Black Native History with Dr. Tiya Miles

Back in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd and during the Black Lives Matter uprisings that followed, All My Relations started a journey to support the Black community and Afro Indigenous relatives through having conversations on police brutality, anti-blackness, Indian Country’s connection to chattel slavery, and Afro-Indigenous history. 

This first episode in the series features an interview with Harvard professor Tiya Miles. Professor Miles is a scholar, historian, and writer whose work explores the intersections of African American, Native American and women’s histories. With Dr. Miles, we focus specifically on the history and structure of Black and Native interconnection. Through the lens of early Cherokee interactions with Black people, we talk about Black and Indigenous peoples first relationships that were shaped in a settler colonial landscape. We talk about how some southeastern Tribes like the Cherokee bent to colonial standards and acted in ways antithetical to Indigenous values by owning enslaved Africans, and how this legacy of pain and abuse has effects today for the descendants of those who were enslaved, and our communities as a whole. We touch on current conversations around the recognition of Freedmen Descendants by the Five Tribes. 

Our stories are intertwined, and we need to examine the past to determine how best to more forward. 

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Resources mentioned in the episode:

Website for Dr. Miles: TiyaMiles.com 

The Cherokee Nation has put out a call for freedmen descendants to share cultural artifacts, family photos, and other memorabilia for an exhibit:  Call for Freedmen Descendants

Creek Freedmen descendants have a gofundme to raise funds to support the community and legal efforts to gain recognition: GoFundMe

Dr. Keene made a reading list on my blog two years ago on Anti-Blackness in the Cherokee Nation, which has a wide range of academic and non-academic resources on the topic: Dr. Keene’s Reading List

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