April 29, 2010

IndiVisible is "long overdue"

Exhibition on African-Native Americans long overdue

By Edith BillupsBooks like “Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples” by Jack D. Forbes, pointed out that free Africans reached the shores of the Americas as traders and settlers long before Europeans brought African slaves to the Americas in chains. Noted scholar Dr. Ivan Sertima’s “They Came Before Columbus” argues that historical, archaeological and even botanical evidence shows proof of African contact with the New World in Pre-Columbian times.

More recent evidence depicts how the relationships become more complex with the institution of slavery and the Indian Wars that pitted black soldiers against Indian tribes. While documents show the intermarriage of blacks and American Indians, African-Native slave narratives tell the stories of slaves held captive by American Indian tribes. Other times, white settlers held both American Indians and blacks captive.

However, according to Rex Ellis, associate director for cultural affairs for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a co-collaborator with NMAI, “While there has been excellent scholarship on the subject, the story of African-Native people is one that has not been fully explored in a wide public forum, until this exhibition. It is a story that while painful at times, needs to be told.

“African-Native Americans are inextricably bound, and they no longer wish to hide. Whatever the consequences, they want people to know who they are.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see IndiVisible Causes Divisions and IndiVisible Responds to Freedmen Issue.

Below:  Penny Gamble Williams and Thunder Williams.

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