Submission from Phil Wilkes Fixico:
I was a 52 yr. old African-American, when I discovered my Native-American heritage almost 13 years ago. Since then, my quest for identity has been featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s , book and exhibit, entitled: “indiVisible”: African-Native American Lives in the Americas. It is currently touring the country.
Recently I submitted a long held idea to the : www.indianvoices.net ,which is Published by ; Rose Davis. My idea was to create a news entity called the Bureau of Black Indian Affairs. Designed to address some of the issues that you have mentioned in your query of what is one to do if they only have Oral History to go on. The “Father of Black Indian Studies” Mr William L. Katz was fully in favor of my idea and came on board with the full force of his body of work. It would indeed be a tremendous repository for the public to draw on. I suggested that the BBIA be formed as a NEWS BUREAU, not as an organization whose mission it was to , replicate what the , Official US Government’s ;Bureau of Indian Affairs has done mostly for By-Bloods, but only to report on the status of Black Indians. While, the 3 co-founders ,were; Phil Wilkes Fixico, Rose Davis and William L. Katz, Rose Davis a Black Seminole is carrying on with the it. I take no part in the operation or management of the BBIA.
I am saying that there is help out there and more on the way. Now, my opinion on what one should do about their desire to explore their Native American roots, when all they have is Oral History. First of all, take my advice, enter upon this quest, for the right reason. The right reason, in MY OPINION is to advance one’s self culturally. That’s right, CULTURAL ADVANCEMENT ! Those people who are dreaming about : Indian Rights could fail to receive a rainbow of benefits. It will be unobtainable for people ,who only have Oral History. It is not impossible to find a legal link if the documentation is available. Go For It and Good Luck to you !
However, you can still win, even if the documentation never existed, if you appreciate the value that can be gained from Cultural Enlightenment. I say these things because, I have Walked the Walk. Also, because I am a staunch believer in ;Transcendence. Transcendence ,is one of 4 responses to : Estelusti Marginality (by Dr. R.V. Robertson). When By-Blood Indians reject attempts by Black Indians to join their nations ,Blacks usually respond in 1 of 4 ways ; Return,Poise,Assimilation or Transcendence. I have the necessary documentation and evidence linking me to a direct ancestor on the Dawes Rolls. Yet, I have not applied for membership and I remain in solidarity with those who only have Oral History. I further believe that anyone who wants to CELEBRATE this culture for cultural purposes shouldn’t hesitate to do so.
Finally, Native Americans make up about ;1.5% of the US population and African Americans represent about 12.5%. My experiences lead me to believe that 60% of African Americans THINK that they have either Native American ancestry or Shared History. We, undeniably have the numbers, so why don’t we just start out using and enjoying the culture, while we work ,to create our own groups. We can do this by beginning an all-inclusive : Cultural Renaissance similar to the : Harlem Renaissance and instead of using the ;New Negro as the Protagonist , the new Protagonist is the : “African-Native American” ,as has been clearly exemplified for us in the : Smithsonian Institution’s, book and exhibit : “indiVisible”: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
All the Best,
(Pompey) Phil Wilkes Fixico ,Seminole Maroon Decendant ,Creek and Cherokee Freedmen descendant . Heniha/Spokesman : Wildcat/John Horse Band of the Texas Seminoles, California Semiroon Mico, Member of the L.A. Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers 9th & 10th (horse) Cavalry and the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts Association of Brackettville, Texas