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Chapter Seven. Africans and Native Americans

Tiya Miles and Barbara Krauthamer

Subject Race and Ethnicity Studies » African American Studies

Key-Topics Native American

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230663.2004.00009.x


The earliest meetings between peoples of indigenous African and indigenous American descent have not been sufficiently documented. However, scholars of African Diaspora Studies and Native American Studies such as Ivan Van Sertima and Jack Forbes have argued that the first meetings between Africans and American Indians likely occurred before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas ( Van Sertima 1976 ; Forbes 1993 : 6–25). They base this supposition on analyses of African and Native American ship-making techniques, ocean currents, written and oral accounts of oceanic travel, crops transplanted between Africa and America, and cultural artifacts such as textiles that appear to be bi-culturally influenced. These examples, which have been contested by other scholars, suggest – but cannot conclusively prove – transatlantic travel and cross-cultural encounters prior to European exploration of the African and American continents ( Thornton 1992 : 16). Whether or not blacks and Indians met each other independently on the shores of Africa and the Americas before Columbus's voyage, by the late eighteenth century these two populations were joined together metaphorically and ideologically in the minds of Europeans. During the latter part of the eighteenth century, Euro-Americans shifted from thinking about race as the product of climate, culture, and geography and as something that could mutate ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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