VIDEO: Indigenous communities can’t defeat colonialism without fighting anti-Blackness
By Charlie Amáyá Scott
In November 2017, I wrote a blog post, “Anti-Blackness in Native Communities“. it was my first real public attempt wrestling with how I, as a non-Black Diné (Navajo), benefited from anti-Blackness in, what is now known as, the US. The blog post was also me sharing what I learned years ago about Native Americans’ enslavement of Africans; a moment in history I never knew about until recently.
Slavery was legal within what is commonly referred to as the ‘The Five Civilized Tribes”: the Choctaw, the Seminole, the Cherokee, the Creek, and the Chickasaw. For these communities, slavery was seen as a sign of civility, and sovereignty as a Nation was extended to them because of enslavement.
Unfortunately, the reality of tribal sovereignty is entangled with anti-Blackness, especially because of blood quantum, which was/is a tool of quantifying indigeneity. For example, the one-drop rule was used against anyone with Black ancestry to showcase “impurity,” whereas for non-Black Indigenous Peoples blood quantum was used to showcase “purity.” Blackness was and is considered expensive, yet indigeneity was and is not.
Anti-Blackness continues to exist in our communities today in nuanced ways, whether in the appropriation of #BlackLivesMatter or the continued bigotry that Black-Natives face on social media or within their own community. I know my community, the Navajo Nation, has its own work to do. The Navajo Nation President refused to acknowledge #BlackLivesMatter, despite over 600 Navajo Nation tribal members signing this letter of solidarity. In addition, back in 1998, there was a letter published in the Navajo Times from Orlando Tom, who called mixed tribal members a threat to the future of the Navajo Nation.
Anti-Blackness has no place in our community. It was never there before the brutal force of colonialism and it continues to enact violence on those who are Black and who are Native.
For those interested in reading more, here are some additional articles:
Reckoning With Anti-Blackness in Indian Country
How Native Americans Adopted Slavery from White Settlers
Charlie A. Scott (Diné) is a non-binary Indigenous femme who is a doctoral student at the University of Denver studying higher education.
Thank you for writing this. It is an important topic to be discussed.
I wish there were more people speaking about this in Canada, where Indigenous solidarity with alt right white supremacists is particularly bad.
The so called “Freedom Convoy” had many Indigenous supporters. The BLM rally in Red Deer, Alberta was sabotaged by Pat King, one of the main convoy organizers.
We need Indigenous people to address their anti-blackness in Canada. This country is full of hypocrisy.