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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Art @ the Y presents

IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas

On view in the Y’s Murphy Gallery from June 18-August 14, 2015

1001 S. Wright St, Champaign, IL
(Corner of Wright & Chalmers)

A part of the American story has long been invisible-the story of people who share African American and Native American ancestry. Over centuries, African American and Native people came together, creating shared histories, communities, and ways of life. Often divided by prejudice, laws, or twists of history, African-Native Americans were united by a double heritage that is truly indivisible.

Through the themes of policy, community, creative resistance and lifestyles, the exhibition tells stories of cultural integration and diffusion as well as the struggle to define and preserve identity. “IndiVisible,” produced by the National Museum of the American Indian in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) remains on view through May 14th, 2015. 

Since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, the lives of Native and African peoples have been closely intertwined. From pre-colonial times, they intermarried, established communities and shared their lives and traditions. But racially motivated laws oppressed and excluded them. Blended tribes worked to preserve their land and rebelled against displacement. Their survival strategies included involvement in social movements, joining together to fight oppressive conditions and regaining economic sustainability. Their unique African-Native American cultural practices through food, language, writing, music, dance and the visual arts have thrived.

“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 National Museum of the American Indian. “We find commonalities in our shared past of genocide, alienation from our ancestral homelands, and the exhibition acknowledges the strength and resilience we recognize in one another today.” “We are proud to have contributed to this important and thoughtful exhibition,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “African American oral tradition is full of stories about ‘Black Indians,’ with many black families claiming Indian blood."

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).


IndiVisible received financial support from Akaloa Resource Foundation and from the Smithsonian's Latino Initiatives Pool.

Sponsored by the Bruce D. Nesbitt African-American Cultural Center, the Native American House, and the Committee on Race and Ethnicity (CORE).

All Art @ the Y events are free and open to the public. Art @ the Y is an initiative of the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign.

Murphy Gallery Summer Hours
Mondays-Fridays 9am to 4pm
(Please note summer hours through August 14)


Parking Nearby:
Parking lot on 6th between Daniel & Chalmers - Free after 5pm.
Parking garage on 6th & John - Free after 5pm.
Street parking on Wright, Chalmers, & 6th Streets for 75¢ per hour.
Municipal lot on Green & 5th Streets for $1 per hour.

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