African and American

African and American

Science Magazine
Volume 17, Number 418 (1891-02-06)
page 78
DOI: 10.1126/science.ns-17.418.78

At a meeting of the Canadian Institute, Toronto, Jan. 24, Mr. D. R. Keys, M.A., read on behalf of Mr. A. F. Chamberlain, M.A., fellow in Clark University, Worcester, Mass., a valuable and interesting paper entitled “African and American: the Contact of the Negro and the Indian.” He said that the history of the negro on the continent of America has been studied from various points of view, but in every case with regard to his contact with the white race. It must therefore be a new as well as an interesting inquiry, when we endeavor to find out what has been the effect, of the contact of the foreign African with the native American stocks. Such an investigation must extend its lines of research into questions of physiology, psychology, philology, sociology, and mythology.

The writer took up the history of the African negro in America in connection with the various Indian tribes with whom he has come into contact. He referred to the baseless theories of pre-Columbian negro races in America, citing several of these in illustration. He then took up the question ethnographically, beginning with Canada. The. chief contact between African and American in Canada appears to have taken place on one of the Iroquois reservations near Brantford. A few instances have been noticed elsewhere in the various provinces, but they do not appear to have been very numerous. In New England, especially in Massachusetts, considerable miscegenation appears to have taken place, and in some instances it would appear that the Indians were bettered by the admixture of negro blood which they received. The law which held that children of Indian women were born free appears to have favored the taking of Indian wives by negroes.

On Long Island the Montauk and Shinnacook Indians have a large infusion of African blood, dating from the times of slavery in the Northern States. The discovery made by Dr. Brinton, that certain words (numerals) stated by the missionary Pyrlaeus to be Nanticoke Indian were really African (probably obtained from some runaway slave or half-breed), was referred to. In Virginia some little contact of the two races has occurred, and some of the free negroes on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake peninsula show evident traces of Indian blood. The State of Florida was for a long t1ime the home of the Seminoles, who, like the Cherokees, held negroes in slavery, One of their chiefs was said, in 1835, to have had no fewer than one hundred negroes. Here considerable miscegenation has taken place, although the authorities on the subject seem to differ considerably on questions of fact. In the Indian Territory, to which Cherokees, Seminoles, and other Indian tribes of the Atlantic region have been removed, further contact has occurred, and the study of the relations of the Indian and negro in the Indian Territory, when viewed from at sociological standpoint, are of great interest, to the student of history and ethnography. The negro is regarded in a different light by different tribes of American aborigines. After mnentioning a few isolated instances of cointact in other parts of the United States, the writer proceeded to discuss the relations of African and Indian mythology, coming to about the same conclusion as Professor T. Crane, that the Indian bas probably borrowed more from the negro than has the negro from the Indian. The paper concluded with calling the attention of the members of the institute to the necessity of obtaining with all possible speed information regarding (1) the result of intermarriage of Indian an negro, the physiology of the offspring of such unions; (2) the social .status of the negro among the various Indian tribes, the Indian as a slaveholder; (3) the influence of Indian upon negro and of negro upon Indian mythology.

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