American Indian Education Program

Monthly Newsletter - February 2022

Boozhoo District 196 Teachers!

To honor Black History Month AND to honor all those within our community who identify both Indigenous and Black, this month's American Indian Education Newsletter will focus on Celebrating Afro-Indigenous Peoples.

Background Photo of Kitihawa Dreaming (2018) by Monica Rickert-Bolter.

Monica Rickert-Bolter is a Chicago-based visual artist and journalist of Potawatomi, Black, and German descent.

A Proclamation on National Black History Month, 2022

Each February, National Black History Month serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture, and Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America — our faults, our struggles, our progress, and our aspirations. Shining a light on Black history today is as important to understanding ourselves and growing stronger as a Nation as it has ever been. That is why it is essential that we take time to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans, honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, reckon with centuries of injustice, and confront those injustices that still fester today. ... JANUARY 31, 2022 PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

Black Indigenous Peoples: A Starting Guide of Terminology

As a national organization, Native Americans in Philanthropy represents a wide range of Indigenous peoples, cultures, and identities. We are aware of the relatives in our communities that are battling against intersectional layers of oppression and underrepresentation.

Afro-Indigenous and Black Indigenous peoples face a myriad of issues including erasure of their identities, colorism, anti-Blackness in Indigenous communities, and a complex web of historical, cultural, social, and political influences.

To better understand Afro-Indigenous identities, we developed a list of terminology and concepts that are used to describe the identities of and issues facing our Black relatives.

We want to emphasize that collective language concerning Indigenous people is complex and has important nuances. This guide is intended as an introduction and starting point.

Afro-Indigenous – A term that refers to peoples who have both Indigenous and African lineage.

Black Indigenous/Black Indian/Black Native – Terms that refer to peoples who have both Indigenous and African lineage. These terms can be but are not always synonymous with Afro-Indigenous. Ultimately, their usage depends on how an individual chooses to describe themselves.

Blood quantum – A system developed by the United States federal government to determine how much “Indian blood” an Indigenous person has and if they are qualified for tribal enrollment. Blood quantum limits accessibility to citizenship and is designed to decrease enrollment numbers. Today, some tribes still use blood quantum as criteria for tribal enrollment. As part of their sovereign status, every federally recognized tribe determines its own criteria for membership and enrollment.

Freedmen – A term that refers to people who were formerly enslaved. This is also an important legal and political classification whose contemporary usage refers to the descendants of people enslaved by Indigenous people or descendants of former enslaved people who lived among Indigenous people. For tribes like the Cherokee Nation, this is an especially complicated issue. Most recently, the Cherokee Supreme Court struck a portion of its constitution that formerly restricted freedmen from enrolling and running for office.

One-drop rule – A social and legal principle that declared a person with even one Black ancestor is classified Black themselves. This concept led to many Afro-Indigenous peoples having their Indigenous identities and even their tribal citizenship denied. It is now another complicating factor when Afro-Indigenous people are required to prove lineage for tribal enrollment and other matters.

We hope this guide helps you as you expand your terminology for Native peoples. We also hope it’s a good starting point for further education and exploration about our rich people, nations, and cultures.


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Additional Resources on Black Indigenous Voices

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Black-Indigenous Youth Advancing Social Justice (Youtube Webinar from the National Museum of the American Indian)

Black Indigenous Voices: Storytelling as Healing with Tai Simpson

Young, Black Native activists say it's time to appreciate Indigenous diversity (NPR Article)

The Black-Indigenous/Afro-Indigenous Experience (Panel Discussion)

Identity & Equity: What It Means to Be Both Black and Indigenous (Article)

Afro-Native (Native Max Magazine)

Upcoming Zoom Event: Saturday February 5, 2022

Voices from Pejuhutazizi: Dakota Stories and Storytellers

Through five generations at Pejuhutazizi (the place where they dig the yellow medicine), Teresa Peterson's family members have listened to and told stories: stories of events, migrations, and relationships in Dakota history, and stories that carry Dakota culture through tales, legends, and myths. In the 1910s, Waŋbdiṡka (Fred Pearsall) made notes on stories he heard from Dakota elders, including his mother-in-law, at the Upper Sioux Community in Mni Sota Makoce—Minnesota.