Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America

Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America

Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America

Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America

Synopsis

Confounding the Color Lineis an essential, interdisciplinary introduction to the myriad relationships forged for centuries between Indians and Blacks in North America. Since the days of slavery, the lives and destinies of Indians and Blacks have been entwined-thrown together through circumstance, institutional design, or personal choice. Cultural sharing and intermarriage have resulted in complex identities for some members of Indian and Black communities today. The contributors to this volume examine the origins, history, various manifestations, and long-term consequences of the different connections that have been established between Indians and Blacks. Stimulating examples of a range of relations are offered, including the challenges faced by Cherokee freedmen, the lives of Afro-Indian whalers in New England, and the ways in which Indians and Africans interacted in Spanish colonial New Mexico. Special attention is given to slavery and its continuing legacy, both in the Old South and in Indian Territory. The intricate nature of modern Indian-Black relations is showcased through discussions of the ties between Black athletes and Indian mascots, the complex identities of Indians in southern New England, the problem of Indian identity within the African American community, and the way in which today's Lumbee Indians have creatively engaged with African American church music. At once informative and provocative,Confounding the Color Linesheds valuable light on a pivotal and not well understood relationship between these communities of color, which together and separately have affected, sometimes profoundly, the course of American history.

Excerpt

Older Negro woman seen on Ignacio street ...

Omer Stewart field notes, 18 June 1953

This volume has at least as many origins as it does authors, but for me it began at the end of a dirt road. The rutted track to Euterpe Cloud Taylor's house cut through freshly mowed alfalfa fields along the bottomlands of the Pine River on the Southern Ute reservation of Colorado. In transit from graduate school in California to conduct research in New Mexico, I had paused to visit family and friends in Bayfield and Ignacio, seat of the Southern Ute tribe. This day found my partner, Rebecca, and me jouncing along behind Frances Leon Quintana and her husband, Miguel, as we engaged in the reservation pastime of "visiting” — informal drop-ins among neighbors to swap stories, share food, and keep abreast of the latest chisme (gossip). Fran had lived and worked among the "tri-ethnic” peoples of the reservation for more than thirty years, beginning in the 1960s as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado and since her 1977 marriage to Miguel as an affinal member of that complicated, contentious, yet enduring Indian-Hispano-Anglo regional community. As the most knowledgeable living resource on the cultures and histories of the area, Fran had long played mentor to my work on Spanish-Indian relations across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But today she had something different in mind.

Euterpe Cloud Taylor's small frame house rested beneath the shade of cottonwood trees grown heavy and brittle with time. Her dog stirred listlessly as we crossed the dusty yard and entered her curtain-darkened front room. An antique buffet featured a parade of framed family photographs, from stiff sepia poses in Indian regalia to recent high school graduation portfolios. Rebecca and I seated ourselves on the cool floor while . . .

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