That’s Just Indian In My Family

by Zettler Clay

Picture 150

“In 1812 it was argued that: ‘the place is now inhabited by as many black men as Indians… the Indian women have many of them married black men, and a majority probably, of the inhabitants are blacks or have black-blood in them… the real Indians [are few].’ The reserve was divided (allotted) in 1813 and by 1832 whites had acquired most of it.”

- Africans and Native Americans: The language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples

It’s become a fatigued joke, one that brings attention to the mass miscegenation on which this country was founded. Or it could just be one of those sayings that people mindlessly repeat because it’s fashionable. You know, because the herd mentality doesn’t exist at all.

“Girl, that’s just Indian in my family.”

The “Indian in my family” is a running gag that tends to expose not only a need for people to know more about their past, but another example of the legacy of European colonialization. Many African-American women love to toss this term around without awareness of any actual Cherokee or Macushi legacy in their family bloodline.

But this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Actually, Black and Native Americans have a quite complex history. Procreative activities existed between these two races in the 17th and 18th centuries. These activities also were duplicated among Blacks and Whites. Of course, you rarely hear a Black person credit her mane to her Irish roots with the same excitement of one crediting her Seneca sisters.

Digging into the family tree to explain a current phenotype is all good. It should be encouraged. Long before new European settlers brought African slaves to the Americas, African and Native American copulation was firmly established. Before the Europeans arrived, the Moors had reached the shores of the American continent as traders and businessmen.

This was exacerbated by the Middle Passage. According to Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples, by Jack Forbes, indigenous peoples of America shared quarters with African slaves, which led to inter-mating.

Before the U.S. gained independence from Great Britain, British colonies in the South requested that the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, and other tribes, own slaves. These tribes took in many escaped slaves and remained tight-lipped when slave owners came calling.

South Carolina law in the 18th century stated that the “carrying of Negroes among the Indians has all along been thought detrimental, as in intimacy ought to be avoided.” Despite these threats and any associated stigmas, Native Americans formed bonds with not only escaped slaves, but free Africans.

Native American women married African men when the number of men in their own communities was decimated by war or natural disaster. Some Native Americans listed themselves as “Negro” or “mixed” in order to retain ownership of their land because of the land ownership laws created by European settlers.

There’s a delicate connection between Native American and African ancestry. Yet, one would be hard-pressed to see any awareness being drummed up by American Blacks about the plight of the Native Americans. Is this an accepted fate or neglect?

Either way, “I got that Indian in my blood” is no longer a sufficient explanation of any variation in the physical appearance. A certain point comes when etymology has to supplant simple clichés to get to the heart of the matter. If indigenous families that we claim wholeheartedly comprise one percent of the U.S. population, then at what point do we begin to critically examine the plight of these families?

A cursory glance through world history annals reveals a habit of colonizers wiping out and displacing native cultures. American history is no exception, and the Trail of Tears has been chronicled as a sore spot in Andrew Jackson’s tenure. Today, movies and television have depicted “Indians” as having certain facial features of high cheekbones and weathered skin, but in reality their features exist in many forms.

When the Census report came in 1790, some Native Americans refused to sign and register with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Some refused to allow themselves to be “removed” to “Indian Territory” in Oklahoma during the 1800s. As a result, many of their descendants grew up in urban environments instead of on reservations.

Think Jimi Hendrix. Tina Turner. Andre 3000. James Brown. And on and on.

Remnants of Blackfoots, Choctaws, Lenapes, Matinecocks, Mohawks and Munsees are in our metropolitan areas under the classification of being African-American. Claiming Indian in the blood is not incorrect, but to just do so without vetting the intricate nature of the relationship is a disservice. There’s a richness of historical stock and unity that gets lost under such banalities.

Claim it. Love it. Embrace it. Just know it’s more than physical features. It’s an essential aspect of American culture.

  • The Black Bot

    We have always had a romantic impression about NAs, considering that many of them owned slaves just like the European-Americans did.

    In any case, our propensity to claim NA blood stems from a desire to think of ourselves as less black. In many cases, it is an expression of self hatred

  • Alexandra

    “In any case, our propensity to claim NA blood stems from a desire to think of ourselves as less black. In many cases, it is an expression of self hatred”

    I thought the author would address that; it would’ve made the article more complete. But it was great anyway.
    I hardly ever hear of stories about relations of Africans and Indigenous people in the US. Lots of mixing went on and the Europeans didnt care, as long as non-whites didnt ‘pollute’ their race.

  • EmpressDivine

    Cool article. I think Black Bot had a point tho. Also, I don’t think European men minded mixing as much as long as you didn’t ask them to be responsible for the offspring.

    Here’s a site that talks about Black Indians and non-white racial cooperation and mixing:

  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    Article: “Girl, that’s just Indian in my family. …Many African-American women love to toss this term around without awareness of any actual Cherokee or Macushi legacy in their family bloodline.”

    Closer to the truth is a lot of AAs that claim to have Native American blood are mainly members of the Moneg tribe…mo’ negro than anything else!

    Several credible (and independent) DNA studies have shown very few African Americans have Native American DNA. For the few that do, the amount is small to negligible and an example of this was revealed on Skip Gates’ African American Lives with Quincy Jones. Jones’ family had also peddled the line about having “Indian” ancestors yet his DNA was tested and found to have no native blood at all.

    “Our results are not inconsistent with previous studies, such as those of Parra et al. (1998) and Smith et al. (2004), who estimated the Native American ancestry of African American populations at 1%–2%. …Our results also are in agreement with other studies showing ~20% European admixture among African Americans, with somewhat higher contributions of European ancestry in northern or western U.S. populations (Chakraborty et al. 1986; Parra et al. 1998; McKeigue et al. 2000; Pfaff et al. 2001; Hoggart et al.” American Society of Human Genetics

    Article: “A cursory glance through world history annals reveals a habit of colonizers wiping out and displacing native cultures.”

    About 10 years ago my mother and grandmother participated in a study analyzing mitochondria (passed along to all future generations of female offspring and remains intact forever) DNA at the University of PR in Mayagüez. Though erroneous Euro-centric history had long forwarded the lie that all AmerInds had been killed off or “wiped out” back in the day, islanders never believed this and my maternal great-grandmother and her family always knew they were (and looked visibly) Taíno. Eventually, the study revealed the overwhelming majority on the island (70%) to have AmerInd blood, so the history books have to be rewritten on this one!

    Article: “…one would be hard-pressed to see any awareness being drummed up by American Blacks about the plight of the Native Americans. ..If indigenous families that we claim wholeheartedly comprise one percent of the U.S. population, then at what point do we begin to critically examine the plight of these families?

    “The plight” of Native Americans in the US is not all that great (poverty, suicide, unemployment, alcoholism etc.). A couple of times on this very website I’ve attempted to highlight their “plight” throughout Latin America and the fact that, in various places, it is the indígena that are suffering badly, discriminated against etc. However, these things and their struggles are hardly ever acknowledged and rarely get a voice in certain venues because *some* are pathologically self-centered and heavily invested in (as if they’ve no identity without it), and determined to hold on to, the title of ‘Most Oppressed and Biggest Victim In The World and Of All Times’.

    @The Black Bot: There were also blacks that owned slaves.

  • Erin

    For years, my uncle (dad’s brother) continued to stress that my family had a large amount of Native American ancestry because of the one known NA man that may have had ties to our family history. Finally after watching Henry Louis Gate’s documentary on discovering your family history and genealogy, African American Lives Part I and II, my father decided to get a test to see what ethnicities are included in his matriarchal bloodline. He discovered that his makeup was 74% African, 24% European, and less than 1% NA. African Americans and Native Americans didn’t mix as much as certain people automatically assume and as much as “I got Indian in my family” gets tossed around, it’s important that individuals learn as much about their REAL family history and genealogy as possible. Even within the documentary, actor Don Cheadle discovered that his family were slaves of the Chickasaw Nation following the end of slavery and within the film, they explain that his family did not have any Native American ancestry, which I found extremely interesting.

  • Brit

    I like, I like. There is, as previously pointed out, a mindless fascination with Native Americans among Black quarters. I say mindless because almost no one who I’ve heard utter that term (“Indian in my family”) can tell me much more outside of that. I didn’t know much about the mating rituals among Blacks-NAs either before this article.

    Bottom line, the extent of our knowledge about our genealogy is post-slavery. We know we have European blood, but little else. Skip Gates’ DNA research has piqued the common interest in a few to explore our history, but still not enough IMO. We need to know more about our past before we go around claiming certain aspects of it. To improve our lot, a consciousness about these things has to be raised.

    Great read.

  • Dash

    Very insightful post! And Erin I agree, it is up to the individual to take interest and investigate what their background is. Educating ourselves is the first step as the writer pointed out!

  • stephanie

    I have always found this interesting. Really, why is it that African Americans are so quick to claim Indian blood for the European features that they so adore, when they are more likely to come from the European blood in them? The refusal to touch on this subject makes me cring to be honest. Denial is ugly.

  • Erica

    This article is really good but it forgets to point out that most African Americans are more likely to be “mixed” with White or European than Native American . My dad does have African and Indian Heritage but he puts his money where his mouth is. He donates money to an Indian Reservation (the descendants of his possible ancestors) every year. He did this for many years without making our family aware just because he wanted to help in some way and feel a connection to this part of his heritage.

  • Erica

    By the way, I am really tired of certain features being attributed to Whites or Europeans. There are many Africans (generally on the East Coast of the continent of Africa) who have high cheeckbones, narrow noses, and I more “relaxed” grade of hair. Hello, has anyone ever really looked at Ethiopians, Somalians, or Sudanese people. Maybe those features are actually African and the Europeans acquired them from the “original people”. True, many African Americans are descendants of Western African People but the point I want to make is stop attributing everything to something other than ourselves. Africans were the first people on earth so any facial or physical feature we see now can just be traced back to them. “Africa- The Cradle of Life”!!!

  • chillchic

    That’s a good point but white people will just say that those traits are due to European blood regardless of whether it’s true or not. You could be straight from Somalia or any other country in the motherland but if you have certain features, you automatically are mixed according to them. As long as you know what you are, don’t let it bother you. And I say this as someone who has been accused of being mixed (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
    Also, those DNA test are not 100% accurate. They only test one bloodline, so be aware that not everything is being represented when you take that test. Some things may be over-represented.
    I don’t have any Indian in me but I still would donate to their community because they are the first people of this land and their culture has been nearly desroyed.

  • KB

    I clicked on this article thinking that it was referring to East Indian heritage! Lol I guess that’s just the Caribbean in me…usually that’s the region ppl in my circle are treferring to when they say that are part Indian…

  • Zaza100

    I don’t like the term blacks and indians ‘inter-mated’. Animals ‘mate’ together,not humans.

  • Kam

    To tie in to both of your comments, the only slave owning tribes (out of 550 North American Indian Nations) were the nations of the the Five Civilized Tribes, Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole. However their practice of slavery ranged from being less brutal than whites all the way to where “slaves” were actually treated as equal members of society and were allowed to hold high positions. Other tribes just simply had a high rate of intermarriage. Most of this happened in the South and the South east and many people can in fact trace their heritage like the Freedmen.

    However there is another twist, in that many Blacks in the Civilized Tribes did NOT mix, however they were still considered members of that nation. Thus a person could have no Indian ancestry at all and still be considered Choctaw or Creek for example. That changed when the federal government started tying in Indian “blood” to membership. So if someone is saying my g-g-g grandmother was Cherokee, he/she could be right, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that she was Indian. A DNA test can only tell you if a person was a biological descendant of an Indian tribe, but can’t tell you if that person was a member of the tribe in a political/citizenship sense.

    So perhaps it is less self hatred and just family stories that are passed down that are manipulated toward certain objectives at times. If it was pure self hatred I would expect to see more of these people denying their blackness and trying to assimilate into their respective Indian nations.

  • Kam

    We should also not forget people like me who are actually Black and Native American and are members of their respective tribes. Almost any reservation I go to I am bound to see a little mixed Black/Native American kid.

  • S.

    You know what?

    I am sick and tired of people rolling their eyes at Black Americans who acknowledge their Indian heritage!

    Being African Americans sucks in that your too ‘mixed’ to embrace your African-ness and your ‘too African’ to consider yourself “Mixed race”! FRUSTRATING!

    “In any case, our propensity to claim NA blood stems from a desire to think of ourselves as less black. In many cases, it is an expression of self hatred”


    “claim NA blood”?

    Are you serious? How can you get mad a group of people for pointing out something that is true about themselves? Many African Americans DO have Native American bloodlines and we have a tendency to point it out because it comes as a *shock*, even to us! Why would someone lie about that? Is one suppose to call their elders, who told them about their ancestry, liars???

    “We have always had a romantic impression about NAs”

    And by “we” I hope your referring to White and Black Americans alike. Whites have a tendency to portray Indians a benevolent and magical–the ones who helped the White men tame the land– while Blacks have a tendency to think of Indians as our ‘great distant ancestors and allies’ while not even knowing that NAs still exist!

    I swear, some Black people are SO sensitive as to how other Blacks identify themselves. We need to get over that! We all don’t have the same blood line–hell, it could turn out that some of us aren’t even mixed with the same African, European and/or NA ethnicities.

    SO WHAT if a Black person wants to embrace all of their ethnic origins and not just being African. Getting mad that a Black person knows exactly what Indian tribe they come from and not what African tribe is just plain retarded!

    And in regards to hair, sometimes it IS the Indian in the family!

  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    Erica wrote: “…certain features being attributed to Whites or Europeans. There are many Africans (generally on the East Coast of the continent of Africa) who have high cheekbones, narrow noses, and I more “relaxed” grade of hair. Hello, has anyone ever really looked at Ethiopians, Somalis, or Sudanese people.”

    Sudan is the biggest country on the continent, so I don’t know if it’s a good example.

    In southern Sudan there are those like the Dinka (i.e. Alex Wek) which is the largest ethnic tribe and, generally, they’re very tall, uber-dark with extremely short hair that doesn’t grow much and, for westerners, it’s sometimes hard to facially distinguish males from females. Sudan has often been controlled by, and shares a border with, Egypt so there was migration and many inhabitants of northern Sudan are culturally Arab (or of mixed ancestry) and have a different hair texture, facial features and skin tone than most Dinkas.

    I do agree with you about people attributing certain features to Europeans (or saying things like “She looks like a white girl dipped in caramel!”). This is indicative of pure ignorance, being uninformed and never traveling to realize there is no one definitive ‘look’, body type, nose or lip size.

  • Taylor

    Interesting fact exposed on PBS during the study of Black Ancestry by Skip Gates exposed that far less African Americans have “Indian grandmothers.” In fact, they are more likely White women who passed for Native Americans,

  • S.

    I knew someone would bring up Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s African American Lives segment…

    “Critics suggested the program did not fully acknowledge or inform guests that not all ancestry may show up in the tests. The genetic tests done on direct paternal or maternal line evaluate only a few ancestors among many, which can result in distortion. Ancestral information markers (AIM) must also be done. In other words, the person tested may show a maternal ancestry in MtDNA. Unless other ancestry is evaluated, they may miss a paternal line’s connection to Europe. This gives a false impression that the person has little heritage of another ethnic group. In addition AIM markers are not as clearly defined as suggested, and depend on data still being accumulated. In addition, not all Native Americans have been tested, so they do not know for sure that Native Americans only have the genetic markers they have identified, even when their maternal or paternal bloodline does not include a non-Native American”

    Whether or not AAs truly have NA ancestry is beside the whole point. Many have been told by elders (whom they respect and trust greatly) about our ancestry. Lets not pretend that we’ve always DNA tests available to us ready to set the record straight

    Stating that our heritage includes NA is not (always) done out of self-hatred is my main point. I wish Black people would stop jumping to that conclusion and getting angry with every Black person who acknowledges it as if it’s the 8th deadly sin!

  • Kam

    S. brought up a good criticism:

    “Critics suggested the program did not fully acknowledge or inform guests that not all ancestry may show up in the tests. The genetic tests done on direct paternal or maternal line evaluate only a few ancestors among many, which can result in distortion. Ancestral information markers (AIM) must also be done. In other words, the person tested may show a maternal ancestry in MtDNA. Unless other ancestry is evaluated, they may miss a paternal line’s connection to Europe. This gives a false impression that the person has little heritage of another ethnic group. In addition AIM markers are not as clearly defined as suggested, and depend on data still being accumulated. In addition, not all Native Americans have been tested, so they do not know for sure that Native Americans only have the genetic markers they have identified, even when their maternal or paternal bloodline does not include a non-Native American”

  • sloane

    god only knows why some pretentious loudmouths have to flap their gums about their absurd and myopic perceptions of black people, LIKE ANYONE F**KING CARES.

    anyway, this is an interesting story, and brings up a solid point, we should definitely make ourselves aware of and acknowledge the plight of native americans, and advocate on behalf of their communities, in their current incarnations. their subjugation is closely connected with the subjugation suffered by blacks, and our bloodlines are sometimes intertwined with theirs.

  • Fraulein17

    i hate to say this but…. i love how black people are soooo happy to claim being native american, just grinning and thinking it makes them better than other black people. but when was the last time you heard a native american person be so happy to say that their great great great great great great grandfather was black? we’re the only damn race to do this. its very VERY sad.

    you dont see anybody else happy to claim being black so can we please stop kissing other race’s arse and trying to be apart of them when they dont want nothing to do with us even if they DO have african ancestry?

    its starts with us. lets learn to love ourselves and our heritage first ladies n gents.

  • EmpressDivine

    @ Erica

    Great comment. I feel the same way. Some people don’t know that Africa has more genetic diversity than any other continent on the planet. All features are African features.
    From “Asian” eyes:
    To blonde hair:

  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    My quote was not from Gates’ program; it was from the American Society of Human Genetics and referenced several credible and independent DNA studies that have shown very few African Americans have Native American DNA and, for the few that do, the amount is small to negligible.

    Like it, or don’t like it, but it is what it is…

  • S.

    So I gather that the lesson learned from this article and board is that an African American should NEVER mention any mixed ancestry of theirs–virtually ignore it–no matter how evident it is. And when explaining your Atypical African hair, say ‘that’s just how African American hair is’. Never go into detail or else you will be told that you hate your African-ness.

    Ignore the NA blood until it virtually disappears from the African American community.

    Got it!

  • Maurice

    Actually, Tina Turner does NOT have Native American ancestry. This was proven in a documentary by Professor Louis Gates of Harvard University that was showcased on PBS. What was the the film about? Whether ot not the many blacks, mainly Hollywood actors and famous blacks, who claimed Native American roots really had that connection throughDNA testing.

    When Tina Turner found the out truth she definitely was shocked because of the saying “Momma said we had Indian in us” that was passed down several generations. As a West Indian I’m proud of my African roots and doubt our family has Taino blood, as they all were wiped out hundreds of year ago, even though its been passed around.

  • S.

    I never made any to your “American Society…” quote. I was referring to your African American Lives reference. Either way, statistics is not what’s being debated here

  • Lakota

    I’m full blood Lakota Sioux. This is interesting. My grandma used to tell me about the Pequot tribe. I went to an all Native college (HINU) with Creeks, Lumbee, Seminoles, and Cherokees. Natives often refer to ourselves as ‘Skins’. Both my roommates through college were Black Skins. I would like to read more about this topic. :)

  • Kim

    I agree.

  • King Jason

    I would advice you to study some Claude Anderson and other sources on the history of Blacks and NA before you carry the flag. About how they threw black folks off the bus when the money and land came to how they were the most brutal slave catchers. It was said “better to be caught by a white than an Indian”.

  • King Jason

    You are exactly correct and what is more the history is disturbing one. I used to wonder why the Buffalo Soldiers fought NA’s but now I say ‘why not’? There was no reason NOT to fight them and plenty of reasons to do so. We romanticize NA’s undeservedly so.

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  • Kam

    Tainos definitely have not been wiped out.

  • Shelly

    Lakota, yours is truly the only interesting comment here. I wondered after reading the article, what do Native peoples think about this topic? Is this mentioned in your history books?

  • Marcus Tanaka

    Native Americans are gay. They owned slaves, but werent advanced enough to create any shit I use now. At least Crackkkas gave me english….which I use to speak about how evil they are.

  • Alisha

    Great article! I’m very interested in colonization and how African Americans mixed with other races. Though I never use the cliche, I actually do have “Indian in my family.” My great-grandmother’s mother was full-blooded Cherokee. I’m interested in researching my roots and how she met my great-great grandfather, a black man.

    I’m definitely going to check that book out.

  • binks

    This is an interesting article. My ex boyfriend was Native American and we always talked about this because of course even though I’ am black I do have Native American ancestry and know the key part of my family history concerning that aspect. I personally don’t think it is wrong saying you have this or that in your family but I advise that you do your research and your history because Native Americans like any other culture has its own history, importance and legacy that should be learned and understood beyond just physical feature. Yes, some parts of NA history isn’t pretty but nobody has a perfect history as a people

  • Lakota

    most of us pretty much embrace each other and don’t see the problem with african americans wanting to embrace their native heritage. I never knew it was a cliche’ among other cultures. we have members of our tribe who married buffalo soldiers too…a few of my cousins are mixed because of it and grew up on indian reservations. it’s interesting to find this kind of read.

  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    Kam wrote: “Tainos definitely have not been wiped out.”

    True and I am one of their living, breathing and documented descendants!

    My great-great grandmother was born in Barranquitas and is a member of the Jatibonicu Tribal Nation. Among many things she’s passed down and shared with us, one is that when she was little this was not ‘cool’ as it has now become and others used to refer to them as “jibaros” (pejoratively)…which sort of means backwards, primitive or ignorant in English.

    After the Spaniards invaded a huge portion of the Taíno population either committed suicide or were killed/murdered, worked to death mining for gold, died of nasty Euro diseases like smallpox etc. Many of those that remained escaped to the mountains on the island and others intermarried with Spaniards and some Africans (maroons that had also escaped to the mountains) to eventually assimilate or ‘conglomerate’ into what is now called a “Latino”.

  • Fuchsia

    Thank you for such a great article! I think it’s important to do your research, and technology is making it a whole lot easier.

  • sloane

    what are you talking about? i’m not “flying a flag”. i don’t think i have any native american ancestry, but hey you never know. and their history of subjugation IS closely connected with the subjugation of enslaved africans brought to the americas, so i don’t think there is anything wrong with educating ourselves about their history or advocating for their communities.

  • sloane

    not to mention that your view of native american slave holding is contradictory to the view that many others have of native american slave owners ( that they were more humane then white slave owners) but whatever.

  • Maurice

    @ Kam….I should’ve clarified in what is now Haiti/DR they have been wiped out can’t speak for other islands like PR. Also many Tainos/Arawaks traveled back to South America and to other Caribbean Islands to escape the Europeans as their populations almost disappeared.

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  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    @Maurice: You probably already know this but Hispaniola (Haiti and República Dominicana) is in the middle between Cuba and Puerto Rico and the 2nd largest island in the Caribbean divided into two sovereign, and very different, countries.

    Though sharing the same land mass and pretty much having similar population sizes, the two are starkly different i.e. República Dominicana is Spanish-speaking and has a higher per capita income ($8,200 vs. $1,300), rate of literacy (87% vs. 53%), life expectancy (74 years vs. 61 years), lower infant mortality rate (26 per/1,000 vs. 60 per/1,000) etc.

    The same genetics professor (Juan Carlos Martínez Cruzado) that conducted the study my mother and grandmother participated in at the university in Mayagüez back in the 90′s conducted a similar study on a sample population in República Dominicana 4 years ago. I’ve never heard of the research being done on the Haitian population and that’s probably because – though the Taíno once occupied the entirety of Hispaniola – the racial demographics of each country’s inhabitants have always been/are different with the majority of Dominicans (0ver 70%) being mixed race and 95% of Haitians the black descendants of African slaves who’d negligible contact with Arawak/Taínos.

    Anyway, that study revealed 15% of Dominicans have Taíno mitochondrial DNA. This is not as high as among Boricuas (60-70% of the people) but significant in that it further substantiates that the indígena were not exactly ‘wiped out’ as Euro-centric (the victors write the history) historical accounts attempted to peddle…but assimilated.

  • Kam

    Thanks Akai! I am Carib Indian and get the “your people are extinct” thing too. It’s really frustrating.

  • Akai (Akai.Santiago@Yahoo)

    Marcus Tanaka wrote: “Native Americans are gay. They owned slaves, but werent advanced enough to create any shit I use now. At least Crackkkas gave me english….which I use to speak about how evil they are.”

    Oh so “Native Americans are gay?” Telling and typical that no one called you out on this but, anyway, go right on ahead. Speak about how “evil” AmerInds or any other groups were/are since honest and truthful discussions and debate about these things are good.

    Just be prepared, fair and don’t get mad, punk up or make a weak and erroneous accusation of “racist” if asked how “evil” all those Africans that fought each other then kidnapped and took prisoners to sell were. Or if questioned about the “evil” of all those African kings that collected taxes on each captured slave drug through their domains, profits made by African chiefs paid off by traders in exchange for allowing slave raids in their domains, and other Africans that supplied the earlier Arab slave trade just as surely as leaders and kings of the Bamana Empire (now Mali) and Khasso (now Senegal) later supplied Europeans with bodies for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. What about the slave-trading of the King of Dahomey (now Benin), Madam Tinubu, a slaving flesh-peddler from Nigeria, and other African military aristocracy etc. that either trafficked or profited from trafficking in the flesh of their fellow African brothers and sisters…all for silly vanity and consumable items i.e. dirty watered-down ‘likka’, copper bracelets, old hats and used caps, cheap trinkets, inferior guns, powder and knives, substandard European textiles etc.

    If you want to discuss Native Americans owning black slaves, that’s cool too. But don’t turn around and whine about being “bashed” upon the mention of truths you don’t want to acknowledge or hadn’t the courage to hear about, yet can’t dispute, i.e. the biography of William “April” Ellison (not only the largest slave owner in South Carolina, he bred slaves). For him and others, it was hardly always a case of being benevolent or purchasing a spouse, child or other family member out of bondage so by all means add him to the mix as well as any of the other 3,700 blacks that owned 12,000 or so slaves according to the 1830 Census.

  • Kema

    This article has made me wonder more about my history… However not about the NA that may or may not be in my blood but what African region I may be connected to.

  • Tenisha Mercer

    Great article! We need to learn more about our combined legacies. It’s funny, because when we say, “My great grandmother, etc. was Indian,” most of the time we are right. I don’t think it’s ignoring our African ancestry when we say that. It’s very well documented that Native Americans and slaves formed communities in places like Georgia and Florida.

    Clearly, you can look at most Black folks and tell we’re mixed with something and a lot of times that’s Native American and/or white ancestry. But it’s still obvious that we’re African American, Black or whatever term you choose. Now, hopefully, we can trace back which Native Americans we originate from and maybe go back even further to discover our African roots as well.

  • Kam

    Didn’t respond because it’s clearly a troll.

  • Jessica Bennett

    I actually do have Indian in my family, and my natural hair is steel wool status, lol. so ppl need to let the stereotypes of have Indian in their family go.

  • Isis

    lmaoooo sooo true @ Fraulein17. Blacks will do ANYTHING to be less black. Like others are quick to claim yall. A hot, self hatred mess. Also, to those commenting about East Africans having “white” features, that’s because they are mixed. Look at West Africans, that’s how full blooded black people look. Sheesh. Anything to be like others. Ughh it’s disgusting. Granted, there are blacks that have NA or white in them, but majority don’t or have so little its pointless to reach back 10 generations to claim. A mess

  • Mimi

    What I am trying to understand is how can a black person “be proud” of their lineage without having someone else tell them that they’re a ‘self-hating’ black person?
    I know that I come from a multi-ethnic and a multi-cultural background, but I choose not to elaborate because (I hate to say the word ‘fear’) I dislike being called a ‘self-hating negro/negress’.

  • The BearMaiden

    “Mudblood” and damn proud. I claim all of me.

  • Mercedes

    @ Jessica – great comment – Same here. I have Native Blood as well – I just don’t say it. People always assume that if their hair is straight or have certain features its due to their Native Blood. Which is not always true.



    Thanks for the reply however, I’ve learned that it’s not what a person/people call you whether it be racial; derogattory; and/or insensitive; it’s what you answer to that matters. I can identify with your concerns yet, I can also identify with this article:

    My Great Grandmother was full blooded Cherokee Indian with silver hair down to her ankles and I was confused about my family history for a while based on the fact that I’m very dark skinned and have naturally straight hair; my mother has straight long hair and can almost pass for being white; my father has “nappy” hair and that threw me until I did my own family history serach and found that a lot of my father and mother’s sides of my family basically came from the same tree.

    You’d be surprised what you learn when you trace your family tree (aside from the negativity that comes within the family; i.e. jealousy, beef about different skin tones, eye colors, hair etc.) however, I still go back to the basic premise of: ” It’s not what people call you that matters; it’s what you answer to, when you look past the physical reflection in the mirror.”



  • King Jason

    Everybody got that story about that full-blooded NavaSeminApacheHo in their family…and then when the research is done they find great great grandma merely laid up with the white man if the family she did laundry for.

  • Stone

    I’m with King Jason

    While there might be some NA in the family, but saying that was mostly a front. The grandmother in my family that claims her mom was have Cherokee is a natural red head with hazel eyes. All her kids came out with light skin, light eyes, blond body hair etc… Yeah…. that’s real Native features granny. Somebody slept with a German and don’t want to admit it, lol

  • thewanderlustgrl

    we had to do a presentation about our culture(s) and ethnicity in my intercultural class, and i was profoundly shocked, sad, and amused by all but 3 or 4 black people (myself being one) who felt the need to talk about all the “indian” in their family. of course, most of it was cherokee or sioux or something, which made me LOL even more. i’m not one for policing identities, but when you look as “black” as the next person, going on about all the natives in your family and talking about how, “you could really tell my great grandma was cherokee!!” looks desperate and–yes–self-hating. one girl who actually had RECENT mixed heritage (1/2 Eritrean, 1/2 afro-american mom, afro-american dad, native grandmother) actually said that she identified as an afro-american because that’s all she really knows, while all these desperate self-hating blacks w/ native blood 60 years back want to harp on it. how embarrassing.

    it made me go up there and say, “um i’m african-american and that’s it” even though my ~great grandmother~ was 1/2 native and my last name is obviously creole. they embarrassed me so much i felt the need to represent for us “just black” people–and anyway–i look “just black” so why go on about parts of me i don’t know? i have no problem with people claiming recent lineage or when they KNOW what they’re talking avout, but when it’s a) distance b) you’re not sure c) you know nothing about it or d) the most egregious offense of all–making it up–i’m going to side-eye you. some girl even talked about white slave masters being her descents fondly, i laughed and mouthed, “rape.”

  • openlysilent

    I find it utterly disturbing when people claim nationalities as their race or races. There is no such thing as half African American and half Irish, or half Nigerian and half Spanish. How can you be half a nationality? To call yourself Irish, Indian, Nigerian, etc., means you are either born in the country, or you are a descendant of that country and practice the cultural norms. Race, however, refers to a specific genetoype (that can sometimes be identified by one’s phenotype), such as Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, etc. I for one know that my paternal grandfather was Siseka. Moreover, I know that my great great great grandfather was Irish. But to say I am one-quarter Siseka or 1/16 Irish sounds ridiculous. I don’t practice either culture, and I for sure, was not born in Ireland. So racially, as far as my genotype, I could be a mixure of Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid, like many folks. But, phenotypically, I look Black (negroid). Moreover, I was born in America. Therefore, I am satisfied with being Black American. I find no need to dissect my genetic pool to explain curly hair or skin tone. If there is one advantage to the Negroid genotype, it is the ability to produce a wide variety of skin tones, hair textures, and body types. YAY!

  • thewanderlustgrl

    African American is considered an ethnicity as well because most black americans do not know their ethnicity. But glad to know you find it “utterly disturbing” when people who were ripped from their homeland.

  • Ahmad

    Hmmmmm..Lots of indians in here. I am thinking about Henry Luis Gates special on public television that actually spoke towards black folks’ love affair with their native American heritage–or is it actually European/white? Why not DNA map to find your African roots?

    Either way, while I find the subject intriguing, and i applaud anyone who takes the time out to uncover their history, I am disturbed that the deeper implication seems to be that to be simply black ain’t good enough.

  • C. Sala

    I always find this a fascinating topic, demonstrating the complexity of living in a post-colonial, multi-cultural society. Being from Louisiana, I’ve learned to embrace the ambiguity of mixed Creole heritage, while still maintaining pride in my identity as a Black American. My grandmother can tell me that her grand mother was Native, but does not know what tribe, or her whole name. Yet, we’ve been able to trace our European descent to the first colonial settler carrying our family’s patrilineal name (and actually marrying across race). That’s no surprise since records were kept to preserve a white, male dominant history. Furthermore, the reservation system (in my opinion) weakened the connections between Native and Black communities by reinforcing physical segregation. African Americans often grasp for connections to historic narratives that we can carry forth with confidence, but our references to Native culture often lack certainty or clarity.

    Unfortunately, there has not been–to my knowledge–any modern, formally recognized ambassadorship between the African American community and First Nations. I find it a shame that our communities seem to have lost that once kindred bond. What is left is a sometimes tangible, but more often vague claim of heritage on the part of African Americans, and what sometimes seems to be selective memory (bordering itself on racist) among First Nation tribes as to our shared cultural alliances.

    This weak connection disturbs me because I think it’s incredibly important for African Americans not to forget our knowledge of sacred and natural healing systems, or our historic roles as keepers of the land. That is a legacy that the First Nations should be proud to claim partnership with and help foster in the present day.

  • .ReadingRainbow.

    ditto, me too! i am just as proud of my Native American and European ancestry as i am of my African ancestry. i don’t favor any of my ancestors over the other, they all contributed towards my creation.

  • Blair

    I agree. Personally, I think this article was dumb–plain and simple. I think black people carry around this self-loathing image of themselves. I’m so sick of hearing black people brag about their white great grandmothers, or their Indian great-great-grandfather. Like give me a break. *rolls eyes*

  • anab

    Wow! Negroid, Caucsoid, Mongoloid? I didn’t know people still used those archaic terms. I agree that Italian, Irish, African-American are nationalities and ethnic groups-like hispanic is an ethnicity not a race- but I don’t see anything wrong with referring to your heratige as 1/4 Irish or 1/2 Mexican. People know that these aren’t races they are just trying to claim a connection to a place and a people not a race per se.

    While I’m not a fan of black people trying to be everything but black-don’t kid yourself claiming that your great great grandma was raped by a white man and that your grandpa was sitting bull is definately a way to disconnect form your blackness which has been viewed as something that is less than by our society- I don’t have a problem with you acknowledging the every culture that makes up your background. Hence the reason I prefer to self idenity as a black american not african american, I am a mutt and Charlize Theron is an African.

  • Erica

    My great-grandma was Cherokee on both my mom and dad’s side does that make me mixed???

  • Pamela Kennedy

    OK here we go. Choctaws are mentioned in this. At least we’re not the only tribe whom the world thinks is “Black” instead of Native American. I mean, I know this: I’m just wondering if anyone else in the world knows this too. I actually came across this in googling “why does everyone hate Choctaws.” I’m Choctaw, I’m dark-skinned, and people get hell-bent on telling me, as if THEY’RE the ones deciding this and NOT MY PARENTS…that I’m “black” and NOT Choctaw. Or they CORRECT me when I tell them I’m Choctaw as if it were phrased as a QUESTION or as if it were DEBATABLE when I’ve been Choctaw for 42 misspent years….I mean, in my day you didn’t go have a DNA test to determine what RACE you were or weren’t, you asked your parents. I had my Choctaw PARENT standing right in front of me for a lot of years. I guess I’m getting more and more cynical and bitter as I get older and get treated like I must look progressively YOUNGER or something. I don’t know, it’s either I look “stupid” or I look TWELVE or they’re flat-out calling my father a liar….

  • Pamela Kennedy

    Having yourself DNA tested is basically calling your parents LIARS. That’s why not.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    OR – you could be three-fourths Native and if you have dark skin people will assume you’re Black instead and that you’re lying and even tell you you should submit to DNA tests because, get this, THEY’RE the ones confused. I tell people I’m Choctaw and they basically ARGUE with me just because my skin is dark!! That’s what I’m talking about. Not all dark skin is “African American,” people.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    Don’t feel bad – I’m Choctaw and get the same thing!! Said right to my face, no less. And right in the state next door to the one that has one of the Choctaw reservations.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    Great sarcasm. (I hope). I will add to it that if you’re the least bit dark-skinned you “must” let society treat you like African American even if there isn’t any in you at all. I’ve met Navajos darker than me, and even some Pueblos, who are their respective tribe members and never is any mention of being “any part Black.” THEY just call themselves Navajo or Pueblo or Apache or Ute, so why should we Choctaw be any different?!? This is what I have to constantly beat into these bat-crap morons here in New Mexico, allegedly “Indian Country.”

  • Pamela Kennedy

    Actually, there are some white people who call themselves “anthropologists” or “historians” who are almost ALWAYS trying to make some tribes claim that they’re part African=American especially here out West. There are those I’ve met who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to MAKE the darker-skinned Navajos “admit” that they have black soldier DNA in them. Eskimo, too. I’ve met some pretty hard-headed white racists who are so “into” this historical mixing of black soldier+Native American woman blood thing that they come across as basically someone I’d like to scalp and do the world a favor…

  • Pamela Kennedy

    I have to remember that you people are talking about “black” looking people whom the Black community wants to claim as “theirs,” insisting that we are Choctaw and Eskimo and not Black because our parents TOLD US THAT. So this whole thing is to justify that people are basically calling darkskinned Choctaws, LIARS. This article came up when I googled “why does everyone hate Choctaws.” Because when I tell people I’m Choctaw, they either CORRECT me (complete strangers, mind you) tell me I’m lying, or tell me I should take a DNA test to, get this, imply that my parents were liars. Yeah, right. As they say around here, “them’s fightin’ words.” It was small consolation to see that the admissions counselor at Dartmouth, a dark-skinned Narangasset, got treated like this too. Not just Choctaws. All Indian tribes who hail from parts of the world where the climate is hotter like Central and South America, where people’s skin is naturally darker, being treated like “African American” who “must be lying if they say they’re not and they’re American Indian instead.”

  • Pamela Kennedy

    I wish I could “like” this more than once!! “Is one supposed to call their elders….liars???” When I get to that point in the conversation, I usually just threaten to scalp the person and remove all doubt. Then they sometimes shut up…at least temporarily.

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