Narratively

 

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An Eagle Eye in Harlem

From Malcolm X Boulevard to pow-wow road trips, a black man from Georgia adopts a Cherokee persona despite questionable ties to any Native American roots.

By | December 10, 2012

Robert Banks’ one-bedroom flat is lavishly decorated with Native American artwork—sculptures and dreamcatchers that the 71-year-old Georgia native created himself. On his kitchen cupboards are hand-painted feathers with tips of burnt-orange. A grand self-portrait hangs above Banks’ dark green velvet couch, where he often sifts through pictures of his past—a family he says descends from Cherokee Indians.

Also known as Eagle Eye, Banks has embraced a Native American “spirit” he says has lived within him ever since he was a little boy. That’s when those who raised him led him to believe that unlike other black boys who grew up in the south, his forebears were never slaves. After a childhood of doubting the genealogical claims of his parents, Banks left the outskirts of Atlanta for the urban environs of Harlem. It was in the north that he says he came into contact with other “Indians of color” and began to believe and embrace all that he was told about being Native American.

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Faces of Freelance: Meet Carolyn

An award-winning producer on how freelancers bring freedom and innovation to structured work environments.

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Mission Impossible: Finding the Perfect Name for My Kid

A new dad on the nightmare-inducing challenge of coming up with a timeless but fresh, cool but not too cool name for his son.

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Adventure Is in My DNA

A filmmaker and surfer proudly explores her Indigenous roots, and discovers that thrill-seeking runs in the family.

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These 4 Women Are Taking on a Politician Near You

The coalminer’s daughter. The bartender. The police brutality activist. The grieving mother. Each looked at the man representing her in Congress and said, “I can do better.”

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The Grieving Mom Fighting for a Healthcare System That Actually Works

Amy Vilela lost her daughter when she couldn’t afford the medical bills. When her Congressman told her he wouldn’t support universal healthcare, Amy said, “I’m running.”

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This Ferguson Activist Wants to be Missouri’s First Black Congresswoman

Cori Bush is a registered nurse, a pastor and a mom. After taking to the streets to protest police killings, she looked in the mirror and said, “why not politician, too?”

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How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Pulled Off the Biggest Upset in Congressional History

In early 2018, we introduced you to a bartender from the Bronx trying to pull off what many said was impossible. Here’s how AOC became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

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This Coalminer’s Daughter Is Mad as Hell—And Running for the U.S. Senate

Paula Jean Swearengin has seen West Virginia’s land exploited, its people fall ill, and its politicians do nothing. So she decided to do something herself.

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The Collector of Time

As Mark McKinley puts it, “no collector ever says, ‘I’ve gone too far.'” After 27 years and an official Guinness World Record, he stands by that statement.