Friday, October 19, 2018

African Americans with Native Americans

During the first half of the 19th Century in the United States, African Americans and Native Americans in some places began bonding together because of their shared enemy, the white man. Slaves in the southernmost states fled south to Florida rather than attempt a longer escape to the north, knowing that the Florida wilderness provided a better opportunity to avoid capture and return to their owners. 

An engraved illustration of a Native
American Indian dance, from a
Victorian book dated 1883
that is no longer in copyright
Some African-Americans came to live with Native Americans in their villages and helped make a living there. Some Native Americans even owned slaves, although the slaves were treated more as farming partners or sharecroppers. The two cultures blended as they worked together to farm the land, hunt game, raise livestock, weave fabrics and baskets, create pottery, share cooking responsibilities, raised children, and shared experiences with one another. 
A U.S. commemorative stamp from
1948 shows the Map of Indian Territory
 & Seals of Five Civilized Tribes

In the course of these relationships, some African-Americans may have been returned to their former masters for bounty payments. However, a sizeable number of them were forced to relocate with members of the Five Civilized Tribes during the Trail of Tears to what now is Oklahoma and other lands set aside for resettlement.

By the start of the Civil War, more than 4,000 former slaves lived in Oklahoma. Some of them even joined and fought with the Union Army. Don't overlook checking records relating to Native Americans to locate your African American ancestors.

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