Black Indians appeared as the result of Native America conquest and African enslavement. Despite no distinct, collective history, and problems with accepting racial and cultural diversity, these people managed to survive to the present times.
When Europeans first came to the continent of America in the beginning of the 17th century, they found it populated with great nations such as Apache, Dineh, Lacota, Apalachee, etc. However, to prevent blacks and Indians from uniting against colonizers, whites often set two groups against each other. That was achieved by emphasizing ethnical and racial differences. The hatred was fostered and encouraged, which allowed whites to exploit both African-Americans and Natives.
When Europeans first came to America, they brought servants with them. However, with time, slaves were replaced with labor force of Native Americans or Africans. Thus, some relationship between the two ethnic groups developed, and Black Indians emerged. They were either people with both African and Native American ancestors or African people who lived mainly in the Native American community.
This concept was later exploited by colonists to create a type of caste system built of the racial purity, which emphasized African origin of Black Indians denying their Native identity. With time, Black Indians were firmly classified as African-Americans.
However, in the American territories free from colonization, African-Americans and Natives co-existed peacefully and were a force to explore new territories and trades. On these territories, the communities of run-away slaves appeared known as Black Seminoles. When the slavery was abolished in Mexico, Black Seminoles were also officially recognized as a tribe. Some of them later returned to Texas when the slavery was abolished in the United States. Intermarriages between different tribes continued, thus the population of Black Indians grew steadily.
Black Indians and Black Seminoles in particular were very active in participating in the Civil War and, later, in establishing various businesses and trades. They were skilled and often were employed as interpreters between whites and blacks.
Over the history, the Black Indians were the nation denied of their dual identity. However, they played a significant role in the state development. In recent years, the interest to the issue grew. It is proven by various researches carried out as well as creation of “Black Native American Association” in Oakland, California.