It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
What We Can Learn From Forgotten History
This unexpected alliance between slaves and natives is a great model for social change
What We Can Learn From Forgotten History
By Jacob Devaney / upliftconnect.com
Oct 3, 2015

During the early days of slavery in the American Southeast, native Seminole, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek Indians were known to raid plantations and free captive slaves. Despite their cultural differences, they recognized their common struggle against oppression at the hands of colonial rule. In an attempt to keep these original African and American people divided, colonial authorities granted slaves to some native tribes.

The tribes recognized the slaves as equals, married them into their families and culture while continuing to raid plantations and free other slaves.

This has a lot to teach us today as all of us from diverse backgrounds around the globe face common threats. It is also a testament to not “buying into” or believing narratives that allow for oppression of others.

New Orleans Black Indian
In New Orleans, Black Indians still celebrate the alliance between slaves and indians during carnival season
 

If you believe people have no history worth mentioning, it’s easy to believe they have no humanity worth defending.
 William Loren Katz​

Colonialists assumed that the narrative about wealth, owning slaves, and power was universal. They wrongly assumed that natives would also live by this belief when they granted them slaves. Changing power structures is most effective when the stories that support them lose credibility. As we have seen throughout history, and what is now backed by science is the power of our beliefs to shape our reality. To learn more about the Biology of Belief, you may want to explore the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton. What are contemporary stories that keep us divided?

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.
– John F. Kennedy

Successful political and social movements succeed by building coalitions and alliances between diverse groups that share a common interest. Movements are easily diffused when division and mistrust is seeded. Today humans everywhere face common threats of exploitation, contaminated water, air, and more. What are some other common threats that people everywhere can agree on?

 

Carnival Suit
Black Indian in beautifully hand-beaded carnival suit
 

Antiquated colonial belief systems have been incorporated into modern corporate structures and woven into policies and laws that continue to haunt us. The core belief that justifies the exploiting of another people is the same as the notion of exploiting natural resources, exploiting children, or exploiting women. The beliefs of scarcity, fear, superiority, competition, and entitlement are central justifications. Like the early colonialists, many of us assume that these stories and beliefs are universally true but they are not. Are we willing to examine our own assumptions and rewrite these stories together?

We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.
 Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

We have seen environmental groups compete against each other for grants while their shared cause suffers. We have seen social movements scream louder, insisting that their cause is the most important and nobody’s voice is heard. Meanwhile we continue to see the global elite, and corporations write oppressive trade laws like Trans Pacific PartnershipFIPA, and TTIP – that weaken democracy, threaten the environment, and open the gates to exploit workers. These antiquated policies keep us all pitted against each other while instilling division, oppression, and exploitation into the fabric of our economic system, and justice system.


The same cooperation shown between slaves and Native Americans that eroded oppression in their time can be used today to make a more equal, safe, sustainable future for all of us. We can listen to the voices of others who are feeling oppressed and find our common cause. We can embrace environmental causes that recognize the importance of a healthy ecosystem as integral to a healthy society. We can stop listening to the narratives that keep us separated, turn-off our television, and start sharing stories that bring us together for a common cause. Our connectedness has grown exponentially through social networks, it is time for our connectedness to included the realm of the heart and compassion into an integrated community of people who genuinely care.


Divided, our global issues are overwhelming. United,our collective strength is unstoppable!

WORDS BY JACOB DEVANEY
PHOTO CREDITS: CHRISTOPHER PORCHE WEST

3.5 ·
1
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
What We Can Learn From Forgotten History