QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
The following interview was given on October 14th 2000 by Michael Berkley for Northern Column African American Resource, in association with Looksmart Network and hosted by Beseen.com.
MB: Good Morning Mr. Strongrivers. I know we have only thirty minutes so I won't take up too much of your time. We wanted to thank you for the live webcast interview courtesy of Beseen.com.
RS: Thank You for having me.
MB: Well, the first question I have and I think the question that others have inquired about as well is, why do you use the term "Lost Feather?" Isn't that a negative term to denote our people being lost?
RS: Are we not a lost people? Are we not unfounded in various aspects of life here in the United States? In the 1960's, our people coined a popular phrase, "Keep your eyes on the prize." Yet, have we not lost sight of our potential? Economically, culturally, religiously, and academically, are we not at a state of uncertainty? Listen, The U.S. black buying power in 1999 was estimated at a 532 billion dollars (21 billion in apparel) and yet, we are still economically insufficient when it comes to investments and security. We as a people have not secured our future economically. We have neglected to turn our economic power into political and bargaining power. Culturally we have sacrificed ourselves for "Equal Status" rather than indigenous status. We have become comfortable, we have become socially retarded, we have become lazy. Among men, blacks (28.5%) are about six times more likely than whites (4.4%) to be admitted to prison during their life. Among women, 3.6% of blacks and 0.5% of whites will enter prison at least once. Based on current rates of incarceration, an estimated 7.9% of black males compared to 0.7% of white males will enter State of Federal prison by the time they are age 20 and 21.4% of black males versus 1.4% of white males will be incarcerated by age 30. Regardless of the so-called "Racial Disparity" between blacks and whites, that does not negate the fact that our people are committing homicide as well as cultural suicide. Religiously, we have accepted our oppressor's God figures and manufactured deities. Christianity has become a crutch to our enlightenment and inner spirituality. We have in turn embraced various foreign schools of thought and erased our connection to nature. We are Christian, we can convert to Islam and Buddhism at a drop of a dime but we can not break away from the "Fit-In" mentality. We have remained dependent and insufficient. We are indeed a lost people.
MB: After visiting Lost Feather, I got the impression that many blacks in this country are not of African ancestry. Is this the impression you want to give out and could you explain that.
RS: Well, it is a very popular myth that all Negroes are descendant from Africa, yet this myth is engraved into history just as deeply as the myth that all Caucasians are from Europe. When we speak of Asians, we speak of various countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Bali, Korea, Tibet and we see hundreds of countries, settlements, and cross Atlantic as well as cross Pacific migration patterns. The same holds true with blacks yet, it is maliciously stated that all blacks are from Africa and that all blacks are of African ancestry. This is simply not true! If we believe this fallacy then we ourselves are slighted. We ourselves give up any territorial claims to other regions. Regardless of the fact that inhabitants of Easter Island worshiped Negroes, regardless of the Negro depicted stone heads found in ancient Mexico. Regardless of the fact that the first dynasty of China (Shang) was influenced by the Shi Negroes. We tend to disregard these facts for an Alex Haley version of our history.
MB: Well, that is part of our history that is definitely kept under wraps, but what I want to ask you about that is, and clearly I understand that Black Indians did not only come about through interbreeding with the American Red Indian, but how do YOU get others to realize this and what methods of persuasion do you have to use?
RS: (Laughs) Blacks are indigenous of almost every continent on the planet earth! Yes, we have indigenous links to Scotland from the "Dans", we have indigenous links to Asia through the Shi. We have indigenous links to India through the black Hindus. Our ancestry is not continental, but intercontinental. If you study the migration pattern of ancient Africans, you will see various African settlements in Europe, Asia, south of the Equator, the Americas. We have occupied every nook and cranny of this planet. It is illogical in terms to think of Black Indians being solely a result of interbreeding with Red Indians. I contribute this malicious lie to European intervention. We continue to allow others to define our identity and give us our ancestry. Black Olmecs of Mexico are indigenous to this land. The Moors are indigenous to this land before the conquest of Columbus. It is extremely difficult to relay this information to our people. We constantly need validation from a white source before it becomes believable. We continue to look towards the white intellectual circle and ask, "Is it true?" And if the white source even so much cast a skeptical eye then it is often disregarded. We have to get out of that mentality! It is imperative that we define ourselves and recount our own legacy and stop seeking approval and validation from outsiders. Their goal is to lessen our status and ground us, make us regional when we are global. Make us half when we are whole and make us minor when we are major. It is not an astonishing revelation that Black Indians are indigenous and not interbred. We have been conditioned to accept the myth that all blacks are descendants from Africa. It is an unfortunate mental conditioning.
MB: We definitely have to get out of that mind frame. The next question is, do you participate in Indian Powwows?
RS: I attend annual Native American Powwows to speak to African Americans. I no longer participate in Powwow competitions. They have become extremely commercialized and very spectatorship attracting viewers who swarm the grounds taking snap shots at Native Americans in their "costumes" as they were rare animals at the National Zoo. Black Indians participation in the red man's powwows are not respected nor encouraged but are often times looked upon in confusion. I once had a fellow Native ask me the question, "Are you full blood?" (laughs) Full blood what? It is unnecessary for my people to be put through such questioning when whites who "claim" to be Native American can go almost unnoticed at these functions. Therefore, we must organize our own festivities and stop trying to "fit-in" into everyone else's society and culture. When will blacks wake up and realize that fighting to "belong" is useless? WE are the indigenous, we have to start building our own societies and culture!
MB: Does that mean that you resent Red Indians?
RS: Of course not. Many of them are as innocently ignorant of history as many of my black people, and I don't mean that in a negative way. They are also conditioned to believe that THEY are true Native Americans when in reality they are the offspring of indigenous Native Americans. However, it is not my mission to hurt them in anyway by insinuating that they are a fraud. They are not a fraud. They are Native Americans who's culture was given to them by the concepts and the religion already established in America by Negroid inhabitants. They are our successors and many red tribes know this. Such tribes as the Hopi, Navajo, Mandan, Shoshoni, Blackfoot, Seminole, Creek, know that they are descendants of blacks. Other tribes refuse to accept history and do not even recognize African Americans all together. I once attended a Powwow many years ago where the master of ceremonies welcomed spectators to the Powwow grounds. He said and I quote, "I would like welcome my white brothers to today's festivities. I would like to welcome my Asian brothers and I would like to welcome the many African Americans in attendance." Now, the whites were his brothers, the Asians were his brothers, yet.... the blacks were simply "In Attendance." The job is not to convince the red man he is not the true Native American, it is to convince blacks that THEY are. However, we do not support Red Indian organizations or charities. We are a BLACK Indian organization and our people is our priority. Other Black Indian organizations support Red Indian missions by donating money to their charities. This is counterproductive to the cause and contradictory to the organization profile. We do not sell Red Indian paraphernalia or Red Indian music. How would we be a "Black" Indian organization with such practices?
MB: Well do you support other Black Indian organizations?
RS: We support any Black Indian organization that supports us in return, regardless of historical differences or marketing tactics. We can benefit from support and others can benefit from our support. Support is a foreign concept to many of us. African Americans in particular has an almost infamous track record for the non-support of other African Americans. This holds true in the political arena as well as economics and so-called minority owned businesses. We are constantly at odds with each other and we have manufactured a false sense of mistrust. We often find ourselves supporting others who do not have our best interest at hand while neglecting our own. Our social behavior amongst ourselves have declined a great deal. I find this also the case as it relates to the Internet medium. Lost Feather accepts and encourage support. However, unfortunately, other so-called Black Indian and Intertribal organizations refuse to practice sincerity and thus they chose to exist as a separate entity not representing as many Black Indians as they have led people to believe. I believe that jealousy and envy no longer has room to exist in our behavioral tactics. It is not important which Black Indian organization has a right to make claims or which organization is the oldest. Our mission is to educate, not entertain, not e-commerce, not hitting you up for a few bucks for membership. If there are groups who wish to support Lost Feather, then we welcome them to the Lost Feather family. If not, then I wish them luck, but their non-support will in no way hamper the goal of Lost Feather. We will continue to run the largest and most educational Black Indian website on the Internet, and that is one claim we can make that can not be challenged!
MB: I take it you are speaking of someone specifically. Want to call out any names?
RS: (Laughs) I'd rather not!
MB: You are very blunt when it comes to talking about African Americans. Is that something that concerns you knowing that you might not be appreciated by your own people for it?
RS: That's our problem! We don't want to be told anything! Not by our own people anyway. Who wants to be lied to? Who wants to keep holding hands and singing, "We Shall Overcome?" Who wants to keep believing that we are moving on up to that penthouse apartment in the sky? So you interview me and I talk about how great we are and how far our people have come and how all the good little black Christians are all going to Heaven. I could easily do that, but it would be a Disney product. It doesn't matter if someone who comes across Lost Feather likes me personally or not, it is the information on the site that they must deal with spiritually, not whether I'm likable. You can not educate a people without erasing the old teachings. The problem I have is not the educating, it's the false teachings people have been conditioned into believing. Think of it this way: You write a word on a clean sheet of paper with a pencil. You realize you have made a mistake. You use the eraser and erase the mistake. Is the mistake gone? No! Look carefully, you can see a shadow of the mistake you made. That's the problem I have. There are still small traces of false teachings engraved in the minds of African Americans. We believe but then we don't practice.
MB: That brings me to this question; With the wealth of information provided on your site, how do you KNOW that it's true?
RS: Now that's a strange question! (Laughs) I have actually been told that I have made up the entire site out of my own imagination. When you measure the amount and depth of information on the site, I consider that a great compliment to my mental capacity to have the ability to "dream up" such in-depth data. Even more amazing than that is my ability to persuade other historical sources and years of research from such distinguished historians and educators such as Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Malachi Z. York, Dr. Robert Payne, Clyde Winters, all to back up my imaginary claims. History is without speculation and some skepticism. Even Lost Feather's information must be validated. This is with any history. We do not KNOW history's truth. We can only recount history to the best of our knowledge and hope that we have not strayed too far from the truth. I have spent a lifetime researching and living Black Native American culture and history. In the end, it is up to the reader to accept history as fact or fiction. The best any historian can do is simply provide the route and path. It is up to you to walk it. Let your heart make the distinction.
MB: Ubaba Ungulu which was a Black Indian religion site was very esoteric and really "Out There." What in the world encouraged you to create that site?
RS: Of course you know that Ubaba Ungulu was very much different than the other Lost Feather sites. In fact, I wanted to actually keep this site separate from Lost Feather because of it's content. The site was never identified as part of the Lost Feather family, even though it was sponsored by N.O.A.H.A.R.C. Let's just say that It is no secret that several Indian languages have deep African influence. Such tribal family groups as Tucano, Arawak, Misumalpan, Mayan, Jicaque, Tlapanec, Otomanguean, Hopi, Numic, Washo, Catawba, Ojibwa, Aniyunwiya, all have African-Arabic traits in the grammatical distinction, phonology, consonants which are also found in Hebrew and Arabic which proves that America was inhabited by Arabic speaking Africans pre-Columbus era. There are nearly 160 different indigenous language families, nearly 450 separate languages, 120 extinct languages, and 1500 languages mentioned in documents. Yet, historians claim that America was populated by only 1 group of people, (laughs) Asians who crossed the Bering Strait. So when I studied indigenous languages, I discovered that early tribes of the Southeast of the United States were using the term, "Ubaba Ungulu" to mean "Heavenly Father." Ubaba Ungulu is from the Kwazulu language of South Africa. How did a South African word find it's way into Native American linguistics? Historians claim, interbreeding. But let's look at this for a minute. Black slaves that were bought and sold were taken from the West Coast of Africa, not South Africa. The Africans taken and shipped to America clearly spoke Arabic, not Kwazulu. So, I knew that South Africans also migrated to America before Columbus and I decided to build this website with the thesis being Black Indian religion.
MB: But doesn't Ubaba Ungulu touch on spirits and earth entities and even extraterrestrials?
RS: Sure is does! These things were a major part of our belief system. Egyptians, West Africans, South Africans, Native Americans have a unique perspective of nature, earth, and spirits. Native Americans use the words, "Thunderbirds, Thunder gods, Spirits, Kachina", Egyptians used the words "Deities, Gods", Africans used the words, "Ruhks, Elohim", it was not us who coined the term "Extraterrestrial." The white man did that because of his misunderstanding of spirits and astrological beings. Also his conceited notion that humans are the only intelligent life out of God's entire creation of the universe. We always understood the Heavenly Host. It was in our oral teachings, in our writings, engraved on our walls as hieroglyphs, drawn on our stones by ancient tribes. Thus today, we have a very fictional image of "Aliens" in space ships conquering the planet. This imagery is a mockery of our religion and a mockery of God. Almost every Native American and African tribe has a story of "Visitors." It also exist in Chinese literature and as well as the writings of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. So these beliefs are nothing new to us. The problem is that Christianity contradicts our ancient beliefs and has many of our people believing in metaphorical mythology and yet questioning the concept of ancient descending beings. It is a very contradictory mentality. You believe in God who you claim is not from this earth which makes him an extraterrestrial (extra - TERRA meaning "earth" and astral being) and yet you don't believe in extraterrestrials.
MB: Well I read the site last night after our brief conversation and I have to admit that I was lost. Not that it's not believable, but that it was just so much information that I can see how readers would brush it off and lable you as nuts. Have you ever had a problem giving out too much information to the point where it just exhausted people and damaged your iamge?
RS: When I was in college, I was often told that I have a habit of casting my pearls before the swine, if you're familiar with that biblical saying. I often forget that many of these people aren't ready to take in the little information I provide, let alone the depth of it. I think Ubaba Ungulu is a perfect example of how the site actually turned people away because of the amount of information and the nature of the information. Many people are not ready to give up their belief system. When you change your belief system you must change your life style and people have become so dependent on their way of thinking that many of them will fight you tooth and nail to hold on to the little false dignity they think they have left. My sites are not for everyone, I realize that. Some people are better off not knowing. It's like fire; Fire in the hands of the right person can help warm a family in the winter cold. Fire in the hands of a wrong person can set a house on fire and kill a family. Sometimes we make mis-judgments and we assume too much of people. If you are confused or apprehensive over anything presented by myself or Lost Feather, cross referencing is a good idea. Never base anything solely on just my word. Research for yourself. There are plenty of other sources for cross referencing. Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Clyde Winters, Malachi Z. York, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, and many others. It's a matter of doing your homework.
MB: We are now going to open up the forum for questions from our audience. Just type in your questions and we will try to answer them one by one. First question....
Question: Aho Mr. Strongrivers. My grandmother is Seminole and I wanted to know how to go about proving this for tribal affiliation?
RS: Well, there are several avenues you can take. If she is still alive ask for certificates that indicates race. Birth, marriage, taxes, etc. I'm thinking that if she is a Black Seminole by ancestry she is listed as Black on legal papers and not Native American. The Federal government during those days saw a black as a black, regardless of what ancestry we claim. You can also check documents at your local court house archives for any form of tribal affiliation with your grandmother or her ancestors. The issue with blacks is not whether we are Indigenous, many of us seem to be accepting that now. We now have a new problem, proving our indigenous status for federal benefits, land, and affiliation. However, if you want to prove affiliation for the purpose of affiliating yourself with a red Indian tribe, don't waste your time. Focus on Black Indian Sovereignty.
Question: Mr. Strongrivers, do you prefer the term "Indian" over "Native American" because I notice that you do use the term "Indian" a lot on the site.
RS: Actually I use all the terms, Native American, American Indian, Indian, Black Indian, Black Native American, Indigenous, Indigenous Black American. I try to cover all angles just for the sake of argument. For many, if you do not use certain terminology, these people will have no clue what you are talking about. I do not particularly prefer one term over the other for technically we are Indigenous American Moors. Once we get our people in the mental state of self identification, then we can worry about the political correctness of terminology.
Question: I think you have already answered this question but how do you feel about blacks participating in Red Man's Powwows?
RS: I feel that we should organize our own Powwows and stop trying to assimilate in red culture. As I said before, many of us are not fully accepted at these festivities. I myself experienced this subtle form of racism. We are questioned and hassled and poked at and we are asked, "Are you a real Indian?" It is appalling and embarrassing. So logic should dictate that we should not volunteer to suffer indignity. We involve ourselves in known situations that will belittle us, we are literally volunteering ourselves to suffer. If you want to participate in Indian powwows for the spiritual enlightenment, I am telling you that their version of powwow differs a great deal from that of the Black Indian ceremonies. Don't substitute and don't settle for anything else!
Question: I wanted to ask Brother Strongrivers if plans on writing any books in the future?
RS: I am constantly writing! I am focusing on a Black Indian Sovereignty project and a health and fitness guide for African Americans. I am also working on a new book I think many people would be very interested in. It's called 101 Questions to ask a White racist!
MB: Mr. Strongrivers we are going to go ahead and wrap up the interview and I would like to thank you for taking time out this morning to speak with us at Northern Column, we know that you must be terribly busy, and we wish you all the luck in the future with Lost Feather.com and future projects. You have a great presence on the Internet and we wish you the best. For everyone participating in today's webcast, Robert Strongrivers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com, and don't forget to visit the Lost Feather Black Indian website by clicking on GoTo.com and type in keyword, "Lost Feather" or by visiting Black History.com. Mr. Strongrivers, thanks again.
RS: Thank you for this opportunity and I wish you guys luck there at Northern Column. Peace!