Black Indians

Inspiring Shonda Buchanan
Choctaw, Coharie, Cherokee & African heritage
Author of “Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?”

“Trust the first drum, your heart, for all your answers. The ancestors will follow…” –Shonda Buchanan

Shonda Buchanan is an award-winning poet and fiction writer of African & American Indian heritage. She was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan where she spent much of her adolescence curled up in libraries, bathtubs, and on her front porch, reading.

“Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?” 
This book is a difficult yet beautiful collection of poetry that peeks into one American family’s cultural window. Wanting to forget the past, this chapbook of poetry explores the journey Shonda’s ancestors took from North Carolina to Tennessee, to Indiana and finally Michigan, and the flight and fight to escape racial persecution and racial classification. 

Yet it is also a book about the recovery of an identity–the intersection of Blacks and Indians in this country. Shonda and her family, like so many other “bi-racial” American Indians, suffered from not knowing their full roots, and the ills of assimilation, all the while and enduring society’s ever-evolving definition of them. This book will hopefully help other Black American Indians, as well as bi-racial and tri-racial peoples, research, reclaim and celebrate their multifaceted heritage.


>>>>>———– Idle No More ———<<<<<<

Over the years, Shonda has received many accolades and fellowships. She is a Sundance Institute fellow and a PEN Center Emerging Voice fellow. She freelances for The Writer’s Chronicle and The International Review of African American Art. She is published in various anthologies, including Step into a World: A Global Anthology of New Black Literature, Arise! Magazine, Def Jam Poetry’s Bum Rush the Page, Geography of Rage:Remembering the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and Rivendell. She received the Eloise Klein-Healy Scholarship, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and several Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grants.

Coming to Hampton University was always a dream of hers. As an assistant professor in the Department of English at Hampton University, she teaches fiction, poetry, narrative nonfiction, writing for magazines, composition and senior seminar. 

While researching her memoir, Black Indian, Shonda discovered that her ancestors on her mother’s side had originated in and had migrated from North Carolina to Michigan. The often said “you know we got some Indian in us” from her childhood became real when she discovered she was 11th Generation Cherokee. 

This knowledge was clarified for her, though she already claimed the Choctaw Nation on her father’s side, that her work as a writer and researcher about Black and Native American culture confirmed what her ghosts had been whispering all along. Tell our stories.

Shonda conducts presentations and panel discussions on the shared heritage of African Americans and Indigenous Americans. 

Ms. Buchanan sings on Eastern Sky American Indian Drum, an intertribal Virginia-based drum. Her collection of poetry, Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?, has been published in September 2012. 

She is working on her second book of poetry, In Goddess Country, and a novel. Shonda received her B.A. and M.A. from Loyola Marymount University in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis, and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from Antioch University.

Ms. Buchanan reads poetry locally and nationally, as well as conducts book discussions for libraries, schools and community organizations. She is former managing editor of Turning Point Magazine. Shonda Buchanan lives with her husband Harold Caldwell in Hampton, Virginia. 


>>—-> Available for workshops and readings at all locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Follow her 2013 blog while in Bath, England studying the American Indian presence in England.

Visit Shonda Buchanan’s website:

>>>>>———– Idle No More ———<<<<<<



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