IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas
Kevin Gover (Pawnee), Director
National Museum of the American Indian
Lonnie Bunch, Director
National Museum of African American History and Culture
On November 10, 2009, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) will host the opening of Indivisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas. A collaborative effort between the NMAI, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), the exhibition uncovers and engages the often hidden, but shared histories and lived realities of people who share African American and Native American heritage and ancestry.
For centuries, African American and Native people have come together, shared cultural traditions and practices, united in common struggle, and forged relationships throughout the Americas. At the same time, they were divided by racial prejudice, laws, and twists of history that denied their shared heritage and ancestry. Notable figures in U.S. history such Crispus Attucks, Paul Cuffee, and Langston Hughes all had American Indian ancestry. Yet when most people think of these individuals, they do so as African American. Understanding why and how history and society have ascribed such individuals an identity as “Black” or “African American” while at the same time ignoring their American Indian ancestry is a primary the goal of Indivisible. By focusing on the dynamics of race, community, culture and creativity, Indivisible seeks to uncover an important aspect of our history and heritage as Americans and our common desire of being and belonging to family, community, and nation. We hope this blog will create a space to facilitate discussion around the complex and sometimes challenges issues raised in the exhibit.