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Black Indians


Black Indians is a film directed by Chip Richie, exploring the histories of Native Americans and African-Americans.

The stories of Native Americans and African-Americans are parallel tracks of tragedy. 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.

It was a black and white world in the early days of the Republic and little or no thought was given to people of mixed race, especially if they looked "black."

"We were told if you could pass for white, that's who you'd be; if not, it was usually better to be identified as black than Indian," recalls Executive Producer Steven Heape. 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.

"It was this kind of thinking that later led to 'pencil genocide' – changing one's race on a birth certificate to fit the skin color of the child."

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