Scholars of black and Indian relations typically characterize the nineteenth century as a period of severe interracial tension. The legacy of slavery and the increasing racial stratification of American society helped to create this friction. However, in Michigan during this time there was an Ojibwe named John Hall who joined and became a missionary in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a historically significant black denomination. Hall felt camaraderie with blacks because, like Indians, they had endured oppression at the hands of whites. Also, he felt bonded to them because of the similarities he saw in black and Indian worship practices. To express his feelings of closeness with black people, Hall frequently referred to them using kinship terms like “brother” and “cousin.” As an AME missionary, Hall visited native communities throughout Michigan and encouraged them to join this black denomination. His efforts demonstrated that during this racially contentious time, there were Indians who saw the value in connecting with their black “cousins” and who initiated that contact.

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