Indians of North America -- Mixed descent, Race Relations -- history -- United States, African Americans -- Relations with Indians


The notion of race was introduced to the Americas at the time of colonization. For the Black Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes, racism has led to the rejection of their tribal heritage from both tribal and United States governments. The Black Indians are of both African and Native American ancestry with a history born in America and rich with resistance against colonial power. Blood quantum, the governmental requisite for tribal membership, is but one of the many laws put in place to govern Native American tribes. This introduces the question: Why, in a Nation that claims "freedom for all," does there continue to be groups of people whose identities are not recognized? Why are descendants of both Native American and African ancestors ineligible for education scholarships, land allotments, gaming and fishing rights and other tribal allowances? In 1965 African-Americans were marching on Washington to demand their rights as American citizens. Today, Black Indians are marching on Washington from Indian Territory in Oklahoma to demand their rights. As a people who represent the continuing struggle for American freedom, the case of the Black Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes demonstrates how hegemony introduced the hypodescent rule or "one drop of blood" rule by the United States, laid the foundation for systemic effects of the racial hierarchy within the tribes. As this is an issue that may be further explored, future research might include a comparative study of other unrecognized groups that have been affected by colonialism, incorporating archival research, research of material culture and oral histories.

Faculty Mentor: Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate



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