Two sailors from the the USS Mason (DE-529), the first US Navy ship to have a predominantly African-American crew on March 20, 1944. Photo: Corbis
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”
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
A little more about the woman whose life story The Island of the Blue Dolphins was based on:
The ‘Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island’ was found in 1853 by Captain George Nidever. She had been living there by herself since 1835, the year her people were evacuated from the island. But she seemed healthy and happy when she was found:
According to Nidiver’s account, instead of running way “she smiled and bowed, chattering away to them in an unintelligible language.” She was “of medium height… about 50 years old but …still strong and active. Her face was pleasing as she was continually smiling… Her clothing consisted of but a single garment of skins.”
She was the last member of her tribe, the Nicoleño, and no one on the mainland could understand her language, not even other Indians who were also native to the Channel Islands. Unfortunately, she died of dysentery only seven weeks after she was brought to Santa Barbara. She was christened Juana Maria by a missionary priest, but her true name is unknown.
Her people, language, and name aren’t the only things that were lost to history. According to the Wiki article about her, her possessions, including her water basket, tools, and clothing “were part of the collections of the California Academy of Sciences, but were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.” The cormorant feather skirt was reportedly sent to the Vatican by priests, but it seems to have been lost. As well, the cave in which she dwelt for so many years hasn’t been located until now:
After more than twenty years of searching, a Navy archaeologist believes he has found the cave on San Nicolas Island occupied by The Lone Woman—better known to many as the protagonist of Scott O’Dell’s 1960 classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins. The Newberry Medal–winner was based on the true story of a Native American woman left behind when the rest of the Nicoleño tribe was evacuated from the channel islands by missionaries after the population was decimated by Russian fur traders; one story has it she returned to the island to search for her missing child.
According to the LA Times article about the discovery:
“We’re 90% sure this is the Lone Woman’s cave,” Schwartz told several hundred fellow researchers last week at the California Islands Symposium in Ventura. Further excavation is necessary, he said, adding that a crew of students has painstakingly removed about 40,000 buckets, or a million pounds, of sand from a cavern at least 75 feet long and 10 feet high.
In a separate discovery that also could shed light on the Lone Woman and her people, researchers stumbled across two redwood boxes poking through a steep, eroding cliff. The containers, probably made from recycled canoe planks and held together with the tar that washes onto island beaches, hold more than 200 stone blades, harpoon points, bone fishhooks and other implements.
It may never be known just who left the cache of tools, he said, but “it’s at least a reasonable hypothesis” that it was the Lone Woman, who is known to have stashed useful items at a number of places around the island.
“We don’t even know exactly who died. After September 11, 2001, the New York Times launched ‘Portraits of Grief,’ an ongoing series dedicated to documenting everyone who had died in the World Trade Center on the day the buildings fell. Times writers attempted to contact the relatives or friends of each of the 2,749 people who are though to have did in the collapse of the towers. They wrote 2,310 full portraits until the last page ran in March 2003. This was a massive dedication of staff and time and resources. New Orleans received no such effort; no team of researchers was assigned to find out who died and what their stories were.”
Jordan Flaherty, Floodlines: Community and Resistance for Katrina to the Jena Six, 65 (via witchynoire)
Tumblr: teaching you shit you damn sure weren’t going to be taught in this lifetime
Did you know that Egypt, has the fewest pyramids in Africa?
Did you know that Sudan, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe have more pyramids (225 pyramids in Sudan alone) then all of Egypt.
There are remains of pyramids in South Africa, all the way along the Eastern and Northern parts of Africa and archeologists now believe that they may have found the remains of pyramids in West Africa. Why are we only taught that what is now known as Egypt (that tiny strip of land) is the only place where pyramids are in Africa, when in fact the ENTIRE continent of Africa (nearly 400 pyramids not just the six in Egypt) And Archeologist now believe that the pyramids in southern Africa may be the OLDEST pyramids in the world, followed by The Sudanese and Ethiopian pyramids, the West African pyramid ruins, and the North African Pyramids of so-called Egypt. (And im not even going to get into the fact that there are younger pyramids stretching FROM Africa in China, Italy, Europe and South America) WOW Im Amazed
neffera tiy maat bringing one truth at a time Yaaaaaa
Zimbabwe has a myriad of structures from about the same period of the great ancient boom of architecture that Egypt had. But originally, it was taught that an “ancient white tribe” had built these structures (seriously, crack open a history text book from before the 80s) because there’s NO WAY black africans could have possibly built anything.
Seriously, what they teach in schools is. … words don’t even do justice to what they’re doing by not teaching this.
“In 1871, Congress passed a law that prohibited federal officials from making any additional treaties with Indian tribes. The passage of this statute had both a symbolic and practical effect. Symbolically, its passage meant that Congress no longer considered tribes as independent nations capable of signing a treaty; as a practical matter, it means that congress could limit tribal powers and take Indian land anytime it wanted, simply by passing a law to that effect. Congress immediately began to exercising that power.”
Stephen L. Pevar, The Rights of Indian Tribes, Fourth Edition (via adailyriot)
Gordon Parks in Venice, Italy, listening to a recording of the rehearsal for the concerto he composed, which was performed in Venice in July 1952. Pictured with Mr. Parks are the renowned conductor Dean Dixon and his wife, Mary Mandelin, a Finnish playwright. Photo by James Whitmore//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Another Proclamation - Sherman Alexie
that, one year earlier, in 1862, he’d signed and approved the order for the largest public execution in the United States History? Who did they execute? “Mulatto, mixed-bloods, and Indians.”
Why did they execute them? “For uprising against the State and her citizens.” Where did they execute them? Mankato, Minnesota. How did they execute them? Well, Abraham Lincoln thought it was good.
simultaneously. Yes, in front of a large and cheering crowd, thirty-eight Indians dropped to their deaths. Yes, thirty-eight necks snapped. But before they died, thirty-eight Indians sang their death songs. Can you imagine the cacophony of thirty-eight different death songs? But wait, one Indian was pardoned at the last minute, so only thirty-seven Indians had to sing their death songs. But, O, O, O, O, can you imagine the cacophony of that one survivor’s mourning song? If he taught you the words, do you think you would sing along?”
“By situating this study of slavery and reproduction in both the Caribbean and the American South, I intend to suggest that women’s reproductive identity – and by that I mean both the experience of childbirth and, perhaps more important, the web of expectations about childbirth held by both by black women and men and those who enslaved them – itself provides the comparative frame rather than the crop being cultivated or the size of the household in which one labored. I do not mean to suggest that such things as work or slaveholdings are inconsequential. However, I do argue that the underlying realities of reproductive lives shape the encounter with work, community, and culture. In the context of a coercive labor system predicated upon a fictive biological marker conveyed by the mother, how could it be otherwise?”
Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, pp. 3-4 (via so-treu)