african american vintage photos

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Turqouise and silver bracelet. Photo courtesy of Kianah Jay, 1993. 

In the photo, I am wearing bald eagle feathers and pure silver and turquoise jewelry. It was taken on a Native American reservation. I am a few months old. It was taken during my first spring feast day in 1993.

My dad is Black and my mom is Native American (Oglala Sioux, Athabascan). I was raised solely by my mom in a Native American community. My life has been rich with culture however it wasn’t until I moved to a big city (Los Angeles) that my Black Identity came to take form. I began to learn about the history that was shaping my lived experience without my knowledge. I realized I didn’t have the power to shape how strangers thought about me. It hurt and shocked me to learn that some tribal nations were in fact slaveholders during a period in time. Still, I am home in this country. My tribal affiliation has helped me to heal from the tragic genocide caused by colonialism. It has given me a sense of belonging, one that many African Americans have been robbed of in the cruel process of the African diaspora. Native Americans and African Americans have displayed incredible strength and I am proud to be both.

Story from Kianah Jay, @tribalhoodrat