Few people realize that Native Americans were enslaved right alongside the African Americans in this country. Fewer still realize that many Native Americans owned African Americans and Native Americans from other tribes. Recently, historians have determined that of the 2,193 interviews with former slaves that were collected by the Federal Writers’ Project, 12 percent contain some reference to the interviewees’ being related to or descended from Native Americans. In addition, many of the interviewees make references to their Native American owners. In Black Indian Slave Narratives, Patrick Minges offers the most absorbing of these firsthand testimonies about African American and Native American relationships in the 19th century.
The selections include an interview with Felix Lindsey, who was born in Kentucky of Mvskoke/African heritage and who served as one of the buffalo soldiers who rounded up Geronimo. Chaney Mack, whose father was a “full-blood African” from Liberia and whose mother was a “pure-blood Indian,” gives an in-depth look at both sides of her cultural heritage. There are stories of Native Americans taken by “nigger stealers,” who found themselves placed on slave-auction blocks alongside their African counterparts.