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The Complexities of RaceIdentity, Power, and Justice in an Evolving America$
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Charmaine Wijeyesinghe

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479801404

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479801404.001.0001

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How Did Black Folks Become Indians?

How Did Black Folks Become Indians?

What Lived Experiences Say about Belonging, Culture, and Racial Mixture in Native America

Chapter:
(p.126) 6 How Did Black Folks Become Indians?
Source:
The Complexities of Race
Author(s):

Robert Keith Collins

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479801404.003.0007

This chapter applies a person-centered ethnographic approach to examine how African cultural change and racial mixture within Native American communities contributed to new definitions of being and belonging and the relationship these definitions share with historical and contemporary race-making practices in the United States. Drawing on life histories obtained during the creation of the Smithsonian’s traveling banner exhibit IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas and evidence from the anthropological and historical records, the author, Robert Keith Collins, traces changing racial attitudes among Native Americans toward African populations living among them as citizens and slaves, the relationship between African cultural change and sense of being and belonging, and manifestations of Native American racism. Collins concludes by highlighting how all of these areas influence historical and future understandings of the dynamics of African and Native American racial mixture and African-Native American self-understanding and experiences of belonging within Native America.

Keywords:   African-Native Americans, racial mixture, slavery, African cultural change, Native American racism, African belonging, race-making practices, transculturalization, Works Progress Administration (WPA) slave narratives, Indianization

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