Seminar aims to take look at alternative historical view

By Aleecia Scott

Student Eneke Tataw takes notes during Lisa Uhlir’s program on the history and origins of the Afro-Indian descendants on SE.

Government professor Lisa Uhlir spoke to SE students about the history and origins of the Afro-Indian descendants in honor of Black History Month.

“This lecture itself started from a chance happenstance,” she said. “I was watching a documentary on the Trail of Tears, and one segment of the documentary was on Black Indians. I was intrigued. I knew absolutely nothing about an entire area of U.S. history and my own people’s story.”

After doing additional research, Uhlir discovered Rhett Jones’ book, Not Even a Blue Box: Afro-Indian Relations in Black History Textbooks.

“He talks about this lack of academia quite openly,” she said. “As a professor of black history at Brown University, his students told him they think of themselves as a race in the blue box.“ 

The blue box concept refers to the way history focuses on the Anglo-American perspective.

“What they meant by this was that in Anglo-American-centered history books, the main storyline is always about Anglo history, and their role was often regulated to the blue box in the margins,” she said.

Uhlir said the research was not easy to come by.

“So I tried to find enough info, to fill more than a blue box, in the narrative of Afro-Indian relations and interactions,” she said. “The topics I found were very limited.”

Students who attended the presentation recognized the relevance of Afro-Indian history to African-American culture.

“I found the speech not only accurate but also very relatable and real life,” SE student Michael Amaka said. “I left feeling informed but also a lot more cultured.”