Black Indians are people of mixed African-American and Native American heritage, who have strong ties to Native American culture. Many Indigenous peoples of the Eastern Woodlands, such as the Narragansett, Pequot, Lumbee and Cherokee, have a significant degree of African ancestry.
Historically, certain Native American tribes have had close relations with African Americans, especially in regions where slavery was prevalent, or where free people of color have historically resided. Members of the Five Civilized Tribes also participated in enslaving Africans, and some Africans migrated with them to the West on the Trail of Tears in 1830 and later. In peace treaties with the US after the American Civil War, the slaveholding tribes, which had sided with the Confederacy, were required to emancipate slaves and give them full citizenship rights in their nations. The Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole have created controversy in recent decades as they tightened rules for membership in their nations and excluded Freedmen who did not have at least one Native American ancestor on the early 20th-century Dawes Rolls. The Chickasaw Nation never extended citizenship to Chickasaw Freedmen.
Until recently, historic relations between Native Americans and African Americans were relatively neglected in mainstream United States history studies. At various times, Africans had varying degrees of contact with Native Americans, although they did not live together in as great number as with Europeans. African slaves brought to the United States and their descendants have had a history of cultural exchange and intermarriage with Native Americans, as well as with other enslaved people who possessed Native American and European ancestry. Most interaction took place in the Southern United States, where the largest number of people were enslaved. A significant number of African Americans thus have some Native American ancestry, although not all have current social, cultural or linguistic ties to Native peoples.