“I got Indian in my family.”
Is something I hear often among the black community. Even in my own family, my mom talks of how her dad was 100% Cherokee Indian and how our family were cow slaughters which explains my maiden last name which is Hereford, a kind of cow.
However, while many black families are proud to proclaim their Native Heritage, what is rarely passed around our dinner tables is an important fact in American History. This fact being that even the 5 Civilized Indian Tribes held slaves. A lot of black people jump at the chance to proclaim the above statement because oppressed people typically wants to identify with other oppressed people but the truth is stranger than fiction. Native Americans were oppressed by Europeans but they both had black slaves. In fact, Native Americans knew the layout of the land better than anyone else and it was they who taught the Europeans how to track and to capture slaves. (This is why in last weeks Underground Episode the little boy asked the black slave, “You used to live with the Indians didn’t you? And you taught my daddy how to track.” He used to live with the Indians because he was their slave same as he is the slave to the little boys father. Underground is a very well written TV show).
“Though the harsh treatment of enslaved Africans largely paled in comparison to that of white slaveholders, Blacks still were treated as an underclass among Native Americas. The Five Civilized Tribes even established slave codes that protected owners’ property rights and restricted the rights of Blacks.”
What’s deep about my family history is this:
Cherokee is one of the tribes who took part in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (along with Chickasaw and others). In addition, the term “Cow-Boy” is also derivative of slavery. The slave boys who handled the cows were called cow boys. So when you watch Quentin Tarantino’s Django the content is actually not out of context far as the cow boy theme is concerned and my maiden name is potentially much more deep than we know.