THE LIKELIHOOD THAT AFRICAN-AMERICANS HAVE NATIVE AMERICAN ANCESTRY
Do you really have "Indian" in your family. With the observance of holidays such as Indigenous Peoples Day and Thanksgiving, we as Black people, often take the time to express great pride in being "part Native American." But let's be honest... rarely do those of us who break out ethnicity into fractions raise awareness about poverty levels, suicide rates, and domestic violence on remaining reservations are tuned in enough to know when a Native person breaks a barrier or makes history. Some of us are just conditioned to not want be Black.
I'll be honest. I too was once conditioned to believe that I had Native American ancestry as the claim had been passed down between the women in my family. We had misguidedly attributed our skin tone and hair length to something other than our African roots because we once shared a narrow view about what it meant and looked like to be fully Black. That was until the cycle was broken. My mother took a genealogy (haplogroup) and discovered that our lineage only included 1% of Native American ancestry not specific to either North or South America. Our findings are not uncommon.
Here are the stats: Only 5% of all African-Americans have at least 12.5% Native American ancestry, the equivalent of at least one great-grandparent. So, if no one in your family can detail the who, what, when, where and why, that thread of DNA either doesn’t exist or the percentage is so low that its not worth mentioning or bragging about. And if you re going to claim something because your granny said it was so, at least be an advocate for the original inhabitants of this land, we're not the only oppressed minority.
Here is how our paths may have crossed. The earliest recorded African and Native American contact occurred in April 1502, when the first enslaved Africans were taken to HispanIola; some Africans escaped to Santo Domingo. The first Black Native Americans emerged from these groups. As the Indian slave trade gave way to the African slave trade by the late 1700’s (by then over 300 years old) Native American women began to intermarry with imported Africans, producing mixed-race offspring whose native identities became obscured through time. Keep in mind that there was only a desperate need for greater quantities of African slaves because Native Americans either escaped or were killed off by the European's trick bag of diseases during their enslavement and interaction. During the height of slavery which most Black Americans stem from there had already been a fierce decline in Native American population in the north and south. Also, some Native American tribes held African slaves which is the connection you may be repping so hard. Then again, there are still people who think they're better for having European ancestry... so what else is new?
Ultimately, I encourage everyone to do some digging and research what their lineage actually consists of and take immense pride in what ever is found. Finding out your genetic id is a life-changing experience. Until you know for sure, I suggest that whenever someone inquires what your genetic makeup consists of and you don't have an answer create a dialogue about how your ancestors were separated from their families and tribes resulting in lost history and connections. Start a conversation about how written history is not a traditional cultural practice but also knowing how to read and write as an enslaved person could be punishable by death. I feel the need to include that there is nothing wrong or shameful about being (West) African. Our ancestors are beautiful, intelligent, resilient, and awe-inspiring people. Blackness is so magical that our features can vary with little help of other ethnicities because we are, technically, the prototype. The irony is that the coveted features of Eurocentric beauty are not inherently European. Black is varied and Black is beautiful.
sn: Cultural appropriation is not okay. If you're gonna talk about Miley, Iggy, Katy, and Rachel Dolezal you can't do it either.
Bottom line, love your culture and support other people of color that have been victimized by colonialism in solidarity. Don't just care because you think you belong to an oppressed demographic. We have unique struggles and experiences but we're all in this together; or at least we should be.