There are substantial numbers of people in our country who have at least partial Native American ancestry who have never acknowledged this part of their heritage as it was of no benefit to them. The historical records show just how badly this country has treated Indians, so for many it was easier to hide their Indian-ness and identify with an ethnic group that would insure them better treatment. But this ethnic switching approach has been breaking down as the country as a whole becomes more multi-racial and people are more comfortable identifying with a minority group.
For more than five hundred years, America has been a land where people have sought, if not always found, freedom. While as a nation we have celebrated freedom as the founding tenet of the nation, the great paradox of America is the long existence and influence of slavery. At the nexus of slavery and freedom lived free people of color, the tens of thousands of people of African, Native American (Black Indians) and European descent who lived free, if not somewhat incongruently, in the most unlikely of places—the slave societies of the South, the Caribbean, and Latin America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Many histories of America have failed to tell the story of these resilient people who most starkly faced this paradox.
The role of black Indians, largely omitted from or distorted in conventional history books. If most Americans today are aware that some black men and women were free people of color, few realize that those same free people called mulatto or black were actually of Native descent.
For many hundreds of years, people believed that the original Indians were “Red”. This ideal came from European interaction with tribes who, when they prepared for war; painted their faces and bodies red. Nothing could be further from the truth; as has been acknowledged through written accounts of tribes that looked “Ethiopian” like the Cape Fear Indians to tribes who looked “Irish” like the Duahre Indians of Florida.
Giovanni da Verrazzano in a letter to King Francis 1 of France 8 July 1524; spoke of his interaction with “Black Indians” during his visit to the Cape Fear region of North Carolina. As well, there are several written accounts in other states up and down the Eastern Seaboard of Indian Tribes that look like “Ethiopians” from Africa i.e. New England which like Virginia and North Carolina was being colonized by the English. We found it interesting that these were English areas of expansion; and that they were able to realize the benefits of excluding these people as Original and Free Owners of these lands.
In an attempt to save that Native American Culture; separation from families to reestablish tribes existed in the early 1900’s during the Jim Crow Era. And with the advent of Indian Gaming and Casinos, as well as other benefits; these tribes have not only attempted to separate themselves from us but have continued to work hard to keep families apart thru the guise of “Tribal Recognition” criteria.
We are directly related by blood and government documents to the local State Recognized Tribes of North Carolina and this is our story.