Julianne Jennings: The shared history of Indians and Africans

Julianne Jennings discusses the shared history between American Indians and African Americans:
Mainstream America remains totally unaware of the biological and cultural bonds that exist between African slaves and American Indians—a people created by expulsion, slavery, racism and war caused the collision of cultures that became the crucible of destruction by force, but later provided the terrain to initiate new signs of selfhood. The first paths to freedom taken by runaway slaves led to American Indian villages, “where black men and women found acceptance and friendship among the original inhabitants of Turtle Island. And though they are rarely mentioned in textbooks and movies, the children of American Indian and African American marriages, would help shape the early days of the fur trade, added new dimensions to frontier diplomacy, and made daring contributions to the fight for American liberty.”

In his book, William Katz: A Hidden Heritage – Revised, a 240-page highly readable and sad chronology, with new chapters, documents, prints and photographs, brings to light a part of America’s hidden past, the cultural and racial fusion of American Indians and Africans, and later African Americans, by attempting to reconstruct the parallel tracks of tragedy between two people who, for a while, provided mutual support and refuge from unrelenting atrocities inflicted upon them by early Europeans, and settler groups. Katz explains, “This history is vitally important because for four centuries Africans and Native Americans together fought Europe’s conquest and slavery; and they are still fighting for equal representation and presentation in American classrooms and in discourse today.”

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Julianne Jennings: The Tragic History of African Slaves and Indians (Indian Country Today 9/29)

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