Narrated by James Earl Jones, “Black Indians: An American Story” explores what brought the two groups together, what drove them apart and the challenges they face today.Distinguished Awards: A society that wants to build the future must know its past, its real past, as it was.” But what if that past had been lost, forgotten, hidden, or denied?"If they grow up in a black neighborhood, they likely adapt to a black culture.Likewise, if they grow up on a reservation, they adapt to a Native American culture.Indeed, from the colonial era through the 19th century, the intermingling of these peoples combined two diverse worlds into a new mixed race of people who have courageously withstood attempts erase their unique twin cultural heritage despite the efforts of both black and Indian movements as well as the dominant white society.Yet as a minority of two minorities, black Indians - sometimes called the "ultimate survivors" and once referred to as mulattos - often feel ostracized for being neither Indian nor black enough.Neville says, and helps people like him understand their sometimes confused backgrounds. As another citizen of the First Nation said, 'The truth may sleep, but it never dies.' " "Black Indians: An American Story" is a distinguished documentary which presents the rarely-told story of the racial fusion of Native and African-Americans.It is a story which literally begins with the birth of America, in the presence of the mixed-race Boston Massacre martyr Crispus Attucks, and which follows the deadlier aspects of the 19th century through the Seminole War (where runaway slaves joined Seminole warriors in Florida in armed conflict against the invading U. Army) and the expulsion of the Cherokee nation on the infamous Trail of Tears (where black Indians within the Cherokee orbit faced the no-win choice of either leaving with their brethren into forced exile or staying behind to live in slavery).
Thus, it was not uncommon for black Indian families to find themselves separated by government classifications into completely different racial groups based solely on their color and appearance.
"This film affirms to African Americans that it's OK to come to the surface and say, 'Yes, I'm part Indian. "My answer is very simple: I'm part Cherokee through my grandmother," Mr. "That is why I was particularly interested in the project." The Neville Brothers have been told all their lives that they have American Indian heritage.
"They're not giving up their blackness; they're just recognizing their Indian heritage." "Just as the Jewish holocaust victims don't want their story forgotten, neither do the Black Indians," adds Mr. "As sad as that story is, it's part of our heritage and history." James Earl Jones agreed to narrate the film and the Neville Brothers provided music because they felt the neglected story needed telling. Jones did the narration for the film giving the project instant credibility. So Cyril Neville and his brothers, whose music is an amalgamation of jazz, R&B, and reggae, provided the music.
This practice was also helpful in erasing official traces of native nations in the late 19th century--mixed race Indians were not considered pure blooded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and several tribes were declared extinct even though they still lived in the persons of black Indians whose native heritage was not recognized by the government.
By the time that civil rights and Native rights movements in the 1960s roared into the national forefront, the story of the black Indians was virtually forgotten except as family histories by those who shared the blended racial heritages.