• 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Slavery: Role Of Christainity And Islam
A Record of Buddhistic kingdoms: being an account by the Chinese monk Fa-hsien

<b>The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity and Islam. </b>By David Goldenberg. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003. xv + 448 pp. $24.95 paper.

Much ink has been spilled in the last few decades over claims and counterclaims associating the so-called "curse of Ham" with an ideology of racism. The ideology in question is based on what has come to be known as the "Hamitic Myth," according to which a rationalizing divine authority for the enslavement of black Africans may be found in racist interpretations of the biblical Curse of Canaan. The textual root of the discussion lies in the short but enigmatic narrative found in Genesis 9:18-27.

Four issues stand out in the text: Ham's guilt for seeing his father's nakedness (though it is not clear exactly what "seeing nakedness" means); the repeated observation that Ham is the father of Canaan; the fact that Canaan rather than Ham is cursed, seemingly for the guilt of his father; and the statement, made three times in three verses, that Canaan will become a slave. A considerable amount of exegesis from ancient times to the present has been devoted to these issues, and particularly in the 1990s, both scholarly and popular articles of varying quality have been written with the goal of determining the possible impact of the biblical story on racism in medieval and modern times.

In the 1990s the subject evolved into a public debate around early Jewish interpretations of the text. The claim was made that Jewish interpretations associated blackness or African physical features with slavery in order to legitimate the enslavement and oppression of people of African origin ("Ham/Canaan, Cursing of," in The Oxford Companion to the Hebrew Bible, 1993, [268]). Thus it was Jewish exegesis, according to the claim, that became the core ideology from which racist doctrines were constructed claiming divine authority for the enslavement of black Africans by white Europeans (Edith Sanders, "The Hamitic Hypothesis: Its Origins and Functions in Time Perspective," Journal of African History 10:4 [1969]: 521-32; J. R. Willis, "The Ideology of Enslavement in Islam," in Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa, ed. F. R. Willis [London: Frank Cass, 1985]; The Nation of Islam (no author), The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews [Boston, 1991]; Tony Martin, The Jewish Onslaught: Despatches from the Wellesley Battlefront [Dover, Mass.: Majority, 1993]; David Brion Davis, "The Slave Trade and the Jews," New York Review of Books 41:21 [1994]: 14-16).

This book, divided into four sections and encompassing a total of fourteen chapters, sets out to put the presumed Jewish origin of the "Hamitic Myth" to rest. Goldenberg begins by examining the image of dark or black-skinned peoples in antiquity. One of Ham's sons is named Kush, which is often (but not always) associated in the Hebrew Bible with black people or Africans. Kush is also associated in the Bible with black skin color, and the permanent darkness of Kush is differentiated from temporary darkness acquired from the sun or from dirt. But according to Goldenberg, the biblical texts imply no value judgment about the nature of skin color (Exod. 12:1, for example, mentions that a wife of Moses was a "Kushite woman"). Sometimes, black African peoples are described biblically in quite positive terms, as militarily powerful, fleet of foot, and as tall and good-looking.

In the postbiblical Jewish world, as in the Bible (and in parallel with Greek and Roman sources in late antiquity), Kush is used to designate the farthest southern reach of the earth. Representing humanity far from the center of human civilization, Kush conveys two contradictory images in these literatures: of piety far from the corruption of civilization and of barbarism unenlightened by civilization. It is only in the postbiblical world that black skin color is defined negatively, and as in the other aspects mentioned above, the negative association is found in Jewish as well as Greco-Roman sources and also in patristic literature (such as Origen). It is not at all clear, however, that the association of dark with negativity reflects anything more than a common and virtually universal metaphor of "blackness-as-evil." There is no evidence that the metaphor reflects actual antipathy toward black Africans in any of these literatures. In fact, rabbinic understandings of Kushite in relation to Moses' Kushite wife, included beauty (perhaps, according to Goldenberg, influenced by the similar and known Arabic root, kuwayyis, meaning "good"). In short, "apparently Kushite ancestry did not matter one way or the other" (75).

In part 2, Goldenberg engages in a broad examination of the meanings of skin color across wide periods of time and a broad sample of populations. On the one hand, there tends to be a somatic preference for the skin color of the ethnos. In the region of western Asia (the Middle East), whether among Jews, Christians, Muslims or others, the somatic norm (that is, the beautiful) was located somewhere between the dark of the Kushite and the light of the north European. On the other hand, he observes a general transcultural preference for lighter-skinned women among many cultures and places, and notes that upper-class or urban women tend to be characterized by light skin, while the lower (or peasant) class tends to be visualized darker. These preferences may affect general perceptions of darker-skinned peoples in a variety of cultures.

Part 3 is the shortest section, consisting of one chapter, and addresses the evidence for black slaves among Jews in the biblical and rabbinic periods. Because the sources are meager and because Israelites/Jews were less able politically and militarily than neighboring peoples to possess significant numbers of slaves, Goldenberg contextualizes the Jewish sources and extrapolates, particularly in relation to the Greco-Roman and Arab worlds. He concludes that black Africans were a minority among the slave populations in the Near East of antiquity in general. But because most nonindigenous peoples were slaves and because of the black African's noticeable somatic distinction, they were readily identified as slaves. He extrapolates in his conclusion, therefore, that blacks among Israelites, but no more so than among Greco-Romans and Arabs, were commonly identified as slaves.

The most interesting section is the last, in which Goldenberg focuses on historical contextualization in interpretation. The question is, despite the lack of such obvious association from the Bible and its early interpretation, how did the belief develop that Ham was the ancestor of black Africans, that Ham was cursed by God, and therefore that blacks have been eternally and divinely doomed to enslavement? When and how did these myths enter the canon of Western religion and folklore?

The answer, to Goldenberg, is the transition to European dominance in the early modern period. It was at this time that Europeans unselfconsciously appropriated certain biblical earlier interpretations that could be understood to justify European enslavement of Africans--with the help of Arabs. Put somewhat differently, this was a case of Christian and Muslim collusion in the enslavement of black Africans. To Europeans during this period, the human difference of blackness changes from a natural and virtually universal disregard for the "other" to one of racist domination. It was only in the modern period that race became a social mechanism to justify domination by Europeans over the indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Goldenberg believes that true racism requires domination and exploitation. Because the Jews of the ancient, medieval, and modern worlds did not politically dominate physically distinct people, they never used categories of human differentiation as a social mechanism for domination. Only in the modern period, when Jews began to integrate more fully the values of the larger cultures within which they lived, did they naturally begin to exhibit the antiblack sentiment of the surrounding culture. But the sequence is exactly the opposite of what is claimed by those who accuse Jews as the source of European racism.

The end of the story reflects something of a different kind of racism, one that was directed against Jews, who are considered by some to epitomize the evils of humanity and the originators of so much that is wrong in the world today. Goldenberg wrote his book in response to the accusation of the Jewish origin of Western racism. His work will be seen by some as fine scholarship, by others as grand apologetic. Whatever one's assessment, his documentation is encyclopedic and his writing absorbing.

Reuven Firestone

21: thanks dhu.
Sanctioning of Islami slavery today.
Bit below is not just about slavery though, it also mentions discrimination of non-Arabian muslims by Arabian muslims:

The top of the page contains lots of Farsi writing. The subsequent section in English on that page is pasted below. Stuff in bold as in original:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Saudi Information Agency - Independent Saudi News - November 7, 2003
<b>Author of Saudi Curriculums Advocates Slavery</b>
By Ali Al-Ahmed
Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan
The main author of the Saudi religious curriculum expressed his unequivocal support for the legalization of slavery in one of his lectures recorded on a cassette and obtained exclusively by SIA news. Leading government cleric <b>Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan</b> is the author of the religious books currently used to teach 5 million Saudi students, both within the and in Saudi schools aboard – including those in the Washington, D.C. metro area. <b>“Slavery is a part of Islam,”</b> he says in the tape, adding: “Slavery is part of jihad, and jihad will remain as long there is Islam.”

Government spokesman Adel Al-Jubeir and other officials have repeatedly claimed religious curriculums are being reformed, but Al-Fawzan’s books continued to be used according to the minister of education’s statements published by Al-Watan daily September 14th, 2003. Al-Fawzan is member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, a member of the Council of Religious Edicts and Research, the Imam of Prince Mitaeb Mosque in Riyadh, and a professor at Imam Mohamed Bin Saud Islamic University, the main Wahhabi center of learning in the country. Al-Fawzan refuted the mainstream Muslim interpretation that Islam worked to abolish slavery by introducing equality between the races. “They are ignorant, not scholars,” he said of people who express such opinions. “They are merely writers. Whoever says such things is an infidel.”

Al-Fawzan’s most famous book, <b>“Al-Tawheed – Monotheism”,</b> is taught to Saudi high school students. In it, <b>he says that most Muslims are polytheists, and their blood and money are therefore free for the taking by “true Muslims.”</b> Among Al-Fawzan’s other controversial beliefs is the <b>right to ban the marriage of Arab women to non- Arab Muslims,</b> according to his book <b>“Al-Mulkhas Al-Fiqhee” </b>(“Digest of Law”). He has also issued a fatwa forbidden the watching of TV.

Al-Fwazan is also is a leading opponent of those who seek to introduce change to the Saudi school curriculum. He also claimed that elections and demonstrations are western imitations. According to Saudi liberal writer and scholar Sheikh Hassan Al-Maliki, Al-Fawzan threatened him with beheading if he continued in his criticism of the extremist Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Al-Maliki, who worked for the ministry of education, was fired after he wrote a 50- page paper criticizing Al-Fawzan’s book “Al-Tawheed”.

(Domain seems to be bought out by some advertising company, domain must have expired. Located the archived version of original page:
http://web.archive.org/web/20051219130955/...?qid=132&sid=2 )<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>The British 'caste system' is more prevalent than the Indian</b>

I am sure Mr. Williams is familiar with the existence of the "unwashed" wretched underclass in Dickens's Britain or Victor Hugo's France as it did exist in most of Europe......... Well, such a thing did not exist in India and these facts are well documented by historians all the way back to Alexander the Great's visit to India and was minutely recorded by Greek Historians such as Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch and Strabo, accompanying Alexander. One thing these historians also commented on, was the absence of slavery that was an integral part of Hellenic culture!<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The Christian Origin of Racism:
That Old Black Devil
Part I
by William Sierichs, Jr.

<i>"This material is from a book he is writing, The Christian Origin of Totalitarianism"</i>

This book is referenced by Col. GB Singh of Sikhspectrum, who also referenced CM v early on:
Zoo to Safari: Changing face of western racism
<b>The Missionary's Swastika: Racism as an Evangelical Weapon</b>
Aravindan Neelakandan.S.
Why are we discussing Mahabharatam for role of Christianity and Islam in slavery? Is it because we want to contrast with the nature and practice of slavery in Christianity and Islam. An important difference at least with Islam is that since Islam is claimed primarily to be a revelation from "Allah", the Quranic injunctions about slavery become "Allah-given" (specially the chapter of Al-baqara, and references to "right-hand possessions"). I am yet to find any reference to slavery being justified as "Brahma"-given or "Shiva"-given in any "Hindu" texts, or even in the Mahabharatam. Regarding confusion about "slavery" from Indic viewpoint, also Arthasastra and Manu are important texts - in Arthasastra, slavery is mentioned in the same context of contract labour, and there are other provisions that are in sharp contrast to European slavery concepts. Slavery relations could also have been reconstructed in the modern period by the British when they changed dependency relations into bonded and subsequently "slave" labour. Islam's role in African slave trade is also a less discussed area - the Arba slave traders role in trans-Saharan slavery and development of the trade and practice which was tapped into by the British at the beginning of the Atlantic slave-trade should be discussed.

<!--QuoteBegin-brihaspati+Feb 17 2009, 07:05 AM-->QUOTE(brihaspati @ Feb 17 2009, 07:05 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Why are we discussing Mahabharatam for role of Christianity and Islam in slavery?  Is it because we want to contrast with the nature and practice of slavery in Christianity and Islam. An important difference at least with Islam is that since Islam is claimed primarily to be a revelation from "Allah", the Quranic injunctions about slavery become "Allah-given"[right][snapback]94646[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->It's *exactly* the same in christianism, there's no difference: slavery is gawd-ordained and their non-existent gawd has entire peoples "predestined" for slavery. It's in the babble and the babble is gawd's word and every christian Loves the Word (Philo + Logos).

DMK's name is the secular variant for their actual name of HMK: H for Hamitic (since that is what all this belief in Dravidoidism actually means, it's just a different word for Hamitic). Every Indian christo is automatically a Hamite because he believes in the babble. Because it is the babble - the word of gawd - that tells them that non-Europeans and non-ME people are Hamites, who are all intended for slavery under the Japhetites (Oryans) and Semites.
If Indian christos feel so strongly about being predestined for slavery - after all, jeebusjehovallah wills it so, so how dare one contradict it with ideas that are merely human/Deistic like Paine's 'Rights of Man' - I find I must be unqualified to try and argue them out of it.
Therefore, since they feel it incumbent upon them, Indian christos can go ahead and "Give unto Caesar" in life (in the deeply faithful manner that the christoised Philipinos are programmed by christianism to keep surrendering themselves to exploitation, abuse and murder by the christowest) so that after death (hocus pocus) they will magically gain the promised Carrot.

(Terms and conditions apply on the Carrot Promise, such as
1. Christianism and christos and the church pre-reserve their immunity from lawsuits should the Carrot prove no more than fabulous fable, because
2. "All undertakings in blind faith carry risk." But oh ye of faith, please Believe Because It Absurdum Est. There is no other reason to.)
I just heard something in the car radio:

85% of African Americans have Native American ("Indian") blood in them.

Christo Columbus wanted to finance a crusade to take back the "holy land' from mohamedans. He went searching for India becos India had *gold*.

He came to N America instead, and found that it had millions of natives. He said something like "there are enough here to be sold to fill the needs of any buyer". He was first the transatlantic slave trader. Native Americans were sold to other countries.

Later, Native Am. went from 90 million to 10 million within a century. Because of white land grabbing.

Whites made an army out of their black slaves, called them "Buffalo soldiers". They were tasked with basically slaughtering Native Ams.
One black guy rebelled against this and left and later he wrote the 1st history of black people in America.
His name was Katz. See if I acn find the site. Here..

edit: seems I mixed up names..anyway,
<b>Africans and Indians: Only in America</b>
William Loren Katz

Alex Haley's successful tracking of Kunte Kinte gave the hunt for African ancestors a needed shove forward. But driven by their stubborn will and searching eye, as researchers fanned out in pursuit of African connections, another vision appeared. First as a recurring distraction, then a source of wonder, geological detectives stumbled on Native American ancestors. Alex Haley was hardly alone when he also discovered Native American roots to his family tree.

Though often unmentioned except in family circles, this biological legacy has been shared by such figures as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Lena Horne, Alice Walker, Jesse Jackson, Michael Jackson and L.L. Cool J. Today virtually every African American family tree boasts an Indian branch.

This uniquely "only in America" relationship began with the earliest foreign landings in the New World. From Nova Scotia to Cape Horn, and along the jewel-like islands of the Caribbean, Europeans imposed a slave system first on Native Americans. Then, as millions of Indian fell victim to overwork, disease and brutality, kidnapped Africans began to take their places.

There in the misty dawn of the Americas two peoples of color began to meet in slave huts, on tobacco and cotton plantations, and as workers in dank mines. For two centuries Indians and Africans remained enslaved together, and Native Americans were not exempted from the system until after the Revolution. Scholar C. Vann Woodward has concluded "If the black-red inter-breeding was anywhere as extensive as suggested by the testimony of ex-slaves, then the monoracial concept of slavery in America requires revision."

The African-Indian connection also adds a sharp new dimension to the issue of slave resistance. The first evidence of Native American and African unity appears in a l503 communication to Spain's King Ferdinand from Viceroy Nicolas de Ovando of Spain's headquarters on Hispaniola, now Haiti. Ovando complained that his enslaved Africans "fled among the Indians and taught them bad customs and never could be captured." In the last four words the governor is describing more than a problem with untrustworthy servants or the difficulties of retrieving runaways in a rainforest. From his thin line of white colonies, he sees Europeans confronting a new bi-racial enemy that has a base of support in the interior. The budding coalition has new recruits joining each week.

In Suriname, on the northern coast of South America U.S. anthropologist Richard Price lived among and recorded the origins of the Saramaka nation. Beginning in the 1680s Saramakas combined Indians and Africans enslaved by Europeans. Sacred Saramaka legends explained: "The Indians escaped first and then, since they knew the forest, they came back and liberated the Africans." This red hand of friendship extended to people of African descent is an American tradition as deep and meaningful as the first Thanksgiving. <b>From Canada to Cape Horn, two peoples fled bondage, united as husband and wife, brother and sister, mother and child, and formed a military alliance.</b>

Centuries before the Declaration of Independence talked of natural rights and sanctioned rebellion against tyranny, African-Indian alliances acted on these concepts as they pursued their American dream in the mountains beyond the white settlements dotting the coastline. In 1537 Viceroy Mendoza of Mexico, lamenting an insurrection by Africans, admitted, "the Indians are with them." As slave revolts rocked the new European outposts in the Americas, they also enjoyed Native American support.

In hard-to-reach backwaters of the Americas, two people of color people began to build their own "maroon" colonies. Some were outlaw bands, raiders who preyed on whites, slaves and Indians alike, and lived a short, brutish life. But other maroons depended on family farming and herding and built peaceful relations and trade with Indian villages, slaves, and former masters.

European officials judged maroons, in the words of a French historian, "the gangrene of colonial society." Their success as independent economic societies refuted white claims of African inferiority. Each day Maroons proved once slaves wrenched free they could govern themselves and prosper. Further, maroon encampments served as beacons for discontented slaves in a radius of a hundred miles, and stood as a clear and present danger to the European conquest. Some whites saw maroons as a knife pressed against the thin line of their rule, and they had a point.

In a clockwork of military and legal reflexes, European authorities sought to eradicate Black Indian contacts and pit Red against Black. In l523 a Royal Order to Hernando Cortez banned Africans from Indian villages. <b>"Division of the races is an indispensable [control] element," said a Spanish officer. "Between the races we cannot dig too deep a gulf," announced a French official.</b> (("Aryan"-"Dravidian" theme))

Well-trained European armies ordered to crush maroon colonies met their match in distant mountains and jungles. "[Maroon] self-respect grows because of the fear whites have of them," a white Brazilian wrote to King Joao of Portugal in l719. Maroon songs resonated with victorious pride:

Black man rejoice. White man won't come here.
And if he does, the Devil will take him off.

White commanders in resplendent uniforms met defeat and chose retirement in distant European capitals.

Foreign soldiers had little stomach for warfare in the wilderness against Black Indians, so Europeans hired or conscripted Indians. These were experts in frontier warfare, but their loyalty was questionable. In 1732 Spanish officials in Venezuela threw 150 conscripted Indians and Africans, and 100 white soldiers against Juan Andresote, a Black Indian, whom the Spanish Crown saw as a business rival. When Adresote's guerrilla fighters surrounded the invaders, their soldiers of color defected. Then, the musket fire of Andresote's men finished the work, killing or wounding more than half of the whites, as the rest scurried home.

Most maroon leaders were African-born, but after 1700 leadership increasingly fell to those born to Black Indian marriages, people familiar with European negotiations. Black women, in short supply, sometimes played crucial roles in village life. In Amazonia, Brazil, Filippa Maria Aranha, who ruled a thriving colony, so adroitly maneuvered her armed forces against the Portuguese, there was no defeating her and Portugal granted her people freedom, independence and sovereignty.

The largest American maroon settlement was the Republic of Palmares, a three-walled city of 11,000 in northeastern Brazil. For almost the entire l7th century Palmares' armies hurled back repeated Dutch and Portuguese military expeditions. Finally, in 1794 Palmares was overrun, and according to legend, its warriors, threw themselves over a cliff rather than surrender.

In 1920 Carter G. Woodson, the father of modern Black history, wrote that in North America entire libraries were devoted to studies of the relationship between Africans and Europeans and the relationship between Native Americans and Europeans. But, said Dr. Woodson, the third part of the American triangle remained unexplored. "One of the longest unwritten chapters in the history of the United States is that treating of the relations of the Negroes and the Indians." Woodson thought slaves "found among the Indians one of their means of escape."

The very notion of "Black Indians" still has most whites shaking their heads in disbelief or smiling at what appears to be a joke, an unlikely play on words. No one remembers any such per-son in a school text, western novel or Hollywood movie. None ever appeared. Even in African American families Indian connections were occasionally mentioned, but not as part of an historic process. Despite the vital role of remembrance for people of color, a gallant heritage remained hidden.

As researchers traced African roots Indian connections could no longer be ignored. In the 1920s Columbia University anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits, renowned for documentation of African survivals in American life, conducted interviews in New York, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. which determined that a fourth to a third of African Americans had Indian ancestors. Today in North American families the figure is closer to 95%.

Scholars have uncovered fascinating glimpses of the historic legacy. In 1622 the colony of Jamestown, Virginia was at-tacked by Native Americans but Africans were spared. In 1763 during Pontiac's Indian uprising a Detriot resident reported that Native Americans killed whites but were "saving and caressing all the Negroes they take." He worried lest this might "produce an insurrection." Chief Joseph Brant's Mohawks in New York welcomed runaway slaves and encouraged intermarriage. Native American adoption systems knew no color line and accepted the breathless fugitives as sisters and brothers. Woodson's notion of an escape hatch notion proved correct: Indian villages welcomed fugitives, and served as stations on the Underground Railroad.

Native Americans were proud people, but without prejudice, and lacked an investment in slavery. Enslaved Africans near New Orleans fled to nearby Natchez villages, and by 1723 a free Black man commanded Natchez expeditions against the French. One Black Indian village, Natanapalle, claimed 15 residents with 11 muskets and ammunition, and another band camped across Lake Pontchartrain.

British racial policy relied on divide and rule. In 1721 most English settlements denied entrance to Indians and ten years later whites in Carolina who brought Blacks to frontier lands faced fines of 100 pounds. Louisiana Governor Etienne de Perier, whose African slaves escaped and united with Natchez Indians and in one raid destroy a French colony and left 200 whites dead, warned this "union between the Indian nations and the black slaves" could lead to "total loss" for his colony.

In British North America each treaty with Native Americans provided for the return of runaways. In 1721 the Governor of Virginia made the Five Nations promise to return all fugitives; in l726 the Governor of New York had the Iroquois Confederacy promise; in l746 the Hurons promised and the next year the Delawares promised. Compliance was another matter. According to scholar Kenneth W. Porter none of these nations returned a slave. British officials also offered staggering rewards to Indians who would hunt fugitives. In Virginia price was 35 deerskins, and in the Carolinas it was three blankets and a musket.

To finally seal off Native American villages and make Indians partners, British merchants introduced Africans as slaves to the Five Nations-

Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks and Seminoles. Though less than 3% of Indian people owned slaves, bondage created destructive cleavages in their villages and promoted a class hierarchy based on "white blood." Indians of mixed white blood stood at the top, "pure" Indians next, and people mixed with of African descent were at the bottom. In 1860 Indian populations figures over a 30-year period showed a de-cline ranging from 20% to 40%, but the numbers of slaves had increased to 2,5ll for the Cherokees, 2,344 for the Choctaws 1,532 for the Creeks and 975 for the Chickasaws. Slavery had become a major economic factor in each nation.

Indian masters, however, rejected the worst features of southern white bondage. Travelers reported enslaved Africans "in as good circumstances as their masters." A white Indian Agent, Douglas Cooper, upset by the Native American failure to practice a brutal form of bondage, insisted that Indians invite white men live in their villages and "control matters."

Force, division and law threatened but failed to end Black- Indian friendships. Thomas Jefferson discovered among the Mattaponies of Virginia "more negro than Indian blood." The city of Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by forty-four people of whom all but two were African, Indian or a mixture of the two peoples. In the 1830s frontier artist George Catlin described "Negro and North American Indian, mixed, of equal blood" as "the finest built and most powerful men I have ever yet seen."

Prominent whites, including Governor Perrier of Louisiana, claimed Indians had "a great aversion" to Africans. But this was wishful thinking. In 1730 his Choctaw allies, captured dozens of Black runaways who had served as military allies of the Natchez nation, but then refused to surrender them. When the Africans were finally returned after 18 months, they boasted of their freedom with the Natchez and the Choctaw. An angry Perrier reported the returnees had a new "spirit of laziness, independence and insolence."

The greatest flowering and most militant expression of the Black-Indian alliance took place in Florida. Enslaved Africans fled bondage in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas to make a new life on the peninsula claimed by Spain. Around the time of the American Revolution, Africans welcomed the Seminoles, a breakaway segment of the Creek nation, to the peninsula and taught them rice cultivation methods they had learned in Sierra Leone and Senegambia. On this basis the two peoples formed an agricultural and military alliance that defeated repeated invasions by U.S. slaveholding posses.

Finally, in 1819, to end a perceived threat by U.S. slaveholders, the United States purchased Florida. By this time African-run plantations stretched for fifty miles along Florida's fertile Appalachicola river valley, and included herds of cattle and horses. In Florida the Red and Black Seminoles fought the United States Army, Navy and Marines to a standstill for four decades, and some Seminoles never surrendered. In three Seminole Wars the United States armed forces lost more than 1500 U.S. soldiers, spent more than $40,000,000 and at times Seminole armed forces tied up half of the U.S. Army on the peninsula. "This, you may be assured," said U.S. General Thomas Jesup in l837, "is a Negro, not an Indian war." It was both.

Once away from European rule, African and Native American men and women found they had more in common than a foe wielding muskets and whips. Scholar Claude Levi-Strauss found both peoples had "precise knowledge" and "extreme familiarity with their biological environment," and gave it "passionate attention." Dr. Theda Perdue's study of the Cherokee nation found that red and black people saw the spiritual and environmental as one, and common activities such as rising in the morning, hunting and curing illness as imbued with religious significance. Mountains and hills represented divinities; people, animals and plants carried life's messages; religion was not reserved for Sundays, but a matter of daily reflection.

Indians and Africans both sought to live harmoniously with nature, cherished kinship, stressed cooperation and created economies based on subsistence agriculture. Both peoples rejected pursuit of worldly treasures, and allowed kinship rather than ownership to dictate economic, social and judicial decisions and marital customs. Individual roles were subservient to and flowed from transcendent community duties.

Analysis of faunal materials from a Black 18th century colony at Fort Mose, Florida, by Dr. Jane Landers reveals that in their eating habits "Indian and black villages resembled each other in many respects." Cherokee and other Native American rulers, noted Perdue, governed not by obtuse legal doctrines, but by an overarching, "friendly compact" members were born into and agreed to follow. These societies contrasted with European models that slashed the narrow ribbon of peace to pursue individual wealth and regretted nothing but defeat.

By l860 African Americans has so thoroughly mixed with Native Americans throughout the Atlantic seaboard that white legislators wanted to revoke their tax exemptions. In the Oklahoma Indian Territory 18% of the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles and Creeks were of African descent.

No less than in the North and South, the Civil War tore Indian nations apart. Surrounded by Confederate troops and influenced by Confederate Indian agents, most Native Americans in Oklahoma felt they had little choice but follow the Confederacy. How-ever, in November 1861 hundreds of black and red Indians led by Creek Chief Opothle Yahola, fought three pitched battles against Confederate whites and Indians to reach Union lines in Kansas, and offer their services. With the defeat of the Confederacy and its Indian allies, northerners sought revenge and the U.S. scrapped existing treaties with Native American nations.

The Seminole nation made the most rapid adjustment to emancipation, electing six Black members to its first post-war governing Council. Black Seminoles began to build homes, churches, schools and businesses. Cherokees and Creeks moved to-ward equality somewhat slower and Choctaws and Chickasaws slower yet.

Whatever unfairness African Americans felt living among Indians, they knew did not compare with what they could expect from southern whites. "The opportunities for our people in that [Indian] country far surpassed any of the kind possessed by our people in the U.S., " wrote editor O.S. Fox of the Cherokee Afro-American Advocate. His people knew that they lived among Indian men and women who would never brutalize or lynch their sons and daughters.

At the famous Congress of Angostura in l8l9, liberator Simon Bolivar was elected President of Venezuela and planned a military course that would eventually free the Americas of foreign rule. But he also took time to talk of our racial history:

It is impossible to say to which human family we belong. The larger part of the native population has disappeared, Europeans have mixed with Indians and the Negroes, and the Negroes have mixed with the Indians. We are all born of one mother America, though our fathers had different origins. This dissimilarity is of the greatest significance.

Many people of African descent found escape and some located their American dream among Native Americans. Together two peoples of color became the first freedom-fighters of the Americas. Their courageous contribution to our legacy of resistance to tyranny deserves greater recognition.


Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)