CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) – Showcasing an exhibit that explored the rich and intertwining histories of the Black and Red Nations in America, the Indigenous Nations Alliance for the Millions More Movement, and its national director Yo’Nas Da LoneWolf McCall-Muhammad, hosted an enjoyable evening of information and culture.
Held at Muhammad University of Islam Dec. 10, the program featured standing placards depicting photos and research; a dance performance from the Mexica tradition; brief remarks from a Latina community activist, Nation of Islam Latino student minister Abel Muhammad, and Ray Muhammad, author of “144,000,” which aims to link the Biblical prophecy of 144,000 chosen to the connected fates of the Red and Black nations; and a keynote presentation explaining the contents of the exhibit by Sister Yo’Nas Da.
“We are one race, one world and we’re working together,” insisted Julie Santos, an activist with La Familia Latina Unida Sin Las Fronteras (A United Latin Family Without Borders), an organization fighting on the frontlines for the rights of Latinos in the city. “That’s where we belong–together, working on issues that affect us,” she continued, in her appeal to those gathered to support the protest of the deportation that will rip apart 35 Latino families in the Chicago area.
The primary entertainment was an exciting dance performance of pre-Hispanic ceremonial spiritual tradition from the local Mexica community. Adorned with authentic peasant and peacock feather headdresses on their heads, vibrant designs-in-the-making on their dresses, and bands of hallowed shells (filled with tiny metal balls that rattled to emphasis their movements) covering their calves, the dancers dedicated their stirring performance to bringing positive energy to the cause of the Millions More Movement Indigenous Alliance, “the unity of our people to create more consciousness and places of healing.”
Displaying an altar in the center of their movement, the dancers performed within a circle of those in attendance seated in chairs, “caressing the earth with their feet” and “receiving and giving the energy from the cosmos” to the audience. They concluded by teaching everyone a basic choreography of opening and closing in the four directions.
Native American food and music added another delightful touch of culture, along with the erection of a full-size teepee by several Brothers in the Nation of Islam. The teepee originally housed the exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the Millions More Movement mass assembly on Oct. 15.
But the focused highlight of the evening was learning the parallels and connections between the struggle of Black, Latino and Native peoples in America. The exhibit takes you on a journey through time, beginning with the origin of the Black Seminoles in Florida up to modern-day icons and leaders of the Black, Latino and Native freedom movements.
Startling facts were noted, such as, of the 100,000 native Seminoles (meaning “runaway”) that lived during the 1500s, less than 50 survived the colonial conquest of their lands; the histories of runaway slaves and natives marked a two-way absorption, where ex-slaves settled near native communities and eventually inter-married, or natives who willingly passed as Black slaves, preferring to become enslaved on a plantation than be removed from Indian Territory since the White man made it illegal for natives to live in the southeast part of the country until 1909.
An outstanding historic comparison of the oppressive and destructive history of mis-education was made in the exhibit juxtaposing the “separate but equal” legacy of the Plessy v. Ferguson case that segregated southern schools, with the “kill the Indian, but save the man” philosophy that permeated the mass forced enrollment of native children into Catholic schools.
This dramatic exploration of the intermingling of identity and history, struggle and accomplishment clearly informs that the Black and Red nations are, not simply closer than we think, but indeed one people engaged along the same journey.
(A national tour of the exhibit is in the works, which is set to begin after the “Bridging the Families-Starting A Movement” conference scheduled next year for Feb. 25 in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, email yonasdamuhammad@ yahoo.com.)