Immigration and the Political Economy of Home: West Indian Brooklyn and American Indian Minneapolis, 1945-1992

By Rachel Buff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Playing for Keeps
A Brief Colonial History of
Carnival and Powwow

COMPARATIVE COLONIALISMS

This chapter compares Carnival and powwow, framing them as responses to colonialism. I trace the history of Carnival in Trinidad from slavery days through emancipation in 1838 and the subsequent colonial administration of a profoundly mixed-race society. I follow pan-Indian culture through the 1880s, when the Dawes Act allocated Indian lands during the final phase of military conflict over the western frontier, and into the twentieth century, with its history of federal attempts to assimilate or eradicate native peoples and culture. The chapter continues a short way into the twentieth century, concluding with a description of Carnival and powwow in their contemporary IM/MIGRANT incarnations in Brooklyn and Minneapolis.

Throughout their long histories in this hemisphere, Carnival and powwow have responded to three central themes in Caribbean and Indian social experience: migration, colonial administration, and, in the twentieth century, the astounding reach and celerity of mass culture. These three things are, of course, linked: the forced migration of Africans in the Middle Passage resulted in their invention and re-membering of a culture that was subject to vicious repression first by slaveholders, later by the postemancipation hierarchies of Caribbean colonies. American Indians were forced west by pressure from Euroamerican expansion. Removal of eastern nations to Oklahoma, for example, resulted in the formation

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