Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

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Though they have never appeared in a school text, Hollywood movie or a TV show of the Old West, Black Indians were there as sure as Sitting Bull, Davy Crockett and Geronimo. Their story began at the time of Columbus, ranged from North American forests to South American jungles, and the jewel-like islands of the Caribbean. The first freedom paths taken by runaway slaves led to Native American villages. There black men and women found a red hand of friendship and an accepting adoption system and culture. The sturdy...
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Overview

Though they have never appeared in a school text, Hollywood movie or a TV show of the Old West, Black Indians were there as sure as Sitting Bull, Davy Crockett and Geronimo. Their story began at the time of Columbus, ranged from North American forests to South American jungles, and the jewel-like islands of the Caribbean. The first freedom paths taken by runaway slaves led to Native American villages. There black men and women found a red hand of friendship and an accepting adoption system and culture. The sturdy offspring of Black-Indian marriages shaped the early days of the fur trade, added a new dimension to frontier diplomacy, and made a daring contribution to the fight for American liberty. Early Florida history was determined by a powerful African-Seminole alliance that fought the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines to a standstill for forty years. Like other intrepid frontier people, these dark Americans braved every peril for a slice of the American Dream-freedom, a safe home, family happiness and a piece of one's own land. In the chronicles of the Americas their long, arduous quest for freedom is still a neglected chapter. Through careful research and rare antique prints and photographs this book reveals how black and red people learned to live and work together in the Americas to oppose white oppression. Here is an American story that reveals a little-known aspect of our past and shatters some myths.

Traces the history of relations between blacks and American Indians, and the existence of black Indians, from the earliest foreign landings through pioneer days.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In the pages of American history very few words have been dedicated to those individuals possessing a racial heritage combining Native American and African American ancestry. Yet, as William Loren Katz adamantly posited twenty years ago in this powerful book, such an oversight cannot be supported by historical fact. Now, twenty years later, a republication of Katz's pathfinding work has occurred. In the pages of Black Indians readers young and old will once again encounter the biracial heritage that was and is a vibrant part of American society. In Katz's book the story of escaped slaves who settled with Native peoples is brought to life. Whether the merger of Native and African folks occurred during the Seminole Wars, on the Trail of Tears, or during the cowboy days, the end result was a voluntary sharing of lives and cultures. Unlike the enforced cohabitation that slavery created in the antebellum South, the emergence of Black Indians was an expression of voluntary joining and love. In this powerful, illustrated book, readers will come away with insights not only into a little known aspect of American history, but also the way in which historical memory is shaped. This republication of William Loren Katz's seminal study is one that will be of value to students interested in not only the history of the American West but the nation at large as well. 2006 (orig. 1986), Atheneum Books, Ages 12 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up Most Americans remain totally unaware of the biological and cultural bonds which were established by African slaves and American Indians. Using a variety of tertiary sources, Katz has attempted to reconstruct a legacy among two peoples who, for a while, provided mutual support and refuge from the unrelenting atrocities inflicted upon them by greedy whites. Although aspects of the separate histories are provided, a stronger emphasis is on black Indians whose swarthy complexion or curly hair was apparentan obvious limitation of definition. Black Indians who are more or less familiar Crispus Attucks and Paul Cuffee are identified, as are the unfamiliar Zeferina, a woman commander of a black Indian settlement, and O. S. Fox, editor of the Cherokee Afro-American Advocate . Katz makes it clear that much of this history is extremely well hidden or entirely lost, and numerous references are made to nameless black Indians. Because of the lack of information, too many statements are less than definitive. Another disturbing feature is Katz' practice of quoting without documenting his sources. Although incomplete, this highly readable and sad chronology of a hidden heritage is needed and welcomed. Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689311963
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/30/1986
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

William Loren Katz is the author of forty books, including such award-winning titles as Breaking the Chains: African American Slave Resistance, The Black West, and Black Women of the Old West. He has lectured in Europe, Africa, and the United States; he has been a Scholar in Residence at Teachers College, Columbia University; and he has served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute and to school systems from California to Florida and England. He lives in New York City. Visit him at WilliamLKatz.com.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 If You Know I Have a History 9
2 They Fled Amongst the Indians 20
3 Between the Races We Cannot Dig too Deep a Gulf 33
4 The Finest Looking People I Have Ever Seen 49
5 We Are All Living As in One House 63
6 That You Know Who We Are 76
7 He was Our Go-Between 89
8 Their Mixing is to be Prevented 100
9 Like the Indians Themselves 114
10 Blood so Largely Mingled 126
11 The Finest Specimens of Mankind 141
12 No Bars can Hold Cherokee Bill 154
13 The Greatest Sweat and Dirt Cowboy that Ever Lived 169
Acknowledgments 189
Bibliography 191
Index 195
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