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Monday, November 16, 2009

Are You an African-Native American Who Has Been Invisible in the History of America?


I had a great Friday the 13th attending The Indivisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas Symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian located in Washington D.C.  It was my first time connecting with people who have a similar heritage as mine. We are African-Native Americans who have been largely invisible in the history of this country. 
       
The symposium (view the webcast at http://www.nmai.si.edu/webcasts/) gave us the opportunity to share our stories and helped with the healing process of non-acceptance in American society. We told the stories of our grand and sometimes great-grandparents' struggle to be who they were--a blend of African, Native American and in many cases Euro descent. But also we shared our own identity struggles.

As children we were often ridiculed when we told others we had a grandparent or great-grandparent of Native American heritage. The response would often go like this: you don’t want to be black; you don’t have high cheek bones or a straight nose, or Indian hair. What tribe are you? Then comes the question…how much Indian blood do you have?


There is a rich history of the African-Native American relationship that has been twisted or untold. Africans have been co-mingling with the Native Indians of this country before it was known as America.

I believe the exhibit and symposium are steps in rewriting that history. I left with this powerful revelation about my African-Native American identity: I don’t have to prove who I am and I don’t need anyone else to tell me who I am. I know who I am.

The exhibit will be at the museum through May 2010, and then it will travel around the county and maybe abroad. If you would like to have the exhibit in your area please contact the museum at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu or call 1-800-242-6624.

P.S. I’m in the process of writing my story and plan to share it at a later date. The most wonderful thing about this journey for me has been to discover how my indigenous roots have been the driving force for my spirituality.
We are here. Won’t you have a conversation with us?

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