Wilkins: Red, black, and bruised.

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Wilkins, David. “Wilkins: Red, black, and bruised.” Indian country today October 21, 2003.


Wilkins describes historical and current relations between Native Americans and African Americans as a “specter” that is “haunting Indian country.” After discussing this issue in terms of the Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee, all of whom allowed enslavement of African Americans until the Civil War, he explains how this issue has hindered efforts of the Lumbee to obtain true federal recognition. Some opponents of Lumbee recognition argue that because Lumbee ancestors intermarried with African Americans in the past, present-day Lumbees are somehow less authentic as Indians. Wilkins reminds readers that tribes, as sovereign nations, have the right to determine, without outside interference, who belongs to their tribe. He concludes the article this way: “As one writer put it, ‘If we don’t form history, history will surely form us.’ Let us, then, as First Nations, form a realistic understanding and appreciation of our respective and diverse tribal histories that draws from rather than shirks or denies any aspect or component of our cultural, genetic, political, or legal past or present. Let us choose not to act from bigotry and racism. There is enough of that still being leveled on us psychologically, emotionally, and structurally by the larger state and society.”

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