November 22, 2010

People can't be black and Indian?

Charles Trimble responds to an e-mail about the controversy noted in Powwow Dance Excludes Unregistered Indian. To be specific, he debates whether Professor Shonda Buchanan can be both black and Indian:

Charles Trimble:  Racism still alive and growing in Indian CountryBoyden:  “Dr. Shonda's web page and profile at where she teaches expresses ZERO INDIANNESS! In other words...she chooses to be BLACK...NOT Indian. Her writings and what she teaches is ALL BLACK!”

Response:  First of all, Dr. Shonda teaches English. There are Native Americans, I’m sure, who teach English or American history, which itself if mostly about European colonizers of the continent. I don’t think that one can deduce that these people prefer to be whites over Indians because they are teaching white language or history--they are scholars, and generally not racists.

Boyden:  “So tell me...what in the black culture is there that is compatible with Native American culture? And in spirituality? Curious what you can share with me and educate me so that I can see the ‘light’!”

Response:  I think that there is much in American black culture and modern American Indian or indigenous culture that are mutually compatible. First of all, there is tragic history: both peoples were enslaved, and both peoples were considered sub-human, or even non-human. Both peoples had their traditional cultures stripped from them, and both suffer from being deprived of the cultures, as is shown in the societal disarray in both cultures. Eradication and removal policy options were considered for both peoples. But, of course, the most important “compatibility” is that of the brotherhood of their humanity.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see IndiVisible Is Long Overdue and Native Roots of Hendrix and the Blues.

Below:  The opposing sides in the Cherokee Freedmen conflict.

No comments: