Black American Indians seek to honor their mixed ancestry

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-07-23 21:49Z by Steven

Black American Indians seek to honor their mixed ancestry

Al Jazeera America
2014-07-22

Naureen Khan

WASHINGTON — The soaring sound of “Wade in the Water,” a Negro spiritual once said to be used on the Underground Railroad, filled Plymouth Congressional United Church of Christ Saturday morning.

But on this particular Saturday, church-goers offered their respects to the Great Spirit, in addition to the Holy Spirit, looked on as a Native American drum processional wound its way through the aisle, and took part in a ceremonial tobacco offering.

At the first gathering of the newly created National Congress of Black American Indians, organizers and attendees came to unite and celebrate individuals of both African and Native American ancestry — a subject often fraught with complicated questions of race, identity and citizenship.

Although Native Americans and African-Americans have crossed paths, intermarried and formed alliances since pre-colonial times, often uniting in their common fight against slavery and dispossession, their shared history has been slow to be unearthed and brought into the light.

The formation and the first meeting of the NCBAI sought to remove the taboo of mixed ancestry and bring together those who could trace their ancestry to both communities. The gathering received endorsement and letters of support from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, D.C. mayor Vincent Gray and Prince George County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

“This has been a conversation that has been avoided and pushed aside, and folks who have wanted to have this conversation have been marginalized, subjugated, separated, downtrodden, stepped on,” said Jay Gola Waya Sunoyi, one of the founders of the National Congress. “But still we’re here.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Institutional Racism Against Black Indians

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-07-06 01:18Z by Steven

The Institutional Racism Against Black Indians

Indian Country Today Media Network.com
2014-07-04

Julianne Jennings

Black Indians are constantly confronted with the fact that they do not fit any of society’s stereotypes for Native Americans. Those stereotypes are imposed by both whites and sadly, other Indians. This lack of understanding of another nation’s history has interwoven ignorance thus extinguishing fact. Nevertheless, despite their own distortions and mutations of the past, it is interesting to note how the right to remember or forget are not going unnoticed; where personal biographies have intersected with historical watershed events (i.e. slavery, blood-mixing, cultural blending) is now producing historically-conscious discourse about race, racism, and who is a “real” Indian.

Raymond H. Brooks, 72, Montaukett Nation, Long Island, New York, was made furious from a recent posting he read on Facebook. The post read, “My good friend is a real Indian because he lives on an Indian reservation and the government gives him money. That’s how you can tell who a real Indian is.”

Those who hold the power, get to set the rules; and according to Brooks, “Our tribe had its status taken away in 1910 because a New York State county Judge Abel Blackmar said, “We were no longer a tribe because we had intermarried with blacks and whites. And that when he looked around the court room, He didn’t see any Indians” The tribe has been fighting to get their State recognition restored ever since. You can go to the tribes website and read their history and what is currently happening with their Bill (montauktribe.Org).

…Employing discredited biological over cultural definitions of who is an Indian and who is not is an assault on our self-determination. We have endured 450 years of forced assimilation which included slavery and post slavery intermarriage, making our walk one of plurality. We are therefore all multiracial. Blood mixing is also believed to be the reason certain phenotypes (physical characteristics) common within Native people also occur in African American populations…

Read the entire article here.

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Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2014-06-18 19:50Z by Steven

Search through own heritage leads evangelist to story about enslaved mixed-race pastor

The Advocate
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
2014-06-16

Mark H. Hunter, Special to The Advocate

If local school district officials knew then what Sammy Tippit knows now, he might not have been allowed to attend Istrouma High School.

Tippit, 66, is a world-renowned evangelist who grew up in Baton Rouge and now lives in San Antonio. He was a prominent Istrouma High student government leader and proudly represented the Indians at statewide high school meetings and debates.

“I truly am an Istrouma Indian,” Tippit said with a big smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. And he means that in more ways than one.

As a youthful “Jesus freak” in the late 1960s, he boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in dangerous nightclubs on the west side of the Mississippi River. He was arrested and deported from Communist Romania and risked arrest in the Soviet Union for preaching in underground churches in the 1970s and ’80s.

Just a few months ago, Tippit said, he preached in Pakistan where a large portion of the 10,000-member audience — many of them Muslim men, — prayed for salvation in Jesus Christ. A suicide bomber, perhaps on his way to the service, exploded a few blocks away.

But one of Tippit’s most unnerving experiences came 10 years ago when a man in Portugal, researching his own family roots, told him they were related by Native American blood going back to Revolutionary War times.

“All of a sudden I didn’t know who I was,” Tippit said during an interview at a local coffee shop. “I have fair skin and blue eyes, but my bloodline is a mixture of English, Native American and African.”…

Read the entire article here.

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On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-06-05 15:47Z by Steven

On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country

Indian Country Today Media Network
2014-06-05

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana—an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.

Next week, I’ll return to Indian country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, North Dakota. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian country.

As president, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs—to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it…

Read the entire article here.

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Radmilla’s Voice: Music Genre, Blood Quantum, and Belonging on the Navajo Nation

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2014-05-26 05:46Z by Steven

Radmilla’s Voice: Music Genre, Blood Quantum, and Belonging on the Navajo Nation

Cultural Anthropology
Volume 29, Issu3 2 (May 2014)
pages 385-410
DOI: 10.14506/ca29.2.11

Kristina Jacobsen-Bia, Assistant Professor of Music
University of New Mexico

Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona, September 1997. A young woman butchers a sheep as the crowd at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds watches. Her hair tied back in a tsiiyéél, a woman’s hair bun, she wears a velvet top, silver concho belt, long satin skirt, and leather moccasins—the markers of traditional Navajo femininity. As she expertly slits the sheep’s throat to begin the arduous process of dissecting the animal, her skirt remains spotless: Not a drop of blood touches it.

Sheep butchering, a traditional Navajo art of subsistence, constitutes the first part of the Navajo Nation’s annual Miss Navajo pageant. The second is singing, and the same young woman—Radmilla Cody—performs a traditional “skip dance” song in the Navajo language. But something makes her performance different. As Radmilla’s voice carries across the fairground, she adds melismas, or vocal flourishes, note glides, and a bluesy inflection to the more nasal sound of traditional skip dance songs, which are typically sung by men (McAllester 1954). Onlookers cock their heads to listen more closely, and they hear for the first time the singer who will become known as the “Navajo Whitney Houston.” The crowd responds ecstatically; Radmilla, a twenty-one-year-old from Grand Falls, Navajo Nation, is publicly crowned the forty-sixth Miss Navajo Nation, 1997–1998.

When I introduced myself in Navajo to Radmilla in 2011 at a CD signing (for I had long been a fan of her music), she seemed amused to hear an Anglo, a bilagáana, speaking her language. She joked that we try performing some skip dance songs together in a perhaps improbable duo—a white woman and she, a half-black, half-Navajo one, performing old Navajo standards. As she autographed a glossy poster for my friend’s nine-year-old niece, who is of mixed Navajo, Korean, and French descent, she wrote in flowing cursive: “Beautiful you are! Many blessings to you. Always remember that, and walk in beauty.”

Radmilla dramatically broke the mold in more ways than one. There was, most obviously, her distinctive, hybrid singing at the intersection of Navajo tradition and African American rhythm and blues; that style reflected Radmilla’s own mixed heritage: she was the child of a Navajo (Tł’ááshchí’í clan) mother and a Naakai Łizhinii, or African American, father. In the documentary Hearing Radmilla (2010), she recalled being singled out as a child living on the Navajo reservation for her African American appearance, being perceived as different from other Navajos. There was also the later denouement to Radmilla’s story, her arrest in 2003 for aiding an abusive, drug-selling boyfriend and her subsequent attempt to rehabilitate her public image as a good citizen of the Navajo tribe. Fully fluent in Navajo and a citizen of the Navajo Nation, she embodied a unique story, and Radmilla’s voice became a lightning rod for reflection and debate about the twenty-first-century politics of race, blood, music genre, and belonging in Navajo country.

What, then, does Radmilla’s story reveal about the relationship between sound, racial identity, and blood quantum on the Navajo Nation? And what, in particular, can be said about the role of the singing voice in the politics of indigeneity? In this article, I use two case studies to show the tensions still surrounding black-Native parentage in Native American communities such as the Navajo (or Diné)5 and analyze reactions to Radmilla’s voice as a partial reflection of larger racial stereotypes about blackness and criminality that permeate U.S. society. These ideas tie crucially into issues of tribal citizenship in Native North America in the era of casinos, where the affective and political stakes of belonging have been dramatically raised, and citizenship and enrollment have come to signify more rigid demarcations between who belongs and who does not. Second, I demonstrate how sound itself becomes an “ethnic trope,” defined as symbols constructed as “allusions toward an ideal that has no living model” (Fast 2002, 23), where voice, musical genre, phenotype, and heritage-language skills index a speaker as more or less “authentically” Diné. Here, I distinguish sound from music, defining sound as a broader framework encompassing both music and language, which allows me to talk about the singing and speaking voice within a single frame. In Radmilla’s case, the supposedly black dimensions of both her phenotype and her traditional singing were used to single her out as less than fully Navajo. And, both in her crowning and in her run-in with the law, Radmilla’s identity as a celebrity gained what Daphne Patai (qtd. in Starn 2011, 123) has called “surplus visibility” about racial matters, “always put on the spot when controversy arises.”

Using my own fieldwork singing and playing with the Navajo country-western group, Native Country Band, as a counterpoint to Radmilla’s experience, I examine how individual and collective voices become marked by racial identities. On the one hand, her voice, perceived racial identity, and idiosyncratic singing style designated Radmilla as a cultural outsider. At the same time, in other contexts and because of her ability to broker generational differences in her choice of recorded material, her voice was celebrated as being quintessentially Navajo, securing her insider status as a Diné citizen. Bringing sound into conversations about blood, belonging, and indigeneity, I show how racial identities become marked and investigate the role played by voice in this marking. Music and language both reflect and reinforce ideas of inclusion, exclusion, and communal reckoning in contemporary Navajo communities and in U.S. society at large (Harkness 2010; Feld et al. 2004). My larger contention becomes, in the case of Radmilla, the Navajo Nation, and the U.S. nation, that aesthetics—and voice and sound in particular—matter in relation to politics, albeit often in divergent ways and on differing scales…

Read the entire article here.

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Exploring the Political Exploitation of Blood Quantum in the U.S.

Posted in Articles, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2014-05-14 22:19Z by Steven

 

Exploring the Political Exploitation of Blood Quantum in the U.S.

Indian Country Today Media Network
2013-05-17

Vincent Schilling, Executive Vice President
Schilling Media, Inc.

Arica L. Coleman is an assistant professor of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware. She is African American and Native American (Rappahannock), which may help explain why she has conducted research for the past 12 years on what she calls the “intersections between Native American, African American and European peoples in the southeastern United States with a focus on the etymology of race, the ideology of racial purity and its historical and contemporary effects on racial and identity formation.” In non-academic terms, that means she has done a lot of thinking about the relations and interactions of blacks, Indians and whites on the East Coast, primarily in Virginia.

Coleman has turned her Ph.D. dissertation into an upcoming book, That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia, and agreed to talk with ICTMN about her experiences as an African American woman who gets a lot of grief for also being an American Indian.

Wouldn’t you say that back in the day, American Indians and African Americans all went to the same parties?

Yes, we went to the same parties and we also worked the slave plantations together. This is what a lot of people do not understand when you talk about slavery. My African American brothers and sisters will have a problem with this because they like to look at slavery only in terms of black and white. The truth is—and specifically in Virginia—there was Indian slavery. The first slaves in the Americas were Native American and this business that the Native Americans died off as a result of disease and war [is inaccurate]—those were not the only reasons for their demise, there was the Indian slave trade, which is something we do not discuss a lot.

When you had people of African descent being brought across the Atlantic to the Americas, you also had Native American people throughout the Americas being dispersed throughout the world, including portions of South Africa and Angola. When you look at the records of the South—and specifically in Virginia—they talk about Indian, Negro and mulatto slaves…. From the 16th century through the 19th century, you had Native American peoples identified as Negro and as mulatto.

When you look in those records and see these terms you cannot automatically assume that these folks were African, because they could have been a mix of Native American or European as well. Racial labels have never been constant or used with consistency…

Read the entire interview here.

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That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Virginia on 2014-05-14 00:42Z by Steven

That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia

Indiana University Press
2013
328 pages
12 b&w illustrations
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-253-01043-8

Arica L. Coleman, Assistant Professor of Black American Studies
University of Delaware

That the Blood Stay Pure traces the history and legacy of the commonwealth of Virginia’s effort to maintain racial purity and its impact on the relations between African Americans and Native Americans. Arica L. Coleman tells the story of Virginia’s racial purity campaign from the perspective of those who were disavowed or expelled from tribal communities due to their affiliation with people of African descent or because their physical attributes linked them to those of African ancestry. Coleman also explores the social consequences of the racial purity ethos for tribal communities that have refused to define Indian identity based on a denial of blackness. This rich interdisciplinary history, which includes contemporary case studies, addresses a neglected aspect of America’s long struggle with race and identity.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Author’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Historicizing Black—Indian Relations in Virginia
    • Prologue: Lingering at the Crossroads: African-Native American History and Kinship Lineage in Armstrong Archer’s A Compendium on Slavery
    • 1. Notes on the State of Virginia: Jeffersonian Thought and the Rise of Racial Purity Ideology in the Eighteenth Century
    • 2. Redefining Race and Identity: The Indian-Negro Confusion and the Changing State of Black-Indian Relations in the Nineteenth Century
    • 3. Race Purity and the Law: The Racial Integrity Act and Policing Black/Indian Identity in the Twentieth Century
    • 4. Denying Blackness: Anthropological Advocacy and the Remaking of the Virginia Indians (The Other Twentieth Century Project)
  • Part 2: Black-Indian Relations in the Present State of Virginia
    • 5. Beyond Black and White: Afro-Indian Identity in the case of Loving V. Virginia
    • 6. The Racial Integrity Fight: Confrontations of Race and Identity In Charles City County, Virginia
    • 7. Nottoway Indians, Afro-Indian Identity, and the Contemporary Dilemma of State Recognition
  • Epilogue: Afro-Indian Peoples of Virginia: The Indelible Thread of Black and Red
  • Appendix: Racial Integrity Act Text
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index
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G.O.P. Hopeful Finds Tribal Tie Cuts Both Ways

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-05-04 11:30Z by Steven

G.O.P. Hopeful Finds Tribal Tie Cuts Both Ways

The New York Times
2014-05-03

Jonathan Martin, National Political Correspondent

BARTLESVILLE, Okla.T. W. Shannon will be Oklahoma’s first black senator if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected this November, but the quiet campaign stirring here about Mr. Shannon’s racial loyalties is not aimed at the African-American branch of his family tree.

Mr. Shannon, whose first name is Tahrohon, is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, the most influential tribe in a state where Native Americans are not merely the inheritors of a poignant history but also collectively constitute the state’s largest nongovernment employer outside of Walmart.

Most of those jobs are connected to Oklahoma’s 110-and-counting casinos, which are becoming as familiar here as oil derricks. Yet the gambling revenue that has showered millions on some of the state’s Native Americans has also bred resentment over the tribes’ expanding footprint. Now, as Mr. Shannon vies to make history, he has become both the political beneficiary of the tribes’ newfound wealth and a target for complaints about Native American sovereignty and possible competing loyalties…

Read the entire article here.

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CNST 419 – The Metis People of Canada

Posted in Canada, Course Offerings, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2014-04-29 23:56Z by Steven

CNST 419 – The Metis People of Canada

University of Calgary
Fall 2013

An interdisciplinary study of the Metis people of Canada, with special emphasis on the social, economic, and political factors influencing their emergence and continued survival as a distinct indigenous group in Canada. (formerly Canadian Studies 401.04)

For more information, click here.

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Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-04-21 00:57Z by Steven

Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

University of Oklahoma Press
1996
292 pages
6 x 9 in.
Paperback ISBN: 9780806128139

Jennifer S.H. Brown, Professor of History
University of Winnipeg

For two centuries (1670-1870), English, Scottish, and Canadian fur traders voyaged the myriad waterways of Rupert’s Land, the vast territory charted to the Hudson’s Bay Company and later splintered among five Canadian provinces and four American states. The knowledge and support of northern Native peoples were critical to the newcomer’s survival and success. With acquaintance and alliance came intermarriage, and the unions of European traders and Native women generated thousands of descendants.

Jennifer Brown’s Strangers in Blood is the first work to look systematically at these parents and their children. Brown focuses on Hudson’s Bay Company officers and North West Company wintering partners and clerks-those whose relationships are best known from post journals, correspondence, accounts, and wills. The durability of such families varied greatly. Settlers, missionaries, European women, and sometimes the courts challenged fur trade marriages. Some officers’ Scottish and Canadian relatives dismissed Native wives and “Indian” progeny as illegitimate. Traders who took these ties seriously were obliged to defend them, to leave wills recognizing their wives and children, and to secure their legal and social status-to prove that they were kin, not “strangers in blood.”

Brown illustrates that the lives and identities of these children were shaped by factors far more complex than “blood.” Sons and daughters diverged along paths affected by gender. Some descendants became Métis and espoused Métis nationhood under Louis Riel. Others rejected or were never offered that course-they passed into white or Indian communities or, in some instances, identified themselves (without prejudice) as “half breeds.” The fur trade did not coalesce into a single society. Rather, like Rupert’s Land, it splintered, and the historical consequences have been with us ever since.

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