Julianne Jennings: Site promotes Indian and African alliances

George Bonga was a fur trader of Ojibwe and African ancestry who lived in Minnesota in the 1800s. Photo from I Love Ancestry

Julianne Jennings shares the work of I Love Ancestry, an all-volunteer site that promotes alliances between Native Americans and African Americans:
The pursuit of family history (genealogy) and origins tends to be shaped by several motivations, including the desire to carve out a place for one's family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling. For others, it means self-worth and validation. Self-worth and validation are the two biggest contributors to our feelings, along with the need for approval. Some will argue that having approval is not necessary; however, it is very emotionally reassuring to have this experience with others. Their acceptance provides external feedback for positive feelings about us. Putting forward our own “image” rather than letting others speak for us, about us, or not at all. Every human being is viewed through the prism of stereotypes, consciously or subconsciously. Regardless, all people have this core need of wanting to know their ancestral roots, especially for “black” Indians, whose history continues to struggle for acceptance in today’s popular stream of consciousness.

Adrian Heckstall, a mixed French-Black American with a family oral history of his Great-grandmother, known as “Mother Smith”, being of the Rappahanock Tribe of Virginia, wants to do just that, raise public awareness through his self-created I Love Ancestry (ILA). ILA is a national issue advocacy campaign, that formally organized in October, 2012, addressing issues of identity, history, culture, diversity, social justice and the advancement of indigenous communities and people of color. ILA is entirely managed online through a website and social media networks by tech-savvy volunteers who are passionate about the original inhabitants of Turtle Island.

Get the Story:
Julianne Jennings: I Love Ancestry: Responsibility, Honor and Truth (Indian Country Today 11/16)

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