The official site of William Loren Katz and Black Indians
Black Indians Celebrated in Native American Heritage Month
NPR “explores shared black and Native American heritage with William Katz, author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, and Shonda Buchanan, an English professor, who is of North Carolina and Mississippi Choctaw Indian ancestry.” Please listen to the radio program or read its transcript here.
November is Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American History Month – a celebration of America’s First Peoples. Indians did more than introduce twenty major agricultural products and 40 minor ones to the world. Almost half the world’s crops were first grown by Indians. In addition to the staples of corn and potatoes, there were tomatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, sweet potatoes, manioc, squash, beans, maple syrup and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Cotton now grown throughout the world is derived from a Native American species. No early foreign settlement could have lasted without the cooperation of the Native Nations. Indigenous people taught Europeans how to clear forests, plant and harvest crops, and how to survive in the new environment.
They also made another overlooked contribution. For five centuries Native Americans united with African Americans to resist the European invasion that brought enslavement and tyranny to the New World. The two peoples of color saw no need to face the advancing foreigner alone.
This only-in-America alliance is the subject of my revised and expanded 2012 edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, and my Powerpoint lectures. Europeans learned from people of color how to make and use canoes, snowshoes, moccasins, dogsleds, hammocks and the uses of the rubber ball. They also learned how to resist tyranny and build a democratic and egalitarian society.
John Hope Franklin, dean of African American historians, greeted the book with, “Black Indians is an important contribution, particularly since the subject has long been neglected.” Alice Walker wrote: “Black Indians give us much usable, nearly lost, invaluable history. A guide to the real America.”
The expanded 2012 edition [and Powerpoint presentation] carries the story up to the Black Power Movement, and current African and Indian unity in the 21st century. In the last two years Black Indians has won achievement awards from New York University and the National Park Service. Indian Country Today authority Julie Jennings wrote, “Black Indians remains the definitive chronicle of this overlooked and compelling chapter of American history.”
I believe your students would benefit from this presentation. Please contact me by e-mail or phone [212-533-6875].
–William Loren Katz
Black Indians — Revised, Expanded and Updated
The expanded and updated edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage brings the Native American and African American alliance that for four centuries challenged the European conquest and slavery into the 21st century with additional research and documentary and photographic evidence. The new edition reveals the story of the African guides and translators of the colonial era who became valued contacts with Indigenous peoples, examines the African and Indian alliance known as the Pueblo revolt of 1680 that ended Spain’s rule of the southwest for a dozen years, introduces Francisco Menendez and the 1738 Black Indian community that defended its liberty in Florida against British incursions, and much more.
- April 30 2013 : The Battle to Desegregate San Francisco Streetcars
Only months after San Francisco’s horse-powered streetcar companies during the Civil War dispatched their streetcars—with orders to only accept white passengers—African American citizens began to directly challenge this discrimination. On April 17, 1863 Charlotte Brown, a young African American woman from a prominent family, boarded a streetcar and was forced off. Determined to assert her rights, by the year’s end Ms [...]
- February 3 2013 : Teaching Outside the Textbook: From ‘The Abolitionists’ to a Two-Term Black President
This week PBS's The American Experience concluded "The Abolitionists," a searing three-part documentary on a fiercely committed band of white and African American freedom fighters. It took a fresh look at the anti-slavery movement, its most dramatic moments, its key figures and its amazing impact considering it was a movement which was run by hated racial and political minorities—and which [...]