The National Museum of the American Indian’s traveling exhibit IndiVisible: African - Native American Lives in the Americas will make its first Portland appearance at the 1st annual Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival, August 7 – 10 and then will return to Portland through October – November for an extended run at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, in the heart of the City’s historically segregated African American neighborhoods.
Admission to the IndiVisible exhibit at Jim PepperFest 2013 will be free to the public, open 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday August 7 – 10, at Parkrose HS Performing Arts Center in NE Portland.
We will be requesting donations of two items of nonperishable food for the Oregon Food Bank.
Jimi Hendrix, rock legend
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
The rock-and-roll innovator Jimi Hendrix often spoke proudly of his Cherokee grandmother. He was one of many African Americans who cite family traditions in claiming Native ancestry. Photo: Courtesy Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas was produced by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibition was made possible in part thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor and the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
From the National Museum of the American Indian:
IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas
A place of belonging. A true sense of home.
All people share this desire. For those of dual African American and Native American heritage, this powerful sense of home has been difficult to find. Because they have not fit into society’s established racial categories, they’ve been denied a true sense of belonging.
Despite this challenge, the life experiences of African-Native American peoples have become a vital part of our American identity. Faced with centuries of government policies and laws that systematically oppressed and excluded them, they came together to find creative and effective ways to fight back. They established new, blended communities that drew strength from sharing traditions and philosophies. And, for more than 500 years, with their music, dance, craft, and food, African-Native Americans developed deeply rich cultural expressions that made an indelible mark on American life.
For centuries, African American and Native people have shared cultural traditions and practices, united in common struggle and forged relationships, families and unique ways of life throughout the Americas. But at times, racist policy and prejudice divided these communities and denied their shared heritage. Notable figures in U.S. history with dual African American and Native American ancestry include Crispus Attucks, Langston Hughes and Jimi Hendrix. By focusing on the dynamics of race, community, culture and creativity, “IndiVisible” examines an important and often overlooked aspect of American history.
Since its premiere on the National Mall in 2009, the exhibition has traveled to museums and cultural centers across the country, including the Chieftains Museum in Rome, Ga.; the Standing Bear Museum in Ponca City, Okla.; New Mexico State University Museum in Las Cruces, N.M.; the California African American Museum in Los Angeles; and the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Ala.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opens a 20-panel banner exhibition, “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,” focusing on the seldom-viewed history and complex lives of people of dual African American and Native American ancestry. Through the themes of policy, community, creative resistance and lifestyles, the exhibition includes stories of cultural integration and the struggle to define and preserve identity.
The exhibition addresses the racially motivated laws that have been forced upon Native, African American and mixed-heritage peoples since the time of Christopher Columbus. Since precolonial times, Native and African American peoples have built strong communities through intermarriage, unified efforts to preserve their land and by taking part in creative resistance. These communities developed constructive survival strategies over time, and several have regained economic sustainability through gaming in the 1980s. The daily cultural practices that define the African-Native American experience through food, language, writing, music, dance and the visual arts, will also be highlighted in the exhibition.
A 10-minute media piece is featured with interviews obtained during research and work on the exhibition with tribal communities across North America. Site work was conducted in Mashpee, Mass. with the Mashpee Wampanoag community, in Los Angeles with the Creek and Garifuna communities, with the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Okla., and at the Tutelo Homecoming Festival in Ithaca, N.Y., which welcomed the Cayuga, Tutelo and Saponi Indian Nations.
“The topic of African-Native Americans is one that touches a great number of individuals through family histories, tribal histories and personal identities,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum. “We find commonalities in our shared past of genocide and in the alienation from our ancestral homelands, and it acknowledges the strength and resilience we recognize in one another today.”
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture is proud to have contributed to this important and thoughtful exhibition,” said museum director Lonnie Bunch. “African American oral tradition is full of stories about ‘Black Indians,’ with many black families claiming Indian blood. However, there have been few scholarly treatments of this subject which, in the end, expresses the basic human desire of belonging.”
The exhibition was curated by leading scholars, educators and community leaders, including Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway), Robert Keith Collins (African-Choctaw descent), Angela Gonzales (Hopi), Judy Kertèsz, Penny Gamble-Williams (Chappaquiddick Wampanoag) and Thunder Williams (Afro-Carib).
The accompanying exhibition book, “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,” edited by Gabrielle Tayac, features 27 essays from authors across the hemisphere sharing firstperson accounts of struggle, adaptation and survival and examines such diverse subjects as contemporary art, the Cherokee Freedmen issue and the evolution of jazz and blues. The richly illustrated 256-page book is available in Smithsonian museum stores and through the Bookshop section of the museum’s Web site at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/bookshop
The exhibition is produced in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)
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Contact: Sean Aaron Cruz
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