south of Florida, which then… Read more »

Jacqueline
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Jacqueline

Thank you. I am so glad that more people are waking up to the reality and truth of the situation then as well as now. We belong here.

Jacqueline
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Jacqueline

We were here before Columbus. Black Americans are not leaving this land. It is ours too.

Craig Hehanni Vann
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Craig Hehanni Vann

I am native American Santee Siouan and African American by birth and I am not a member of the five civilized tribes originally from the southeast . My people were located in south Carolina up across the Mississippi into the Ohio valley across the great plains all the way up into Canada but nobody knows we exist. But we do

Kimimela
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Kimimela

<3

Nijia Vaughn
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Nijia Vaughn

I’m just curious where did you get those pictures of a Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, indian from? I’m from the south , I’m from Georgia the land of the Cherokees, Creeks,Yamassee, Hitchiti just to name few indigenous tribe were native to my home and land. I have never seen a picture like that before. The pictures I’ve seen of them they were dark skin and here in Georgia they never showed pictures like that before. My people were also native to this land. My folks are from Griffin, Macon, Comer, Ila, Atlanta, and Oglethorpe. =)

BGLHRinny
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BGLHRinny
Arnold Johnson
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Arnold Johnson

My grandmother said she had Cherokee from her grandmother’s side but tracing back thru my father’s, father’s father, he said he was born on “Mollyglasco Island off the coast of Africa”, which to me meant Madagascar. People were bought from there to Virgina and South Carolina for plantations and smuggled in illegally for servants later. Malagassys have Indo-Asian and African features that can be mistaken for “Indian”. Now my mom’s folks are from Butler County Alabama a few generations. I wonder if they were native.

Blackfoot Indian
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Blackfoot Indian

The Author is ignorant. Most or the biggest Cherokee or 5 Civilized tribe slave owners were White men, 5 dollar indians or biracial. Asian people are not American Indians! Go to Europe and you see the original depiction of Egyptains is Black not White or Arab, the original depiction jesus is Black not White or middle eastern, the origianl depiction of the Moors is Black not White/Arab/Biracial and you will statues of American Indian being Black not White or Asian. And guess what all of these people still exist today. It is a propagated historical inacuracy. American Indians were more… Read more »

Jacqueline
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Jacqueline

Yes, they were have sex a lot. Does not matter what Gates test says.

flashwins
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flashwins

she is arguing that your people are NOT native to this land.… and I disagree. I believe Black Aboriginal Natives inhabited the Americas LONG before the white man came

Vincent
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Vincent

I have never read so many historical inaccuracies in my entire life (I am referring to the commentary). It seems that if you don’t like how history reads, re-write it.

Don'tBSoNosey
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Don'tBSoNosey

I agree with the majority of comments responding to this article. To every single Black American posting about Native American lineage, YOU. ARE. RIGHT! Our grandparents and great grandparents weren’t lying to us, nor stupid, to hide our shame of slave history, they were telling US THE TRUTH. No one can take that away from us, even those who share the same skin color, but different ethnic groups. My grandparents on both sides told me we were from Native America tribes, and my features are that of Native Americans. I don’t look west African at all, though my hair texture… Read more »

trackback

[…] The Real History of Black Native Americans | Black Girl with Long Hair – The only tribe that rejected bondage slavery was the Seminole “in favor of a system of friendship and alliance with their black members.” Like European slaveowners, Native americans adopted Slave Codes to control their black population by hindering runaways and preventing them from learning how to read and write. It was required for members of the nation to catch runaway slaves. However, the concept of slavery varied tremendously from what was seen in white-owned plantations. Because bondage was seen as a violation of the human… Read more »

Mike Richards
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Mike Richards

I have done extensive research within my own family tree for more than 25 years. My findings have been fascinating. I had often heard the older members of my family say that we are of native American ancestry . One thing I discovered is, not all native Americans were known to be native American. Some of them lived and died as “colored” or “mulatto” for safety reasons, as it was more popular to be “Negro”, “mulatto,” or “colored” than Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, etc. I discovered this by looking at the Indian Rolls, death certificates, etc. I found the names of… Read more »

Lydia
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Lydia

I totally agree with you. Our family has a passed down oral history of this. (My fathers side from Canada and my mothers side from the U.S.)
Because of the inequality of blacks, record keeping was of little importance and usually noted by the record keeper and not the individual.
Looking back over a few census records, I find many different racial categories for the same descendent (none completely match the oral history).

Victoria
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Victoria

you are right mike in looking at the work done by Walter Ashby Plecker miss documentation was used as a form of pencil genocide for the wiping out of tribes in VA. Making a paper trail damn near impossible. We cant be any one but who we are black and native

joe dolphin
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joe dolphin

I Also have done some research on this subject in my own family. I was raised and taught my native American ancestry
through my mother. knowing this and can clearly see that my mother and all her siblings are of mixed black & indian breed with wavy black hair and all.but I researched some records and found my full blooded Cree grandmother listed as “negro” in the 1918 census LOL. this is strange. you can clearly see something is not adding up. my black grandfather was a farmer in Arkansas married to a cree Native.

Mike Richards
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Mike Richards

Joe, your experience of discovering your Cre grandmother listed as “Negro” is not uncommon. It happened quite often, because the census takers were not always trained to ask about race or ancestry. They often ASSUMED a person was of a particular race due to skin color. Many of the native Americans of previous generations were reddish brown, or black skin color due to genetics and/or climatical conditions. But they were incorrectly listed as Negro, colored, or mulatto. This would be humorous if it were not so serious. I have Cherokee on both my father’s and mother’s side. And there may… Read more »

mike
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mike

I to have a Cherokee great-grandmother on my copper-colored grandfather’s side. I always assumed like many of you that his father was African American. Now I know that to be highly unlikely. Even if I were to assume my grandfather were half African how would that make him any less Native American than any other so called American Indian? But without any proof he came from Africa that that would be a silly assumption even if he were descendant from a cotton pickin slave because we know there were native American slaves as well as African indentured servants. And keep… Read more »

Victoria
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Victoria

If the writter of this article wants to do a history on2 refer blacks and Native american this histories and the tribes vary. You would have to cover more than the 5 civilized tribes to get a story it spans all across america from the past to the present day. “The real history of blacks and native americans” is such a blanket statment when your just cobering the five civilized tribes. I would have liked tp see more stories more cultural references fereces maybe someone with a respect for our culture and heritage should have tackled this subject. It reads… Read more »

Victoria
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Victoria

Sorry about all the mistakes im doing this on my phone

mel
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mel

5 civil tribes what were the rest called ?
they give money if they cane label u?
take that money and use it to litigate for all your land that was taken
get some real reparations and stop cutting native blacks out there plan
always was to separate and divide
as soon as cash came in look what happened

divided nation back to poverty by the next generation

mel
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mel

we as blacks with indian and euro blood need to stop trying to be included and accepted into others circles we may be so called part this or that but netier as a whole just stay black none of them can take that from you
its our exclusive club

mel
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mel

The Five Civilized Tribes Cher, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole were slave owning Nations someone had the audacity to butter up the story and say that the indian owners we so different than the whites at that time SHUT THE—-UP (AN INDIAN ARAB AFRICAN or EUROPEAN A SLAVE OWNER IS A SLAVE OWNER PERIOD. I guess that made them civilized nations because they got on the colonialism bandwagon and bought in to the trade and we hold so dearly to a delusion of some of our so called indian ancestors. who were just as broke and disorganized then as now… Read more »

mel
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mel

One drop rule Certificate of Indian Blood (CDIB) card showing their degree of Indian blood, One drop rule One drop rule One drop rule

John Doe
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John Doe

If you don’t own, fund and operate a DNA testing facility you must accept the results given. Dr. Bill Gates is not your friend he is deep in the establishment and will tell Black Americans what he is ordered. DNA samples return with different results depending on which lab performs the analysis and defines the results. The control of your perception of self is what matters most.

Bell
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Bell

I think where a lot of blacks “miss the mark” with indigenous identity/ancestry is those who *think* they have indigenous ancestry assume this makes them “just like us”. Racialization is the main means of identity in the US so it only makes sense that those not raised in tribal cultures utterly fail to understand that even if great-grandma was indeed a Generokee Princess With High Cheekbones and Long Black Hair, that doesn’t make them Native or a representative of contemporary indigenous culture(s). My kids are half Mandinka. Racism in America labels them “black” because they have dark skin and Afro’s,… Read more »

Noel
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Noel

For some reason, my previous comment wasn’t approved. Which I do not understand; it was absolutely respectful, just not what the majority of commentators thus far *want* to hear. My children are Mandinka (an ethnic affiliation from spanning west Africa; their father was born in Gambia and raised in Senegal before moving to the U.S.) so a lot of people label them “black”, because this is how racialized identities/communities work. My ex husband didn’t like to be defined by a color; in his culture they define themselves by familial/cultural/national/religious affiliations. So out of respect to him and his culture, I… Read more »

Dominique
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Dominique

Their were and still are “blacks”” native Americans”. How ever u must consider some black native tribes do not classify themselves as blacks… now, The notion that the natives were fairskinned is a mis representation of the facts ( or even Mongolian).. the 5 civilized so called Indian tribes) were all negroid and American history has been fabricated. The 1% native blood In black Americans (by gates also) refers to the mongolian natives that where in the land as well… their is plenty of historical artifacts and resources on this timeline of history … the true “black” natives of the… Read more »

Jennifer Howard
Guest

I don’t understand why most don’t wanna be black anyway.

liz
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liz

this is simply appropriation of another culture. They need to build their own culture into something worthy to be proud of instead of trying to be someone else.

Ron Hooper
Guest

It’s hard to believe that the heritage has been discounted and rarely identified as Indians. Especially because of the shade of their skin. There is an excellent documentary explaining the similar paths that mixed each race. The documentary Black Indian, An American Story references it as a twin cultural heritage.

Truman
Guest

I am Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma and just like my DD214 I can take my trib member ship card with $10.00 and get a glass of water almost any where

Hawa
Guest
Hawa

AMER’ICAN, a. Pertaining to America.

AMER’ICAN, n. A native of America; originally applied to the aboriginals, or copper-colored races, found here by the Europeans; but now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America.

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