The Black-Indian Question

Askia Muhammad | 2/13/2013, 2:07 p.m.

With that in mind, I had to ask the big question: "What do Black folks like myself, who have supported the Indian cause since 1992 tell folks who throw up in my face the fact that in 2012 the Cherokee Nation disenfranchised thousands of Black Indians, declaring they are officially not members of the tribe they believed they belonged to for decades?" I posed that question to panel

moderator Dr. Manley A. Begay Jr., who is co-director of the Project on American Indian Economic Development at Harvard University, and a trustee of the Museum of the American Indian.

Dr. Begay stammered for a few seconds, and then asked if there were any Cherokees in the room, declaring that the various Indian "nations" are just that, independent, self-governing "nations" which are recognized as such by the U.S. Constitution. So much for an answer to my Great Black-Indian question.

However, there's some good news. Since 1968 when Native groups began urging high schools and colleges to voluntarily drop names tied to Native Americans, hundreds of schools have discontinued their use of Indian names and mascots. Current National Collegiate Athletic Association policy bars schools with "hostile and abusive" American Indian-related names from participating in championship or playoff games.

Stanford University, St. Bonaventure University, The College of William & Mary and Dartmouth College have all dropped their Indian monikers. Go Washington