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She recently presented a series of genealogy workshops at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D. The Cherokee freed their slaves inand after the Civil War, the other tribes did the same. All but the Chickasaw eventually granted Freedmen full citizenship in their tribe.
And although — until the Dakota Access Pipeline protests — Native Americans as a modern people rarely graced the national headlines or broke into the modern American psyche, many do lead lives, on and off reservations. Banks grew up primarily on a reservation.
She's racially mixed — black and Native American — and on the reservation there was not a lot of diversity. I am Hopi. I belong.
At home, she was especially close to her mom and grandfather. She said there were so many subtle and not-so-subtle messages in popular culture, school history books and at home, that said being black was just not as good. In her high school, there were a couple younger girls who were also black and Native American.
And she said they became inseparable, because they understood what living that reality meant. After high school, Banks got a scholarship to college, and with confident black female professors, role models, mentors, friends and a lot of studying, her negative sense of identity started to change. The fact that there are black Native Americans is not unusual.
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Historian Arica L. Coleman said the two groups have mixed since the beginning of modern America. That has to do with how white colonizers defined race, as a hard and set thing, how they defined racial hierarchies and what she describes as "the myth of racial purity.
When native tribes were given land by the U. You are black and you have no right to these lands. Today, an open conversation among Native Americans about racism is still touchy if not, taboo. Especially, if you are ongoing victim of institutionalized discrimination, like Native Americans. Today, Banks has her bachelor's and master's degrees, not a common achievement for a kid from her hometown.
Either you want to be black or you want to be Native. She has actually always been interested in politics, and she dreamed, even as a kid, of being president.
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And a black Native American female president? Maybe one day, in the not too distant future, this country will be ready. Your contact info We'll be in touch if we look into your question. By Naomi Gingold.
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Photo courtesy of Roicia Banks. Roicia Banks with her mom on the day she graduated from her master's program. The Show. What questions do you have about the Valley and the state we call home? For questions about programming, membership or anything else about KJZZ, please visit kjzz.
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