Making the Unknown, Known
We must not be afraid of the 'unknown'. We must embrace the 'unknown' as a medium through which questions about life and reality can be revealed. We must understand that we have become hindered by our lack of understanding of the unknown. Our relations have been divided and severed because of our ignorance of our people. Instead of embracing the 'unknown' and seeing it as a chance to challenge ourselves and our ability to break through societal imposed limitations, we came to accept it and internal it as an assumed static state of humanity, as if we can and will never 'know' beyond what we already think we know.
Many of us claim to know about ourselves and our ancestors. We claim to know about our culture and who are 'people' are. Yet most often times we are only regurgitating and rehashing what was 'taught to us' and told to us by those whom imposed the boundaries, divisions and restrictions of colonization. These people aren't "our" people and so on- perpetuating the 'us vs. them' mentality and contributing to the crumbling of the sacred hoop of life. May of us will rather quickly accept the oppressor and the oppressors children as our own before we embrace other children of the Sun- "melanated" sons and daughters of the planet. So we can bear witness to the deep psychological impact of colonization and slavery, and the survival mechanism and adaptation strategy of 'identifying with the aggressor', as it is referred to in western psychology. Which means, not only have we taken on many of the same behaviors and mannerisms of the oppressor, but likewise, psychologically identify with them and see them as more favorable, and consequently looking at our other oppressed brothers and sisters in the same perspective that they do.
It is critical to our healing that we reunite and bring together the 'Original' nation, the Indigenous family. We must struggle to break beyond the limitations we have inherited over the decades and re-establish our connection with each other. We must not think we 'know' of each other from our exposure to television and media propaganda nor must we allow ourselves to dwell in a pool of ignorance and be content with 'not knowing' or even yearning to know about the other. I assure you, if we embrace the 'unknown' as a chance to heal, we will find that it will bring together all legacies and histories to one point, like the outer points of the letter "X" which meet in the center. "X" in mathematics represents the 'unknown'. And we can solve and 'resolve' the equations of inequality by coming together and realizing our oneness, not just in struggle, but in the universal spectrum of existance.
Native and African Americans chronicle history together for first time in Louisiana
by Carol Forsloff
In Natchitoches, Louisiana history was made today. The Native American and African American communities were separate communities in the South by design of white oppression. Now, for the first time, they are sharing their histories.
The African American and Native American communities of North Central Louisiana, specifically the area around Powhatan in Natchitoches Parish, had knowledge of each other’s existence but at the same time virtually no real social interaction.
Native Americans were second-class citizens and felt different and isolated, while African Americans were the lowest on the social pecking order in a highly stratified society that in some ways remains in certain historical patterns.
Therefore, history has been predominantly oral and genealogical as opposed to written. The “White” or predominant history has included both African American groups and Native Americans, but their intimate knowledge of that history has been limited by the stratification and taboos that took place, according to the participants in a videotaped forum today.
Chief Rufus Davis, Dora Belton, Shirley Love and Vern Fisher met at the Adai Cultural Center today and initiated a shared history platform in order to put together the missing pieces of their ancestral involvement, known about, but never fully shared in conversation.
Chief Davis is the head of the Adai Nation, a tribe of approximately 1800 members in Texas and Louisiana, 68 years old and a resident of the Parish since birth.
Dora Belton, of mixed Choctaw, African American and French ancestry, 93, lived in the Parish until age 18, then moved to Illinois and Texas where she worked as a licensed practical nurse until the age of 65 when she retired and returned to her home in the Parish.
Vern Fisher, 54, is an African American from Mallard, Louisiana, two miles from the Adai Cultural Center.
Shirley Love, 51, is originally from the area surrounding Powhatan in Natchitoches Parish but has been living in Michigan since she left high school. All came together for the first time as a group today to begin a pioneer effort to bring their shared history to each other and potentially to the public. The first segment was videotaped today over a period of more than two hours. I was there today as the moderator of the filming, asking the questions and celebrating with the group what is history making in terms of this shared experience.
Natchitoches Parish is a place rich in history because it is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and where various European, African and Native American groups lived separately but shared a common history on some levels.
The problem is the intimate details of that history were neglected due to the imposed restrictions on social interaction. The Native American and African American communities, according to Belton, Davis and Fisher, knew about each other and relied on each other to exchange herbal remedies, quilting and other cultural knowledge, but without deep intimacy and communication. The separate groups were mutually supportive in each other’s survival and grew up knowing “their place” and knew that place was separate from their white neighbors of predominantly French, Spanish and English ancestry.
Today, old stories were shared, some for the first time. This is part of a growing opportunity, initiated by Chief Davis, to help groups provide each other important data that helps to reinforce group identity and integrity.
According to the forum participants, the Native Americans and African Americans had mutual regard for their separate ways, knew from the whispers of their ancestors what shops to avoid and what patterns of behavior to evidence. But these truths have not been spoken or written down in detail, as is now being done.
It was for the participants a stunning occasion, and the ongoing experience will be shared as the stories of shared history take shape. Old neighbors are experiencing communication and interaction in this way for the first time, as the process is taking place for this to be formalized.
Videotaping will allow the preservation of information and the evolution of written documentation to be completed. This “first” brought a celebratory mood to those involved as they take the first steps in cementing a new brother and sisterhood they said today will only enhance their individual sense of community and pride.