Betraying the Cause
Rachel over at Rachel's Tavern writes an excellent piece on the romanticized feelings many African-Americans feel towards Indians and their acute sense of betrayal due to the actions of the tiny virulent anti-Freedmen faction within the Cherokee Nation. The lack of solidarity between Indians and other non-whites is not a new topic. Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote in Custer Died For Your Sins that there was a basic disconnect between Indians and blacks during the Civil Rights Era because they were seeking fundamentally different things: African-Americans, he said, wanted to be treated like whites; Indians, on the other hand, wanted to be treated like Indians. He even wrote approvingly of Black Separatism, which is the one thing he could relate to the struggle for Indian rights. I'm not sure I agree with him completely, but that's hardly surprising; part of the reason there has never been a true, broad-based "Native American Movement" is that Native Americans themselves remain divided by tribe, social class, blood quanta, assimilation and yes, even race (and now rich tribes versus desperately poor tribes). The inability to put aside these differences and unite for the common defense has been a (maybe even the) major cause of Indian losses since the time of Tecumseh and beyond. And if we cannot even agree among ourselves, how can we possibly recognize what we have in common with other non-whites? And any potential solidarity between Indians and blacks will only be made more unlikely if the betrayal of the Freedmen is allowed to stand.