Many contemporary Black people feel a disconnect when it comes to indigenous cultures despite coming from them. This is likely a direct result of history [read: slavery]. To help reestablish this connection, a 6-year-old girl named Vanae James-Bey and her mother have created a coloring book that highlights indigenous Black cultures, according to The Atlanta Black Star.
“I’m glad to share it with everyone,” Vanae said of The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae.
The idea for the book came when Vanae asked her uncle, Jonathan Ellerbee, to draw pictures of her wearing indigenous jewelry and clothes. Ellerbee then helped the coloring book become a reality, with the help of Johanne Immis.
“Culture is very important to our family,” Veroica Bey, Vanae’s mother, said. “[As well as] knowing about our indigenous roots. Being home-schooled, we tend to stick to a more Afrocentric curriculum and noticed how hard it was to find specific materials for lessons and how many other parents [and] students must feel the same.”
“Vanae was naturally curious about history as she is exposed to tons of documentaries, and both myself and her father are avid readers; she’s always around books,” she continued.
Veronica is originally from Florida, but relocated with her daughter to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands where they now reside. Veronica hopes that the coloring book will spark a curiosity in those who purchase the book. The goal is for people to learn more about indigenous cultures than they would in a traditional classroom setting.
“Our family has indigenous American roots that we are in touch with and it’s always been important for them to know and understand that,” Bey explained. “More importantly, because we have friends whose children go to public schools and are taught that Native Americans are extinct or are only taught about slavery as Black history, I didn’t want that to be my children’s introduction to their history.”
While The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae is the first effort from the mother-daughter duo, Veronica doesn’t expect it to be the last.
We plan on making more volumes because we couldn’t fit all cultures into one,” she said. “Fiction books [are also on the way]. Wherever Black people are in the word as a distinct culture, we plan to explore them all.”