History, page 6

They continue to do so today, although mostly through the integration of Indians into the Black community, which has nothing at all to lose in the way of recognition from the mainstream. The discomfort felt between the Black and the local officially designated 'Red' community is not unique to Charles City County, however. We are all, Red and Black people all over the United States, still trying to recover from that British invasion. Almost 400 years later, we are still attempting to cope with the racism the British brought with them.

 

Native nations had no problem adopting Africans, or vice versa, until the British realized the danger to them from Red-Black alliances and worked to turn each against the other. The success of General Armstrong's 'Hampton Experiment' in poisoning the relations between Red and Black students at Hampton Institute, the slavery encouraged in the 'Five Civilized Tribes,' and the use of the 'Buffalo Soldiers' to hunt Indians are just a few examples.

Despite what anybody else wanted to believe, Red and Black was a natural combination. There is a long list of similarities in the history and culture. Here are some of the parallels that Deborah Tucker, a librarian and researcher at Wayne State University, found in her research that explain why this was so:

Both groups experienced forced removal, Africans from their continent and Indians from their territories.

Both were enslaved by the British settlers.

Indians experienced colonialism, social disorder and removal for more than five hundred years, and Africans endured the same thing on this continent for over four hundred years.

Both groups were called savages.

Both groups were forced into a three-way, culturally degrading situation that forced immense and intense cultural interaction, so that the European could take the Red man's land, and use the Black man's labor to work that land.

Both groups had strong oral traditions for record keeping purposes, for remembering family ancestry, and for instruction -- storytelling traditions that both entertain and inform, as well as oral traditions for the development of helping and listening skills.

Both groups have similar powerful cultural traditions, especially concerning birth and death.

Both groups had strong spiritual traditions, with rituals and ceremonies that were an integral part of daily life. Indians felt the 'Great Spirit' as a spiritual theme, while Blacks' survival of slavery was based around the church. The holy men had the positions of highest esteem, and they were a link between the people and the spirits. And most of them, Black and Indian, had healing and clairvoyant powers.

The musical component was strong in both groups' ceremonies. When the drum was taken away from enslaved Africans, they resorted to tapping out their messages, and thereby developed tap dancing, hambone, etc.

Dance was a major part of the ceremonies and cultural expression of both groups.

Both the Red and the Black cultures included strong traditions of medicine men and the use of natural medicinal herbs. Some of these medical skills have come down to us as home-remedies, based on North-American plants and herbs.

Both groups insisted on holding on to their culture and customs, resisting acculturation as long as possible.

Both were forced to collaborate; they used 'conflict resolution' long before it became a popular term in mainstream American society, and practiced environmental conservation as a way of life.

When they were allowed to be educated, both groups were often educated together. For example, more than 1,380 Indians from 55 different tribes attended Hampton Institute between 1877 and 1923.

ABOUT US >

We are Red-Black people. We are people of both Native American and African ancestry, and give ourselves permission to honor ALL our Ancestors. We are who WE say we are, not what others call us.

Instead of whispering, "My grandmother was an Indian," do the research. Look up the records. Read a book. Go to a powwow. Learn about and participate in the culture. And stand tall.

You don't need a card

to be who you already are.

CONTACT >

Phone: 804-307-8807, 757-826-6437

Text: 804-307-8807

Email: weyanoke @ weyanoke.org

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