Tag Archives: Native American

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

10 Aug

 

Secret

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret/#like-244527

Would you have kept this secret for two generations? Maybe my Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept secret the fact that my grandfather Hugh Banks killed my Great Grandfather Daniel Finney (Hattie’s Dad) so that she could keep her sanity.  Guilt, embarrassment, shame, humiliation. I’m sure in the beginning after the murder it was all there deep within her soul, mind and spirit. But My Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks kept the secret so she could raise her three daughters (one of whom Mable was to become my mother) in relative peace, quiet and safety without passing this terrible haunting to future generations.  No judgment from me, only understanding.

 

The Legacy of Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney Banks

Grandmother Hattie Finney Banks

Hattie Finney was born Feb. 1905 in the poor coal mining hamlet of Davy, West Virginia.  A real looker in her youth blessed with a great sense of fashion and good taste Hattie though living in poverty was able to enhance her beauty through thrift and the ability to create something out of nothing.

With African and Sioux blood running through her veins her beauty soon caught the eye of the young men in the town. One named Hugh Banks seemed to have good prospects. Hugh like her Hattie’s dad Daniel R. Finney worked as a janitor. Not a high living job but one that could support a wife and future children. It also didn’t hurt that he was a strong strapping young man who was easy on the eyes.

They married sometime in the late 1920s when Hattie was in her early 20s looking forward to a bright future. Their first born child Mable Banks, (My Mom) was born May 2, 1930, and then came Helen on September 13, 1931 and finally Gladys on May 2, 1935. However as time progressed and the marriage wore on the initial first joys of wedded bliss gave way to drinking and horrible physical abuse from her husband Hugh. He regularly stayed out late getting drunk, spending the food and rent money on booze. A spirit of anger possessed him and he took out all the days slights on Hattie and their young children. Hattie always put herself between Hugh and the kids when he went on these violent tirades taking the brunt of the physical beatings and verbal abuse.

Finally on April 30, 1939 after a particularly horrible beating Hattie couldn’t take it anymore. In fear of her life she grabbed her three little girls and ran to the shelter of her parents’ house not far away. A very drunk Hugh Banks in hot pursuit of his wife followed her and demanded that Hattie and the girls return home with him. Hattie’s Dad, Daniel James Finney told Hattie to stay indoors while he went out to confront Hugh. Daniel Finney seeing Hugh in a violent drunken rage refused to allow his daughter and granddaughters to go with Hugh. An argument ensued and Hugh took out a pistol shooting Daniel Finney in the chest killing him instantly. Daniel’s brother Charlie Finney saw the murder, called the police and Hugh Banks was arrested.

Hattie and her mother Mary were devastated and in addition for many years Hattie carried the burden of guilt and shame that if she had not ran back to her parents’ house for protection perhaps her Dad, a strong healthy man would have lived even longer than his age of 75 years at the time of the shooting. Her choices haunted her for a long time but at least she found peace knowing that she had protected her three innocent young daughters and pride in the great love her Dad had for his family laying down his life for them.

Newspaper Clipping of the Murder

Daniel Finney Murder Newspaper Clipping

My Grandmother strong in her Baptist Faith eventually forgave her wayward husband supplying the information for my grandfather’s death certificate after his untimely death in prison from tuberculosis at age 30. No one from my grandfather’s family came to claim the body and he is buried  in the Potters Field attached to the prison.

Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Grandfather Hugh Banks Death Certificate

Daniel James Finney

Daniel James Finney Death Certificate

Shortly after the trial my Great Uncle Clarence came for Hattie and her daughters taking them to Dayton, Ohio where my mother grew up and later met and married my Dad Edward G. Palmer a union of 40 years that produced me and my brother Stephen.

Fast forward to the year 2000 when by then both my parents and my grandmother had gone onto glory. I met my common-law husband who like my grandmother’s relationship with her husband started off with great dreams and hope for the future but gradually deteriorated into an abusive relationship from which I too sought escape. For our final year together when the emotional, physical and psychological abuse was at its worst I prayed to God that this man would leave me and he did. He left me for a younger woman. A sigh of relief. A burden lifted from my shoulders. However though his physical presence was gone his psychological presence was rooted in my mind and soul. Though I had forgiven him it took years to dig up the roots and weeds of self-doubt and self-hate he had planted within me. Spirit never fails and after a brush with death from a minor stroke at age 49 and being Blessed to see 50 I began to experience a Change of Life. Not just from menopause which began physical changes within my body but spiritual and emotional changes. During all this upheaval my ancestors were with me, guiding me every step of the way. Each succeeding year as I progress through my 50s has brought me greater enlightenment and spiritual growth. Once I made the decision to answer my calling in this life doors open, thus here I am today to carry forward my Grandmother’s Legacy and be a blessing to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

But unbeknownst to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother a little girl cowering in front of a dusty little used attic window had peered out becoming an eyewitness to her Grandfather’s being shot to death by her Dad. Mable was always the quiet one of the three girls who took in many things but let out little.  As the Bible says  of conversations concerning Mary and Jesus, Mable Finney Banks was a small girl who took in and absorb all the things around her and pondered them in her heart……………….  From now on the events of that day would follow her all through childhood, young womanhood, and as a married woman with children and as she battled her own demons of schizophrenia. I shall take up Mable’s story in the next segment.

Thank you Sisters and be Blessed!

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The Cruelty of “Christianity”

5 May

The Cruelty of “Christianity”

Tekahionwake

“Oh, why have your people forced on me the name of Pauline Johnson? Was not my Indian name good enough? Do you think you help us by bidding us forget our blood? By teaching us to cast off all memory of our high ideals and our glorious past? I am an Indian. My pen and my life I devote to the memory of my own people. Forget that I was Pauline Johnson, but remember always that I was Tekahionwake, the Mohawk that humbly aspired to be the saga singer of her people, the bard of the noblest folk the world has ever seen, the sad historian of her own heroic race.”

Nobody knows my name or the real me except Jesus and him alone. Some ancestors unwillingly pulled from the breast of Mother Africa the others walked the “Trail of Tears”. Both had forced upon them the indoctrination of Euro-centric Christianity to the detriment of each noble culture.

A few months ago I traced my maternal ancestry back to Mozambique. When I made that discovery something in my spirit clicked and I knew that one day I had to return to the birthplace of my Great, great, great, great, great Grandmother, her birth name lost to time and eternity. Other ancestors born in this great land have yet to be revealed. Many times I wonder, “What was my African and/or Native American name.”  The names of Finney, Halstead, Gordon, Palmer were all given by some distant slave-owner. Who were they and who were they 500 years ago?

Like Tekahionwake I live my dichotomy every day even in my spiritual life wondering about the respective faiths of my African and Native American ancestors. Thinking about how their own unique worship was torn asunder only to be replaced by a Euro-centric “Christian” god who relegated them to a lesser status, below that of their European captors.

Children of an accursed Ham? (Genesis 9:20–27) I think not for the descendents of the great Realm of Ethiopia have risen again to the rightful place in the Diaspora.

Matthew 12:42

New King James Version (NKJV)

42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

The cries of my people would not be extinguished. The voices of my Native American ancestors called to me for redemption. Through an experiment called Carlisle Indian Industrial School History, really internment in re-culturalization concentration camps Richard Henry Pratt sought to erase the cultural identity of Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes through forcing children into complete immersion in Eurocentric culture and identity, effectively erasing their own. Take away a person’s language and belief systems, telling them that how God created them was wrong and had to be fixed only serves to create indwelling images of self-hatred within those lost children. If eradicating my indigenous and African American culture, traditions, ethnicity and exchanging them for dominant white culture will I be closer to God?  Will Jesus accept me in this new form?

As I gaze in the mirror as many Native Americans did 150 years ago neither my face nor my features as God made them can be erased. The efforts on the part of European conquerors failed. Nor were the colonizers able to erase the connection to the Great Spirit as he was known long before the white man touched our shores.

White man you tell me that only your version of Jesus can save my soul and deliver me from sin. And just what is my sin? Being born with a brown face, high cheek bones, full lips, long flowing Jet Black hair or locs that rise to kiss the sun. Does my sin lie in the dances my people perform to honor my ancestors and Mother Earth who gives us all sustenance? Am I or my ways at fault because we revere Nature as opposed to destroying the land, fouling the waters, polluting the environment in a never ending obsession to conquer, convert and control? Now who is the savage? Who is the so-called heathen?

Oh European who comes bearing the sign of the cross who is this God of yours that lifts up your customs and traditions but disparages mine? He is not the Jesus depicted in your Old Master paintings from Italy, Spain, France or the Flemish Masters. No, more than likely he was a swarthy man with kinky dark wooly hair, skin darkened by constant exposure to the sun. Jesus was someone whose looks paralleled the populations most of the indigenous tribes of Africa, North and South America.

Revelation 1:14-15

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

We Sisters and Brothers from what you named the “Third World” now know that Jesus came for us just as we are. God accepts us in all the richness with which he created us. We Black and Brown followers have redefined and returned Christianity to its original intent and meaning.

No longer do we walk the “Trail of Tears” or the Via Dolorosa. Now we stand together arm in arm marching onward to Zion that beautiful city of God taking our place among those who have been redeemed.

 Woman Ancestor from Dad's Side

Donations to this thought provoking Ministry for the Housing Fund can be made in U.S. Funds via money order or bank checks made directly to  Paypal using my email: deborah.palmer280@gmail.com.

Thank you and God Bless.


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