The centuries-long interaction between African Americans and Native Americans is one of the least researched and least understood chapters in American race relations. Native American-African American relations in the West, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have been the subject of serious scholarly inquiry. The colonial period, however, remains woefully understudied as compared to ethnic divisions within the white population, African-European relations, and interactions between Native Americans and European Americans.
Africans were among the earliest explorers of North America. Esteban, a slave in the service in the service of the Spanish, accompanied Cabeza de Vaca on his overland journey from Florida to Mexico. In fact, Africans accompanied nearly all of the Spanish expeditions through the American Southeast. They served as slaves alongside Tainos on Hispaniola as early as 1510. Native Americans and Africans also worked side by side in the mining operations of