Remember that even if the family elders don’t know if a relative was Native American or state there were not Native Americans in the family, continue your investigation. In many instances if elders acknowledged Native American ancestry negative consequences resulted. This is because in most states Native Americans were not allowed to purchase land, hold jobs, and have schooling opportunities. Anyone claiming to be Native American was sent to live on the reservations. Being sent to a reservation resulted in loss of land, family connections, accumulated wealth, and in many instances loss of tribal identities and culture.

So, for these reasons Native Americans would claim Colored, Negro, Mulatto, Black Dutch, Black Irish, Melungeon, and even White racial identities. These identities protected them from the hazards of being identified as Native American.


This leads to one of the key ways of identifying a Native American relative. If you find a relative listed on the United States Census records and each year in which you find them listed their race changes, then there is a great possibility that the relative was Native American or of a mixed racial heritage with Native being one of the race mixtures.

 Article by CherokeeCloud

Written September 3, 2006

Family Records

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Afro-Indian family ties

From a common foe, Africans and Native Americans found the first link of friendship and earliest motivation for an alliance. They discovered they shared some vital life views. Both Africans and Native Americans found they shared a belief in cooperation, rather than competition and rivalry. Beyond individual human differences in personality, generally speaking, each race was proud, but neither was weighed down by prejudice. Skill, friendship and trust, not skin color or race was important.

That Native Americans and Africans merged by choice, invitation, and bonds of trust and friendship, cannot be understated. It explains why families who share this biracial inheritance have never forgotten these family ties.

Since 1502, Black Indians have been reported, documented, painted, and photographed coast to coast from Hudson's Bay to Tierra del Fuego. In the decades between the 1619 Jamestown settlement and the 'Great Treaty Signings' of the 1880's, Black Indian Societies were reported in more than 15 states from New York to South Carolina as well as the thirty Caribbean Islands 'blessed' by European colonization.

Excerpt from article by: By Nomad WinterhawkFor more information see:

Grandma’s Hidden Memories

These memories and fears still fresh, she hid the secret that only today is revealed. This was a secret that has survived for almost two centuries by only being passed down and revealed upon the imminent death of the holder of the hidden memory. What kind of fear could hold a secret across countless generations? What atrocities were witnessed that brought shame for surviving, and hope for the resurrection of past glory.


Grandma’s fear of Indian ancestry exposure was much different than those today that claim descent from an “American Indian princess”. Many of those claiming Indian princess status are among white ethnic groups. I wonder why the claim of Indian ancestry does not bring fear to them, but rather a pride especially if the Indian ancestry is claimed along with a mixture of colonial descent. Is it the pride of a conqueror?


For African Americans with Indian ancestry you must bring Grandma’s hidden memories to light before they become deathbed confessions. Appreciate the rich legacy of two histories that demonstrate survival against all odds in yester-years and today. Express the future with promise of strength to continue to succeed against all odds.


It is your legacy and your life… don’t live it through hidden memories –make it a known reality.


Taking the First Step

Many families over the years have had a formal or informal historian. This person tracks the family births, deaths, marriages, and locations of family members. This person keeps records through saving newspaper clippings, photographs, letters, and other memorabilia. All of these items are important in searching for your family black and red roots.  

A treasure chest of information can most importantly be found in family Bibles. In the front of these Bibles is not only the owner of the Bible and perhaps when it was received but also a space for family genealogy or family records. Additionally, there is generally not a family Bible that does not have within its pages many hand written notes, book marks, photographs with names or dates written on the back, programs from Church services, ribbons, pressed flowers, and many other items that give clues to family ancestry.  

Each of these items has a history that must be investigated to learn more about your family tree. Next, find the oldest living family member or members and request to talk with them about their life, recollections of what has happened over time within the family, and question them about any items you might have found that appear to have significance to learning about your family in general and your black and red roots specifically.  

Article by CherokeeCloud 

Written September 2, 2006

Taking the Second Step