Black Indian Slave Narratives

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-05-22 01:54Z by Steven

Black Indian Slave Narratives

John F. Blair, Publisher
200 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-89587-298-2

Patrick Minges

Few people realize that Native Americans were enslaved right alongside the African Americans in this country. Fewer still realize that many Native Americans owned African Americans and Native Americans from other tribes. Recently, historians have determined that of the 2,193 interviews with former slaves that were collected by the Federal Writers’ Project, 12 percent contain some reference to the interviewees’ being related to or descended from Native Americans. In addition, many of the interviewees make references to their Native American owners. In Black Indian Slave Narratives, Patrick Minges offers the most absorbing of these firsthand testimonies about African American and Native American relationships in the 19th century.

The selections include an interview with Felix Lindsey, who was born in Kentucky of Mvskoke/African heritage and who served as one of the buffalo soldiers who rounded up Geronimo. Chaney Mack, whose father was a “full-blood African” from Liberia and whose mother was a “pure-blood Indian,” gives an in-depth look at both sides of her cultural heritage, including her mother’s visions based on the “night the stars fell” over Alabama. There are stories of Native Americans taken by “nigger stealers,” who found themselves placed on slave-auction blocks alongside their African counterparts.

The narratives in this collection provide insight into the lives of people who lived in complex and dynamically interconnected cultures. The interviews also offer historical details of capture and enslavement, life in the Old South and the Old West, Indian removal, and slavery in the Indian territory.

I wasn’t as dark as I am now, but kind of red-like, and when Geronimo saw me he said, “You ain’t no nigger, you’re an Indian.”

“My father may have been an Indian, but I’m a nigger because that’s the race of my mother, and the race I chose,” I said.

—From Felix Lindsey’s narrative

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‘all my Slaves, whether Negroes, Indians, Mustees, Or Molattoes.’: Towards a Thick Description of ‘Slave Religion’

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2012-03-05 00:00Z by Steven

‘all my Slaves, whether Negroes, Indians, Mustees, Or Molattoes.’: Towards a Thick Description of ‘Slave Religion’

The American Religious Experience


Patrick Neal Minges

The time was in the late 1760’s and the place was Charleston, S.C. A young musician was on his way to a performance with his french horn tucked under his arm. As he passed by a large meetinghouse, he heard much commotion on account of a “crazy man was halloing there.” He might have ignored the event but his companion dared him to “blow the french horn among them” and disrupt the meeting. Thinking they might have some fun, John Marrant and his companion entered the meeting hall with the intent of mischief. As he lifted his horn to his lips, the crazy man — evangelist George Whitefield — cast an eye upon him, pointed his finger at John Marrant and uttered these words: “Prepare to Meet Thy God, O Israel!” Marrant was struck dead for some thirty minutes and when he was awakened, Reverend Whitefield declared “Jesus Christ has got thee at last.” After several days of ministrations by Reverend Whitefield, the Lord set John Marrant’s soul at liberty and he dedicated his life to the propagation of the gospel.

Marrant first witnessed to members of his family and when they rejected his newfound evangelical spirit, he fled to the wilderness where he sought solace among the beasts of the woods. Marrant was not afraid for God hade made the beasts “friendly to me.” When Marrant happened upon a Cherokee deer hunter, they spent ten weeks together killing deer by day and preparing brush arbors by night to provide sanctuary for themselves in the wilderness. Becoming fast friends by the end of the hunting season, the Cherokee deer hunter and the African American missionary returned to the hunter’s village where they would continue their cultural exchange. However, when he attempted to pass the outer guard at the Cherokee village, the Cherokees were less than excited with Marrant and he was detained and placed in prison. It was not that Marrant was a black man that troubled the Cherokee, the peoples of the Southeastern United States had relations with Africans that stretched back perhaps as far as a thousand years. It was just that ever since black people had started showing up with their friends, the white people, that things had started going particularly bad for the Indians of the Southeastern United States.

It seems that as soon as Europeans showed up on the coasts of the United States, they started reading from a formal document called the Requierimento that declared themselves to be Christians and by nature superior to the uncivilized heathens that they encountered. The indigenous people were then informed by the Requierimento that if they accepted Christianity they would become the Christian’s slaves in exchange for the gift of salvation; if they did not accept the gospel of Christianity, they would still become slaves but that their plight would be much worse.7 Everywhere that explorers such as Ponce De Leon, Vazquez De Ayllon, and Hernando De Soto went on their “explorations” throughout the American Southeast, they carried with them bloodhounds, chains, and iron collars for the acquisition and exportation of Indian slaves. A Cherokee from Oklahoma remembered his father’s tale of the Spanish slave trade, “At an early state the Spanish engaged in the slave trade on this continent and in so doing kidnapped hundreds of thousands of the Indians from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts to work their mines in the West Indies…

Read the entire article here.

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