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I don’t know what most white people in this country feel but I can only include what they feel from the state of their institutions. James Baldwin on The Dick Cavett Show [X]

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Chief Joyi railed against the white man, who he believed had deliberately sundered the Xhosa tribe, dividing brother from brother. The white man had told the Thembus that their true chief was the great white queen across the ocean and that they were her subjects. But the white queen brought nothing but misery and perfidy to the black people, and if she was a chief she was an evil chief. Chief Joyi’s war stories and his indictment of the British made me feel angry and cheated, as though I had already been robbed of my own birthright.
Chief Joyi said that the African people lived in relative peace until the coming of the abelungu, the white people, who arrived from across the sea with fire-breathing weapons. Once, he said, the Thembu, the Mpondo, the Xhosa, and the Zulu were all children of one father, and lived as brothers. The white man shattered the abantu, the fellowship, of the various tribes. The white man was hungry and greedy for land, and the black man shared the land with him as they shared the air and water; land was not for man to possess. But the white man took the land as you might seize another man’s horse.
I did not yet know that the real history of our country was not to be found in standard British textbooks, which claimed South Africa began with the landing of Jan Van Riebeeck at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. It was from Chief Joyi that I began to discover that the history of the Bantu-speaking peoples began far to the north, in a country of lakes and green plains and valleys, and that slowly over the millennia we made our way down to the very tip of this great continent.

Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

… sounds super familiar.

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Harper Launches Major First Nations Termination Plan: As Negotiating Tables Legitimize Canada’s Colonialism - Gitxsan Unity Movement


On September 4th the Harper government clearly signaled its intention to:

1) Focus all its efforts to assimilate First Nations into the existing federal and provincial orders of government of Canada;

2) Terminate the constitutionally protected and internationally recognized Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.

Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

To do this the Harper government announced three new policy measures:

  • A “results based” approach to negotiating Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements. This is an assessment process of 93 negotiation tables across Canada to determine who will and who won’t agree to terminate Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights under the terms of Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies. For those tables who won’t agree, negotiations will end as the federal government withdraws from the table and takes funding with them.
  • First Nation regional and national political organizations will have their core funding cut and capped. For regional First Nation political organizations the core funding will be capped at $500,000 annually. For some regional organizations this will result in a funding cut of $1 million or more annually. This will restrict the ability of Chiefs and Executives of Provincial Territorial  organization’s to organize and/or advocate for First Nations rights and interests.
  • First Nation Band and Tribal Council funding for advisory services will be eliminated over the next two years further crippling the ability of Chiefs and Councils and Tribal Council executives to analyze and assess the impacts of federal and provincial policies and legislation on Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

These three new policy measures are on top of the following unilateral federal legislation the Harper government is imposing over First Nations:

  • Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act
  • Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 [Omnibus Bill includes Indian Act amendments regarding voting on-reserve lands surrenders/designations]
  •  Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
  •  Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
  •  Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
  •  Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act [Private Conservative MP’s Bill, but supported by Harper government]

Then there are the Senate Public Bills:

  • Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
  •  Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill

The Harper government’s Bills listed above are designed to undermine the collective rights of First Nations by focusing on individual rights. This is the “modern legislative framework” the Conservatives promised in 2006. The 2006 Conservative Platform promised to:

Replace the Indian Act (and related legislation) with a modern legislative framework which provides for the devolution of full legal and democratic responsibility to aboriginal Canadians for their own affairs within the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Of course “modern” in Conservative terms means assimilation of First Nations by termination of their collective rights and off-loading federal responsibilities onto the First Nations themselves and the provinces.

One Bill that hasn’t been introduced into Parliament yet, but is still expected, is the First Nations’ Private Ownership Act (FNPOA). This private property concept for Indian Reserves—which has been peddled by the likes of Tom Flanagan and tax proponent and former Kamloops Chief Manny Jules—is also a core plank of the Harper government’s 2006 electoral platform.

The 2006 Conservative Aboriginal Platform promised that if elected a Harper government would:

Support the development of individual property ownership on reserves, to encourage lending for private housing and businesses.

The long-term goals set out in the Harper government’s policy and legislative initiatives listed above are not new; they are at least as old as theIndian Act and were articulated in the federal 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, which set out a plan to terminate Indian rights as the time.

Previous Termination Plans: 1969 White Paper & Buffalo Jump of 1980’s

The objectives of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy were to:

  • Assimilate First Nations.
  • Remove legislative recognition.
  • Neutralize constitutional status.
  • Impose taxation.
  • Encourage provincial encroachment.
  • Eliminate Reserve lands & extinguish Aboriginal Title.
  • Economically underdevelop communities.
  • Dismantle Treaties.

As First Nations galvanized across Canada to fight the Trudeau Liberal government’s proposed 1969 termination policy the federal government was forced to consider a strategy on how to calm the Indian storm of protest.

In a memo dated April 1, 1970, David Munro, an Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs on Indian Consultation and Negotiations, advised his political masters Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau, as follows:

… in our definition of objectives and goals, not only as they appear in formal documents, but also as stated or even implied in informal memoranda, draft planning papers, or causal conversation. We must stop talking about having the objective or goal of phasing out in five years… We can still believe with just as much strength and sincerity that the [White Paper] policies we propose are the right ones…

The final [White Paper] proposal, which is for the elimination of special status in legislation, must be relegated far into the future… my conclusion is that we need not change the [White Paper] policy content, but we should put varying degrees of emphasis on its several components and we should try to discuss it in terms of its components rather than as a whole… we should adopt somewhat different tactics in relation to [the White Paper] policy, but that we should not depart from its essential content. (Emphasis added)

In the early 1970’s, the Trudeau Liberal government did back down publicly on implementing the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, but as we can see from Mr. Munro’s advice the federal bureaucracy changed the timeline from five years to a long-term implementation of the 1969 White Paper objectives of assimilation/termination.

In the mid-1980’s the Mulroney Conservative government resurrected the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, through a Cabinet memo.

In 1985, a secret federal Cabinet submission was leaked to the media by a DIAND employee. The Report was nicknamed the “Buffalo Jump of the 1980’s” by another federal official. The nickname referred to the effect of the recommendations in the secret Cabinet document, which if adopted, would lead Status Indians to a cultural death — hence the metaphor.

The Buffalo Jump Report proposed a management approach for First Nations policy and
programs, which had the following intent:

  • Limiting & eventually terminating the federal trust obligations;
  • Reducing federal expenditures for First Nations, under funding programs, and prohibiting deficit financing;
  • Shifting responsibility and costs for First Nations services to provinces and “advanced bands” through co-management, tri-partite, and community self-government agreements;
  • “Downsizing” of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) through a devolution of program administration to “advanced bands” and transfer of programs to other federal departments;
  • Negotiating municipal community self-government agreements with First Nations which would result in the First Nation government giving up their Constitutional status as a sovereign government and becoming a municipality subject to provincial or territorial laws;
  • Extinguishing aboriginal title and rights in exchange for fee simple title under provincial or territorial law while giving the province or territory underlying title to First Nations lands.

The Mulroney government’s “Buffalo Jump” plan was temporarily derailed due the 1990 “Oka Crisis”. Mulroney responded to the “Oka Crisis” with his “Four Pillars” of Native Policy:

  • Accelerating the settlement of land claims;
  • Improving the economic and social conditions on Reserves;
  • Strengthening the relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and governments;
  • Examining the concerns of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in contemporary Canadian life.

In 1991, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which began its work later that year; the establishment of an Indian Claims Commission to review Specific Claims; the establishment of a BC Task Force on Claims, which would form the basis for the BC Treaty Commission Process.

In 1992, Aboriginal organizations and the federal government agreed, as part of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, on amendments to theConstitution Act, 1982 that would have included recognition of the inherent right of self-government for Aboriginal people. For the first time, Aboriginal organizations had been full participants in the talks; however, the Accord was rejected in a national referendum.

With the failure of Canadian constitutional reform in 1992, for the last twenty years, the federal government—whether Liberal or Conservative—has continued to develop policies and legislation based upon the White Paper/Buffalo Jump objectives and many First Nations have regrettably agreed to compromise their constitutional/international rights by negotiating under Canada’s termination policies.

Canada’s Termination Policies Legitimized by Negotiation Tables

It has been thirty years since Aboriginal and Treaty rights have been “recognized and affirmed” in section 35 of Canada’s constitution. Why hasn’t the constitutional protection for First Nations’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights been implemented on the ground?

One answer to this question is, following the failure of the First Ministers’ Conferences on Aboriginal Matters in the 1980’s, many First Nations agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by entering into or negotiating Modern Treaties and/or Self-government Agreements under Canada’s unilateral negotiation terms.

These Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements not only contribute to emptying out section 35 of Canada’s constitution of any significant legal, political or economic meaning. Final settlement agreements are then used as precedents against other First Nations’ who are negotiating.

Moreover, Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government policies are far below the international standards set out in the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada publicly endorsed the UNDRIP in November 2010, but obviously Canada’s interpretation of the UNDRIP is different than that of most First Nations, considering their unilateral legislation and policy approach.

Canada’s voted against UNDRIP on Sept. 13, 2007, stating that the UNDRIP was inconsistent with Canada’s domestic policies, especially the Articles dealing with Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination, Land Rights and Free, Prior Informed Consent.

Canada’s position on UNDRIP now is that they can interpret it as they please, although the principles in UNDRIP form part of international not domestic law.

The federal strategy is to maintain the Indian Act (with amendments) as the main federal law to control and manage First Nations. The only way out of the Indian Act for First Nations is to negotiate an agreement under Canada’s one-sided Land Claims and/or Self-Government policies. These Land Claims/Self-Government Agreements all require the termination of Indigenous rights for some land, cash and delegated jurisdiction under the existing federal and provincial orders of government.

Canada has deemed that it will not recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of First Nations or allow for a distinct First Nations order of government based upon section 35 of Canada’s constitution.

Through blackmail, bribery or force, Canada is using the poverty of First Nations to obtain concessions from First Nations who want out of theIndian Act by way of Land Claims/Self- Government Agreements. All of these Agreements conform to Canada’s interpretation of section 35 of Canada’s constitution, which is to legally, politically and economically convert First Nations into what are essentially ethnic municipalities.

The first groups in Canada who have agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent and Aboriginal rights through Modern Treaties have created an organization called the Land Claims Agreement Coalition. The Coalition Members are:

  • Council of Yukon First Nations (representing 9 land claim organizations in the Yukon)
  • Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
  • Gwich’in Tribal Council
  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation
  • Maa-nulth First Nations
  • Makivik Corporation
  • Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
  • Nisga’a Nation
  • Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
  • Nunatsiavut Government
  • Sahtu Secretariat Inc.
  • Tlicho Government
  • Tsawwassen First Nation
  • Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

The Land Claims Agreement Coalition Members came together because the federal government wasn’t properly implementing any of their Modern Treaties. So the Coalition essentially became a lobby group to collectively pressure the federal government to respect their Modern Treaties. According to Members of the Coalition Modern Treaty implementation problems persist today.

The fact that Canada has already broken the Modern Treaties shouldn’t inspire confidence for those First Nations who are already lined up at Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiation tables.

According to the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs there are 93 Modern Treaty and/or Self-Government negotiation tables across Canada [].

Those First Nations who are negotiating at these 93 tables are being used by the federal government (and the provinces/Territories) to legitimize its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies, which are based upon extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and termination of Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

The First Nations who have been refusing to negotiate and are resisting the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiating policies are routinely ignored by the federal government and kept under control and managed through the Indian Act (with amendments).

Attempts by non-negotiating First Nations to reform the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies aren’t taken seriously by the federal government because there are so many First Nations who have already compromised their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by agreeing to negotiate under the terms and funding conditions of these Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies.

For example, following the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision, which recognized that Aboriginal Title exists in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations tried to reform the Comprehensive Claims policy to be consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukwdecision.

However, the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Robert Nault on December 22, 2000, wrote a letter addressed to then Chief Arthur Manuelthat essentially said why should the federal government change the Comprehensive Claims policy if First Nations are prepared to negotiate under it as it is?

A fair question: why do First Nations remain at negotiation tables that ultimately lead to the termination of their peoples Inherent and Aboriginal rights, especially since it appears that Modern Treaties are routinely broken after they are signed by the federal government?

Many of these negotiations are in British Columbia where despite the past twenty years of negotiations the B.C. Treaty process has produced two small Modern Treaties, Tsawwassan and Maa’Nulth. The Nisga’a Treaty was concluded in 2000, outside of the B.C. Treaty process.

All of these Modern Treaties have resulted in extinguishing Aboriginal Title, converting reserve lands into fee simple, removing tax exemptions, converting bands into municipalities, among other impacts on Inherent and Aboriginal rights.

The Harper Government’s Termination Plan

Aside from the unilateral legislation being imposed, or the funding cuts and caps to First Nation’s and their political organizations, the September 4, 2012, announcement of a “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations amounts to a “take it or leave it” declaration on the part of the Harper government to the negotiating First Nations.

Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy requires First Nations to borrow money from the federal government to negotiate their “land claims”. According to the federal government:

To date, the total of outstanding loans to Aboriginal groups from Canada to support their participation in negotiations is $711 million. This represents a significant financial liability for the Aboriginal community. In addition, the government of Canada provides $60 million in grants and contributions to Aboriginal groups every year for negotiations.

It is Canada’s policies that forced First Nations to borrow money to negotiate their “claims”, so the “financial liability” was a policy measure designed by the federal government to pressure First Nations into settling their “claims” faster. As the federal government puts it, the Comprehensive Claims negotiation process has instead “spawned a negotiation industry that has no incentive to reach agreement.”

This accumulated debt of $711 million along with the $60 million annual in grants and contributions have compromised those negotiating First Nations and their leaders to the point that they are unable or unwilling to seriously confront the Harper government’s termination plan.

Over 50% of the Comprehensive Claims are located in B.C. and the First Nations Summit represents the negotiating First Nations in B.C., although some negotiating First Nations have now joined the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), thus blurring the historic distinctions between to two political organizations. The latter organization previously vigorously opposed the B.C. Treaty process, but now theUBCIC remains largely silent about it.

These two main political organizations — the First Nations Summit and the UBCIC — have now joined together into the B.C. First Nations Leadership Council, further blending the rights and interests of their respective member communities together, not taking into account whether they are in or out of the B.C. Treaty process.

This may partially explain why the Chiefs who are not in the B.C. Treaty process also remain largely silent about the Harper government’s “results based’ approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations.

First Nations in British Columbia are failing to capitalize on that fact, that since the Delgamuukw Decision, the governments have to list unresolved land claims and litigation as a contingent liability. Such liabilities can affect Canada’s sovereign credit rating and provincial credit ratings. To counter this outstanding liability, Canada points to the British Columbia Treaty Process as the avenue how they are dealing with this liability, pointing to the fact that First Nations are borrowing substantive amounts to negotiate with the governments.

Another recent example of how disconnected B.C. First Nations and their organizations are on international versus domestic policy and law, is the First Nations’ outcry over the recent Canada-China Treaty.

The B.C. Chiefs and their organizations are publicly denouncing the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as adversely impacting on Aboriginal Title and Rights, yet they say or do nothing about Harper’s accelerated termination plan. It seems the negotiating First Nations are more worried about the Canada-China Treaty blocking a future land claims deal under the B.C. Treaty process.

The Chiefs and their organizations at the B.C. Treaty process negotiation tables have had twenty years to negotiate the “recognition and affirmation” of Aboriginal Title and Rights, but this continues to be impossible under Canada’s policies aiming at the extinguishment of collective rights. As a result only two extinguishment Treaties have resulted from the process. Even Sophie Pierre, Chair of the B.C. Treaty Commission has said “If we can’t do it, it’s about time we faced the obvious - I guess we don’t have it, so shut her down”.

By most accounts the twenty year old B.C. Treaty process has been a failure. It has served the governments’ purpose of countering their contingent liabilities regarding Indigenous land rights. Yet it seems the negotiating First Nations are so compromised by their federal loans and dependent on the negotiations funding stream that they are unable or unwilling to withdraw from the tables en masse and make real on the demand that the Harper government reform its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies to be consistent with the Articles of the UNDRIP.

The same can also be said for the negotiating First Nations in the Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions.

The Chiefs who are not in the B.C., Quebec or Atlantic negotiating processes have not responded much, if at all, to Harper’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government. The non-negotiating Chiefs seem to be more interested in managing programs and services issues than their Aboriginal Title and Rights. As one federal official put it, the Chiefs are involved in the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy like economic and social development while ignoring the main White Paper objective—termination of First Nations legal status.


Given their silence over the Harper government’s “results based” “take it or leave it” negotiations approach, it seems many of the negotiating First Nations at the Comprehensive Claims and/or Self-Government tables are still contemplating concluding Agreements under Canada’s termination policies.

This can only lead to further division among First Nations across Canada as more First Nations compromise their constitutional and international rights by consenting to final settlement agreements under the terms and conditions of Canada’s termination policies, while undermining the political positions of the non-negotiating First Nations.

In the meantime, Harper’s government will continue pawning off Indigenous lands and resources in the midst of a financial crisis though free trade and foreign investment protection agreements, which will secure foreign corporate access to lands and resources and undermine Indigenous Rights.

Some First Nation leaders and members have criticised AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo for agreeing to a joint approach with the Harper government, including the Crown-First Nations Gathering (CFNG), but to be fair, the Chiefs across Canada did nothing to pressure Prime Minister Harper going into the CFNG. Instead, many Chiefs used the occasion as a photo op posing with the Prime Minister.

The negotiating First Nations who are in joint processes with Canada seem to be collectively heading to the cliff of the “Buffalo Jump” as they enter termination agreements with Canada emptying out section 35 in the process.

Much of the criticism of AFN National Chief Atleo has come from the Prairie Treaty Chiefs. Interestingly, if one looks at the federal chart of the 93 negotiation tables [] not too many First Nations from historic Treaty areas are involved in the Self-Government tables, except for the Ontario region where the Union of Ontario Indians and Nisnawbe-Aski Nationare negotiating Self-Government agreements.

As a result of the September 4, 2012 announcements regarding changes to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations, cuts and caps to funding First Nations political organizations and unilateral legislation initiatives, it is obvious that Prime Minister Harper has tricked the AFN National Chief and First Nations by showing that the CFNG “outcomes” were largely meaningless.

One commitment that Prime Minister Harper made at the CFNG—which he will probably keep—Is making a progress report in January 2013. The Prime Minister will probably announce the progress being made with all of the negotiating tables across Canada, along with his legislative initiatives.

It appears First Nations are at the proverbial “end of the trail” as the Chiefs seem to be either co-opted or afraid to challenge the Harper government. Most grassroots peoples aren’t even fully informed about the dangerous situation facing them and their future generations.

The only way to counter the Harper government is to:

  • have all negotiating First Nations suspend their talks; and
  • organize coordinated National Days of Action to register First Nations opposition to the Harper government’s termination plan;
  • Demand Canada suspend all First Nations legislation in Parliament, cease introducing new Bills and
  • Change Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government Policies to “recognize and affirm” the Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of First Nations, including respect and implementation of the Historic Treaties.

If there is no organized protest and resistance to the Harper government’s termination plan, First Nations should accept their place at the bottom of all social, cultural and economic indicators in Canada, just buy into Harper’s jobs and economic action plan—and be quiet about their rights.


The First Nations Strategic Bulletin is a publication of the First Nations Strategic Policy Counsel, an informal group of individuals who are practitioners in either First Nations policy or law. The publication is a volunteer non-profit effort and is part of a series. For Back Issues Go To: Canada Library & Archives - Electronic Collections.

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The One Drop Rule


“In an era where the quantity of blood was the measure of one’s identity, Americans devised a vernacular and legal fractionalization of racial identities in order to determine who was and was not to be counted as white. Mulatto (half-black and half-white), Quadroon (one-quarter black) and Octoroon (one-eighth black) were, in the eyes of the law, not the equivalent of white racial identity. Anti-miscegenation laws were thus further compounded by the one-drop rule.” Debra Thompson

For generations, the boundaries of the African-American race have been formed by a rule, informally known as the “one drop rule,” which, in its colloquial definition, provides that one drop of Black blood makes a person Black.  In more formal, sociological circles, the rule is known as a form of “hypodescent”  and its meaning remains basically the same: anyone with a known Black ancestor is considered Black. Over the generations, this rule has not only shaped countless lives, it has created the African-American race as we know it today, and it has defined not just the history of this race but a large part of the history of America.

Race mixing between Whites and Blacks in America is not new. The unique American definition of “Black” has roots that are almost as old as race mixing on this continent. […] The legal treatment of mulattoes as Blacks, with all of the attached legal disabilities, may have begun as early as the seventeenth century. One of the earliest judicial uses of the term “mulatto” to describe a person of mixed Black-White descent, appears in the Virginia case of In Re Mulatto. Although the opinion consists of a single sentence, and we know of no supporting record to illuminate the facts of the case, its logic constructs the American view of racial mixture between Black and White that has endured for over three hundred years. 

In re Mulatto in its entirety states: “Mulatto held to be a slave and appeal taken.”Without discussion or debate, the court thus apparently articulated the first judicial expression of the rule of hypodescent. Implicit in its  opinion is the finding that the litigant was of both African and European descent, but the court found that the European ancestry made no legally significant difference at all, and the holding is likely to have severed whatever ties this “racial hybrid” had with his European ancestry. In fact, it was the African ancestry that both defined his status and determined his fate.

As racial mixing continued largely unchecked by the laws that purported to prohibit it, the result was children. As intermixture continued through the generations, many children became “light-skinned,” even White-skinned. While in most statutes mulattoes were  classified with Blacks,  ”logic required … some  demarcation between [mulattoes] and white men” in order to establish a clear way of distinguishing someone White from someone who would not be considered White. 

Without a bright line to distinguish White from mulatto, the efficient administration of American society, in which substantial legal rights were based on being White, would have been impossible. Guarding the port of entry to White status was essential to the protection of the delicate social order of a racial caste system, and the persistence and extent of illegitimate race mixing made this an issue of both importance and some delicacy.On the one hand, families considered White for generations had to be protected from the social consequences of an unknown dalliance by a distant ancestor. ”To have pushed the definition [of black] any further would have embarrassed too many prominent ’white’ families.

 As the court noted in State v. Davis, “[i]t would be dangerous and cruel to subjet to this disqualification [being regarded as someone in the degraded class] persons bearing all the feature of a white on account of some remote admixture of negro blood.” On the other hand, steps had to  be  taken to  curb “[t]he constant tendency of  this [mixed-race] class to assimilate to the white, and the desire of elevation, [that] present frequent cases of embarrassment and  difficulty.” Finally, maintaining the color line, however ethereal, was important as a matter of social etiquette. As Chief Justice Lumpkin lamented in Bryan v. Walton: “Which one of us has not narrowly escaped petting one of the pretty little mulattoes belonging to our neighbors as one of the family?”

a.  Adjudicating Fractions of  Blood.  Many states had laws that specifically set forth the fraction of Negro blood necessary to make a person Black. Over the years, this fraction ranged from one-quarter to one drop. The concept of “pure blood,” based as it was on pure conjecture, proved difficult both to litigate and adjudicate. Even though fractional definitions of race gave the appearance of judicial objectivity, fairness, and  consistency, the rational for the  decisions switched fairly quickly from a pseudo-scientific basis to the common social meaning of race.

Christine B. Hickman, “The Devil and the One-Drop Rule: Racial Categories, African Americans, and the U.S. Census




Anti-miscegenation laws in Canada and the US, and the Canadian Indian Act


Anti-miscegenation legislation was frequently assigned to prohibit and control interracial sex and marriage, making it a prime example of states regulation of interracial intimacies. The term ‘miscegenation’ was not coined until 1863, but the West’s concern with the morality and consequences of interracial mixing is documented at least two centuries prior.

In the United States, the historical prohibition of interracial relationships exemplifies the state’s regulation of intimate life. Anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting interracial sex and marriage predate the Declaration of Independence by more than a century. At one time or other 41 of the 50 states have enacted such legislation, encompassing restrictions not simply against Blacks, but also Asians, Native Americans, ‘Orientals’, ‘Malays’, Native Hawaiians, and in some cases, simply all non-Whites. These laws were universally declared unconstitutional in the landmark civil rights case of Loving v Virginia (1967). Anti-miscegenation laws named as such were not enacted in Canada, though an informal and extra-legal regime ensured that the social taboo of racial intermixing was kept to a minimum. However, it is arguable that Canada’s various manifestations of the federal Indian Act were designed to regulate interracial (in this circumstance, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) marital relations and the categorization of mixed-race offspring.

Of particular interest is the former Section 12.1.b, finally amended by Bill C-31 in 1985, which stipulated that Aboriginal women who married non-Aboriginal men and the progeny of these interracial relationships would be denied Indian legal status, while Aboriginal men who married non-Aboriginal women would retain the status that would also be given to their wives and children. Both anti-miscegenation laws and the Indian Act are, in short, striking examples of the state’s regulation of the intimate sphere.

The Indian Act, with all its variations, clearly restricted and provided penalties for interracial sex and marriages, providing criteria against which the category of ‘Indian’ is to be measured, just as was the case in US anti-miscegenation regulations. During the colonial era, intermarriage was encouraged and seen as vital both by European fur traders and Aboriginal groups.  Once the frontier came under the control of the British colonial power, however, this trend became condemnable. Though the first Indian Act was passed in 1876, the first of the legal instruments designed to regulate the classification of Aboriginal peoples can be dated to 1850 when the legislatures of Upper and Lower Canada passed parallel acts that provided the first definition of who was an Indian. This early legislation, which formed the template for all future manifestations of the federal Indian Act, provided a characterization of ‘Indian and none other’ based on having Indian blood, descent from Indians, and women married to those who met the first two criteria.

This definition of ‘Indian’, with an emphasis on ‘Indian blood’ that would last until 1951, strongly resembles anti-miscegenation regimes in the United States which were always enacted and enforced in tandem with classificatory rules principled on the fractionalization of racial identities – that is, the determination of legal racial identity based on the amount of non-white blood a person has as represented by a fraction (1 /4, 1/8, 1/16).

In contrast to the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, the Indian Acts were designed to remove Indian status, called ‘enfranchisement’ by the legislation itself. However, much like the United States, this was not an attempt by the state to ensure the equal treatment of Aboriginal people in Canadian society. Rather, the federal government was compelled by legal precedent, constitutional convention and colonial legacy to administer ‘Indians and lands reserved for Indians’, as per the Constitution Act of 1867. The legal category of ‘status Indian’, after all, ‘is the only category to whom a historic nation-to-nation relationship between the Canadian and Indigenous people eis recognized’. The removal of Indian status, therefore, was a two-fold strategy: it removed the constitutional Indian status of individuals, and therefore diminished the collective claim of underlying Aboriginal title to the land, and simultaneously alleviated the burden of Indian administration on the Crown.

Several provisions of the Indian Act also reveal the gendered nature of the retention or loss of Indian status. Under what would become the infamous Section 12.1.b of the 1876 Indian Act, Indian women who married non-Indian men would lose status, as would their offspring. Indian men who married non-Indian women, however, would not only retain status for themselves and their progeny, but their wives would gain status as well. […] In considering this, it’s important to note that white women were constructed in Canada as the guardians of morality and the vessels through which white civilization would continue. For a white woman to marry an Aboriginal man, she would be required to commit the sin of crossing racial boundaries and stepping beyond the societal norms of acceptable behaviour for the moral, chaste, proper and civilized ideal of femininity. Racialization and the provision of status to white wives, therefore, could be interpreted as a punishment for white women, who, while subjugated on the basis of gender were at least white, and would now have their positions on the racial hierarchy slide down to its lowest rung – that of a (legal) woman of colour.

Debra Thompson called “Nation and Miscegenation: Comparing Anti-Miscegenation Regulations in North America” | “Racial Ideas and Gendered Intimacies: the Regulation of Interracial Relationships in North America.” Social and Legal Studies 18, 3 (2009): 353-371. | Debra Thompson

I’ve highlighted excerpts of this article in a way, so that, hopefully, the passage might be understood without reading the full article. While it’s quite “academic,” I think that the article is well written enough so that someone unfamiliar with the jargon might be able grasp what Thompson is trying to say. Thompson highlights the underpinnings of Canada’s horrid Indian Act, while detailing the history of anti-miscegenation laws in North America. If you’d like to learn more about the history of multiraciality in North America and whiteness, racism in the legal system and how colonial white men were threatened by just about everything, I would recommend clicking on the link to read the full article.

See more about the one drop rule here @ fuckyeahethnicwomen 

(via fuckyeahethnicwomen)



Can we talk about the fact that Haiti’s lack of wealth has everything to do with the economic sabotage waged on it by other nations?

Can we talk about the fact that after the Haitian revolution France demanded Haiti pay them millions of francs to compensate for loss of men and slaves during the war?


These motherfuckers had the gall to demand their former slaves pay them for recognition as a sovereign nation.

Can we talk about how the US refused to do similar so knowledge of Haiti’s freedom wouldn’t inspire a slave uprising here?

Can we talk about the US occupying Haiti for fifteen years and blatantly interfering in elections when it suited them?

Can we talk about how my former professor, a Navy man, admitted to me his own part in the “political destabilization” of the country back in the 70s and 80s?

Can we fucking talk about how the US government watched two generations of Duvaliers destroy the country economically, socially, and environmentally, all the while letting American agriculture and medical and manufacturing industries profit?

Lets fucking talk about how this country has never given any fucks about Haiti

You want to know why Haitians don’t have clean fucking water?

It’s because Uncle Sam doesn’t want them too

(via strugglingtobeheard)

Indigenous Australians were classfied as ‘Flora and Fauna’ until 1967.


Just gonna leave this here for anyone who believes that Australia is not a racist country.

We’ve only recognised Indigenous Australians as fully human for less than 50 years. It takes a lot longer than that to gain full equality and justice for survivors of colonialism and systematic oppression.

(via b-binaohan-deactivated20140530)

My 16-year-old sister was crying quiet tears by the door at the mom that walked out on herself. My mom, a misunderstood woman, a disrespected woman, a frightened, insecure young woman - I now understand her better than I did as an eight-year-old child. My mom was a mom-child - she had no parenting lessons, or positive Anishinaabekwe role models, only residential school. The nuns’ stern looks, the priests silently pulling teenage Anishinaabekwe girls by the wrists to a place where their screams or cries won’t be heard. The big long dormitory cold and dark and sad with little baby girls wimpering in the night. These were my mom’s parents.

Judy Da Silva, “Hashinoqwah” in This Is An Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Blockades, ed. Simpson and Ladner (via spunkmate)

(via ihavethisblog)



The Mahdist War (also called the Mahdist Revolt) was a colonial war of the late 19th century.

It was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese and the Egyptian and later British forces. It has also been called the Anglo-Sudan War or the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt.

Following the invasion by Muhammed Ali in 1819, Sudan was governed by an Egyptian administration. This colonial system was resented by the Sudanese people, because of the heavy taxes it imposed and because of the bloody start of the Turkish-Egyptian rule in Sudan.

Throughout the period of Turco-Egyptian rule, many segments of the Sudanese population suffered extreme hardship due to the system of taxation imposed by the central government. Under this system, a flat tax was imposed on farmers and small traders and collected by government-appointed tax collectors from the Sha’iqiyya tribe of northern Sudan. In bad years, and especially during times of drought and famine, farmers were unable to pay the high taxes.

Fearing the brutal and unjust methods of the Sha’iqiyya, many farmers fled their villages in the fertile Nile Valley to the remote areas of Kordofan and Darfur. These migrants, known as black “Jallaba” after their loose-fitting style of dress, began to function as small traders and middlemen for the foreign trading companies that had established themselves in the cities and towns of central Sudan.

By the middle 19th century the Ottoman Imperial subject administration in Egypt was in the hands of Khedive Ismail. Although not a competent or devoted leader, Khedive Ismail had grandiose schemes about Egypt. His spending had put Egypt into huge debt and when his financing of the Suez Canal started to crumble, Great Britain stepped in and repaid his loans in return for controlling shares in the canal.

As the most direct route to the jewel in the British Crown, India, control over the Suez Canal was of paramount strategic importance, so that British interests dictated the need to seize or otherwise control it. Thus an ever increasing role in Egyptian affairs was mandated for the British Empire.

With Khedive Ismail’s spending and corruption causing instability, in 1873 the British government supported a program where an Anglo-French debt commission assumed responsibility for managing Egypt’s fiscal affairs. This commission eventually forced Khedive Ismail to abdicate in favor of his son Tawfiq in 1877, leading to a period of political turmoil.

(continue reading)

(via diasporicroots)

If you’re not a white person you should stop writing in English because you’re appropriating Latin text.





not like English was violently forced on colonized peoples or anything cultural appropriation is all about power dynamics and unequal relationships now shut up

Oh, I’m sorry, did this happen to you personally

Go cry about your non-existent problems to someone who cares. 

actually yes can we talk about how I don’t know Anishinaabemowin and am cut off from huge and significant parts of my culture and identity because my grandparents and elders are residential school survivors?

omg holy shit you’re a fucking asshole 

ok douchebag aka “geth-metal”, let’s talk about “non-existent problems”; let’s talk about how this has affected me personally:

Colonialism means:

  • I never really got to know any of my grandparents because they mostly spoke Spanish
  • the US gov’t’s push for Latin@ assimilation when my parents were kids? It meant they never encouraged me to speak the Spanish that I often heard around me when I was growing up & learned English instead.
  • I can’t be certain of which indigenous groups I’m connected to, with the exception of one group, which one of my grandmothers told me begrudgingly when I was impertinent enough to ask (Colonialism saw to it that my grandparents believed it was best that I didn’t know, you see)

to learn the language & writing system of the one group I know I’m connected to, I’d have to

  • move to a country that uses a Common Language (also a European language that uses a Roman alphabet) that I’m not super great with
  • somehow gain the favor of this group enough that they’d teach me the traditional customs & language, which could well mean living with them
  • which could mean being separated from many aspects of only life I’ve known, including possibly limiting access to medications & nutritional supplements that are pretty vital to my health & well-being.

now, what were you were saying about non-existent problems that don’t affect me personally…?

(via snarkbender)