Black Indians: An American Story

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Presented by Rich-Heape Films and narrated by James Earl Jones, “Black Indians: An American Story”, digs deep into both black and red roots to find a common link between the two peoples who struggled against great oppression, discrimination and disenfranchisement. Winner of the Cine Golden Eagle, Aurora Gold Award and the Omni Intermedia Award, the documentary goes above and beyond as an informative journey into the past where the struggle of racial identity, acceptance and the desire to uphold tradition is taken to the forefront.

This one hour extensive exploration of those African Americans with Native ancestry is revealed in personal interviews with representatives from several tribal nations: Cherokee, Choctaw, White Mt. Apache, Cree, Pequot, Narragansett, and Wampanoag for example.

History speaks to us in that during when America was still young and growing, during the thriving institution of slave trade, it was noted that there was an inherent danger, a danger likened to a sleeping giant. This danger was in the form of the unification of two great peoples- Native American and the African cultures. To keep both separated, often times indigenous people were utilized to capture runaway slaves or African Americans were used in the military against
native peoples.

The danger had to be eradicated in order to foster keeping those in power, in power. As a result, a divide and conquer ploy was utilized to rid any thought of racial mixing or uprisings. However, it did not always work. Delving into the rich cultural memories of those interviewed, what is shown is a forgotten past of America. Rising quickly to the surface are those who explain that often times rough paths were traveled because of being of mixed ancestry.

Produced by Rich-Heape Films, a Native run and operated production company, the critically acclaimed work is helmed by Executive Producer Steven Heape, a member of the Cherokee Nation. It is directed by Chip Richie who reveals early within the documentary, a little known fact
that many of our historical, and celebrated personas also were of mixed African and Native ancestry: Tina Turner, Frederick Douglas, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, and Jesse Jackson, and including James Earl Jones who voiced the narration, among others.

This is an enriching experience to behold and a film to be shared. Those who keep the fire alive with pride in both their heritages are now taking action and speaking out with their own personal stories from their family trees.

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Tobe R. Roberts

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