Shane Locklear #2

30 03 2010

Shifting Boundaries of Race and Ethnicity: Indian-Black Intermarriage in Southern New England, 1760-1880 by Daniel R. Mandell is an elaborate look into the lives of Indians in southern New England during the 18th century. As Mandell cultivates this insight he also relies on the “supposed” first hand accounts of people who had observed or played a part in the lives of these Indians. As he explains particular issues Mandell also incorporates tribes as specific examples. The Mashpee and Narragansett tribes serve as tribal examples throughout the article. The central focus of the article is the struggle of Indians in southern New England to maintain their families and communal ties in the face of prejudice and as the regions social and economic landscape began to shift. This struggle revolved around the intermarriage that occurred between the Indians and foreigners and strangers, which were mostly African American men. In order to keep their families and communities from dying out many Indian tribes began incorporating foreigners. As with land placed in “trust”, which is controlled by the federal government in today’s society during the 18th century Indian lands could be managed and even sold by the legislatures and guardians that the colonial governments appointed and could not be sold by the tribes without legislative permission. Either way the two issues are approached, Natives have no control over “their land” which ultimately does not make it theirs. Legal and economic discrimination separated whites from everyone else who were considered “people of color”. These people of color were then driven into the same neighborhoods, cities and jobs and this is where they often met and married.

Indians and African Americans were often brought together by their demographic, economic, legal, and social conditions. After 1730, as the number of Indian men began to decline large numbers of African men were imported as slaves. Anglo-Americans can also be considered a factor that brought blacks and Indians together because both were forced into servitude were they met. Mandell does not seem to focus on the romance and love that may have existed between blacks and Indians. Instead he concentrates on the mutual advantages. Marrying into an Indian community for blacks provided social, economic, psychological gains. Many Africans were purchased by their wives then set free so that their children would be born free. Natives generally accepted newcomers and new relations regardless of skin color. (Add something here about kinship and how it plays a part in native lifestyle). Men also gained access to his wife’s land and other resources. With time this idea would pose a problem for native communities because some African men would want to possess their own lands and resources. Some would become major contributors to detribalization as it would give them a chance to officially own these resources they have worked toward. The many conflicts throughout the article over land disputes would not ultimately be categorized as a racial issue. Many times the issue would surround the protection of tribal lands and resources against those who were considered at one time to be outsiders.  With the intermarriage of blacks and Indians occurring more and more over time, the generations to follow were of lesser Indian blood than their ancestors. This production of a mixed child did not always promote the child to follow the father’s cultures and traditions over the mothers. Although some offspring based their future on the history of one parent, the other parent’s community was not always ignored. Many children claimed ties to both sides of the family. The pressures of allotment, racial identity, white perceptions, and laws were forced upon blacks and especially Indians. Laws outside of the tribes varied greatly from those that reinforced tribal lifestyle. For instance, women were not allowed to vote or own land in European society where as African men were considered to be placed on the lowest social ladder as they could not vote in tribal issues or own tribal land. The article highlights the relationships that developed Indians and other people in New England. It emphasizes important ideas involving ethnic identity, group affiliation, sense of self, political and economic power, and how sex and procreation have influenced society and culture.

The term Mestizo denotes a racial intermixture of all kinds and this article by Gary B. Nash reflects on the idea of racial mixing in America during the early centuries. The first recorded interracial marriage in American history was that of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (Rebecca). Throughout the article Nash uses a series of examples such as that of Rolfe and Pocahontas to emphasize the idea of intermixing and how it played a part in the American lifestyle. Thomas Jefferson, president of the United States pleaded for the intermixing of whites and Indian settlements. He wanted to unite as one and become Americans through marriage and the mixing of blood. Sam Houston who took up with the Cherokees for many years and married a Cherokee wife aimed to produce an alliance between Cherokees and whites that would unite Texas and northern Mexico. Prejudice and violence denied the existence of a possible mixed-race republic in Virginia and Texas, which is seen by the policy of Cherokee extinction employed by Houston’s successor. This article also seemed to promote the idea of having an Indian wife as partaking in an exotic lifestyle. With this men seemed to in some sense exploit their wives for various reasons. Such as the case with Irish trader John Johnson who could not have done his trading business without the help of his Ojibway wife. The same goes for Michael Laframboise whose Okanogay wife established a path of trade with the Indians in Oregon Territory. Laframboise boasted about having a high-ranking wife. This made me think that the status or capabilities of his wife were more important than the connection he had with her, although the strength of the relationship was not mentioned. These fur traders and trappers were common on the frontier which was a place of cultural merging and marrying on the part of whites and Indians. Two other examples of mestizaje are given. The mixing of American Indians and African Americans as discussed in the previous article is the first example. The second example is in the history of agriculture in California’s San Joaquin and Imperial valleys. As the article continues Nash does not focus entirely on the mixing of Indians and others. The Punjabis and Mexicans constitute an outside example of interracial marriage. Nash uses the marriage of Lucy and Albert Parsons as a prime example of interracial marriages that shaped American history. Indian women became enmeshed in Spanish life and produced mixed-race children. Spanish women often married African men. In the early twentieth century, racial intermingling dropped as mixed-race people were seen as degenerate. Later, with the introduction of the melting pot the voice of mestizo America came in the form a young Anglo-saxon Randolph Bourne. Bourne argued that the melting pot was a failure as a program for Anglo-saxon cultural conversion.

While reading Personality in a White-Indian-Negro Community I couldn’t help notice the amount of negativity that Guy B. Johnson relates to the titracial issue surrounding Robeson County. Johnson opens the article with some historical information about the Indians of Robeson County (currently Lumbee) and the name changes as well as culture alterations they have undertaken. A classification of groups is given in the article in which the Lumbee people would relate to the third which consists of those which have established some degree of accommodation to the larger white and Negro worlds and are, for the present, at least, functioning as intermediate groups. Johnson comments on the theories of origin of the Lumbee people. He also goes through the history of names changes and how these names impacted the Indians of Robeson County. As the article continues Johnson talks about how the Indians of Robeson Country are classified according to their physical features. Some were light skinned and could go for white. Others were darker and these were considered to be black. Physical features such as hair color, texture, eye color varied by person.

Kinship is the ties that bond a family together. This concept is prevalent throughout the articles we have read. To think of these kinship ties reminds me of the strong kinship ties of the Lumbee people. I feel the Lumbee people have some of the strongest kinship ties in the world. Their relation of person to place (who is your people? Where you from?) is a very important aspect of the Lumbees because it is our form of communicating people’s origins, lifestyles, and places of birth?

  1. The kinship ties of the Lumbee people to me are one of the strongest ties of family bonding that I have witnessed. Kinship ties are present throughout these articles but race did not seem to play a significant part in the Mandell article. Although it may be referenced the main argument was about resources. The kinship ties of the Lumbees are strong but how did it come to the point where racism became as prominent between Lumbees and blacks as it was with blacks and whites.
    1. This question could possibly be analyzed by researching the racial ties between Lumbees, blacks, and whites, in the Lumbee historical records
  2. Marriage between Indians and other races still occurs to this day. Interracial marriage and dating is very prominent in Native society. Mandell and Nash’s articles focus on how interracial marriage played a part in altering Native lifestyle. Interracial marriage was not frowned upon by the Indians but the Lumbees in today’s society seem to frown on it a great deal. If we are considered to be a mixed race or descendants of the lost colony why does it matter if we intermarry? What are we actually preserving that we haven’t already lost?
    1. Dr. Maynor Lowerys thoughts on this topic would be a great resource to reference.
    2. Historical records of Interracial dating involving the Lumbee people would also help.

Barton, Garry Lewis. “I’m not a bad apple, folk.” Carolina Indian Voice 29 October 1998:2.

Biank, Tanya S. “Race an open issue in Robeson County.” Fayetteville Observer-Times 26 October 1996.

McKenna, Chris. “Early movie-going in a tri-racial community: Lumberton, North Carolina (1896-1940). In: Going to the movies: Hollywood and the social experience of cinema. Ed. Melvyn Stokes, Robert Allen, and Richard Maltby. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, forthcoming November 2007.

Shalom Cherian-#6

23 03 2010

Today’s reading was from Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery’s Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South. The selected readings were the preface and the introduction.

In the preface, Lowery begins with an introduction to the geographical location, and goes on to introduce the Indians of Robeson County, NC. I think the geographical introduction was a good way to emphasize the importance of place to the Robeson county Indians. The book focuses on how these Indians have toiled to create an identity as a People, a race, a tribe, a nation-these the main aspects of Indian identity that the book focuses on.  Lowery points out that the markers of Indian Identity have been/are fluid and has changed/may change over time depending on various circumstances. Notions of Indian identity may have two very different perspectives- one, for those inside the community (they Know they are Indian), and the other for outsiders who may have specific ideas of what qualities may constitute being called ‘Indian.’ An example that the author gives is the various name changes that the Robeson County Indians underwent from 1885 to 1956.

Inspite of segregation, disempowerment, and factionalism, Robeson County Indians have maintained their identity as a people held together by the bonds of place and kinship. According to Lowery, Kinship and place is the main foundation of identity for these Indians. Factionalism among the Indians, and how it has been used as a strategic response to political conditions, and its effect on Indian Identity is a big topic that Lowery covers in the book. Lowery explains why having an Indian perspective on the historical events surrounding them is vital. Also, she reminds us that the Robeson county Indians are not only Indians, but also Americans, and southerners, and that their oral traditions and history are integral pieces of American Histories.

In the introduction, Lowery begins with the narrative of the 1936 visit of the OIA members to Robeson County. This visit was meant to help the Indians gain federal recognition. But, the OIA’s criteria for proving the ‘Indianess’ of Robeson County Indians was through testing ancestry and physical features. However, this undertaking harmed, more than helped the Indians efforts for recognition. The OIA failed to recognize the history of the coalescence of these Indians, and the kinship and identification within the community.

Lowery explains how and why Robeson county Indians are a “nation of nations” (p. 5). Te present day Lumbees and Tuscaroras are the results of mass migrations, intermarriage, and cultural exchange between various tribes like the Cheraw, Peedee, Tuscarora that lived in/settled in and around Robeson county during the 16th and 17th century.  The roles of women in the community are explained and the importance of ancestors to group identity is shown. One thing that I was surprised by, is when Lowery points out that ancestry and kinship can be distinct aspects of identity for the Lumbee Indian. Personally, I have never had to think of them as separate.

The historical events that impacted the Indians during the 18th and 19th century are mentioned. For example, how the Robeson County Indians lost their right to vote in 1835. The White supremacist landscape of the south, is against which the Indians suffered segregation and disempowerment. Lowery uses the events of Henry Berry Lowry as an example of how Indians reacted to increasing amounts of restrictions set on them. The Lowry war had integral effects on the South and on the community. The event gave Robeson county Indians a social identity and a drive to be politically active and achieve autonomy.

I never understood Why the Henry Berry Lowry story was tied in closed to the identity of the people. But on reading the last few paragraphs of the introduction, I think I understand better. Question I would like to know more about:

1. Would Henry Berry Lowry consider himself a Lumbee?

2. Do the Tuscarora hold Henry Berry Lowry in the same light as the Lumbee do?

Source: An Interview with a Tuscarora. Finding who/what Henery Berry Lowry means to them?

Coty Brayboy Reponse #6

23 03 2010

In Malinda Maynor Lowerys’ new book Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation: Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, she examines how the Indians of Robeson County (Lumbee and Tuscarora today) react both within the community and with “outsiders” while crafting identity as a People, a race, a tribe, and a nation. These terms overlap and show how Lumbee identity evolves in relation to non-Indians (whites held the power in Robeson County politics), the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) which became the BIA, and within the tribe itself. Maynor Lowery discusses how one of the defining characteristics of being Lumbee and Tuscarora is discord within the community. Indians in Robeson County firmly identify as a People, so the different tribal names put upon them by outsiders or chosen by the Indians themselves do not contradict their Indian claim as an Indian People of Robeson County.

Maynor Lowery describes kinship and place as the foundational layer of Indian Identity in Robeson County. Since the 1880s, people outside of the North Carolina Indian community have tried to make Indians in Robeson County fit into an inaccurate, confined box. However, the box itself undermines Indian identity in Robeson County. Maynor Lowery uses her position as both an insider and outsider to describe what she and other community members feel represents their heritage, identity and place within Native America. Maynor Lowery does this by a methodology called autoethnography. Authoethnography allows Maynor Lowery to situate herself as a Lumbee in the text, and this perspective is lacking in Lumbee research. Maynor Lowery argues that it is important to include the Lumbee way of seeing in academic scholarship in order to really understand how Lumbee identity formation and contestation can exist side by side. Otherwise, if someone approaches Lumbee scholarship without this understanding, it makes no sense how an Indian People can have five different names in about 130 years. Once one realizes that being Indian in Robeson County almost automatically includes disagreement and contestation, it makes sense that Indians do not have a uniform agreement on tribal origins.

Maynor Lowery uses coalescence to explain why Indians in Robeson County disagree about historical origins. The People in Robeson County today descend from numerous tribal groups: from 3 linguistic groups—Iroquoian, Siouan, and Algonkian, and 10 tribes, including Algonkian, Cheraw, Waccamaw, Peedee, Tuscarora, Saponi, Hatteras, Yeopim, Potoskite, Nansemond and the Weanoke. This vast diversity of peoples coming together meant that Indians used English as a common language. Then, kinship became the primary way to measure interrelation. Tribal names were not important compared to surnames. The main Indian surnames in 18th Century Robeson County include Chavis, Locklear, Lowry, Brooks and Oxendine. Having these and other related Indian surnames indicated that a person or a family belonged to the larger Indian community. Thus, Maynor Lowery argues that tribe and race overlap, because both signifiers used kinship as the primary unit of analysis.

This kinship system made sense to Lumbees, but it did not fit within the Office of Indian Affairs’ method of quantifying Indianness—anthropometry, or the study of the geometry of the human body. Although now discredited, anthropometry was considered to be a scientific study that proved Indian blood quantum based on stereotypical racial factors such as hair and skin color, facial features, hair texture and other physical measurements. In the 1930s, anthropologists from the OIA led by Carl Seltzer came to Robeson County to determine what people possessed half or more Indian blood using anthropometry. This study was a disaster, because they met with several hundred and only determined that 22 were half or more Indian. Seltzer only looked at phenotype, ignoring cultural factors, and concluded that the Indians in Robeson County in fact did not have a clear understanding of what it meant to be Indian. With regard to my research topic, these anthropologists completely ignored any traditional healing practices that undoubtedly would have proven an Indian identity that was different from surrounding black and white communities. Unfortunately, they did not take the time to understand what it meant to be a Robeson County Indian based on a variety of factors, instead trying to fit the people into a narrow box of Indianness based on physical appearance.

For questions, I am interested in how traditional healing practices may or may not vary depending on what tribal origin people claim. For instance, some people claim a Cheraw identity while others insist they descend from Indians that always lived in the Robeson County area. Because there were 3 linguistic groups and up to 10 tribal groups of ancestry, there probably was a diversity of healing practices being brought to Robeson County during the 18th Century coalescence. Have different practices survived? Are they identified as tribally specific? I know that practices vary by family. Do families try to align with particular tribal groups of origin?

To research these questions, I would need to look at historical coalescence and determine if communities today align with historical migration. Then, I would compare healing practices within today’s communities. I remember reading that some healing practices are common among all communities, especially when they involve plants or products that are readily available. However, other remedies are specific to families and communities. Some possible sources include:
1) Migration Patterns of Coastal NC Indians (paper with some historical documents and maps included on the website)
2) Rountree, Helen and Davidson: Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland. 1997, The University Press of Virginia
3) I could look at several sources here:

Kasey Oxendine #6

23 03 2010

Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South

By Malinda Maynor Lowery

In her book Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South, Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery explores how the identities of the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County were shaped in Robeson County over time. This identity is described in terms of layers. Lowery draws on personal conversation or Interviews and also the work of Gerald Sider and Karen Blu to tell the story of Indian identity in Robeson County. In addition, she also relies on non-written records such as oral history and photographs that were selected based on the method of autoethnography. Lowery describes identity as a fluid dialogue between insiders and outsiders. Being placed in the category of Indian is also fluid over time, moments, and conversations.  The account of a personal conversation with a Lumbee is used to demonstrate how place and kinship are the foundation of Indian identity. The Indian New Deal policies will be examined in reference to its role in shaping self-determination, governance and race and identity ideas.  The book will also explore the link between factionalism and identity.  Lowery states that the names used to identify Indians in Robeson County resulted from political circumstances. The book will show that race is assigned for strategic purposes in addition to being ascribed by dominant groups.  While the book will explore the shaping of Indian identities it is important to note that the Lumbee rarely questioned who they were, but rather their struggle has been for recognition and sovereignty. People, race, tribe, and nation are the four layers of Native American Identity in the book.

In the introduction, the coalescence of the Indians in Robeson County is explained during a time when the foundation of kinship and settlement was laid out. The visit to Robeson County from members of the Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) in 1936 was supposed to help Indians in their fight for recognition; however, it promoted white supremacy like Jim Crow. The Indian community hoped that the visit would bring needed help to the community in areas such as the schools. At this time Pembroke boasted Indian-run businesses, churches, and schools. Despite Indian power in the town, white supremacy was still present and subject Indians to prejudice. Indians were still non-white and therefore faced discrimination; in addition they were not black and therefore elicited frustrations from blacks.  Joseph Brook and Jim Chavis, members of General Council of Siouan Indians, met with the OIA representatives. OIA representative came to Robeson County to examine physical feature in an attempt to determine who was Indian and who was not, an effort that failed. The visit from OIA revealed how government and Robeson County have conflicting views on what it means to be Indian.

Lowery goes on to explain how Lumbee and Tuscarora Indians of Robeson County are the result of migration and cultural exchange between many tribes over about 300 years. Three language families are said to belong to these people: Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonkian, according to archaeologists and anthropologists. This migration and integration of different tribes could be the reason that tribal language is lost to Indians in this region, coming together would have been difficult without speaking a common language, English. Oral tradition credits the Roanoke River, Pamlico Sound, and the Outer Banks and the piedmont regions of North Carolina as the regions that these Indian people originated. Kinship was used to govern and identify as Indian. Kinship was first a matrilineal system that later became patrilineal. Owning land came about in three possible ways: grants, purchases, or occupation prior to English settlement. Indians were identified by there connection to settlements and families. Locale strengthened family and cultural values as well as social relations in the Indian community.  The claim that Lumbee’s have multiracial ancestry may be the result of intermarrying. It is important to note that intermarriage is not distinct to the Lumbee people, but also occurred throughout history in many tribes. The 1854 constitution stripped some Lumbee’s civil rights event thought the bill did not name Indians.  Shortly after this time the era of Henry Berry Lowry took place which ties together the aspects of Indian belonging: reciprocity, kinship, and settlement.


1)      Lowery’s book explores the formation of identity among Indians of Robeson County. How did separate schools allow for the formation of Indian Identity or add to the notion of being Indian?

2)      The OIA stated that “these people did not have a clear understanding of the term Indian.”  How do Lumbee’s understand the term Indian today, in particular how do Lumbee Indian students in a predominately Indian High School (Purnell Sweat) describe what it means to be Indian.


Interview with Carnell Locklear by Malinda Maynor, February 24, 2004 Interview #U-0007, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Meeting with NASA Students at Purnell Sweat High School on March 16, 2010.

Kristen Gnau #2

11 02 2010

Race (noun)
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.

In class this week, we talked about what it means to be Lumbee.  We discussed the importance of the name and whether the name—the label—was important or not.  This got me thinking about my own research topic, racial classification.  This week’s readings are very closely related to racial classification but before considering the readings, I first wanted to get a better idea of what “race” actually means.  Isn’t racial classification, after all, just a label?  I have listed above a straight-forward dictionary definition for the word.  Under the definition, however, the online dictionary ( provides a usage note which I found to be quite relevant:

“Usage Note: The notion of race is nearly as problematic from a scientific point of view as it is from a social one. European physical anthropologists of the 17th and 18th centuries proposed various systems of racial classifications based on such observable characteristics as skin color, hair type, body proportions, and skull measurements, essentially codifying the perceived differences among broad geographic populations of humans. The traditional terms for these populations—Caucasoid (or Caucasian), Mongoloid, Negroid, and in some systems Australoid—are now controversial in both technical and nontechnical usage, and in some cases they may well be considered offensive. (Caucasian does retain a certain currency in American English, but it is used almost exclusively to mean “white” or “European” rather than “belonging to the Caucasian race,” a group that includes a variety of peoples generally categorized as nonwhite.) The biological aspect of race is described today not in observable physical features but rather in such genetic characteristics as blood groups and metabolic processes, and the groupings indicated by these factors seldom coincide very neatly with those put forward by earlier physical anthropologists. Citing this and other points—such as the fact that a person who is considered black in one society might be nonblack in another—many cultural anthropologists now consider race to be more a social or mental construct than an objective biological fact.” (

In other words, race is not as simple as black and white.  And (bad puns aside) this week’s readings showed that defining race, and therefore classifying people by racial standards, is actually quite complicated.

Guy B. Johnson’s article, “Personality in White-Indian-Negro Community,” largely portrays Indians as a confused race, floating somewhere in between being white and black.  The Lumbee, or Croatan as he refers to them, are the largest group of mixed race Indians in the South.  He says the Croatan were formed by the mixing of runaway slaves, Indian tribes, and white adventurers, amongst other groups.  Johnson believes that Indians do not want to be classified as “Negroes” but whites do not want Indians to be classified as white, so they are neither.  He calls them an “exception to biracialism of the south.”  He then proceeds to break down the residents of Robeson County into three racial classifications (instead of two):  white (47%), black (34%), and Indian (19%).  He does not acknowledge that perhaps 100% of the residents are of mixed ancestry, but instead just adds a third racial classification to lump people into, saying that most residents are not “bona fide Indians.”

In his article, Johnson portrays the Croatans as racist towards black people.  This was the section of the article that I struggled the most with.  He claims that the Croatan people are classified as colored but want to be white.  I wholly disagree with this claim.  Perhaps the Croatan people do not want to be white but simply want the same rights—the rights to govern themselves independently—as those afforded to white people.  Similarly, the Croatan Indians desire to disassociate with the black community most likely stemmed from their own desire to be recognized as an independent Indian race (not simply labeled “colored”).  This is best illustrated by their giving up their Croatan legend just to be associated with a recognized group of Indians (the Cherokee).

In his article, “Shifting Boundaries of Race and Ethnicity,” Daniel R. Mandell provides answers to the question of why it is so difficult to racially classify many Indian tribes like the Lumbee today.  For groups with perhaps fewer numbers and less cohesion, like the Lumbee, intermarriage became a way to survive.  Assimilating, or acculturating (Mandell makes the distinction in his article), other ethnic groups became a double edged sword, however, when a shift in ethnic identities caused the Lumbee’s indianness to come into question.  If intermarriage leads to a mixed race, and mixed race cannot be Indian, people argued, then the Indian was dead.  This is the moment when racial classification—distinguishing the Lumbee as Indian became very important.

Today the Lumbee are not fully federally recognized and one of the arguments against full recognition is their lack of “Indian” culture.  Mandell explains where part of the culture loss came from.  Indians and black Americans, he explains, were brought together by multiple reasons.  Indians, Mandell says, at the time of racial mixing were not concerned with racial purity.  In fact, tribes often welcomed newcomers and even sometimes adapted older customs to new situations.  To me, it makes sense that Indians accepted black Americans into their culture.  After all, last week we learned that tribes often combined or overtook other tribes when their numbers dwindled.  To an Indian living pre-Columbus, was another tribe not very similar our concept of another “race?”

Where Johnson argued that an Indian is anyone recognized as one by other Indians, Mandell argues that kinship is not enough.  He cites examples of generational differences in racial associations.  In other words, an individual may identify with one group while his son/daughter/brother/sister identifies with another.  For Mandell, it is more about personal identity rather than a label based on blood quantum or even cultural norms.

It was not until white colonialist began viewing race as a science and placing value on race that Indians needed to have any concern for racial purity at all.  In fact, Mandell argues that group survival in a multiethnic world would be greater with less rigid boundaries.  If this is true, then shouldn’t the Lumbee be thriving in today’s multicultural America?

In Gary B. Nash’s article, “The Hidden History of Mestizo America,” he describes what should have been:  a new, mixed American “race.”  He cites numerous reasons this was prevented including war with the Indians, white people’s fear of an Indian-black alliance, and the Indians’ desire to retain their homelands.  Mixing races was more common than I had realized; I assumed racial hierarchy was always an issue.  According to Nash, however, it was not until science and culture became inextricably linked that the issue of racial purity became one of importance.  In fact, as early as 1650, Spanish-Indian children were recognized for being mixed-race.  Over 300 years later and we still do not consider “mixed-race” a real racial classification!

Nash recognizes racial mixing in the early Americas as natural and even calls it the “fundamental cohesion of the human race.”  He is careful not to over-romanticize it, but illustrates racial mixing as something much more common and accepted than American History often makes it out to be.  In the early 19th century, however, racial mixing took a turn to become more about Americanizing the Indians than mixing with them.  Today, the situation is quite different and only about 1 in 5 Americans are of British descent.

Although racial mixing is accepted today, it generates confusion for those who are products of it.  Racial reduction limits a person’s identity to one dimension, Nash argues.  Furthermore, pride in a mixed ancestry does not run high in America.  Is it because “mixed-race” is not considered a true racial classification?  Why must we be one or the other when none of us truly are?  Why is race something that defines our identity at all—why not simply culture or even ethnicity?  Nash ends his article with a call to celebrate racial differences.  This left me wondering where the importance of racial classification comes in.  Is racial classification even important or is it a topic that limits our identities and should be ignored?  One the other hand, does a “color-blind” mentality solve the problem of racial injustice or perpetuate it?

To answer some of the questions I have listed throughout and a few more, I am providing these resources as a starting place:

Use the annotated bibliography on the Lumbee for information on Lumbee economics:

Why is the discourse on race so narrow?

Greenbaum, Susan. “What’s in a label? Identity problems of Southern Indian tribes.” Journal of Ethnic Studies 19.2 (1991):107-126.

Daniel, G. Reginald. “Triracial isolates: runaways and refuseniks.” More than Black? Multiracial identity and the new racial order. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2002. See especially pages 68-75.

“Reds and Blacks in bloody fight: Croatan Indians and Negroes have a mix in North Carolina.” Atlanta Constitution Thursday, August 6, 1903.

Katz, William Loren. “Blacks-Indians alliance has deep roots.” New York Times March 2, 1988, page A22. 413 words.

Jones, Rhett S. “Black/Indian relations: an overview of the scholarship.” Transforming Anthropology 10.1 (2001): 2-16.

Harrell, Hannah B. The Question of Race in Robeson County, 1864-1885. Undergraduate honors thesis. 23 pages. University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 2005. Not seen. Located at UNC-P’s Sampson-Livermore Library Special Collections. Not available through Interlibrary Loan.

Why is race so important?