Zinn Education Project recommends new edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage

By Katy Swalwell posted 01-19-2012 11:22:25 AM


"The relationship between Europeans and Native Americans and between Europeans and Africans have been thoroughly studied. But one relationship has not. Conspicuous by its neglect is the relationship between red and black people (p.2)."

Twenty-five years ago, William Loren Katz wrote Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. A new edition of this controversial and celebrated work addresses both the distortions and the omissions in historical analyses of the relationships between African Americans and American Indians. It also highlights the ways in which European Americans skillfully played on ethnic rivalries to prevent those relationships from being built and to keep their stories from being told.

Katz's important book begins with colonization of the eastern seaboard and the beginning of a "dark democracy" placing the first permanent settlement not at Jamestown but with the Africans and Native Americans who stayed together after the Spanish abandoned San Miguel de Guadalpe in South Carolina. Readers will be amazed by the histories of resistance movements, "maroon" settlements of former slaves like the Republic of Palmares in eastern Brazil, the Seminole Wars, the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts, slavery in the Five Nations, and the establishment of white supremacy in states carved out of Indian Territory. Katz includes stories of individual Black Indians like President Vicente Guerrero of Mexico, Lewis and Clark expedition member York, Minnesotan voyageur George Bonga, artist Edmonia Lewis, "Wild West" outlaw Cherokee Bill and deputy marshal Bass Reeves, labor activist Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, former slave and U.S. Congressman George Henry White from North Carolina, and Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the founder of Chicago.   

This second edition includes a new foreward and final chapter. Katz is author of over 40 books and several essays, including "Black Indians and Resistance" in Rethinking Columbus, one of the books banned from former Mexican American Studies program classrooms in Tucson, AZ.