IndiVisible

At the Institute of Texan Cultures, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas” illuminates the struggles and triumphs throughout history of those who share African-American and Native-American heritage. “IndiVisible” combines the voices of the past and present in an intricate series of stories, photographs and historical snapshots. Caught between two influential and powerful cultures, those of this unique heritage have been forced to establish their identity within an ever-changing world. 

Beginning with Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World and the introduction of the slave trade, African-Americans and Native-Americans have experienced much of the same oppression, exploitation and suffering. Both nations became enslaved to the Europeans throughout the colonial period, igniting what would become an entirely new, hybrid culture. The two cultures intermarried and intertwined their peoples and histories by creating new traditions, as well as sharing old ones.

According to the exhibit, Native-Americans and African-Americans share many cultural values that focus on the importance of ancestral land, identity and history. Together, they fought against racially motivated legislation, social inequality and economic disadvantages. Through experiences such as the Underground Railroad and the Trail of Tears, both peoples understand the adversities of being seen as an inferior race and of what is necessary to survive.

Although many have struggled to find belonging, there have been some notable icons who thrived with their unique identity. The famous Jimi Hendrix, of African-American descent, often spoke proudly of his Cherokee grandmother. Soul musician James Brown also possesses both Native and African ancestry.

As the name depicts, “IndiVisible” provides observers the opportunity to learn about a relatively unknown culture while demonstrating the power of unity. The exhibit, produced by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), is available to view in San Antonio at the Institute of Texan Cultures through Nov. 25, after which it will continue traveling to museums across the country.

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