"Today, this final day in November, we decided to take a look at one group's shared heritage with Native Americans and efforts to have that heritage more broadly recognized. I'm talking about so-called black Indians, people who are considered black or African-American, but who also claim American Indian heritage.
For decades, that shared history has sometimes been celebrated, but sometimes the opposite is true. Joining us to talk about that, William Loren Katz, he's the author of the book "Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage." And he's with us from our bureau in New York.
Also with us is Shonda Buchanan. She's a descendent of North Carolina and Mississippi Choctaw Indians. And she's a professor of English at Hampton University in Virginia. And she's with us from the studios on campus. Thank you both so much for speaking with us.
Professor SHONDA BUCHANAN (English, Hampton University): Thank you.
Mr. WILLIAM LOREN KATZ (Author, "Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage"): Thank you.
MARTIN: So, Mr. Katz, will you start with us and just tell us how the relationship between African-Americans and Native Americans began?
Mr. KATZ: Well, it began with the earliest colonial period. Soon after Columbus arrived, Africans were brought in. And so you have a pattern of Native Americans taking in African-Americans and the two people mixing and forming a kind of united front against the forces that were bringing slavery and colonialism to the Americas. So this has a long, long history.
MARTIN: Is this a history that is generally acknowledged by the tribes?
Mr. KATZ: Well, I think some of them do, certainly along the East Coast, where the African-American members are prominent. And they played a very central role among the Seminole Nation. The Africans were among the leaders of it and took part in the 42-year war the Seminoles waged against the United States government and the slave catchers."
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Black Indians Explore Challenges Of 'Hidden' Heritage