More Blacks are exploring the
African-American/Native American connection
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart
About 15 years ago, a group
of blacks attending the Silver Star Pow
Wow in California decided to go out into the circle and dance together
in an intertribal dance. Almost immediately, they felt a bond, said Don Little
Cloud Davenport, leader of the Black Native American Association.
“There was something special about that
moment,” Davenport told
BlackAmericaWeb.com. “We are under the philosophy that you
can’t be a whole person unless we acknowledge all that we are.”
William Loren Katz, author of Black Indians
and a nationally noted expert on the subject, estimates the number of blacks
with Native American ancestry to be 90 to 95 percent of blacks in America. You can see the features in blacks from Michael
Jackson and Lena Horne to LL Cool J and Frederick Douglass, he told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Both Davenport and Katz say that in recent years, a growing number
of blacks are acknowledging their Native American ancestry and studying to gain
“In the 1960s, many knew of their Native
American ancestry, but they did nothing about it. They felt that to acknowledge
it would be to deny their African heritage,” said Katz, a native New Yorker who
has been studying African-American history and writing about it since 1967.
Famed poet Langston Hughes in a phone
conversation told Katz he thought there was an interesting story to be
researched and written on black cowboys. His studies of that topic led to
studies that resulted in Black Indians, published in 1986.