BLACK NDNs. "If you know I have a history, you will respect me."

peyoteflower submitted:

Video (pt.1) from the Instituto Latinoamericano de la Comunicacion Educativa about the Black Seminole ndns who settle in Coahuila and formed the town El Nacimiento de los Negros.

Tribe Fights With Slaves’ Kin: Court Weighs Whether Cherokee Must Extend Rights to Its Freedmen’s Progeny

An old dispute about whether the descendants of slaves freed by the Cherokee Nation more than a century ago qualify as members of the tribe is heating up again in a federal court.

The Cherokee Nation abolished slavery in 1863, and three years later it signed a treaty with the U.S. granting tribal rights to the Cherokee’s freed slaves, or “Freedmen,” many of whom had migrated with the tribe decades earlier to present-day Oklahoma.

But the Oklahoma-based Cherokee tribe, which has more than 310,000 members, later narrowed its citizenship criteria, excluding many descendants of the Freedmen and rendering them ineligible for a broad range of tribal benefits, such as business loans, medical services, housing assistance and college scholarships.

About 25,000 Freedmen descendants have been wrongly excluded from Cherokee citizenship, said Marilyn Vann, president of an Oklahoma-based Freedmen’s advocacy group. While a sovereign nation, the Cherokee don’t extend citizenship to all those within a certain territory but rather limit membership to those who share a common ancestry.

After almost 10 years of legal battles, including in Cherokee tribal courts and federal court in Washington, D.C., the Freedmen’s citizenship status appears headed toward a resolution before Judge Terence Kern in Tulsa, Okla.

The Cherokee Nation filed a complaint this year, asking Judge Kern to rule that a 1866 treaty didn’t grant citizenship to Freedmen descendants. On July 2, the Interior Department filed a counterclaim against the tribe, saying Freedmen descendants should enjoy all rights of native Cherokee. A group of Freedmen descendants also filed a July 2 claim contending the Cherokee Nation had violated the U.S. Constitution by perpetuating the “badges and incidents” of slavery.

"Hopefully, we can move forward on this issue," Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee, said in a statement. "This matter has been held up in the court system for several years, and now that we have everyone at the table, we can get a definitive ruling."

The litigation will hinge partly on the legality of a 2007 vote in which Cherokee amended their constitution to grant citizenship only to those descended from at least one person listed as Indian on a government census of Cherokee taken more than 100 years ago. That definition excludes most Freedmen descendants, although more than 1,500 people who had an Indian ancestor qualify as citizens.

The Cherokee declined to be interviewed about the litigation. But in a summary of the Freedmen dispute posted on the Cherokee website, the tribe said its 2007 vote on citizenship wasn’t meant to discriminate against Freedmen descendants.

"The Cherokee people determined that the Cherokee Nation should return to what it had been since time immemorial—an Indian tribe made of Indians," according to the website.

Some experts in Indian rights say the Cherokee Nation has a sovereign right and duty to limit its membership, particularly as the tribe has become increasingly assimilated into American society and more people claim some affiliation with the tribe.

"The Cherokee people are sensitive because of efforts by non-Indians to claim to be Indians with nothing behind the claim," said G. William Rice, a professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law and member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Mr. Rice noted the recent questions over whether Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts candidate for the U.S. Senate, exaggerated her possible Indian ancestry, an allegation Ms. Warren has denied. She has said that she has Native American ancestry, but she hasn’t been able to document that heritage.

Jon Velie, an Oklahoma lawyer who represents Freedmen descendants in the Tulsa case, said the Cherokee don’t have a right to discriminate against his clients because of their race. “The tribe is arguing, ‘We can do whatever we want,’ in the same way Southern states in the 1950s said, ‘Segregation is a states’ rights issue, and we can do whatever we want,’ ” he said.

Clint Carroll, a Cherokee citizen and professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Indian Studies, said a ruling in favor of the Freedmen would be a blow to the Cherokee’s tribal sovereignty. But if the tribe wins the right to define its citizenship as it sees fit, it would face the lingering perception that it had excluded people based on race.

"I can see both sides of the debate," he said. "We are at a fork in the road, and both paths lead to bad things."

Write to Nathan Koppel at

A version of this article appeared July 17, 2012, on page A3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Tribe Fights With Slaves’ Kin.

Martha Redbone

Martha Redbone’s role as a leading voice in contemporary Native American music is recognized by the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian who have collected and presented her work and she is beloved by music connoisseurs everywhere.”

[Submitted by: touchtheskybutterfly]

"Black Slaves, Red Masters" was produced by Sam Ford and originally aired on WJLA-TV Washington in February 1990. // Part II // Part III // Submitted by Mujerdorada


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 : ,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                                                                                                  

In response to the post from 2 days ago that said:” If you are a Black person who had a oral family history connected to a tribe but no way to do actual research…”,

mujerdorada submitted: In response to the post from 2 days ago that said:” If you are a Black person who had a oral family history connected to a tribe but no way to do actual research…”, so here’s my response. From my personal experience, that has been difficult but I’ve been blessed. Today, I’ve became more passionate about of my native american heritage, and thus it’s taken 2 long years for me to find out where I need to start. I’ve been looking through tribal rolls, etc, clearly almost to no sort of light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve only been able to find out my great-great-great grandfather’s name, who he married, where he was, and I’ve been able to find him on the US Census in the 1930’s. ON my father’s side, most of them refuse to talk about it, and that’s pretty much it.  BUT, due to some sort of blessing, we are moving to the area in which we have some family from my mother’s side, most of whom I’ve NEVER met, that would be more than willing to give me information on our family history. 

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