Native Americans are part of African American historyTalk About Race — By Guest Author on February 18, 2010 at 12:13
By Luay Broadnax
If you’re white and say you have Native American blood, then that’s alright. It’s looked on in some places as a badge of honor. But if you’re black, you’re accused of not wanting to own your African lineage.
I have lived more than 70 years as an African American and I have been proud of everything that this means. As a fashion model, I was a black model. I was a radio personality on black radio. I am a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. I grew up in the Bronx as an African American. I went to an historically black college, Hampton University.
But as a child, I knew I had psychic powers. I knew about events such as death and illnesses before they happened. My mother, who was African American, ignored it to a point; but when people began to pick my brain for information relating to their life, including the number for the day, my mother then started to become more protective of my psychic ability.
My father’s aunts and uncles, who were Native American understood and told me it was part of my heritage from their side. They also told me that my gift with food came from them. In the old days, Native Americans could find medicinal plants in new locations because of a keen sense of smell. I have a keener than normal sense of smell. If I can smell a food dish, I can make the same original dish without its recipe.
When I am cooking with herbs, fresh vegetables, and fruits, I play African music but my dance is the one my Native American grandmother taught me.
During my research for a book I am writing about my life, I discovered a long history of how Native Americans and African Americans mixed. African slavery actually replaced Native American slavery over a period that lasted a half century or more starting in the late 1600s.
American history books cover this period in just a few sentences. It is actually one of the most fascinating aspects of our history. This melding of the two groups was easy because there were so many ways that the spiritual nature of Indians and the spiritual nature of Africans coincided.
Both believed that the Earth is our Mother. “Mother Africa” –you never hear an African say “Fatherland,” as the Germans did, and do. “This Earth, our Mother” is the translation of an Indian chant. Both groups were often organized into matrifocal clans.
They both believed that humans are punished for violating mother earth. They believe in the regenerative powers of the mother and that the earth gives forth every kind of medicine that a human needs. Many of the designs, myths and folk tales that we call African are the products of both groups.
Native Americans and African Americans hunted, fished, farmed, and trapped together and were traded as slaves together, not just in the plantation South but also in the Caribbean, and the Southwestern United States. For example, there were Indian reservations in Virginia not far from Hampton University, where I started college.
In the old days it was called Hampton Institute, and it was actually created in 1878 to educate both blacks and American Indians. The Indians came to campus from the tribal reservations in the area. Many of the Indians in the area married blacks. Originally the name “colored people” included both Native Americans and African Americans, and all mixtures thereof.
One tribe near Hampton was the Chickahominy (“The Coarse Ground Corn People”). Hominy grits (the full name for grits) became a staple of black folk because of mixing with Native Americans.
I have a great recipe for okra, shrimp, and grits from the restaurant, Ida Mae’s, which I used to own in midtown New York. Originally black folk brought the okra plants from Africa and the mixture of okra and grits became a dish that united the two traditions. It makes a delicious dish when mixed with sand shrimp that were plentiful in the waters out east of Hampton.
In my youth, my doctor in Harlem was the famous black woman doctor, May Chinn. Her mother was a mixture of Chickahominy and African American. Dr Chinn used African and Native American remedies; but she had to hide that fact because the drug companies were establishing their monopolies. They’d drive any doctor out of business who still used what were called “folk remedies.”
Dr, Chinn became one of the nation’s first great cancer detection specialists. She said she could go into a home and smell if someone there had even the earliest stages of cancer. Our Native American heritage is fascinating. I think as African Americans we try to cram a broad, rich history into a narrow space.
Author: Guest Author (94 Articles)
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