October 27, 2009

Preview of IndiVisible

Story of Americans with Native and black ancestry stirs deep emotions

By Kara BriggsAn exhibition opening this fall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian explores the identity of people whose ancestry is both African American and Native American.

“IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas” is an exhibition of 20 banners bearing photographs and text. It will be shown at the museum in Washington from Nov. 10 through May 31, 2010. A symposium on the topic of the exhibition will be held at 3 p.m. Nov.13 at the museum.

Guest curator Thunder Williams, a Washington, D.C., radio talk show host, is Carib Indian, African and European. “The exhibition touches a deep interest in African American communities because of their links with Native America,” he said. Published accounts estimate that 60 percent of African Americans may share Native American ancestry, he said.

“People in the U.S. tend to be black or white, linear thinkers,” Williams said. “We have been indoctrinated by a race-centered system where vestiges of the ‘one-drop’ of black blood rule persist. When I acknowledge my Carib Indian and European ancestors, it is not a disclaimer of my African heritage. I am all of them, my blood is indivisible.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Black-Indian History on Display.

Below:  "Relatives and friends celebrate the 21st century wedding of Jessie Little Doe, a member of a family from the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation of Cape Cod, Mass. At Mashpee, age-old family ties determine tribal identity, which transcends skin color." (Photo courtesy Jessie Little Doe)

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