African-Native American Lives in the Americas
By Gabrielle Tayac
(Smithsonian Books (DC), Paperback, 9781588342713, 256pp.)
Publication Date: November 2009
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Throughout American history, people of combined African and Native American descent have often struggled for acceptance, not only from dominant cultures but also from their own communities. In this collection of twenty-seven groundbreaking essays, authors from across the Americas explore the complex personal histories and contemporary lives of people wth a dual heritage that has rarely received attention as part of the multicultural landscape.
Illustrated with seventy-five paintings, photographs, and drawings, the book brings to light an epic but little-known part of American history that speaks to present-day struggles for racial identity and understanding.
This book complements the IndiVisible exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Sociologist and exhibit co-curator Tayac (NMAI) brings together 27 scholars who share what being an African-Native means to them. The book is organized thematically, emphasizing racial policy, community identity issues, peaceful and physical resistance, and cultural lifeways. Essays examining racial policy include the practice of hiding or substantiating Native identities with the often problematic and oppressive cycles therein. Community-centered essays explore the complexities of historical and contemporary processes regarding racial/ethnic reassignment and detribalization. Similarly, essays focusing on resistance analyze historical and contemporary forms of resisting sociopolitical oppression. The last group of essays details definitions of black Indians and their lived realities, cultural/ethnic revitalization, intersections of African-Native musical forms, and shared struggles between black and Native communities. The volume's photographic images and narrative approach speak well to the collaboration necessary for addressing identity politics--a complicated and often contentious subject. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- M. A. Rinehart, Valdosta State University