Born Again Indian: A Story of Self Discovery of a Red-Black Woman and Her People.
I'm a researcher-without portfolio, I couldn't help but make the effort to write as best I could about the Red-Black people of Nova Scotia and by extension, the world.
I've tried to add a little water to the wine without sanitizing my truth and avoiding sounding racist, but if I sound prejudiced, it's a prejudice against a colonial system that still wields a destructive influence upon their fellow human beings.
My hope is for reconciliation between all people of goodwill. In order for that to materialize, all of us who share this planet need to understand that spirituality is the highest form of political consciousness.
There is not an extensive scholarship on the subject of the Black-Indians of Canada -specifically Nova Scotia Black-Indians--where a large population are from and still live. Perhaps the lack of interest comes from a deep-seated shame shaped by many of the white settlers (colonists) who seemed to be (although racist in their attitude) more tolerant towards the black runaway slaves from the Southern United States, black settlers, and the direct descendants of Africans who came as indentured servants with the United Empire Loyalists, than they were towards the Natives (Mi'kmaq and Maliseet) In the beginnings of Canadian Nation building--First Peoples were and still are last. It was not in the best interest of the settlers to cultivate a positive relationship with the indigenous peoples of the area. It would not do to create a dependency upon the Natives over whom they lacked control. On the other hand, the white settlers saw the blacks as useful- after all, they had already been trained and tamed in their past experiences as slaves and servants. More than likely the new group would do as they were told and not give the whites of Nova Scotia too much trouble. As for the runaway slaves, understandably, they believed that they had arrived--the slaves had found paradise.
"I'm on my way to Canada, that cold but happy land The dire effects of Slavery I can no longer stand. O righteous Father, do look down on me And help me on to Canada where coloured folks are free!"--Sojourner Truth-
Even though the slaves saw a better future for themselves in Canada--fear was still a constant companion. In this new land, black people were being hanged, raped, beaten and imprisoned. Freedom was yet but a dream. While the slaves were moving towards freedom, the Aboriginals were losing theirs. The runaway slaves, the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet found each other, hence the black Indians of Nova Scotia.
It is important to note the possibility that some mixed Indian and Black slaves had already arrived in Nova Scotia during the Underground Railroad Movement. Many a Southern black person had Indian blood in them. In fact this seemed to be a problem for the white law-makers when it came to racial identification in the United States. There were only two clear classifications, white and non-white. However, under the heading of non-white there were: mulattoes, which was a classification of Native American and Anglo north American. James Hugo Johnston in his 1937 doctoral dissertation argued that: there developed, in the colonial period, much intermixture of the Indian and Negro slave ... the class commonly called the mulatto is the result, in many instances, of the union of the three racial elements ... To the visitor in the south the physical characteristics of many negro slaves bore witness to their Indian origin ... Mr. Jack D. Forbes, author and scholar, says that "The mixed race in America today is the result of the union of the Indian, the Negro, and the white man." Classification varied from state to state. For example in Virginia the mix of black, Indian and white people were called the WIN tribe (White, Indian, Negro) and they were described variously as 'lowdown' yellow Negroes, as Indians, [and] as mixed. (1) More about the WIN tribe will be discussed later. In Maryland many mixed race people were called mulattoes in the 1790 census. From 1787-1852 negro and mulatto was used exclusively except for 'coloured persons' in 1826.
In Nova Scotia, as in most territories, your racial identity depended upon what side of the blanket you fell. In other words, if you looked more Aboriginal than Black, even while living in the black community. Your relatives and teachers would make remarks that would tell you what they thought you were, by calling you squaw. Those remarks would find their way on to the reserves as well; instead of squaw, nigger would be the word used. However, if you were a mix of black and white, (contrary to the race classification of Maryland, U.S.A.) in Nova Scotia mulatto was used to identify a black and white mix. Breed and half-breed would identify anyone with Indian blood and other. It cannot be denied that the lighter you were the better chance you would have at bettering your lot in life. To be mixed with Indian blood was seen as a disadvantage, and that would and did discourage relatives from revealing this information.
Even so, these secrets were not well kept and sometimes threats, lies and denial were issued in order to intimidate the child. This soup of fear, shame and confusion only added to the already difficult adjustments of the new Canadians (black and white). Social harmony demanded that everyone knew their place and live according to the standards of the ruling class. Those in the black community did everything in their power to erase the Indian bloodline, but they could not erase Blood Memory. From generation to generation the story would follow all the families who were black Indians.
In fact, Blacks and Indians continued to seek each other out for secret rendezvous that produced off-springs-because of the light skin of the black child and Indian features that were non traditionally black, the black families would pass the child off as having a white parent. The Indians themselves didn't want to claim a half black child, so this unwritten agreement worked for all involved. To be sure, there were black Indians in other parts of Canada but not as many as in Nova Scotia.
Throughout the United States tribes such as the Seminole did not hide being mixed with black blood and for the most part, lived well with their black relatives. In fact the Seminole of Southeast Florida grew even larger when it absorbed the influx of runaway slaves. (2) John Horse was a famous Seminole Negro chief; another famous Negro was Abraham who married the widow of a high ranking chief of the tribe. And Che-cgho-ter (Morning Dew) who married the famous Seminole warrior Osceola, had been a captured fugitive black slave by the Seminole. Her capture and marriage to Osceola triggered the long and expensive Seminole war. As there were three major Seminole Wars, it can be deduced that it was the second War from 1835 to 1842 when Osceola died in prison, probably of malaria. The Negro Abraham played a major role in the framing of the treaty of Fort Dade which transported the Seminoles to Oklahoma. The Seminoles who survived to this day are very much mixed with Negro blood.
Some prominent Eastern Cherokee even acquired Negroes as slaves as well as mixed with freed Blacks. I've talked to several dozen African Americans from Oklahoma who proudly alleged to be descendants of the Cherokee tribe. But I've also heard just recently (2007) that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has taken legal action against their black relatives, preventing them benefiting from any funds and/or lands that are ear- marked for the Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee Disown slave descendants
In a fit of ethnic cleansing, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma have voted 77 per cent to disenfranchise black descendants of Cherokee slaves, called freedmen. They adopted an amendment to their constitution that strips the rights and membership of their black brethren, who until now were considered Cherokee ... Opponents of the amendment say it was a racist tactic designed to deny the distribution of U.S. government funds and tribal revenue to those with African-American heritage, many of whom also have some Cherokee blood ... Cherokees, along with several other tribes, held black slaves and allied themselves with the confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The slaves were freed after the war but many continued to live in Cherokee communities ... The Cherokee, which ranks as the second largest tribe behind the Navajo, has 250, 000 members and is growing rapidly. (3)
I'm sure that this action was driven by the fact that it seems to be fashionable to have Indian blood in you today as well as the greed factor. The wannabe Indians are coming out of the woodwork, claiming their rights. Somehow the wannabes believe that if they can claim a great-great Indian Grandparent, this makes them an Indian. How foolish! In my opinion, the wannabes haven't earned the right to be an Indian, they don't even know the history and are not making an effort to do so. There are more non-natives who have a red heart and don't claim blood ties, that are valuable allies to the cause of justice for Aboriginal people than all the wanna-bees in the world. As for Black Indians in Nova Scotia, they are now warily saying yes, I am a black Indian.
Several Indian tribes had mixed with Blacks early in the history of the slave trade. During the early 1700s the Massapequa moved east among the Unchechauge near Patchogue, Long Island following the [mal sale of their traditional homeland on March 24, 1685]. They were joined by other Long Island (Western) Native people. Together they were called the Poosepatuck group. The Poosepatuck reservation continues to exist. Its inhabitants intermarried with Blacks and other Native groups. (4) Before the Civil War the Wyandots of Detroit, Ohio and Ontario became embroiled in the anti-slavery controversy. Since the Wyandot tribe had long since assimilated as full citizens a number of freed Blacks and escaped slaves, they opposed slavery. (5) The Accohanoc (Virginia) had intermarried with the black population and were probably driven off by whites following the unsuccessful revolt of slaves led by Nat Turner in 1831. (6) Other Native tribes such as the Apalachee (now extinct) inhabited the area in North-western Florida. Like most other South-eastern tribes, they kept Blacks as slaves. (7) It's a known fact that if you own slaves you also mixed (sexually) with them (sometimes raped).
Large numbers of African Americans have continued to identify themselves as being part--Native, such as singers Pearl Bailey, Marian Anderson, Lena Home, Tina Turner, and Jimi Hendrix, just to name a few. Carole Lone, the author of Pride of family--Four Generations of America Women of Colour, makes reference to her Native foremothers throughout her book. In fact her paternal grandfather, Mr Harry Lewis, a red-Black man, was a well-known singer in Washington. He was called a "golden tenor." Red-Black people would identify themselves as one or the other according to their social or economic needs. (8) I'm proud to report that George Elliott Clarke, from Nova Scotia, the renowned African Canadian author, professor of English at University of Toronto, composer, world traveler and all around man about town, has always owned his Mi'kmaq ancestry.
When I started to write this book, I thought that I'd write an interesting little essay about the Black Indians of Nova Scotia/Canada and my place in our history. Little did I know at the time that the two groups that I come from have such a dark connection one to the other that it's impossible to speak about the history of Black Indians, without revealing the double-dealing against the Indians of the Americas and all the African-Americans. It seems that some Black-Indians from Nova Scotia are comfortable with who they are and are willing to share this information with the world, without shame. While others still cannot admit to their Indian roots. The shame that has been drilled into them over the years is still with the mixed blood families, and, I fear, most of them will take the secret to their graves. Least we forget where all of this self loathing came from--colonization had many deviant side effects--one being to teach others to hate and to become survival racist. Many descendents of the colonizers can't seem to understand the back-lash that this behaviour is now causing. On the other hand, it has been recognized and appreciated that there are just as many descendants who are working very hard at reconciliation with the First Peoples globally. Positive allies from other groups are supporting the efforts of Aboriginals to reclaim their identity and are standing firm with their Native brothers and sisters in pressuring the Canadian government to honour the treaties of the First Peoples of Turtle Island.
I am a light-skinned Black Indian woman, and, as a child, I had long black hair. Even though my paternal grandparents (who were more Indian than black) tried to keep me from knowing about my Indian roots--the word got to me and when I brought this information to the attention of these same grandparents, they went ballistic. "Girl, you better not go around telling people that you've got Indian blood in you. It's bad enough being black." The truth was that everyone did know that we were Black-Indians and looked it. My young mind could not comprehend the meaning behind my Grandmother's annoyance. In my childhood, I was called nigger and squaw by white people and it didn't lessen the hurt to be identified with either black or Indian in such a hateful way.
I do remember from time to time going for a Sunday drive, ending up on the Pictou Landing Mi' kmaq reservation, not far from New Glasgow Nova Scotia. While the adults were visiting, the young girls would braid my hair into two long plaits, with a part in the middle, as was the custom of most Indian tribes to the chagrin of my Grandparents. As soon as we were out of sight of the Mi' kmaq community, my hair would be un-braided and re-braided into a single braid that hung down my back without a part in the middle and the hide string would be replaced with a ribbon. Up to the age of eleven years old my long hair caused me distress. My younger black relatives would pull my braids and sometimes try to cut them off or put gum in my hair. In school the white kids called me "nigger, squaw." This torment was short-lived after I started to spend more and longer time living with my Aunt and Uncle in Boston, Massachusetts, where I'd fit in with a very substantial biracial community. On one block on Howland Street where I lived, were Jews, Italians, Anglos, and African Americans. Between these groups there was intermarriage, so there were many children who looked like me and they didn't have Indian blood in them. Interesting enough though, no matter how little black blood people had in them, they and I self-identified as black. I recall being told that the Black African gene was the dominant gene so it didn't matter if one's mother was a full-blooded white woman and father was half white and half black, any child from these parents would be considered black or coloured. That was also the law. My research into this supported the stories of my elders.
Indiana: (1817): Every person other than a Negro, of whose grandfathers or grandmothers, any one is or shall have been a Negro, though his other progenitors may have been a white, shall be deemed a mulatto, and so every person who shall have one-fourth part or more of Negro blood.
California (1850): Persons having one-eighth or more of Negro blood shall be deemed mulattoes, and persons having one-half of Indian blood, shall be deemed Indians.
It matters not that these classifications were part of the legal codes of the United States, the said codes followed the slaves into Canada, and this racial language is still in circulation throughout the provinces, (without prejudice).
Living in a biracial community in Boston didn't prevent white kids from calling me nigger and black kids from calling me high yellow. To say that I grew up in a race conscious environment would be an understatement. Nevertheless, in my mind the Indian debate with respect to how I saw myself was shelved for most of my life and when anyone would tell me that I "looked Indian." I would take it as an insult and quickly inform them that I was half white. It took me years before I discovered that the woman who was called my mother (a white woman) was just one of many girlfriends of my father, and when that relationship broke up I was taken to my father's parents for them to raise me. I never met my Mi'kmaq mother but I was in the company of Mi'kmaqs by default. Upon returning to Nova Scotia and to people who knew the truth, I would be reminded that indeed I was an Indian.
I carried the double burden of two irrelevant races (according to white people) and the knowledge that the Indian and the black peoples were irrelevant to each other. Being taught to be ashamed of my Aboriginal heritage by black people, and being ashamed of both black and Indian by whites, along with the other abuses that have been my portion in life, caused me to grow with a crooked spirit. By the time I was a teenager, the notion of being an Indian had long been forgotten. Survival was the primary concern of mine. I had become a street kid and that took a special kind of focus. There was really no time or place in my life for reflection. Racism was just part and parcel of my day to day life. I had learned how to manoeuvre through the human sludge, with which I was in constant contact. Also, by this same time I was in every respect assimilated into the black community in all the major American and Canadian cities in which I lived. It wasn't until I started to spend more time in the mid-west in Canada, in cities such as Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and surrounding areas, that the Indian scenario raised its head. Being a street person in these cities automatically put me in contact with Aboriginal people. I had never seen a more beautiful people, in spirit and appearances. It was the first time I was free to associate with Indians and I felt truly blessed to be in their company. However I was not impressed by the stereotypical behaviour of my fellow travelers. Because I had not known healthy Indians or I had not known that I knew healthy Indians, I too joined in with the notion that they were somehow flawed and didn't quite match up to what was expected of civilized people. This, of course was the teaching of my family in Nova Scotia. Teachings that would seep into my relationships with Indian people while I myself was not living up to a "civilized" standard and my behaviour left much to be desired, at least I was not an Indian.
This "I'm better than you" attitude was soon shattered when it came to my attention that everyone around me believed me to be a skin. From bar owners to shop keepers to taxi drivers and everyone on the streets communicated this to me. I was being asked by Cree people, what my band, clan and tribe was? I was asked by Blood, Blackfoot and Piegan what reservation did I come from? My answers to every one of these questions were always the same: I am not Indian. I will never forget the sadness in their eyes and the shame that was exhibited by my denial of not belonging to them. I soon kept my distance from the area where Aboriginals hung out. That action didn't prevent whites from seeing me as an Indian. One day I got all dolled-up and went to the venerable McDonald Hotel in Edmonton for lunch. The waiter told me to sit in the corner where the other diners wouldn't see me, as some would feel uncomfortable with an Indian in the dining room. On other occasions I'd be followed around in a store, even though I'd be well dressed, clean and sober. Many times I was asked for money in advance to pay for food and drink in a middle class establishment. Now, to add insult to injury, I discovered that two of my brothers had married Native women (both Cree) and had children by them. I was now an aunt to Native children.
In those days (1960s and 1970s) movements started to emerge. Travelling back and forth between Canada and the United States I soon became caught up in some of the action. It was in New York and Chicago where I became aware of the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement. My education started and I, for the first time in my life, put aside my wrong-headedness and opened myself up to knowledge. The kind of knowledge that found its way to me, was dripping with romance, and political intrigue. I found the Radical Political Movements exhilarating. Never before had I heard people being so bold, determined and brave. The Blacks and the Indians, were loud, angry and sometimes shocking, especially to a neophyte like myself. At every turn, I was reminded of how ignorant I was. I knew nothing of Black or Indian history for that matter. If I knew anything, it was missionary and colonial history which has been proven to be fraudulent. Far too many years have passed where blacks and Indians have lived in darkness regarding their history.
My own particular problems, such as drugs and wrong living, and also my limited education, prevented me from getting close enough to the core group of AIM or the Panthers. However, I did hang around with the fringe players long enough to learn that I wasn't ready for any of this. But a spark was lit, only to ignite a fire many years later. Although I didn't go around telling people about my Indian heritage, somehow the sting of shame was slowly lifting. Even so I was not yet ready to admit to the world that I was an Indian. The world that I was living in was full of misty-eyed blind spots. I was walking on broken glass and it took all of my natural instincts to stay alive. Unbeknownst to me, a spirit of protection started to rest on my head. There was a shift taking place, but I did not have the capacity to receive it. My life of self-harm continued for at least twenty more years. The comments continued about the possibility that I might be an Indian and I either ignored or denied it. In order to survive, it was in my best interest to admit to being any race except Indian. The voice of my grandmother still rang in my head, "it's bad enough being black."
It didn't take me long to realize that having a light complexion helped me to move more freely among whites, therefore making my life more tolerable. At the same time, I had inherited through osmosis, family stories and a lived experience, a fear of white people. Frederick Law Olmstead a reporter of Southern slave history, wrote: "What a life it must be! Born outlaws; educated self-stealers; trained from infancy to be constantly in dread of the approach of a white man as a thing more dreaded than wildcats or serpents, or even starvation."
This, of course was shared fear between the Natives and Blacks that followed them into the twenty-first century. It is with great sadness that some whites still use a form of mind control to keep non-whites in their place. During slavery in the Southern United States there existed a form of brain-washing called "professional Negro breakers." Some were broken while others resisted; the resisters were killed. If they could not be broken, they were of no use to the slave system. And it would be too costly to keep them. This was our yoke and we suffered so.
After awhile I couldn't hear the racial comments anymore. I laughed when whites made fun of non-whites and I even joined in by repeating jokes that I had heard. This caused me to distance myself from my racial reality and to enjoy the social freedom that I thought was due me. But that freedom came at a price. Not only did I turn my back on my roots I also turned my back on the richness of my culture. You can't imagine how I felt when the learning forced itself into my consciousness. The spirits of my ancestors threw a cloak of protection and healing around me, and the rest, as they say, "is history." It took a very long time to change my lenses, but with a lot of hard work and the invisible support of the supernatural, I started to heal in body, mind and spirit.
I cannot pinpoint the exact time when I started to investigate my Indian culture, but it must have been in the late 1980s. As the result of serendipity, I came face to face with the truth of who I was and who I am. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that a chain of events landed me in Indian country--Northern British Columbia (Dawson Creek B. C.) and Grand Prairie Alberta. I was involved in a legal action against a man who battered me, and I ended up in a women's shelter in Grand Prairie. I had filed charges against this man in Dawson Creek and when my statement was being taken down, I was asked what band I belonged to. For life of me I couldn't understand why someone would ask me such a question. And if there is a humorous side to this story it's that my knee-jerk reaction was that I honestly thought that somehow these people saw me as a professional entertainer, a singer perhaps. Since bands travel to the North all the time, that observation was within the realm of possibility. It just never entered my mind that they were talking about an Indian band. I'm ashamed to say that things got worse. After filling out the necessary papers and convincing the authorities that I was indeed a non-Indian person but a mix of black and white, it was decided that I should move to Grand Prairie for my own safety from the man I had charged. That's how I ended up in a shelter in G.P.
Again more papers to fill out. Intake papers this time. The worker looked me straight in the eye and asked a variation of the same question--she needed my band number. By now I knew exactly what she was talking about and I was not very happy to be identified automatically as a Native person. The hair I thought, "it must be my hair". I, like many women, dyed my hair, to cover the grey, and at that time I had let it grow. Although I had a semi perm, I guess the colour (black) and the length (long) added to the mistaken identity. Believe me when I tell you that there was nothing in me that would allow me to admit out loud my family secret. To say that I was in the race closet would be exactly right. To add insult to injury, the shelter was full of Native women and their children. I couldn't move without accusing eyes following me. I really can't explain how I was feeling: it's as if I was cursed with a terrible confidence, and if I revealed this confidence, I would smash to smithereens like glass; like Humpty Dumpty no one would be able to put me together again. My fear of being exposed was crippling. I finally understood the movie Imitation of Life, a movie about a half-black, half-white woman who passed for white while turning her back on her black mother.
First things first, I had a court case to take care of and a job to find. I read the classified section every day until I noticed an ad for a social facilitator. Here it comes, at the G.P. Native Friendship Centre. Things couldn't get any worse for me and maybe now was the time to cash in on my Native looks. No one in this area knew me, so who would it hurt if I lied to get a job. Making the phone call was like pulling hens' teeth. Over the phone I was asked if I was Native and let me tell you it took every bit of my strength to say yes. The appointment was arranged for the next day. Sleep wouldn't come, I was sure that as soon as the people saw me, I would be caught in a lie.
Believe it or not, I got the job. The interview was easy and I was convinced that I could fulfill the six month contract. Although there were non-Natives working for the G.P.N.F.C. one of the requirements for my position was that I be Native. The only person I was fooling was myself. Both of the interviewers (one woman and one man) never batted an eye when they met me but did ask what my tribe was--"Mi'kmaq" I answered, remembering the Nova Scotia tribe I had heard about over and over again while growing up and taught to deny any connection to. I forgot to mention that I did work for the Dawson Creek Native Friendship Centre for a very short time. Due to the complete breakdown of the working structure of this particular Centre, I quit. In Dawson Creek as in Grand Prairie it was an automatic assumption that I was Indian and I grew weary of trying to convince people otherwise.
Working in the North can be financially beneficial. The pay was good, the rent was low (back then) and it gave me a place to rest and rebuild my life. Most of my Native colleagues were professionals. Some stayed close to their traditional values while others were Christians and the remaining, non-believers of any doctrine.
Everyone was nice enough to me, but I had no frame of social reference. All of us spoke English but there was a language within a language that appeared to be code-talk and only the real Indians could understand. It was the language of a culture that had gone through unspoken but understood catastrophe. I now know why the planet mourns.
The only Indians I could relate to were in the movies, that is to say Hollywood Indians who were played by white or Mexican actors. As for the Mexican actors, they might have been Red/Black also. Evidence has shown that Black Africans mixed with the indigenous people of Mexico long before Columbus and his gang arrived and there were so many Black slaves in Mexico in 1530, that they plotted an uprising.
After my orientation I settled into my job and started to learn the politics, life style and attitudes of my new friends. One of my duties was to visit several Reservations and report back to the Centre on the needs of the country people who came to town for reasons of abuse, school, work or just for a visit. The small city of Grand Prairie had a large Native population that was becoming more and more urban every day. So, services were needed to keep up with the changes and requirements of the people.
Thankfully; I had met with a few elders (women) before my visit to the communities or else I would have embarrassed myself. The older people received me with such tenderness and warmth, that it brought tears to my eyes. However, I felt very small when the youth called me "Apple" red on the outside and white on the inside. Native youth keep nothing back. At least they saw me as red. Apparently, I was called "Apple" because I was a big city Indian woman and knew nothing of the problems on the Reserves. They were right but it didn't take me long to learn. The experience of my awakening has never left me.
I don't know exactly when the visions started. But I'll never forget how overcome I was with spiritual shimmering and peace. Experiencing blood-memory-visions can be exhausting, but also stimulating. Early childhood recall floated to the surface of my consciousness and the real work began. First came the long forgotten moments sitting on the lap of my full blooded Mi'kmaq great aunt, Annie, in front of a coal stove. Aunt Annie was married to my great uncle Gerry, my grandmother's brother. They would keep me when grandmother was away or sick. I now know that this was the time when Aunt Annie would speak stories, softly into my ear while rocking back and forth in an old one armed rocking chair. Tea would be brewing on the back of the stove, staying warm to have later with bread and molasses. I can't remember the stories because she spoke in her language, a language, by the way, that was forbidden in our family. "Don't tell anyone about the stories or language because your grandmother will be mad at me." Aunt Annie made me promise. "Keep these stories in your bundle and you'll have power when you need it." This was unfamiliar teaching for me and I was a little bit frightened. However, the tea, bread and molasses soon gave me a cozy feeling and erased any anxiety. Many such memories pushed through my wall of resistance. It seemed that my epiphany was clearly due to the complete immersion into the Native culture that I found myself in. Although I was not with Mi'kmaq people, the stories, lived experiences related to being an Indian all caused me to feel at one with every Native person that I came in contact with. It was as if a stone had been lifted off my back. So much to learn, so little time. I attended every Pow-Wow, ceremony, seasonal ritual, feast, sweat and gathering that I could find the time for. The elders didn't speak fancy talk but their talk was big and powerful. Between listening to the elders and reading, my own vision started to develop. First my heart broke under the weight of knowledge. Every evil known to man had happened to the First People of the Americas: diseases, alcohol, residential schools, eugenics, Christianity (forced conversion) the treaty frauds, racism, constant abuses by the invaders who still act within a culture of occupation. The adverse effects brought to bear on the indigenous peoples by the Europeans, will mark the history of the Americas until the last days of the last days.
No longer did I, or do I feel disgust whenever I see a drunken Indian, I can only feel intense sadness and yes anger. My tears are prayers for my people and all indigenous peoples in other countries who have been treated thus by a devil that still exists and walks among us. The Red-Black people carry an extra burden--exclusion from both Indian and Black communities. The devil is in the details and we know who the devil is. The source and causation of difficulty between Indians and Blacks comes from the oldest game known to man: divide and conquer and then move in for the kill, using each side against the other. It was so in every community where there were significant numbers of Indians and Blacks (slaves). History reveals that Europeans used black slaves to act on behalf of the dominant society. The Buffalo Soldier is just one example of the white man's bloody influence upon the black slaves. The Blacks were recruited through coercion, promises of freedom and the opportunity to earn enough money to buy the freedom of their relatives. To this day, the Buffalo Solider is a hated image to many Western Natives. Blacks were also used to smuggle alcohol to the tribes during the Whisky Trade, and they were also involved in the Fur Trade as well. The promise of land to settle was a very attractive incentive for the freed slaves. This land of course, was the traditional lands of the Indians. Nevertheless this entire machination didn't prevent the Indians and Blacks from getting together. Soon the landscape of the Americas was dotted with Red-Black people, especially in Nova Scotia.
They came out of the darkness, across swamps, across rivers, across mountains. They came in twos, threes, and twelve's. They came across a river, armed with bowie knives and guns, refugees from words and compromises. "Nearly all the waiters in the hotels," a Pittsburgh paper said, "have fled to Canada. Sunday, thirty fled; on Monday, forty; on Tuesday, fifty; on Wednesday, thirty.... They went in large bodies armed with pistols and bowie knives, determined to die rather than be captured." They came from all over, some three thousand of them, in the first three months after the passage of the fugitive Slave Bill of 1850.
These were just a few fugitives who fled slavery. Many had escaped before the Slave bill of 1850, and hundreds were given sanctuary by the Indians that they had met on the way to Canada. Although frowned upon in Nova Scotia by all the groups, Indians and Blacks mixed more easily. The slaves came to be free and to receive land to settle on, given to them by the Canadian government. The land was rocky or marshland and had to be cleared by the newcomers. Because of the harsh winters and very little assistance from the government, the Blacks sought help from their aboriginal neighbours. The history between the Maritime Indians and the Blacks is softer than the Western experience. By the time the first Blacks arrived in Nova Scotia, the Mi'kmaq and other tribes had already felt the boot of the white man long before their Western brothers and sisters. In other words the fight was out of them, to the extent, that they were not militant as other tribes to the south, north and west.
They appeared to have settled down and accepted their circumstances. Or so it seemed to the white man. So when the runaway slaves arrived, the Indians saw this as an opportunity to stick it to their occupier. In many cases the Blacks would not have survived, were it not for the intervention of the Indians. Not every Black or Indian for that matter saw this union as a good thing, but for the most part the two groups lived in harmony, both of them trying to keep ahead of their common enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend (author unknown to me).
Crossing the color-line between Blacks and any First Peoples was in some cases risky. Natives were taught to only mate/ marry with other Natives, preferably within their own tribe and clan. This practice was more about repopulating their territories than it was about prejudice. Many tribes had been drastically reduced as a result of colonization, disease, murder, mixing with Europeans, alcohol, eugenics, suicide, etc. that had taken its toll upon the Natives, thereby pushing them further and further to extinction. Clearly, the need to repopulate as a result of genocide cannot be denied. Nevertheless, Indians and Blacks did come together and still do. The colonization of Turtle Island (North America) is called by Mr. Wilbor Jacobs, "the greatest demographic disaster in world history."
The colonization of Blacks and Indians produced a mighty wound on the land. Nothing thus far has come close to a remedy. The church, the bottle and the bullet has left the Indians, and by extension, Black Indians so demoralized that it's causing a split in the soul of the Nation. It has been accepted by the world that a horrible wrong was committed against the First Peoples but still, we wait for justice.
Intermarriage between Blacks, Indians and Whites became a moral dilemma for the white law-makers. First it had to be accepted that slaves (both Black and Indian) were humans. It was decreed from the seats of governments and Christian cabals in faraway places that Blacks and Indians were not human, and to have sex with them was tantamount to bestiality. This shows up in several stories passed down through the oral history of all involved. It seems that any plantation owner, who would engage in sexual activity with a slave, would not be considered a Gentleman. Being a Gentleman meant a great deal to the masters of the day. It meant that they could hold political office, lead their fellow masters in the slave trade business, be recognized as good Christians and good husbands etc. If they were to break the moral code and engage sexually with slaves their gentleman status would be compromised and they would not be considered men of honour. Given that slavery was the most dishonourable practice of the white ruling class, is it any wonder that society still suffers from this terrible time in our collective history? The fact that there were so many slaves of mixed black and white blood certainly proves that there were not very many gentlemen. Slave breeding meant that the master or his agent would often pick half breeds over dark skin slaves as they would fetch more money due to the understanding that a mix of black and white slave, was physically stronger, and a mix of black white and Indian was on the preferred list. It was considered a catch to have a stable of W .I.N.'s (White, Indian and Negro).
There are many mysteries in the world and the notion of Blood Memory is one of them. Blood memory cannot be understood by scholars or academic researchers. The phenomenon of Blood Memory cannot be studied, pulled apart, dissected or measured as is the custom of Anglo European investigators. Blood Memory is in the spiritual core of our very being. It's not a drug-induced experience nor a drug flash-back or even a hallucination or dream. Blood Memory is how the ancestors communicate knowledge to the seekers of truth. Indeed, Blood Memory is an out of body experience that permits one to be an on-site witness of past events; it allows us to truly feel the pain, hear the screams and smell the blood of our relatives. When I have a Blood Memory experience, it feels like a quaking in my soul; it's as if a primal hand is reaching out to me to give me strength to face the truth of the past.
I've discovered that many descendants of the Middle Passage (the Atlantic Slave Trade) have had Blood Memory familiarity, (calling up the spirits). Given that I too share a common African slave relative, gives me a double portion of Blood Memory. Many Indians believed Blacks lived in a primary relationship with the world of spirits and were therefore "good medicine."
At first I didn't know what to do with these memories. I felt like I was in training for something big. The combination of a modern western way of thinking and an ancient understanding caused me great anxiety. I'm an urban, secular, modern woman who likes Jazz, fine dining, Italian shoes and most of the trappings that go with a so called civilized life style.
Moreover, I had been denying my racial identity for most of my life. The moment of truth had arrived, to accept or reject, to embrace or continue to deny? I was not without my own knowledge--it was all right to be Indian in Indian country but I was a Toronto, Montreal, New York City girl and I've seen firsthand how urban Indians are treated, "It's bad enough being black." With my ethnic looks and worldly deportment, I was able to fit in the white man's world better as a Black biracial than an Indian biracial. The drama of it all was getting a bit much. However, walking away was not an option. There was an invisible thread that wouldn't let me go. My mission was being defined and unbeknownst to me I was being prepared for my first Eagle feather. I think now is a good time to say that up to this point in my story that no one around me knew that I was on a journey of self-discovery, nor did they know about my shame. But, you know, I was not alone. There were Indians that I met who were ashamed also, especially the young ones. You could see the hopelessness in their eyes. I could almost tell when a teen was thinking about suicide. This was the sad part of being an Indian.
Nevertheless I was accepted as a full member of Native society and treated well. In fact some white people of the area of Western Canada, on more than one occasion approached me to speak to their group (church, foster-parents who foster Indian children, teachers etc.) I feigned being busy and passed them off to others more qualified than I to help them with their concerns. There were a few times that I couldn't get away from representing Native people because of my connections to the Native Friendship Centre Movement. I was received well by the non-native audience, but I became painfully aware that I knew nothing and therefore I did not speak with any authority. The knowledge was all around me, I just had to receive it. Sometimes you have to dig for knowledge. It's not always on the surface and you can't just pick it off a tree like an apple. For example, I really didn't know that there were Indian slaves in Canada. I had grown up with the Black slave history and knew that the Canadian government continued to resist the Canadian slave issue and some still does. It never crossed my mind that Indians might have been slaves until the aboriginal project of 2006, when I became aware that they were. (9)
For example, Columbus observed, that Indians "would be good servants," that they "would obey without opposition," that "they bear no arms," that "they repeat very quickly what was said to them." To test their capacity as servants, the admiral, seemingly without a second thought, kidnapped, or, as he said, decided to "carry off six of them ... that they may learn to speak." As the eminent English historian of Spain, J. H. Elliot, has noted, Columbus "sent home shiploads of Indians to be sold as slaves ..." (10)
In May 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter Cetera papal bull, giving the "right" to Spain to conquer the lands that Columbus had landed on, as well as any other lands he might "discover" in his voyages to the Americas ... Using his position Columbus personally instituted the encomienda system (forced labour imposed under penalty of death), initiated the transatlantic slave trade, and exterminated the Indigenous people of Hispaniola by the millions. Estimates put the Native population at 8 million at the time of his arrival. By 1514 there were only 22,000 Natives left. These are not allegations, but matters of historical fact. (11)
I knew how the slaves had run away from America to Canada but no one spoke of Indian slavery, not even in school. After much research, I was starting to understand the historical parallels between Blacks and Indians, but what I couldn't understand, was the aversion that one had for the other (behind closed doors). You would think that given the appalling treatment that the white man had perpetrated against both groups, they would have wanted, to ban together against a common enemy. It's never too late. A good start would be for the Black Indians of Canada to (come out of the closet). Could it be that the Indians saw Blacks as invaders also? The Blacks after all were settling on what little land the Indians had left and there seemed to be a better relationship between the white ruling class and the black newcomer than between the Indians and the original invaders, or so it appeared in Canada. Of course unbeknownst to either side (black and Indian) the whites were a scheming bunch driven by unbelievable greed and would and did play on the mistrust that the Indians would have towards yet another newcomer. I do not claim to be an expert on Native or Black studies, but it seems to me that numbers had a lot to do with why Nova Scotia Blacks (influenced by their past experiences in the slave south) would not be willing to claim Indian heritage. The runaway slaves were on a spiritual mission, and that was to re-populate their race. Mixing with white or Indian was not an option.S
While I was in Western Canada, I did meet several Black Indians who had mixed during the early days of contact. It seems that some Cree and Blackfoot had a history with the early Black settlers and runaways from Texas and California as well as other parts of the United States. In my research I discovered a story about a mixed black and white man by the name of James P. Beckwourth (son of a slave owner). Beckwourth was a Fur Trader and in 1808 traveled southward through Green River Snake country. (12) He mixed easily with the Indians that he had encountered and found life with them so agreeable to his nature that he and a white friend (Edward Rose) chose to live with them. (13) Rose was credited with being the first settler in the Big Horns. White Handled Knife (Beckwourth's Snake name) had acquired an Indian (Canadian) slave. Born into slavery himself, we can imagine how he must have relished the idea of turning the tables. (14)
There were many other freed and or run away black slaves that found themselves in Indian country. For example Henry Mills (a Negro Whisky Trader in the late 1800's) who later settled on the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana with his Peigan wife (15) was as active as any man in adding to the mixed race population. Given that many of these mixed families traveled deep into Canada to avoid the slave bounty hunters and to take advantage of a free lot, to call their own, surely some ended up in Nova Scotia. T.C. powers account books of the middle eighteen hundreds record at least four blacks who dealt with the firm, including Jackson Kelly, James Vandenburg, D.E. Bond and John Hughes. During the Whisky Trade, there were many firms, so, with much investigation I have placed the black traders with the Power and Baker companies, power and Conrad, Scott Wetzel and John Weatherwax as well as a man called "'Ben Stickney." Wolf Moccasin, a Blood Indian, said that "the liquor supply from the nigger gangs (who travelled the country) steadily grew, until one could even find the dead lying around uncovered." And in a deposition to the Canadian government, a man named Johnston commented that the whisky traders "comprise people of all classes and kinds, even to Negroes, about four hundred of them in all."
The Red-Black Nova Scotians did not meld into a distinct society like their cousins, the Wins from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains Ab-County, Virginia. It certainly was not for the lack of trying as there was no shortage of mixed black, Indian and white people in the Maritimes. Nevertheless there are striking historical similarities that beg to be discussed in a more academic environment. I'll leave that to the professional sociologist to do.
The Win group is set apart because of its "colour" and because it has been considered an inferior set. They take no part in any activities outside of their particular area; they have no connection with the political activities in the country in which they live. The white folks look down on them, as do the Negroes, and with their dark skin colour, has caused a segregation from the general community ... "No one however, speaks of them as white. The Wins themselves in general claim the Indian descent although most of them realize they are "mixed," preferring to speak of the "Indian" rather than of a possibility of a Negro mixture in them. A few claim to be white ... most of the mixture having taken place previous to the Civil War ... The Wins were also known as the Ab Indians. Apparently the Wins start from four fountains heads, one a white man and the other three from Indians, the Negro blood came in later." (16)
I would argue that the continuing mating/marriage between Blacks and Indians, helped to keep both groups, (to some extent) from becoming absorbed into the white race and losing their culture altogether. Frank H. Russell recognized that one of the ways in which the free coloured population grew was by the mixture of Africans and American Indians, so he wrote in The Free Negro in Virginia. Notwithstanding the marriage laws/bans against interracial unions between white and black--a white person could not marry: 'an Indian, Negro or Mulatto ... or any person of mixed blood to the third generation.' These laws and bans were more soundly enforced in the Southern United States, but was also a prohibition in Canada.
The Marriage Acts of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, in the United States followed the slaves into Canada, but were loosely enforced, even though white racist did not hold to fusion, nevertheless, this contact grew into a composite tribe and continues to grow in communities where there are large Black and Indian populations.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, presumed to be victims of mostly twisted white men who believed they had the "right" to rape. According to A.W. Calhoun, the authority on the American family, "the amalgamation between white and black was in most cases a result of, the master's right of rape." The evidence suggests that this "right" also applied to Indian women.
These pronouncements by so-called authorities was not earth shattering news to the victims of such cruel behaviour. I've grown up with this knowledge and I'll add that a particular type of fetish grew out of the slave trade. Sexual fetishes and their causation are beyond my analytical skills, so I'll try to satisfy the curious with already written text on this subject. As I've mentioned before, regarding the white Southern gentlemen, these same gentlemen wore a different hat behind closed doors and gave into their sexual fantasies.
The white gentlemen of the old South did not prefer blondes. Calhoun said their nursery training had something to do with it. In his view, the plantation "mammy" played a central role in the psychological process that led to a fixation on Black women. Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon have shown the mechanisms that make racists seek mates among their victims, are functions not of nursery training but of sadistic impulses created by a system of oppression ... The fact that rape was a real and ever-present possibility was only a metaphor of the extreme vulnerability of the slave woman's position. Despite what some commentators say, about the possibility of mutual attraction, every sexual contact between a slaveholder and a slave woman was a symbolic de facto rape.
Feathers, beads, drums, rattles, fire and so on, meant nothing to me collectively or as a single entity. But the Eagle was a different story. One of my early childhood memories was looking for Eagle Feathers whenever I'd visit a Reservation. I also recall the stories about eagles and hawks. One day while looking through Aunt Annie's trunk, I found an eagle feather. It was wrapped in some sort of animal hide. When I asked her about the feather, she cried and, at the same time, chastised me for going into her things. It took me decades after her death, and a very long way from home, to understand her tears.
My first eagle feather came to me in Grand Prairie, Alberta, where I attended a pipe ceremony. Two Cree elders (a man and a woman) as well as one young Cree man in training, all from Bonneville Alberta, came to the Centre for a visit and to bless us. They brought powerful medicine with them and shared the teaching of their elders with us. After the ceremony, I was called aside by the two senior elders. They held my hand and softly spoke to me about my broken spirit and gave me a very large eagle feather. The woman gave me some red cloth and showed me how to tie the cloth around the quill end of the feather. She also gave me some tobacco that had been blessed by all of them. That experience was my anointing and that's when I became a Born-Again Indian. In the past twenty some years I've been the proud caretaker of many eagle feathers. When I see that someone else needs power--like a youth or a sick person, I pass the feather on to them. Eagle feathers don't belong to me, I can't own any medicine such as tobacco, sweet grass, cedar, sage, pine and all the other medicines that are used to give us the strength to continue to survive in this place. All things belong to the Creator who teaches us to share and to use the medicines for good.
Since my first eagle feather I've been seeking, finding, learning, reading, document researching, praying and my question is always the same--WHY and HOW??
I really don't know what would have happened if I had not been exposed, however surreptitiously, to some Mi'kmaq influences as a young child. Even though I had been taught to ignore my Indian roots, it seemed that my grandparents could not--or else why would they visit the Reserve from time to time and take me with them? I clearly remember my grandfather receiving Indian male relatives at our home in New Glasgow. They would visit outside because my grandmother didn't want the neighbours to see the Indians entering the house. It wouldn't do for people to see that she was formally entertaining Natives. According to my family members (cousins) who were willing to speak to me about this time in our collective history, I was told that my grandmother's mother was against her marrying my grandfather (the Indian). Even though my grandmother was a black Indian, she had some French blood in her that gave her light skin, thus putting her in a better position to (marry up), as it were. My family research also reveals that several of my grandmother's female first cousins had married men who were quantifiably more Indian than Black. In a previous chapter I had mentioned that I had close-to-pure Indian aunts who were married to my grandmother's brothers. So my Indian blood line is not buried in antiquity. I do not join in with the countless people who are claiming Indian blood only because it is the flavour of the decade. I AM INDIAN!
My time in Grande Prairie was coming to an end. I had settled the court case against the man that battered me. He had to pay a fine and stay on probation for a while I could not understand why this man was handled with kid-gloves especially when his violent background was exposed. From a very early age he had committed violent acts against women--forcibly shoving a woman into a washing machine and turning it on, beating his first wife within an inch of her death (more than once), sending woman after woman to the hospital, and the record showed that he had been dishonourably discharged from the army. If I had known any of this when we first met, there is no way I would have had anything to do with him. Because of my troubled past, I was no stranger to violent men, but this one got by my radar.
My contract with the Native Friendship Centre was over and there was no reason to stay. It was a sad goodbye with promises to stay in touch. Nova Scotia was my birth place, but my rebirth was in Grande Prairie, Alberta. I had sojourned with Crees, Dene, Dogrib, Beaver, Slavey, Flathead and others, and yes, even some Mi'kmaq who had answered the call of the North. My bundle was full of happy things. Living in Calgary took me away from country people. The Natives that I came in contact with were university students, ranch-hands, horse-wranglers, rodeo types and government workers. Some stayed active in Indian issues, while others had assimilated, but with the exception of Native evangelicals, all carried tobacco wrapped in red cloth. No matter what path they walked, every single Native person that I spoke to had an ugly and sometimes violent experience with the white system--just because they were Indian. Unlike Nova Scotians, the Red-Black people of Alberta were open about their racial mixture and moved freely among one another and between other Blacks and Indians.
The history of the Red-Black people in Canada was and is sparse, but I had become quite bold in my search for anecdotal as well as academic support. It became apparent that the descendants of the Alpha Black families of Nova Scotia could claim common Indian ancestors. Although my cousins admitted to being Red-Black, they self identified as Black. However, a few held Metis cards and were interested in the history of our Aboriginal relatives. As for a rush to investigate our common past beyond the Middle Passage and Underground Railroad Movement--such an activity was not forthcoming. It's bad enough being black.
While living in Calgary, I lost my way yet again. I did walk with the Creator as best I could. Once more another personal tragedy occurred. The new revelation caused me to stumble under the weight. I had long since turned my back on an unhealthy life, but in doing so, I began to examine why I had chosen the path that almost destroyed me, only to find out that this path was chosen for me by the government of Canada. I along with hundreds of others had been medically experimented on illegally with mind altering drugs and other abuses such as sensory deprivation, electric shock and hypnosis, while in prisons, hospitals (cancer patients), the military, mental hospitals, and children's psychiatric wards. My research took all of my attention and energy. Finally, I was satisfied with my findings and went about confronting my past in order to make sense of my life. As most people can appreciate, it takes a great deal of focus to put one's life into order after years of abuse. Moving from victim to survivor is a life-long struggle. My confusion over race and why white people did what they did, had to take a back seat until I resolved some of my more pressing problems. It didn't help to know that it was the Canadian system that caused my mental and physical condition, from colonization to baby jails, and adult institutions (prisons and residential schools), from forced conversions to segregation, eugenics and suicide, and so on. Every step of the way forwards, survival had to be cleared of mine-fields and ground firmly held (sometimes by violence), by any means necessary we press on. In spite of this, one of the things that I didn't abandon was reading. In the past I only read for recreational pleasure. Now I was reading for knowledge and that knowledge almost caused me to take up arms (symbolically) against every white person I met. I couldn't look a white person in the eye without feeling anger. Thankfully, I had white allies who were long time friends, (long before I was an Indian.) It was they who kept me from going over the edge. Remember, I was learning about abuses against two races at the same time. As I stated before, I had been too busy surviving in another world to study the history of colonization. Indeed I must admit that I couldn't possibly make a connection to my current situation as a woman of colour to 1492. One of the things that aroused my wrath is that the history of Turtle Island (North America) was said to start with the landing of the Spanish, English, Dutch, French and others. Surely the history of the First Peoples had been ignored as easily as the people themselves. The white chroniclers of the slave trade were more robust in preserving their arrogant past bad acts than they were in giving a wink to Native history (positive or not). Even though enough documentation and oral history was saved to put the ugly truth to the light, and, between what was done to both groups, is it any wonder that North American society and by extension European society is paying such a heavy price today? In my discovery of the facts, I kept stumbling over lies, lies and more lies. At every level of Native society, from family to religious practices, from clothing to health, from sexual relationships to war, from medicine to hunting, gathering, fishing, from storytelling to crime, everything a group of people would have had to develop over thousands of years of existence in one place was dismissed as having no value.
When I started to connect the dots between the abuses against black slaves and occupied First Peoples, I could no more separate their struggle for freedom than I could remove the Indian DNA from my body. When I brought the proof of planned genocide to the attention of my non-native friends, surprisingly I was met with an apologist position. I was shocked that they could minimize the genocide factor. Some even doubted that genocide, as they understood it actually happened. Genocide is systematic measures for the extermination of a national, cultural, religious, or racial group. Gage Canadian Dictionary. Viral and bacterial diseases devastated indigenous populations. This devastation or genocide was, in the accounts of many indigenous peoples, used deliberately as a weapon of war. Stories are told in Canada, for example, of blankets used by smallpox victims being sent into First Nation communities while the soldiers and settlers camped outside waiting for people to die. (17)
We do not have to go that far back in history to prove the wilful intent of the Europeans to rid this place of all non-white people. Leading the way in the eugenics movement were the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene (CNCMH) and famous birth control crusader, Margaret Sanger. Her main goal was to eventually exterminate the inferior races, especially the Negro. (18) Margaret Sanger's goal was to create a race of human thoroughbreds. Can it be denied that some Canadians like Sanger and Mr. Joe Woodward were thinking like the Hitler's of the world? Mr. Joe Woodward stressed that between 1910-1940 eugenics was part of mainstream thought. Anyone who was not of Anglo-Saxon ancestry was to be considered degenerate. (19)
The Enactment of the Sexual Sterilization Act S.A. 128--targeted the pauperized, Indian and Metis for sterilization. (20) And Margaret Sanger's goal was to create a race of human thoroughbreds. (21) Female natives were most likely to be sexually sterilized. (22)
Other information suggests that others (Indians and Metis) might have been shipped by boat to Montreal, then on to New York State where other experiments were being conducted on humans. (23) November 28/29, 1864 Colonel J. M. Chivington at Sand Creek (near Fort Lyon Colorado) shouted "Scalps are what we're after, I long to be wading in gore! Kill and scalp all Indians big ones and little ones! Nits make lice!"... A soldier seized a squaw by the hair and cut out her heart and carried it around on a stick ... After the battle was over, Chivington and his officers amused themselves by blowing out the brains of the children who had been captured.
The sexual mutilation that followed has been recorded for all to read. Corporal Amos C. Miksch of Company E, 1st Colorado Cavalry, testified, "Next morning after they were dead and stiff, these men pulled out the bodies of the squaws and pulled them open in an indecent manner ..." Lieutenant James Connor added,... "Men, women and children privates cut out, etc. I heard one man say that he had cut out a woman's private parts and had them for exhibition on a stick ... I also heard of numerous instances in which men had cut out the private parts of females and stretched them over the saddle-bows and wore them over their hats while riding in the ranks ..." (24)
Genocide by rape and sexual mutilation has been a tool of war by the military over the ages. Although not unique to Europeans, American Indians did not appear to be interested in raping European women with the same vigour that white men had when raping Indian women. Perhaps this had something to do with the Indian's notion of bad medicine. Shamans and medicine men/women held that if a round eye were raped, she could get pregnant and that would bring unwanted blood into the tribes, hence bad medicine. The worst case scenario was that the white woman would be rescued by her people while carrying an Indian child, to be raised by the enemy, (more bad medicine). (25)
Rape is considered by the people of the defeated nation to be part of the enemy's conscious effort to destroy them. (26)
I copied these atrocities to prove that Genocide was on the minds of the invaders and their descendants, not only against Native North Americans but also African American.
Genocide against African Americans has been well documented. One important body of work is by Samuel F. Yette, the author of The Choice: The Issue of Black Extermination in America, has written a shock-troop book on the ssubject of Genocide against Black people ... all white people ought to read The Choice. "They need to know how to look to their black brothers who didn't get that way for nothing, or all by themselves." -Tom Wicker.
The Indians, forced into submission on their own land, and the black slaves taken from their land/homes and families in Africa, clearly prove a pattern of mens rea (a guilty state of mind). I also understand that there was a collective depraved and racist state of mind from the European governments, the church, commerce etc. The mental condition of people (mostly men) to arrive, uninvited, and force their twisted ideologies (that don't work in their countries, "by the way"), upon a people that could not sustain a defence, is in my opinion, the workings of a special kind of madness. This madness has been transferred from one generation to the other. The evidence suggests that the first wave of Europeans that came to the Americas belonged to the lunatic-fringe of their own societies.
About A.D. 1000, Thorwald a Viking and brother of Leif Ericson landed on the New England coast where he discovered three skin canoes drawn up on the beach with three Indians under each. Thorwald and his crew immediately seized all but one of the Indians and slaughtered them in cold blood. (27) In April of 1539 Hernando de Soto who was fond of killing Indians, sailed for Florida with 720 men and 237 horses in search for gold ... His guns and horses terrified the Natives ... The Spanish of that day killed and maimed their foes with huge dogs of a wolf-bound breed that could rip a man to pieces in a few minutes time. (28)
Nuns in Canada put pins through the tongues of Native children as punishment for speaking their language while they were captives in Residential Schools. These schools ran between 1892 and 1969. (29)
OTTAWA EXPERIMENTED ON NATIVE KIDS
David Napier, writer for the Anglican Journal, (May 5, 2000 page 1).
Scientist 'killed Amazon Indians to test race theory' Geneticist accused of letting thousands die in rainforest. (Saturday September 23, 2000, The Guardian, Paul Brown, Environment correspondent reports). Thousands of South American Indians were infected with measles, killing hundreds, in order for US scientists to study the effects on primitive societies of natural selection ... A book (Darkness in El Dorado) by journalist Patrick Tierney ... accuses James Neel, the geneticist who headed a long-term project to study the Yanomami people of Venezuela in the mid-60s, of using a virulent measles vaccine to spark off an epidemic which killed hundreds and probably thousands.
The question begs to be answered regarding the Canadian prison experiments in the 1960s, 70s and 80s ... Was there a conspiracy afoot to experiment on as many non-whites as possible and to sacrifice their human rights on the altar of scientific racism? There are hundreds of documents to suggest that this hypothesis is more of a reality rather than a theory. What in fact was going on in the 1950s, 60s and possibly longer when there was a flurry of correspondence between anthropologists, government officials and the Commissioner of Penitentiaries with respect to a prison research programs that would involve only "B. C. Indians of pure stock?" (30) As all of this information was coming to me via document research, through reading, talking to people/historians, print media, and the experts themselves--my relatives and elders in both the Indian and Black communities--I sometimes cried myself to sleep and woke up so angry with my non-native friends, that I wouldn't be able to speak to them that day. It was not as if I were unaware of the abuses against black people. I had heard about these things all of my life.
In 2001, I had a hate crime committed against me (A white man unknown to me attacked me in a public place in Ottawa, his language was racist, gender bias and menacing). Add to my personal experience, others have shared with me their stories and I've witnessed racism against visible minorities (especially by police). Nevertheless, I really didn't know to what extent that the Indians of the Americas were treated, and to discover that black people and Indians were and still are victims of a European madness that has reached across place and time and continues to conspire in favour of our demise, is too terrible to speak its name. To be a Black Indian, to know this history, and to know that this thinking still exist, among certain groups of whites, cause me to be afraid. Maybe that's why My Grandmother said that "It's bad enough being black." She knew what we had to carry as black people--why add to the weight? She also was of an age that she remembered not being considered human by the State. Imagine the arrogance of the Christian Europeans (humans) declaring that non-white people were not human? That this was supported by the church just added to the legitimacy of thinking and acting accordingly. But did the masters act accordingly? Anyone who owns working animals will tell you that you have to treat your animals well in order to get the desired benefit from them that will add to one's economy. Treating animals badly was and is considered a sin/wrong, and there are consequences. Animals will not work for you if you treat them badly and sometimes they will turn on the abuser. But the slaves were considered less than farm animals.
"The Christian precepts of kindness, charity and human dealing need not apply to them (the slaves) ... was not intended to apply to them, for they were a heathen breed, demonstrably inferior,"... "In literal terms, what had happened was that a twisted body of moral and ethnic practices grew up around and fed upon a body of expedient practices. Once this process got fairly started and it had by midcentury--the Negro was thoroughly enslaved ..." (31)
The racial division grew up as a rational for slavery, probably a Christian rationale at that. If one accepted Biblical teachings, one could hardly treat fellow human beings as the black slaves were treated, but if one could convince one's self that they were subhuman or even animals, then all the theological problems were solved. In Jefferson's time this was still a weighty question, but by the 1830s or 40s many learned divines had solved everything for the slaveholder by pronouncing the Negro an animal and therefore without a soul. (32)
As for the Natives, the same rational applied and was sanctioned by the church as well. Raymond B. Cattell, a genetic researcher from the eugenic regime in Canada said ... "Caucasians had given the earth its fairest inhabitants and were distinguished for the highest intellectually endowments, whereas the American Indians were averse to cultivation and were the lowest grade of humanity; one Indian tribe was altogether repulsive ... slow and stupid with a vacant expression on their faces. Their appearance was the nearest approximation to the lower animals and were incapable of civilization."
If in fact Cattell's description of this particular tribe was correct, could the possibility of European diseases, chronic alcohol consumption, religious exploitation, rape, starvation as a result of removing them by force from their traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, and other vile abuses, have contributed to the so called unpleasant appearance of this tribe? Cattell went on to suggest that "Indians be restricted from citizenship rights. This could be achieved by establishing reservations. Indians should be made wards of the states for as long as they exist"... "In the past, surgical operations of lopping off the backward branches of the tree of mankind, was done violently, without an anaesthetic. The American Indians were driven with bloodshed from their lands, as blindly unconscious of the biological rationality of that destiny aswere their aggressors. However, in a more enlightened present time the same ends could be achieved by more sensitive, if no less deliberate means; by sterilization and by life adapted to reserves and asylums, must the races which have served their term be brought to euthanasia?..." (33)
Clearly, with all of this evidence genocide cannot be denied. To call these racists fools, would be an understatement. What these White people didn't realize was that they were not only on a mission to destroy two civilizations but the backlash would also touch them in such an alarming way for generations to come. As for Canada, this nation will never be blessed until a sincere effort is made to address the genocide factor linked to colonialism. I'm proud to make a stand in for both Black and Indian and to disseminate as much of my research as possible, so as to honour my ancestors. I am unable to speak my language and I don't know all the legends. I'm just, (in the past twenty years) making meaningful inroads into my heritage and culture. I am committed to the protection of my people (Black and Indian), and I will continue to inform those who are willing to learn the truth about Canada and it's grisly history. I live in hope, that more Black Indians will come forward and tell their stories especially the Blacks who settled in Shelburne's outskirts in a poorer Black settlement called Birchtown, Nova Scotia.
The history of the Red Black people of Nova Scotia is still being written. Haste is of the utmost importance as the knowledge keepers are in their late eighties (Black, White and Indian) and if this information is not retrieved, a rich, albeit "Lethal Legacy" (34) will be lost.
Not only did I determine that Genocide was a viable tool in the hands of the dominant society but I also realized that, as a society, we have not moved forward with respect to racism and social justice, and that the notion of genocide has just gone underground. Indeed, the language has changed, but the intention stays the same. Surely, the Department of Indian affairs is an obscenity and an insult to the First Peoples. To think that in our post-modern time, the dominant government and most whites still see Indians as an occupied people who need to be managed by the white ruling class, ought to be a disgrace and an embarrassment to every right thinking Canadian. Indian agents still exist, only now they're called. Ministers of Indian Affairs. Genocide is still on the minds of leaders of industry such as logging companies, real estate/ land developers, the justice system, religious orders, mining companies etc. What do you think that White Supremacy and the Neo Nazi Movements J.R. Miller Lethal Legacy Current Controversies In Canada is about? The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is still alive and well and working behind the scenes causing all kinds of difficulties for people of colour and their allies. Now the KKK membership hides behind suits and offer charitable donations, leaving the heavy lifting to their unstable underlings. Canadians who don't know their history (and I was one) still believe that all of this is an American problem. I keep-hearing over and over again how "lucky we are to be Canadians." For who? It was just several years ago that some members of the Ontario Provincial Police OPP were caught viewing the dead remains of Native women on-line and making obscene remarks about their private parts, all parts are private. (35) Were those women and their families Lucky? Vern Harper a Cree Indian and grandson of Hereditary Chief Mistawatis, paints a disturbing picture about his experience in psychiatric facilities in Alberta. Mr. Harper not only told his story but he also told of--the rapes of Indian women by staff while in psychiatric institutions. (36) Was Vern and those women lucky? The rape of Indian women by law enforcement officials has been reported for years. The RCMP have racked up quite a list of sexual offences against Native women. Are these women lucky? In September 1995, Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead by an OPP officer. George and others were involved in a peaceful protest aimed at reclaiming a traditional burial ground. Was Mr. George and his family lucky? In the middle of the 1990s a former RCMP member turned politician, Mr. Jack Ramsey M.P, for the Reform Party in Alberta. He resigned after admitting his rape, as an RCMP officer, of a native teenage girl while he worked in the North. "The masters right to rape," has followed Indian and Black women and girls into the twenty-first century.
Tracking down Black Indians has been a pleasant but strenuous exercise. A new way of knowing has been my reward. I can't articulate my joy when I uncover material that adds to my knowledge. When I learned about a little known, small and ignored tribe, called the Washo people of California and Nevada and how they. had to learn to adjust to their changing environment and still stay Washo caused me to celebrate.
Beset by a century of dramatic changes, the Washo have remained an identifiable social and cultural unit despite the fact that they have mingled their "blood" with that of many races. The Washo population today carries in its inheritance legacies from all the races which have entered the West as well as that of many if not most of the Indian tribes of the United States. Almost since the earliest period of Indian white contact, prostitution and common-law and formal marriage have contributed a regular flow of Caucasian genetic material into the population. In addition, Negro individuals frequently have married into the tribe, and many Washo have married or lived with Mexicans ... (37)
The above material was written in 1966 so I'm sure many changes have occurred since then. However I can't see the Washo giving up or giving in. Also the provider of this information failed to mention rape as a way of introducing new blood. We need to stop the romance factor when it comes to White-Indian contact.
Other far away indigenous tribes entered the black slave blood-line in Nova Scotia. The Arawak and Caribs of NE South America formerly dominant through the Lesser Antilles and
Jamaica where they mixed with fugitive slaves of the 17th and 18th centuries, living in the West Indies and Guiana, especially in the mountain areas, came to Nova Scotia. These were fugitives who were called Maroons, who were exiled to Nova Scotia from Jamaica, by the British in 1796.
In the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century Blacks also found their way to Nova Scotia via the sea vessels trading with Canada and the United States. Many a slave worked on the boats that sailed from the West Indies and whenever they had a chance they would jump ship and were quickly absorbed into the black community. The Carib and Arawak blood is mixed with Mi'kmaq and black in my family by way of Prince Edward Island Black settlers.
It has been satisfying to realize that there are many Black Indians living in Canada, but at the same time it has been sad because they haven't had much encouragement to reclaim that part of their heritage and culture and to discard the shame of having Indian blood in them. There's also the shame that many blacks carry over slavery. In July 1929 a message from Mahatma Gandhi to American Negroes was published in The Crisis. Gandhi said. "Let not the twelve million Negroes be ashamed of the fact that they are the grand children of slaves. There is no dishonour in being slaves. There is dishonour in being slave-owners. But let us not think of honour or dishonour in connection with the past. Let us realize that the future is with those who would be truthful, pure and loving. For, as the old wise men have said, truth ever is, untruth never was. Love alone binds and truth and love accrue only to the truly humble."
Many Red-Black people are quantitatively more Indian than Black, because of their African features it is difficult for them to broach the subject. It appears to be much easier to claim white blood than Indian blood. Of course there is white blood in most Alpha Black Indian Nova Scotians': Scots, Irish and French are the three likely familial familial connections. I know from my childhood that black people in the community would wear their white blood like an overcoat as if this mix would protect them from the harsh treatment that their darker skin brothers and sisters received.
One of my curiosities about the lack of unity between the tribes of Nova Scotia and the fugitive slaves has been satisfied, I think. The Nova Scotia blacks were beholden to the whites and so promoted a style that the Natives found unattractive--the style of "clowning". This is a very sensitive subject to many Blacks; they would rather skip this part of our history. Blacks laughed at their own pain by clowning. Some Black women acted like Aunt Jemimas and some Black men acted like Uncle Toms. These were some of the survival tools that came with the fugitives and had proven to work for them on the plantations. Slaves learned early on how to keep their masters sweet., through song, dance, sex, hard work and clowning. Making one's master happy was a full time job, and making them laugh was a key to keeping the whip from the backs, and the noose from around the necks of many a slave. From this kind of manoeuvring, came the greatest slapstick comedians of the 1940s, through to the 1970s: Red Foxx, Moms Mabley, Amos and Andy, Stepping Fletcher, Richard Pryor and scores of others. The Black comic soften many a white man, and gave a little comic relief to the poor black souls in despair. Personally, I honour their memory. By their actions, many a life was saved.
The Indians had their own ways of dealing with the white settlers that were not very dignified such as responding to comments that were degrading by loud laughter as if agreeing with what the white man said about them. When the white man laughed both Indian and black person laughed. When the white boss wanted flattery the Indian and black person gave it. It seems that the Indians of Nova Scotia saw the black settlers as free and in a much better position than themselves. So why should Blacks bow and shuffle? Unbeknownst to the Indians, the fugitives were not free as in equal. This fact would be demonstrated when a Black person disagrees with any white person of status. Disagreement would cause economic hardships for the black family. The offender would be fired from his job and shunned by the white community. His black family members would suffer and his neighbours and friends would chide him for not knowing his place. The same so-called offender would eventually return to the white person, with hat in hand and with head bowed, recite a long and pitiful apology so as to lift the burden a little from his community. As a child in the early 50s I saw this behaviour and was taught this behaviour. I was taught that white people were my betters. (Lessons I never learned). As the Native tribes across Canada were building resistance, the black settlers were still in slave mode and that could be one reason for not coming together in a radical way.
You see slavery and the conditions of slavery were fresh in the memories of the black settlers. Their fear was palpable with respect to the very real possibility that their benefactors could punish them using the same methods used on the plantations, or by capturing them and holding them for the slave bounty hunters who would take them back to their masters. Branded slaves had to be particularly careful. In 1838, Micajah Ricks of North Carolina advertised to find a runaway female slave ... "the woman is tall and black. A few days before she ran away I branded her with a hot iron on the left side of her face. I tried to mark her with the letter M, and she kept a cloth over her head and face, and a fly bonnet on her head so as to cover the burn."
A Kentucky owner described his missing slave as: "A sprightly wench, with branding marks ... on her forehead, cheek and chest." A North Carolina planter offered a reward of ten dollars for the capture of his slave, or twenty dollars for the man's head and no questions asked. (38)
The white bosses were known to travel to the Canadian! American borders where they would send messages to the slave hunters. The border towns were teeming with bounty hunters and sometimes the hunters would capture freed slaves and resell them to plantations.
Stories have been passed down through the generations about how White Nova Scotians collaborated with the bounty hunters for a price. The collaboration became a bit of an economic boon for some white families in Nova Scotia. In 1781, the legislature of Prince Edward Island (then Isle St-Jean) passed an act declaring that the baptism of slaves would not exempt them from bondage ... Portions of the area that was to become Canada, remained slave territory under law until 1833, when a statute passed in England emancipated all slaves in the British Empire ... Even after abolition, Canadian government officials approved the extradition of fugitive African Americans who escaped from slavery in the United States and sought freedom in Canada. (39)
The history of Black immigration to Canada is truncated and complex. Although records indicate that the first Black man arrived as early as 1606, substantial numbers did not immigrate until after the American Revolution in 1782. At that time several thousand Black Loyalists took up land grants from the Crown. Many of the white Loyalists also brought their Black slaves with them. During the war of 1812, several thousand additional Blacks sought refuge with the British, ultimately settling in Nova Scotia between 1813 and 1815. (40) Occasionally fugitives escaped and hid with Indian tribes in the area. As there was very little good-will between the white community and the Natives, the chances were good for the black fugitives, that they would find sanctuary, with the Indians. Nonetheless the Natives had a very jaundiced eye towards the new black settlers. They saw them as weak and small due partly to the fact that the history of the Middle Passage didn't come into the consciousness of the Maritime Native tribes until decades later. To discover factual history is one thing, especially a hurtful history, but it's even more discouraging to know that the racist enemy is alive and well and continues to traffic in hate. Mr. Craig Harrison, a former Georgetown Ontario, mayoral candidate was found responsible by Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, for posting hate propaganda on the Internet. It was a called for the extermination of several non-white groups ... People of the Jewish faith, Aboriginal, Francophones, Blacks and others ... The message appeared on a Canadian--owned and operated Website that serves as a central resource for various white supremacist groups. (41)
Day by day as I uncovered information that caused me to question the sanity of racist people, from first contact to post modern times, I had to search for other labels other than mad, insane, unbalanced, crazy, lunatic etc. to describe why Europeans were so punitive in their dealing with the Native Peoples of the (new) world. It would be wrong for me to give them a medical out, as such labels suggest. And it was not as if the Europeans were retaliating against anything done to them. Their actions had nothing to do with self-defence. So what was the driving force that caused them to embark on a path that would destroy the whole indigenous world? We might look at religion and the extreme fundamentalism as a form of insanity. It is debunked by the fact that many religious groups such as the Quakers and Christian abolitionists have been (walking on the right side of this issue) since the early days. History reveals, in the early writings of some missionaries and settlers, there were many Europeans who saw the folly of the ways of their countrymen and did everything possible to protect indigenous peoples from the harm that their white brothers and sisters were wreaking on them.
This historical link was and is very important to the story of the Red/Black people of the Americas. I never thought that I would go so deep into the recesses of the past, a past that has not been dealt with in any significant way to the satisfaction of the victims. Real apologies, heartfelt apologies asked for are not forthcoming to the Natives or the descendants of slaves. Oh, there has been a pitiful attempt by the government of Canada to apologize to the victims of the residential schools, but for many of us, the meanness of the apology was apparent in the tone. While many Whites believe that with the apology, somehow that's the end of it. The residential schools and the abuses therein, are not the only carnage that has to be recognized and dealt with.
I have discovered, when I try to discuss the history of occupation with some of my white friends and allies, who by the way have worked in Native communities as teachers, doctors, planners, among other occupations, they try to minimize the damage with rhetoric that proves to me that they just don't get it. For example, I shared my idea of writing something about my Indian rebirth to a white friend. Her response was shocking: "You're acting more Indian then the Indians." I did not react as I wanted to because I would have hurt her with some realities about her own involvement with Indian people. How on earth can I act more Indian than the Indians? I am Indian. When she met me I was an Indian. I soon realized that she was one of many non-native people who, because they did charitable work among indigenous people that somehow they can speak with authority on Native issues and even speak about my personal decisions with a high-handed disposition that demeaned my effort to reclaim my identity. Here was something, as a white woman with white skin privilege, she never stopped to consider. I came to realize that I was the first radical Indian she knew, but not as radical as some. Although she knew many Natives and saw herself as the Great White Hope, she never bargained for a healthy, highly functioning, recovered, urban, well-informed Red-Black woman. In fact she was unable to have dialogue with me because she didn't know the real history of colonization. What she knew was missionary history and clearly was unable to analyse its history of oppression and exploitation. The source and causation of the damage inflicted by the Europeans was of no interest to her. There was no hard-core Native reading material in her home; instead, coffee table picture books were displayed and a few Indian arts and crafts sat around her living room to remind her guest that she was a friend of the First Nations. The lady saw us as exotic and therefore we added some needed spice to her life. To me she is a negative ally. Positive allies work for you and they don't use soft language to deflect the truth. They know that it's not the Indians that have to be fixed, but that the European occupation has to be lifted for us to co-exist in mutual peace and prosperity.
A Basic Call to Consciousness--
The Hau de no sau nee or Six Nations, Address to the Western World--Geneva, Switzerland Autumn 1977--has gone largely ignored by the West. This paper clearly predicts the future of the planet and it also proves that great minds produced it. This paper resonates my thinking ... There is some evidence that humanoids have been present on the earth for at least two million years, and that humans who looked very much like us were in evidence in the Northern Hemisphere at least as long ago as the second interglacial period. People who are familiar with the Hau de no sau nee beliefs will recognize that modern scientific evidence shows that the Native customs of today are not markedly different from those practiced by ancient peoples at least 70,000 years ago. Indeed, if an Iroquois traditionalist were to seek a career in the study of Pleistocene Man, he may find that he already knows more about the most ancient belief systems than do the modern scholars. (pg. vi) Native traditions hold the key to the reversal processes of the unimaginable suffering and future destruction of Western Civilization. Spiritualism is the highest form of political consciousness and Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere, are among the world's surviving proprietors of that kind of consciousness. We are here to impart that message.
My walk has not been easy with respect to the sometimes harsh realities that I've had to face. I had to learn the hard way that just because some white people called me friend didn't make it so. I've shown some material that I've written to a few non-native women and again I've been shocked by their reaction. "Dorothy aren't you worried about offending your white friends?" I had to inform them that I had long since grown out of trying to please white people and that I was writing for my people, so I didn't much care about offending the descendants of the invaders. I've noticed that many whites who buzz around the human rights issues are really not interested in learning how to know from the heart and spirit. They in fact are suffering just as much from colonialism as the Red-Black people. We all live under a curse, and the word I've been trying to find is evil. It's only been lately that I've stopped resisting using the word evil. It's a word that brings us into religious language, and I for one try very hard to stay clear of using religious examples as answers to the problems that face the world (in the past and now). I see religion as a problem. However I am spiritual and have always been spiritual, long before I started my vision quest. For some reason, I couldn't use the word evil to describe a person or a people. Now that I am more sensitive to the truth, I can say, colonialism/slavery was an evil enterprise and the people behind this effort, from kings and queens, popes, explorers, settlers and the military were evil. Evil is a living thing. It rattles around in the minds of weak and greedy men/women, waiting to pounce. History shows that the Europeans that freely took part in the destruction of millions of humans, who didn't look like them, were evil. Unfortunately the residue of that remains and today's humans continue to act as their ancestors did. Now that I have compiled pages and pages of information that has opened up a new world and a path to the Red-Black people of the Americas, I can't help but feel a connection to all Black-Indians around the world and have pride in our collective survival.
The notion of kinship has motivated me to search for other Red-Black people who live in other parts of the world and I'm thrilled (to bits) to have established that they exist. They are dwindling but hopefully will not be forgotten. I call their name. The Andaman's (real name is Aetas) of the Andaman Islands have at one time occupied vast areas of southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. When the first colonizers and missionaries, landed with Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521 in the Philippines -they were struck by the appearance of the inhabitants, who were of Pygmy size and Negroid in features and coloring. The invaders called them Negritos, a name still used today. The possible interrelations between the Negrillis of Africa and the Negritos of the Philippines, the Semangs of the Malay Peninsula, and the Tapiros of New Guinea is of great interest. The Aetas' main stronghold is the island of Luzon, the South China Sea to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Balintang Channel to the North and the Sulu and Celebes Seas to the South. (42)
It seems that the Andamanese were living in an area under Indian rule. In 1945 the Andamans would become the first piece of India to be declared independent. It was pointed out to a group of torurist in the late 1990s by a Bengali Captain of a tour-ferry at the base of Mount Harriet/India, while describing a coal-black man sprawled in a whisky dream. "Andamanese, less then 30 of those tribals left." (43)
The debate continues over whether the wandering of the ancient nomadic tribes of Asia brought them to what is now called North America by way of the land bridge, The Bering Strait. If the invaders had listened to the story-yelling of the Old Ones, they would have saved themselves a great deal of time trying to find the truth. But the European was not a believer in any utterance coming from the Indians of the Americas. The written word and verbal confirmation of their priests, missionaries, and military men was what they followed no matter how wrong this form of communication sometimes was. Only a few tribes resist the Bering Strait scenario. The creation stories of some tribes suggest that they were born out of the earth where they live today. The majority of Natives have stories in their oral history bank that has never varied from the integrity of the first telling. Armed with the scientific and folk evidence, that the First People are descendants of Asian groups as well as the mixed race of Black/Asians whose blood line came across the Bering Strait, tell me that from the very beginning of America, Indian footprints on the Western Hemisphere, Red-Black people were here. I would argue that the word Indian is what throws researchers off. In my opinion First World Asians of the Americas would be a more appropriate description of the First Nations.
I delight in uncovering information that supports what the Old Ones told the invaders upon contact. The overwhelming research suggest that indeed Red-Black people wandered the earth ages ago from Mongolia, China, all through the Middle East, Africa, Russia, North America and other areas where there was Asian and African contact. Now the debate is focusing on who came first--The Africans or The Chinese? There are studies that trace the origins of most Chinese to Africa.
Most of the population of Modern China--one-fifth of all the people living today--owes its genetic origins to Africa ... Few studies of human population genetics have taken such a comprehensive look at China. (44)
Not being an expert in these matters, I'm content to trust my lay research and to believe the folk history first and if this history is supported by academic analysis all the better. To be validated of course is always exciting. To know there were studies that prove my hypothesis give me great comfort.
Two hundred and fifty million years ago the world contained a single landmass known to scientists as Pangaea. Geologic forces broke this vast expanse into pieces, sundering Eurasia and the Americas. Over time the two halves of the world developed wildly different sorts of plants and animals. Much of what we learned in grade school about the New World encountered by the colonists at Jamestown turns out to be wrong. The idea that the English were "settlers" of land that was unsettled before they arrived is complete nonsense. In fact, three English ships landed in the middle of a small but rapidly expanding Indian empire called Tsenacomoco. Three decades before, Tsenacomoco had been a collection of six separate chiefdoms. By the time the foreigners came from overseas, its paramount chief, Powhatan, had tripled its size to about 8,000 square miles and more than 14,000 people. (45)
Jamestown, Virginia, was the first successful English colony in North America (according to many Europeans). It seems to me that it would be in the best interest of the European researcher to start believing the teachings of the Natural Peoples around the world. There is nothing that I've read, or heard from any academic that has not been passed down through oral history in the tradition of storytelling, prophecy, visions, legends, cave drawings etc. But of course many of the Native tribes had no written language so were considered illiterate by European standards. The Turtle Island discussion comes to mind. The Indians of North America have always referred to their place as "Turtle Island." Jacob Wawate a student of Kokomville Academy, wrote a paper on this debate along with a satellite picture of Turtle Island on the cover page of his essay. Description of the Land to include: The land marks, geological setting, biological perception and anatomy. Lo-and-behold the satellite image clearly shows a full figure Turtle with the head in Green Land and the tail in Mexico boundaries to Guatemala. The legs, knuckles, shell, spread across the whole terrain of North America. The Tectonic Plates and Mountains display the sections of the Turtle.
Beliefs of the People of the Turtle Island
The turtle island story is repeated across North America varying with social groups and distribution. Also referred in the studies of "Atlantis" But one of the most exciting articles that I've read so far, is a report on the research of Professor Ivan Van Sertima a Rutgers scholar, a black man born in Guyana.
Centuries before Columbus and the Vikings arrived in North America, Africans crossed the Atlantic to colonize Central and South America. Africans from the Mandingo Empire in Mali and Nubians south of Egypt sailed to North America about 1200 BC ... Long before Columbus, there was a pre-Christian African civilization in Mexico. African legend says seven ships left West Africa about 1200 B.C. and Mayan religious stories during the same era describe the arrival of seven ships of strangers. The examination of pre-Christian Olmec skeletons (in southern Mexico) show 13.5 per cent were of African origin before time of Christ. Later only 4.5 per cent were of African origin probably because the people had married native women. Van Sertima goes on to say ... "It is important to learn about these things if you want to reduce barriers between people ... This kind of history is fiercely resisted, but it must be in the schools and universities." (46)
My story of self-discovery has made me proud to be a Red-Black person. The history of two groups of colonized people, surviving in North America and knowing that we both are connected to other Red-Black people all over the world, indeed establishes that history didn't start with Columbus, Magellan, Balboa, Marco Polo, Cortez, Pizarro, or the other explorers and conquerors who claimed to have discovered sovereign populated lands around the globe. The Blood Memory of Indigenous peoples are finally being recognized by white scholars.
Before the printed book, Memory ruled daily life and the occult learning, and fully deserved the name later applied to printing, the "art preservative of all arts" (Ars artium omnium conservatrix). The memory of individuals and of communities carried knowledge through time and space. For millennia personal Memory reigned over entertainment and information, over the perpetuation and perfection of crafts, the practice of commerce, the conduct of professions. By Memory and in Memory the fruits of education were garnered, preserved, and stored. Memory was an awesome faculty which everyone had to cultivate, in ways and for reasons we have long since forgotten. In these last five hundred years we see only pitiful relics of the empire and the power of Memory. (47)
Whatever our racial blending happens to be, for biracial people, it is important to fit into our skin. Embracing our whole selves can only lead to a healthier person. Shame can cause such unhappiness, thus preventing us from reaching our full potential. I have found a special freedom since owning my blending of Native and Black blood. This experience has made me a bigger and better person. In the course of my research, doors of knowledge started to open wider than I had anticipated. I also found a little Scots mixed in my family's racial history.
There are four branches of the human race represented on the continent of Asia and one of these races is the Negroid branch ... the Andamanese pygmies, who constitute a homogeneous group. They can be called the Andaman race and should be considered a particular category of Negritos.
There were things that I already knew, such as an extraordinary Asian invention of writing, which began in China and in Mesopotamian regions between the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C., and gunpowder, cultivating the silk-worm, cartography, hepatoscopy, navigational interests, and interest in astrology, astronomy, etc. To hear the invaders tell it, the white man was/is responsible for all of the world's inventions.
I can't help but think of that Canadian racist woman Margaret Sanger who wanted to exterminate the "Negro". She and her contemporary and equally racist women friends like Emily Murphy, (Emily's pet group to hate on was the "fishy" Chinese), Helen Mac Murchy and Nellie McClung, who were avid fans of Margaret Sanger all played a part in leaving a legacy of rotten smells throughout the land. These women professed to be educated but there really is no evidence of that. However, they did live in a time (1920s and beyond where the Canadian population was not well travelled, well read, or well-educated and would have followed the teachings of women like Emily Murphy, the first woman magistrate of the British Empire. The irony of her thoughts is not lost on how she must have lived according to the standards of her time (1920s, 30s etc.) The very Negroes that she would have exterminated might have left her without some important comforts. Would she and her friends have even recognized the contributions made by people of colour during their time? No doubt these women would have fallen over in shock if they were reminded that the founder of their faith (Christianity) was a Middle Eastern Jewish Rabbi. The Electric Lamp by, Joseph V. Nichols and Lewis H. Latimer (black men)patent, September 13,1881. The Refrigerator invented by, John Stanard, (a black man) patent, July 14, 1891. The Fire Extinguisher - invented by, Thomas J. Martain, (a black man) patent, March 26, 1872. The Type Writing Machine--invented by, Lee S. Burridge and Newman R. Mashman, (black men) patent, April 7, 1885. How many white people were saved by Dr. Charles Richard Drew 1904 - 1950? He was a pioneer in the research of blood plasma and blood storage. His work saved countless lives during World War II. (48)
Every person of colour should be armed with this knowledge so as to be able to debunk the notion that we are an inferior people. All Canadians should know our history and exorcise the evil that lives in this country. We have to own past bad acts, to say that slavery didn't exist in Canada is denying the pain of a people. In January 18, 1802 The Niagara Herald proclaimed for sale ... "The Negro man and woman, the property of the Widow Clement, [who] have been bred to the business of a farm, will be sold on highly advantageous terms for cash or lands." (49)
White people of good-will, you are welcome to sojourn with me/us. To the white people who harbour evil thoughts and actions, "you have been found out, now discover that!"
I do not claim to bring new scholarship to the subject of the Red-Black people of the world, or, in my small area of the world for that matter. I have, however, attempted to raise the awareness of our existence and our connection to a colonial history that carries an overwhelming burden that cannot be relieved until an epiphany of consciousness and knowledge touches every descendant of the invaders, thereby causing a break with the past and joining the descendants of the First Peoples on a path of collective healing. As for my path, I will remain urban and enjoy the modern world while staying a Black/Indian. My heart, spirit and mind are and will always be Red/Black.
Being a Born Again Indian is not such a bad thing and being a Black-Indian is even better. Let's put our ancestors to rest by honouring their journey and suffering in our lives.
While writing this story, things in my own life were not stagnate. What I mean, I didn't lock myself in my apartment and write until I was finished before interacting socially with friends and neighbours. In fact I continued to meet with negative allies (some were friends). Negative allies are people of good will who are not willing to get down and dirty and accept the truth about the people that they are advocating for. A good example is a conversation with a small group of people, men and women, October 2007. The group was made up of men and women. Age range from late thirties to early eighties and two of us were nonwhite. Every white person in the room was a decent, well-meaning human being of good will and good intentions. Several had traveled to Africa, India and other conflict-countries on humanitarian missions. As white North American travelers going into an environment that is so completely alien to their reality--which they have little no physical experience as a frame of reference to depend upon. They are open to any and all influences that can blur their Western understanding and judgement with respect to the events that they experience. Along with their colonial attitudes, they seemed to be armed only with surface history, which brings me back to the discussion, referred above.
I read several hateful comments to the group, that were made by racist people. These were documented material and historically correct. One woman was clearly annoyed and said that she could not deal with the extreme actions of a few. Another woman said that only the fringe of the fringe thought like these racists. Although I view these women as friends-in-passing, I couldn't help but think of them as racist -by -default. Especially when I mentioned that millions of people think like the ones I was quoting. They actually humiliated me when they dismissed my reference to millions. In their minds--millions couldn't possibility be involved in extreme racism. This shows me the level of denial and how unaware my white sisters and brothers are of the intentions of today's racists, and how modern racists are suggesting the same methods that were used by their ancestors against Blacks and other non-white groups, should be used thus in our time.
I couldn't help but notice that even though everyone in the room had outside interest and worked in the open market-place, somehow it showed that they came from a closed society and hadn't moved forward far enough. In many cases, they knew the history of other countries better than the history of Aboriginals of North America--forgetting, of course that since first contact, it is also their history. Even if numbers of whites immigrated to North America long after Canada, United States and Mexico were settled--they and their family's profited from the occupation and oppression of the First Nations and continue to do so.
If millions of extreme racists did not exist then the Atlantic Slave Trade would have been impossible. If millions of extreme racists do not exist today then why are race sensitivity courses offered in most institutions? Why do students study race-relations and ethnic studies? Why are scholars still writing and lecturing about race? These women seem to think that a small group of racist are traveling the country and causing mischief. I have been shocked by the resistance of many Whites to accept that racism is a major social problem in North America. The prisons in the United States are the new plantations, in Canada, prisons are the new reservations. Racism is in every stratum of our society. Surely it takes millions of extreme racists to keep up the fight.
From the European governments to the Slavers and their crew, from the suppliers of goods and weapons, from the Masters of the Southern and Caribbean plantations and the communities that benefited from the slave-trade--everyone who ate sugar from the sugar cane and wore cotton from the cotton mills etc., added up to millions of extreme racists.
How can anyone think that using wet-nurses by force (under threat of death) was not extreme racism? Many a black baby died because their mother was wet-nursing a white child. To dismiss extreme racism as having no weight, just because an individual is too weak to deal with the subject, is disappointing and discouraging. To use language such as, "I can't get my head around extreme racism" in the context of our discussion--in my opinion, is just an excuse not to deal with the reality of extreme racism. The women who made the disturbing comments claim to be human-rights supporters and work in the field in Canada and overseas. Their efforts are to be praised but I can't understand their ideology. Forget about being comfortable when you're involved with human-rights issues and if you cannot get your hands dirty then you need to get you fix elsewhere. Do these women think that the First Nations can get their collective heads around what the Europeans did to them? Extreme racism is not over and, YES! Millions of Canadians are extreme racist. Although they may not physically participate in any punitive action against a person of colour, they will support the Neo-Nazis, Skin-Heads, White Supremacist movements by funding safe houses, political backing, provide legal help with off-shore laundered money. Let's not overlook the Biker-Gangs who are very racist in their actions. To think that the few racist who make it to prime time television is an aberration is silly to the extreme.
Most of us remember the O.J. trials and the Mark Fuhrman revelations. Detective Fuhrman accurately represented thousands of white police officers in the U.S. and Canada by saying "all Niggers should be gathered up, put in a pile and burned." (paraphrased.) I have actually heard this same "solution" from the mouth of two Ontario Provincial Police Officers (one woman) and more than a few R.C.M.P. officers. You see, my white friends in the room would not have had the same experiences that I've had with racist police. In fact, if middle-class white people ever have contact with the police, racism would not be an issue unless there was a person of colour with them, in the car, in the home, on the job and sometimes just walking down the street with a person of colour will get the attention of the police.
I understand completely the distance from "in your face" racism that most white people have never experienced and my reality. However, these same people claim that they want to know the truth. But when I try to inform them, I'm made to feel the fool and stupid because after all they are the educated and better informed, and I'm just the survivor of extreme racism. I really should sit down, be quite and listen to their academic discourse. (I might learn something about being an Indian or being black).
At a certain level, I considered everyone in the room a colleague of mine but I will not allow that to stop me from (speaking truth to power) and I'll no longer allow them to deny my knowledge. Since my people and I are on the receiving end of extreme racism every day (individually and collectively).
I have learned that too many academics ignore input from non-academics, if the other cannot use or understand academic language such as quantitative, qualitative, methodology, Diaspora, etc It seems to me that the highest form of education is to pass on knowledge without causing others to feel dumb. One of my best friends with two PhDs never sticks out in a crowd. He is very comfortable with leaving the academic language in the classroom and on panels, or at conferences, where he spoke. He would often say, "I got my knowledge while growing up with mostly illiterate family members, like my grandparents and great uncles. I'm saying exactly what they would have said only now I can write it."
To dismiss a hateful comment that was made in the past as having no power in the present can only be considered as obsolete. Not so -racial hatred is birthing and growing every day in North America. To ignore this fact is reckless. Before I read the comments of the racist that I was quoting, I opened by stating "You know I'm a racist?" Due to the direction that the discussion took, I was unable to further my "shock opening" and you know, I was never asked to explain. Whites in general cannot process that people of colour could possibly be racist against them. I believe that's why my opening statement was so easily ignored. If I had been encouraged to continue--I would have explained, that there were times in my life when I've hated white people but after much research and contact with whites from the other side of madness, I came to understand and believe that good, stable, righteous, loving, peaceful, kind hearted whites do exist and they are as wounded by the past as I and my people are. BUT--whenever a fresh racist attack is levelled against me or any person of colour--all the goodwill in the world is cancelled for a time. That is when the Blood Memory rises to the surface and that's when I become a racist. I must tell you that it is difficult to deal with white friends who are unaware of how hurtful their comments are. I am always aware that my comments might make some Whites uncomfortable. All I can say is that they will never feel as uncomfortable as I have felt all of my life because I don't look like them, and for five hundred years a whole population of indigenous people have been made to feel uncomfortable by the invaders and their descendants. The group I'm speaking of would be shocked to know, how many times I've had my feelings hurt by one or more of them.
I must confess that I sometimes regret having a bridgebuilding calling in my life. Some of my friends have cautioned me, not to give my heart to any cause and to protect myself against abuse. "Everyone that is good to you is not always good for you." From time to time I have to revisit my vision. "Is it worth it? Who am I helping? Should I just move on? Have I outgrown this group?" More importantly--"can I journey with people who claim to be peace-makers and peace-keepers but who throw slings and arrows (symbolically) better and more accurately than their racist, violent others?"
Realizing that my world is not one that I'd wish on anyone, but as a survivor of many wars, I can bring much to the table, that is to say, unless my fellow diners only eat baby food and resist developing a taste for adult nourishment, I can't force them to take off their rose-coloured glasses. There is nothing more ugly than a naive academic, who's involved in human-rights. If negative allies cannot handle the truth and get a little dirty, they need to find other places to serve. To dismiss the history of a people (any people) is an insult.
(1) Mongrel Virginians 1926 publisher Williams and Wilkins Company circa 1926
(2) he Encyclopedia of North American INDIAN TRIBES by Bill Venne, page 148
(3) Www. Beesum communications.com/nation
(4) Dictionary of Indian Tribes of the Americas Mundu-Zuna Massapequa by Robert Steven Grumet Vol. 11 page 458
(5) Ibid Wyandot--author not listed Vol. 111 page 485
(6) Ibid Accohanoc--author not listed Vol. 1 page 53
(7) Ibid Apalacee--author not listed Vol. 1 page 120& 122
(8) Native America in the Twentieth Century An Encyclopedia Edited by Mary B. Davis page 534-536
(9) Wind Speaker Aboriginal History Project 2006 Calendar Sponsored by Scotia Bank (August 1689) The number of Indian slaves is rising as colonists in New France attempt to resolve labour shortages. Majority of slaves, sold in Ville Marie (Montreal) and Quebec, are Pawnee from Mississippi Valley.
(May 29, 1733) The right of New France colonist to buy and sell Natives as slaves is upheld.
(10) Wilbur R Jacobs COMMENTARY Columbus, Indians, and the Black Legend Hocus Pocus American Indian Culture and Research Journal Vol. 17INumber 2/1993 page 181
(11) Robert Chanates is a member of the Kiowa Nation and serves on the leadership council of CO AIM. Redwire Vol. 8--Issue 3--March 2006-Urbanization! REDWIREMAG.COM
(12) The Shoshonis Sentinels of the Rockies by Virginia Cole Trenbolm and Maurine Carley, pages 50-51
(14) Ibid pg 67
(15) Firewater--The impact of the Whisky Trade on the Blackfoot. Nation by Hugh A. Dempsey pages 28, 218
(16) Questia Media America, Inc. www.questia.com
Mongrel Virginians: The Win Tribe. Contributors: Arthur H. Estabrook-author, Ivan E. McDougle--author, Carnegie Institution of Washington-orgname. Publisher: The Williams & Wilkins Company. Place of Publication: Baltimore., 1926. Pg 17
(17) Linda Tuhiwai Smith Decolonizing Methodologies Research and Indigenous Peoples Pg 62-63
(18) Paul Primeau 392003810 For indigenous Learning 4112 W.A. A Social History the Eugenic Movement 1928 Pg 19
(19) Ibid, pg. 18
(20) Ibid pg.20
(21) Ibid pg.19
(22) Ibid pg 41
(23) Ibid pg.4
(24) Ovid Demaris, America the Violent, pg. 108-9
(25) Susan Brownmiller, Against our Will pgs. 163, 164
(26) Ibid pg. 31
(27) Ovid Demaris, America the Violent pg.1
(28) Ibid pg 3
(29) Common knowledge, Google--Residential schools
(30) Letters: August 10th, 1954; July 28, 1954, etc. (See the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Ottawa, Ontario.)
(31) Ovid Demaris America The Violent pg 55
(32) Ibid pg.56
(33) Ibid pg. 14-15
(34) R Miller Lethal Legacy Current Controversies in Canada
(35) Google the major Ontario Newspapers and the National Post, click OPP and Native women/sex/interact/investigation start from 2000
(36) Bonnie Burstow & Don Weitz, editors Shrink Resistant the struggle against psychiatry in Canada Them Crazy Indians Vern Harper Pgs 121-125
(37) Ovid Demaris, America the Violen, pg.60
(38) Constance Blackhouse, Colour-Coded, pg. 258
(39) Constance Blackhouse, Colour-Coded, pg. 258
(40) Ibid pg. 258
(41) National Post, August 16, 2006, pg.A4
(42) The World of Man Vol. 7/ASIA Webster's Geographical Guide to the world 1969, pgs. 66,69.
(43) Cathy Scott-Clark and ADRIAN Levy, The Guardian Weekend, June 23,2001 pgs 30-36
(44) Robert Lee Hotz (by line) Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 1998 and the Los Angeles Times
(45) Charles C. Mann, America Found and Last, National Geographic, May 2007
(46) Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoveries (The Lost Arts of Memory) pg. 480
(47) The World of Man--Asia--Webster's Geographical Guide to the World pg. 127
(48) Ebony Magazine, February 1997 (Black History) pgs. 48, 50
(49) Robins Elliott, The Ontario Book of Days pg.15
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|Date:||Mar 22, 2010|
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