Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia

By Ann McGrath | Go to book overview

Preface
Flowers for the Bride

We are waiting on a file. Sitting together in the archives of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Clara Sue and I are having lively chats while hoping to learn more about the Cherokee chief John Ross. Although he had opposed intermarriages between Cherokees and whites, after his Cherokee wife died, he ended up marrying a white woman. The opening cast of this part of the story: Clara Sue Kidwell and the author. From different sides of the hemispheric divide, we are time-line jumpers, historians of frontier, especially of the colonizing interface. Myself, a Queensland-born Australian, and Clara Sue, a senior Native American scholar from Oklahoma in the United States of America. Our research expeditions have crossed the Equator and the date line — those invisible geometries that partition the world. Although we sit on different sides of the settler-colonizer divide, these cross-lines are not so simple. Clara Sue Kidwell’s ancestry is Choctaw, Chippewa, French, English, and Scotch-Irish. Despite our Scottish, English, and other ancestors, my grandparents and great-grandparents said we were Irish. My paternal grandfather was indeed the son of a Galway man, but along with Viking genes, his deep-toned skin suggested the Spanish or Roman heritage that people referred to as dark Irish. Then there was his English-born mother, my great-grandmother, Marion Smith. Illegitimate, she never knew who her father was, or her birth name. Brought up by foster parents, she traveled alone to faraway Australia at age sixteen. Soon married, she eventually bore and raised ten children. Her daughter-in-law, my

-xiii-

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