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A History of the Weyanoke Association

by Anita Harrell 

We give thanks to Creator for each new day
We give thanks to the Ancestors, who watch over us
We give thanks to our Mother Earth, who sustains us
We give thanks to our Brothers and Sisters the plants and animals,
     who give their lives so that ours may continue
We give thanks to the People whose work, care and love nourish us
We give thanks that Alkebulan and Turtle Island meet in us
We give thanks to Creator for all of these gifts
May they be transformed into positive thoughts,
     careful and kind words,
     appropriate and effective deeds

   - Red-Black Prayer

It is possible to recover that which has been shattered. The meaning of the recovery, reconstitution and reconstruction of history is that, that which has been dispersed and shattered within us can be made whole again. Thus through history we can redeem ourselves.

- Ivan Van Sertima


The Weyanoke Association has grown out of our personal need to restore "that which has been dispersed and shattered within us," and to encourage and help others to do the same. We became aware of the need to reconcile the 'Red' of our family trees with the 'Black' that the larger society gave us permission to acknowledge, before we heard anyone else talking about the subject. We were laughed at, accused of trying to deny our Blackness, and forced to choose between one and the other when filling out forms and when performing other official and social actions.

When I was a child in New York in the Fifties I was Colored, pronounced with a curl of the lip everywhere but at home. The Sixties and early Seventies gave me permission to honor my theoretical African ancestors, and explore as many of the continent's glorious cultures as possible. Then I happened upon an old photograph. I remember saying to my father, "Who is this woman? She looks like an Indian." He answered, "That's because she is. That's my Cherokee grandmother." He had never mentioned her before. And still my mother said nothing about her Native ancestry until I put it to her as a direct question. When I asked, "Were any of your ancestors Indian?" she simply answered, "Yes." She made it clear I had already stepped over the line somehow by asking that question; I didn't push my luck by asking more. It was from my older cousin, much later, that I learned that the relatives my mother had lived with in Colorado were Shoshone.

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