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The Use of Racial and Ethnic Terms in America: Management by Manipulation

Author(s): Jack D. Forbes


Reviewed work(s):
Source: Wicazo Sa Review, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 53-65
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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The

Use

of Racial
and
Ethnic
Terms
in America:
Management by Manipulation
byJackD. Forbes

The continentof America,also known as the Middle


Continentor the WesternHemisphereis subdividedinto
North America,CentralAmericaand South America.
Indigenouspeopleshavea bit of a problem,however,
in that:(1) the UnitedStatesand its dominantEuropeanorigin citizens have attempted to pre-empt the terms
Americaand American;and (2) there has been a strong
tendency,especiallysincethe 1780s,to denyto Indigenous
Americansthe right to use the name of their own land.
As a matterof fact,thereis a strongtendencyto also deny
Native People the use of the name of any land within
America,suchas being Brazilian,Mexican,Canadian,and
so on, unless the term "Indian"is also attached, as in
"BrazilianIndian"(as "AmericanIndian"is used instead
of "American").
Some people believe that America as a name stems
from the mountainrangeknown as Ameriquelocated in
Nicaragua.Othersbelievethat it stems from a word common to severalAmericanlanguagesof the Caribbeanand
South America, namely Maraca (pronounced maraca,
maraca,and mbaraca).Thisword,meaningrattleor gourd,
is found as a place name in Venezuela (Maracapana,
Maracay,Maracaibo),Trinidad(Maracas),Puerto Rico
(Maracayu,
etc.),Brazil(Maraca,Itamaraca)and elsewhere.
Manyveryearlymaps of the Caribbeanregion show
an island located to the northwest of Venezuela (where
Nicaraguais actuallylocated) called "tamaraque"which
has been interpretedas t. amaraquestandingfor tierraor
terra (land) of Amaraque.All of this is before America
firstappearedas a name on the mainland roughlyin the
areaof Venezuela.
Most of us have probablybeen taught that America
as a name is derived from that of Amerigo Vespucci, a
notorious liar and enslaverof Native people. Strangely
enough, Vespucci'sfirst name is more often recordedas

Alberico rather than Amerigo. It may well be that the


nameAmericais not derivedfrom his name,but we know
for sure that it was first applied to South America or
CentralAmericaand not to the areaof the United States.
From the early 1500s until the mid-1700s, the only
people called Americans were American First Nations
People.Similarlythe people calledMexicans,Canadians,
Brazilians,Peruvians,etc.,wereall our own NativePeople.
In 1578,for example,GeorgeBest of Britainwrote about
"thoseAmericansand Indians"by which he referredto
our NativeAmericanancestorsas Americansand the people of India and Indonesia as Indians. In 1650 a Dutch
work referredto the Algonkiansof the Manhattanareaas
"theAmericansor Natives".In 1771 a Dutch dictionary
noted that "the Americansare red in their skins"and so
on. As lateas 1845anotherDutch dictionarydefinedmestizos (metis) as being children of a "European"and an
"American"
parent.
in
Englishusage is very little different.JohnWVesley,
1747, referredto FirstNations People of Georgiaas "the
Americans."The Quakertraveler,William Bartram,after
a lengthy tour among the Creeks, Cherokees, and
Choctawsin the 1770s,refersto them as "theAmericans."
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1827 edition) has:
"American [from America]. An aboriginal native of
America;an inhabitantof America."The dictionarythen
quotes Milton ("Such of late/Columbus found the
American/so girt/with feather'd cincture...."), and
Addisonfrom the Spectator("TheAmericansbelievethat
all creatureshave souls, not only men and women, but
brutes,vegetables,... stones").
In 1875 CharlesMaclarenin a British encyclopedia
wroteof "theAmericanrace,""thecolorof the Americans,"
"theAmericannatives"and "theAmericans"by which he
meant"theAmericansof indigenousraces."MorerecentFall 1995

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Wicazo Sa Review

53

ly (1986), the Chronicleof HigherEducationnoted that


"ScientistsFindEvidenceof EarliestAmericans"in northeasternBrazil(32,000 yearsold). Clearlythese Hearliest
Americans"were not United Statesians!
Nonetheless, beginning in the 1740s-1780s British
newspapersalso beganto referto theirBritishsubjectson
the Atlanticseaboardas Americansin the senseof Britons
living in America or, as they often put it, in North
America.Afterthe United Statesbecame independentin
the 1780s,its new citizensbegan to referto themselvesas
Americans,trying perhapsto identifywith the land and
severtheir connectionswith Europe.
It is not correct to refer to the United States as
America.The USA is "of America,"and that is different.
Nonetheless,USA governmentpropagandaand popular
as belonging
usagehavepromotedthe use of "American"
exclusivelyto the people of the United States,and especiallyto the European-derivedpeople.Veryoften persons
of African, Asian, and indigenous ancestry have been
known as Negroes, Colored, Blacks, Indians, Savages,
Redskins,or other "nicknames"or by hyphenatedterms
such as Chinese-Americans,
etc.Theword"American"
has
been used, in short, as a racial-ideological weapon
designedto give priorityto White personsand peripheral (and "foreign")status to non-Whites.'
Of course, the Spaniards in 1492 and thereafter
thought of Americaby the name India and a few maps
referto it as Nova India afterits separationfrom the real
Indiawas realized.So long as Americawas thought of as
Indiait was perhapslegitimateto referto the nativepeople as "Indians"but that became less proper once the
name Americabecame dominant in usage.
Laterstill"Indian"tendedto becomea negativecastelike term ("indio"in Spanishand Portuguesezones) or
the equivalentof wild, savage,brutish,or alien enemy in
most parts of America. Now the continued use of
"Indian"for FirstAmericanshas become very problematic,becauseof a largemigrationfrom India.
A San Francisco newspaper ran an advertisement
with big letters:"WildIndian discoveredin downtown
San Francisco."I felt like calling up the advertiser,(the
New Delhi restaurant)to complainabout the ad'sstereotype. But then it occurred to me that these were "real
Indians"from Indiapoking fun at "Indians."
In 1980therewere361,544Indiansfrom Indiain the
United States.By 1990 their numbershad mushroomed
to 815,447, an increaseof 126%,and these numbers do
not include Pakistanisand Bangladeshis,both of whom
54

are also Indiansby virtueof being derivedfrom pre-1948


India.If this trendcontinues,the numberof "realIndians"
will catch up with the Bureauof the Census'figures for
U.S.-derived"AmericanIndians"sometimebetween2000
and 2010. (By 1980 Asian Indiansalreadyoutnumbered
Native Americansin the northeasternU.S.) Largenumbers of "RealIndians"are also migratingto Canadaand
havebeen presentin Trinidad,Guyanaand other partsof
the Caribbean for years. Many of these Caribbean
"Indians"are also moving north to the U.S.and Canada.
In any case,the "wildIndian"of the SanFranciscoad
was certainlynot a Lakota,not a Delaware!
Who arethe "real"Indiansthen?Ironically,the immigrationof a million or so AsianIndiansto NorthAmerica
comes at the precisetime when some indigenouspeople
are trying to deny"Indian"statusto personswho are not
recognizedas such by a UnitedStatesfederally-recognized
tribal or band governmentor who lack some document
which identifiesthem as being "Indian."
But are any of us (who are of indigenousAmerican
descent) really Indians anyway?Should we fight over a
name which is claimed by the more than 700,000,000
people of India,by their government,and by millions of
Indiansliving overseasfrom SouthAfricato Britain?
The name "Indian"is derivedfrom "India"which in
turn comes from "Indos,"an ancient Greekand Roman
name for the area now known as Pakistan and India.
"Indos"comes from"Indus,"
the nameof the mightyriver
of westernIndia (now Pakistan).
When Columbussailedwestwardfrom Spainin 1492
it was his intentionto reachIndiaand especiallythateastern partof Indiawhich he called"Indiaextragangem"or
India east of the GangesRiver.This vast region included
SoutheastAsia,the EastIndies,Chinaand Japan.So when
Columbus reachedthe Bahamashe began to call our relatives"indios"in Spanishand "indos"in Latin.This name
became "Indiani"in Italianand "Indian"in English.
But the Spaniardsfor severalcenturiesbelievedthat
"India"or "the Indies"includedthe entire areafrom the
mid-Atlanticwestwardto old Indiaand the ArabianSea.
Thus Filipinos, Hawaiians, Polynesians, Chinese and
Japanesewere all "indios"to the Spaniardsand to the
Portugueseas well. The Inuit peoples of the north were
everybit as much "Indians"as were any other peoples of
Nova India (New India)or WestIndia,alternativenames
for America.
Many Europeanwriterssimply called our ancestors
"Americans"
as well as indigenas(indigenouspeople), nat-

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urales(natural people) and autoctonos(autochthonous


people), as well as using obnoxious names such as savages, tawnies, redskins,etc. More recentlywhite writers
have tried to baptize us with names such as "American
Indians"and with such concoctionsas "Amerindians"
and
"Amerinds."
"Amerindian"is popular with British writers who
deal with the easternCaribbeanand Guyana,because of
the large numbers of Asian Indians living there.
"Amerind"to my mind is an especially ugly acronym.
Following this precedentwe should, of course, refer to
Eurams (European-Americans), Spanams (SpanishAmericans),Angcans(Anglo-Canadians),etc.
The problem with all of the combinations of
"American"
and "Indian"is thatan increasingproportion
of the AsianIndiansliving in the Americasare now born
here and are,therefore,also entitled to use some combination of the two names.The "realIndian"communityin
the U.S.seemsto be using"Indian",
"Indo-American"
and
"IndianAmerican,"the latter in the tradition of Italian
American,GermanAmerican,and so on.
IndigenousAmericanshavebeen trying to come up
with betternamesfor themselvesfor a long time, as when
the people who use peyotein religiousceremoniesincorporatedas the NativeAmericanChurchearlyin this century. More recently terms such as "aboriginal,"
"indigenous"and "native"are being increasingly used,
along with new and somewhatcumbersomenames such
as "First Nations People" and "Sovereign American
NationsPeople."Also commonnow are"FirstAmericans,"
"EarlyAmericans"and, of course, Native Americans.
ManySouthAmericannativepeople are also using Abya
Yala,a Cuna name for America.Thus AbyaYalaPeople
can also be heardat indigenousgatherings.
Facedwith the continuing immigration from Asia,
and facedwith the need to become mastersof their own
identity by overthrowingthe nomenclatureof colonialism, the originalpeoples of the Americaswill ultimately
find an answerto this problem.In the meantime,however,we arein a confusingperiodwhereOriginalAmericans
areusing a varietyof nameswhile stillbeing calledindios,
indigenas,Amerindians,and Indiansby others.Of course,
NativeAmericansalso use their own particularnational
names (such as Cree,Lakota,Quiche, etc) as well as language family names (such as Maya or Mayan, Pomo,
Yokuts,Algonkian,etc). Manyof these namesarenot their
own "real"names but are nicknames or foreign names
(e.g., Delawareinsteadof Lenape).

Unfortunatelythe Native People, along with other


groups, have often been known by caste names or racial
namesbasedupon theirposition in racialgradingsystems
developed under colonialism. Although Europeanpersons were sometimes known by racial names, (such as
"white"or "blanco,")such names usuallydenoted a high
status and were generallyself-imposed.
Tragically,the imposition of racial names upon
Native Americansand Africanshas resultedin a loss of
personalautonomy and self-determination.In part,this
is because the imposition of such names was almost
alwayspart of a processof envelopment,inferiorization
and proletarianization under the aegis of exploitative
colonial systems.As I state in an article:
It ispreciselythe lossof nationalityand the
assumptionof a castepositionwhichmarksthe
successfully
proletarianized,colonialized,
envelopedperson.2
What arethe castetermswhich havebeen appliedto
Original American peoples? There are many, the most
importantbeing negro-black-swart,loro, mulatto,mestizo-metis-mustee,ladino, zambo-sambo,pardo,colored,
cafuso,caboclo,mamaluco(mameluco),half-breed,halfblood and half-caste.Letus reviewa fewof these,briefly,so
as to understandthe breadthand scope of usage.
In 1719, South Carolinadecided who should be an
"Indian"for tax purposes since American slaves were
taxed at a lesserratethan Africanslaves.The act stated:
Andfor preventingall doubtsand scruplesthat
mayarisewhat oughtto be ratedon mustees,
mulattoes,etc.all suchslavesas are not entirely
Indianshall be accountedas negro.3
This is an extremely significant passage because it
clearlyassertsthat "mustees"and "mulattoes"were persons of partAmericanancestry.My own judgment(to be
discussed later) is that a mustee was primarily partAfrican and American and that a mulatto was usually
part-Europeanand American.The act is also significant
because it asserts that part-Americanswith or without
Africanancestrycouldbe countedas Negroes,thus having
an implication for all laterslavecensuses.
The term "negro"was to be used in South Carolina
for Native Americansof mixed race, but in many other
regions "negro"and its equivalent (black, swart, Moor,
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etc) was used for unmixedAmericans,especiallyif their


statuswas that of a slave."TawnyMoor"was a variation
on this, in Englishcolonial usage.The criticalpoint is, of
course, that in the slave system many NativeAmericans
andAfricans(andAsianIndiansas well) lost theirnational identitiesunder such sobriquetsas Negro.In turn, the
term was usuallyderogatory,relatingas it did both to a
slavestatusand a non-Whitecolor.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
"negro"was a termusedalmostexclusivelyfor darkerpeople of Africandescent except in the United Stateswhere
it cameto be used for virtuallyall personsof even remote
Africanancestry.Naturallymanyof the "negroes"of both
kinds were of NativeAmericanancestryas well.
The Spanishand Portugueseintroducedmanycolor
termsto the restof the world as a resultof their contacts
with Africa,Indiaand America.Initiallycolor termssuch
as loroandpardowereused to referto personswhosecolor
was intermediatebetween"black"and "white"'primarily
to identifyrunawayslavesin Iberiaitself.A sequencedeveloped in which the Iberiansfirstbegan with very general
color terms (loro, pardo,baco, etc.); second, when they
coined many more color terms (membrillo cocido,
moreno,etc.);thirdly,whentheyinventedor adoptedterms
for various mixed bloods as mixed-bloods (mamaluco,
mestizo,mulatto,zambo,etc.);fourth,when theyattempted by meansof suchtermsto individuallycategorizemost
types of mixed-bloods;and, fifth,when it all became so
very complicated that they fell back upon very general
termssuch as pardoor madeones like mestizoverynebulous.Allof thisis verysignificantbecausethereis,of course,
a considerabledifferencebetweenthe descriptiveuse of loro
and the laterprescriptiveuse of mestizoor mulatto.Loros
wereneversubjectto specificlegallimitson theirbehavior,
as lorosin Spain.The samewas true for most other colordescriptiveterms.
The colonialdesignationof personsas mestizos,mulattos,and later,pardoswas an entirelydifferentmatter.The
use of thesetermsin the Americaswas designedto identify and to limit,to controland,by and large,to exclude.
In general,I thinkwe can saythatthe appearanceand
evolution of the term mestizo in both the Spanish and
Portuguese empires reflect the kind of caste-like and
racialistsocialorderswhich evolvedin the colonies.Terms
such as loroand pardoweretoo generalto meet the needs
of castesocieties.
Thatultimatelypardosurvivedand came to be widely used is a reflectionof the extensiveand complex mis56

cegenationin the colonies and the need for a generalterm


which could embraceall of the differentkinds of mixedbloods and "peopleof color"whose ancestrycouldalmost
neverbe accuratelydescribed.Loro,for reasonswhich are
not clear,died out as a color term and did not fulfillthis
function. Mestizo itself, especially in Mexico, ladino in
partsof CentralAmerica,and perhapscholoin Peru,came
to be used, eventually,as almost the equivalentof pardo.4
The term mulatto had its origins in the Arabized
romance language of Iberia, between about 1317 and
1500. I believe it evolved from either muwallad(convert
to Islam,or today,mixed blood) or maula(servant,having a feudal relationship)or from both, into Portuguese
malado and Castillian muellador mualad. In any case,
mulattowas carried to the Americas in colonial legislation which sought to restrictthe rightsof certainpersons,
in this casepersonsmostlyof AmericanandAfricanintermixture. Explicit definitions of the term mulatto in
Spanishwritings are as follows:
1568: Royalorderdefinesa mulatoas a childof negro
and india.
1574: ViceroyEnriquezof Mexicostatesthat mulatosare
not sonsof Spaniards.
1574: Lopezde Velascostatesthat mulatosare childrenof
negrosand indiasand, muchlesscommonly,of
Spaniardsand negras.
1583: CabelloBalboausesmulatofor American-Africans
in Ecuador.
1592: Royalorderstatesthat mulatos(Venezuela)are
"hijosdeindias."
1599: MixedAfrican-American
Chieftainsfrom
Esmeraldascalledmulatos.
From the characterof these definitions we can say
that mulattoseems to havemeant half-BlackAfricanand,
ordinarily,half Americanbut with the half-Africanpart
being apparentlyessential.We must add to this, "orone
who looks half-African."
Interestingly,JohnMinsheu'sEnglish-Spanishdictionary ( 1599,1626) statesfor mulato,mulatta:"Theson (or
daughter)of a blackmooreand one of anothernation."
In 1602 Garcilasode la Vega,the half-Incascholar,
aftertravelingwidely (in Europeas well as America)and
afterinterviewingold Spanishsoldierswrote:
"Inall of the WestIndies,thoseof us who are
bornof a Spanishfatherand an Indianmother

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are calledmestizos,just as in Spainthosewho


are bornof a Negrofatherand an Indian mother
or vice versaare calledmulatos."
In 1613,aftermanydecadesof researchand travelin
Peru,HuamanPoma,(a QuechuaIndian),wrote:
Whenmulattoes-a mixtureof negroand
Indian-produce quadroonchildren,thesechildrenloseallphysicaltraceof theirnegroorigin
exceptfor theear,whichstillgivesthemaway by
its shapeand size.
One of the firsttwo largegroupsof caste-personsto
be createdin the Spanishand Portugueseempires were
the mulattos, a result of the preponderance of males
among the incomingAfricans(2 to 1 over femalesordinarily)and the loss of Americanmalesdue to warfareand
harsh exploitation, leaving in many areas a surplus of
women. Many of the descendants of these AmericanAfricanallianceswere "free"(because the mothers were
not slaves) and this was also a motivation for African
malesto seek such a relationship(guaranteeingfreechildren).The freepeople of color in the SpanishPortuguese
empiresgenerallystem from this class,as it subsequently
mixedwith mestizos.On the otherhand,manyAmericans
were held as slavesthroughout the colonial period and
their progeny remained within the increasingly
Africanizedslavepopulation.
In South America (Columbia-Venezuelathrough
Peru) a specialtype of mulatto appeared,the Zambaigo.
Zaimbdigosor zambos(sambos in the British-Caribbean
later)wereAmerican-Africanmixed bloods born largely
of free Americanmothers and raisedsomewhat beyond
Spanish control (often in free villages). The Spaniards
regardedthem as an especiallydangerousvarietyof person, perhapsbecauseof a tendencytowardsarmed resistance.In Mexicoand farthernorth other termswere used
such as mulatopardo(literallygraymulato), lobo(wolf),
and de colorquebrado,amongothers.In 1563the Spanish
Crownprohibited"negros,mulatoso mestizos"from living in Americancommunitiesbut
en quantoa losMestizos,y Zambaigos,que
son hijosde Indias,nacidosentreellos,y han
de heredarsus casas,y haziendas,porqueparece
cosadurasepararlosde suspadres,se podradispensar.

Thus zambaigos and mestizos who were sons of


Americanmothers,born among Americansand entitled
to inheritproperty,were exemptedfrom the prohibition,
because it would be cruel to separate them from their
parents.
In generalthen, the Spanishauthoritiestriedto keep
Africans, mulattos and mestizos away from American
communities,even though they were almost alwayshalfAmerican,only making an exception for those actually
born into a community.This can be seen as an important
step in the development of castes,deprivingthe mixedbloods born in the Spanish-controlledmines,plantations
and cities from being able to settle in the parent's or
grandparent's
community.Retentionof languageand cultural elementsmight be interruptedand transformation
into a ladino(assimilatedperson) speededup.
In the nineteenth-century, "Sambo"was used on
Trinidadas a term for African-Americanmixtures(with
mustee being used for European-American mixedbloods).
The Spanish-Portugueseterm mulatto passed into
manyotherlanguages,usuallybeing used to referto halfAfricanpersons. However,in English and Frenchit was
also used for American-Europeanmixtures. In English,
mulatto became the only term used for a mixed person
until mustee and half-breed appearedin the mid eighteenth-century. Thus, it is not surprising that both
and American-Africanpersonswere
American-European
known as mulattos,(at least until 1785 for the former).
In 1705,Virginiaprohibitedany "negro,mulatto,or
Indian"from holding any public office. The act further
stated:
"...andfor clearingall mannerof doubtswhich
hereaftermay happento ariseupon the constructionof this act, or any otheract, who shall
be accounteda mulatto:Be [etc.], that the child
of an Indian,and the child,grandchild,orgreat
grandchildof a negroshall be deemed,accounted, held,and takento be a mulatto."
In otherwords,an American-European
mixed-blood
was defined as a mulatto,along with all part-Africansto
the 1/8 degree.This statuteapparentlyremainedunmodified until 1785when it was enactedthat all personswith
"one-fourthor more Negro blood shall ...be deemed a
mulatto."This remained the legal definition until 1866
when it was modified:
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57

Everypersonhavingone-fourthor moreNegro
bloodshall be deemeda coloredperson,and
everypersonnot a coloredpersonhavingonefourthor moreIndianbloodshallbe deemedan
Indian.

In Brazil a vast array of racial terms appear, the


majorityof which can embracepersonsof part-American
ancestry,such as cafuzo(cara fusco,American-African),
cabra (American-African),cabore (American-African),
mamaluco(American-European),curiboca(AmericanEuropean), mulatto (any mixture of a medium brown
This use of "coloredperson"must be consideredin
color,but usuallypart-African),caboclo (NativeBrazilian
or a personlivinglikean indigenousor ruralperson),etc.
relationto an 1860 statuteusing"mulatto"for personsof
one-fourth African descent and making "negro"and
One also sees such combinations as mulato atapuiado
"mulatto"equivalentin all statutes.
(Tupuyamulatto,i.e., partAmerican).
It would appear,then, that from 1705 until 1866the
The term"mustee"was used in the Britishcoloniesof
mixed
Native
the
definition
to
Americans
Caribbean
and the southernUnited States.Basedon
only legal
applying
the evidence,we can say that mustee was a term used for
(exceptingthosehavingone-fourthor moreAfricanancespart-Americanpersons (usually slaves)who were either
try) was that of the formeryears.Thus we might at first
mixed with European or African or both. In South
glance construe that a mixed American-Europeanwas
if
more
a
mulatto
of
one-half
or
American
blood
Carolina, where the term was most common, mustee
legally
until that statuteof 1866makingsuch persons"Indians". seemsto havecome to referto a personof yellow-brownor
All American-Africanmixed-bloodsremainedmulattoes
darker color who exhibited either American or partthe
unless
less
than
African
African
1/8
features,while mulatto seems to have been used
having
throughout period,
or
less
than
African
for lighter, part-European looking mixed bloods of
1/4
ancestry (1705-1785)
ancestry
Americanbackground.On the islandof Trinidad,mustee
(1785-1910). After 1910Virginiareclassifiedlargenumbers of persons by extending the "colored"category to
seems to havereferredto an American-Europeanperson.
includepeoplewith minute amountsof Africanancestry.
Personsof Native Americandescent have also been
For a time at least, French also utilized the term
classifiedbroadlyas "peopleof color"in North America
mulatre to refer to European-Americanpersons in the
and as pardos, loros,and other general terms in Latin
Biloxi-Louisianaregion. Nonetheless, metisbecame the
America. In North Carolina, for example, free colored
more common term in Canadafor such individuals.5
persons were often of Americanancestry,as opposed to
In the Spanishcoloniesthe term mestizobeganto be
African.Severalscholarshave noted that the Indians of
used in royalproclamationsin 1533.At first,mestizo was
North Carolinawere often classifiedas "peopleof color."
the equivalentof hibrida,(both culturaland genetic),but
Court cases make this quite clearalso. In 1821 one John
in America it seems to have been used primarily for
Locklier was called "a coloured man,"while the name
Locklieris confined to the Indians of Robeson County
American-Europeanpersons, although later in Mexico
the term could also embraceAmerican-European
African and surroundingareas.In 1841-43 one WilliamP.Waters
claimedthat he was not a "manof color"because"hewas
persons. In Brazil,on the other hand, mestizo seems to
have always remained a general term for all classes of
descended from Portuguese, and not from Negro or
mixed persons.
Indian ancestors..."In 1853,a Locklierwas judged to be
a free person of color incapable of carrying arms. In
Ladino,now widely used in Guatemalaand Chiapas
as an equivalent of mestizo, was in the early colonial
1857, a William Chavers (also a Lumbee or Robeson
an
period always adjectivemeaning"Spanish-speaking" County Indian name) was charged"as a free person of
or "assimilated"as opposed to bozal,meaning unassimcolor"with carryinga shotgun. Chaverswas able to win
ilated.Thus one often sees referencesto "negrosladinos" his case eventually
and doubtless the ladinos of Guatemalaand Chiapas
becausehe is chargedas "afreepersonof color"
originated not in race mixture primarilybut in assimilation to Hispanic culture. Tragically,the ladinos of
whereas... the act ... makesit penalfor any
consider
themselves
to
their
today
superior,apparently,
"freenegro"to carryarms... Freepersonsof
and
In
relatives.
the
Andean
colormay be ... personscoloredby Indian blood.
Pipil
Maya
region cholo is
used in a somewhatanalagousway,but is more of a negTheindictmentcannotbe sustained.
ative term it seems.
58

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The SupremeCourtheld specificallythat"freenegro"


and"freeperson"of color"werenot legallyidenticalterms.
The 1800, 1810, 1820, and 1830 United States censusesuse the "freepersonof color"categoryfor most nonwhites, including Indians. Thus the Native families of
Robeson County,North Carolina,and all Virginiacounties are always classified as "colored"persons. Carter
Woodson's THEFREENEGROHEADSOFFAMILIES
IN THE

UNITED
STATES
IN1830...being an indexing of the "free
colored" (not "freenegro") population, includes many
thousands of Indians.For example,the entire Cherokee
Indian population of Carroll County, Georgia, was
included as colored persons, with names such as
Rattlesnake,Ekoah,Watta,Tah-ne-cul-le-hee,Wasotta,
Keecha,WidowSwimmer,Pumkinpile,CharlesVann,etc.
One also finds people like Stephen Jumper in
RockinghamCounty,North Carolina,CharlesMoose in
the same county,and"IndianBill"of WestchesterCounty,
New York,classifiedas peopleof color,alongwith the general Indianpopulationin county aftercounty.
Needless to state, countless persons of Native
Americanancestrylost theirspecificnationalidentitiesby
being reclassifiedas mestizos,mulattos,pardosor colored
persons.Of course,indigenousnationsoften were able to
absorbmixed personsas well as foreigners,but therewas
alwaysa strongtendencyin colonialsituationsfor the colonial power to attempt to prevent the strengtheningof
potentiallyrebelliousconquerednations.Thus,mixedpersonswereoftenreclassified
and separatedfromtheirmaternal (or paternal)nationalityand languages.This process
was greatlyaidedby the slavesystemand by the proletarianizationof marginalbut technically"free"workers.
Many Americans were enslaved, not only by the
Spaniardsand Portuguesebut also by the Dutch, French
and British.In the young UnitedStates,NativeAmericans
could still be held as slavesin spite of the new constitution with its Billof Rights.Forexample,we readof a slave
who ran awayin 1790 in Virginiafrom Southampton:
a lad about18 or 19yearsof age calledBen
Whitehead,beingof theIndianbreedand almost
white,has coarsestraighthairof a darkbrown
colourand blackeyes... is a carpenter...and he
can read.6
The Americanswho becameslaves,whetherin Brazil
or Virginia,Surinamor Louisiana,Sonoraor Cuba,were
likelyto lose theirnationalityovertime and most certainly

their childrenwould probablybe known by a castedesignation.The majorityof theirdescendantstodayareprobably considered to be negros, African Americans,
Mexicans, Brazilians,pardos,etc., depending upon the
context and country.7
What is truly remarkable,and a testimony to the
effectivenessof Spanishracialpropaganda,is the factthat
many LatinAmericanstateshave today,as their national
ideology, the idea of being "mestizo"or at least that
becoming "mestizo"is a national culturalideal and that
all indigenous groups must eventually give way. The
Nativepeople, it is said,must give up theirlanguagesand
traditionalidentitiesin favorof becoming ladinos,cholos,
or (more properlyspeaking)mestizos.
The Mexican elite, for example, assertsthe superiority of the mestizo over the indigena and as the very
essence of the post-1821 Mexican society. This is, of
course, a shocking testimony to the effectiveness of
Spanish colonial indoctrination. It is as if the French
must always be considered as metis because of their
Gallo- Roman-Frankishmixture,or the Englishmust be
consideredas mulattoesbecause of their British-AngloSaxon-Norman-French mixture. The Spaniards, of
course,are farmore mestizo than are the Mexicanssince
the Mexicans of today are perhaps as much as 80%
indigenous genetically and their culture and language
includes a vast native element. The Spaniards,on the
other hand,possessIberianCarthaginian-Greek-Romanand other ancesGermanic-Arab-Berber-Jewish-African
try and a culture and languagealmost wholly borrowed
(except for the Basques).
Who then arethe realmestizos?Whymust Mexicans,
Costa Ricans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians,
etcetera, eternally deny their indigenous continuity in
favorof mixturewhile Spaniards,Turks,Italians,Britons
and othervery,verymixedpeoplespossessa unifiedsense
of themselves?8
In the mid-1970s, the Nixon-Ford regime in the
UnitedStatessucceededin havinga bureaucraticrulepromulgated which requiresthat "AmericanIndians"shall
only be counted in any statisticalsurveyor census if they
are derived from North America. South America and
Mesoamerica are to be given over entirely to the term
"hispanic"(or its census equivalent "SpanishOrigin"),
except that Brazilians,Guyanans,etc. are excluded.The
term"hispanic"is to also includeall peninsularSpaniards
and any personsderivedfrom any formerSpanishcolony
in the Pacificor Africa(e.g., Guam,the FilipinoRepublic,
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Spanish Sahara, etc.). This concoction was designed,


apparently, to create an artificial political bloc for
RepublicanPartypurposesas well as to obscurethe relationship of raceto poverty in the United States(by mixing Europeansand Pacificpeopleswith Cubans,Sephardic
and indigenouspersonsderived
Jews,African-Americans
from Mexicosouthwards).
"Hispanic"apparentlyappeals to some upwardlymobile Latin Americans since it would seem to allow
them to escapeinto a "Spanish"(white) status insteadof
being thought of as brown Mexicans. It is also a step
towardsassimilationinto Anglo-Americanidentitysince
no actual"hispanic"nationalityexists(outsideof Spain).9
Many Mexicans and other Latin Americans in the
United Stateshave rejected"hispanic"and instead favor
the use of"latino,"But,of course,Latinois a veryambiguous name which refersessentiallyto a formerItalianlanguage and to a community of languages.What"Latino"
maybe, functionally,is anotherescapefrom being "mestizo"or, more accurately,indio."Latino"implies,subjectively,a light brown skin color and semi-Europeanfacial
features.In a sense,then, Latinois functionallya form of
ladino,i.e., a denialof autocthonousidentity.
In anycase,throughoutthe Americas"race"becamea
fundamentalconcept applied by the colonizers to nonEuropeanpopulations, replacing graduallythe idea of
nationality.Free Native nations were able to absorb or
assimilatepersonsof African,Europeanor mixed ancestry,but when brought under direct colonial administration thisbecamedifficultif not impossible.Forexample,in
the UnitedStatesthe enrollmentof NativePeoplefromthe
1880sonwardalmostalwaysrequiredthe recordingof the
"degreeof Indianblood."Thus an elaboratesystemcommenced,keepingtrackof each variantfractionof Native
ancestry.A new racialcaste of persons of one-fourth or
more indigenousancestrywas soon created(but the one
quarterindigenousancestrycouldonlybe fromtribesofficiallyrecognizedby the U.S.authorities).Castedetermined
whethera person was competent ( a mixed-blood of 1/4
quantum)or incompetent(a so-called"fullblood"),etc.
Today this system is being replaced in the United
States by one based upon tribal membership as determined by the tribal governments,however,many tribes
stillhavea blood-quantumrequirementof from 1/4 to 1/8
or even 1/16 indigenous ancestry. Ironically, many
Mexicansand Guatemalanslivingin the U.S.arenot being
recognizedas "Indians"even though they areof relatively
unmixedancestryand speaktheir indigenouslanguages.
60

In anycase,the shiftfromraceor casteto some sortof


bureaucraticmanagementcriteria(officialrecognition)still
leavesNative People without the use of their traditional
ethnic/kinship systems. Such traditional systems may
emphasizethe father'sancestryline only (rare,I believe),
the maternalline primarily,a totemicor "mythical"protoancestor,clan membership,or ancestrybasedupon a spirituallink with a particularland or place.Religionor other
aspectsof sharedculturemay alsobe emphasized.
Among many traditionalNativeAmericancultures,
persons are descended in the female line from a "first"
ancestor,"usuallya being with an animal or plant name.
If, for example,one is a member of the "turtle"matrilineal lineageone might find this situation:500 generations
ago the first"turtle"woman lived,and in each subsequent
generation her female descendants had to marry men
who were non-turtles, i.e., with other lineages in their
female lines. A modern-day"turtle"person,then, might
well be, in quantitativeterms, 1/500 turtle and 499/500
non-"turtle"and yet, at the same time,be completelyand
totally a turtle person.
The significanceof "place"is also,or can be, very significant.Among Indians,it is said, the place of birth was
of extremesignificancein a spiritualand evocativesense.
Thus Americans born in a Spanish mission setting in
Californiamight be existentiallyverydifferentfrom their
biological parents born elsewhere. The relocation of
groupsof people, in short,can lead to a new definitionof
self-identityfor future children,providedthat the social
system allows for it, or even in spite of the social system
(as with California-bornJapanese-Americansperhaps).
Most Dineh (Navajo) clans have names adapted from a
particularplace in Navajocountryor nearby.
There are also peoples who believe that ancestralor
other souls takeroot in the human egg and that a human
being may be a reincarnationof some previous person.
Thisof course,vitallyaffectsdefinitionsof self-identityand
ethnicity.But, of course, such perspectives,are frowned
as well as
upon in Westernthinkingas being"unscientific"
"non-Christian."
Nonetheless,sinceidentityis an existential
phenomenonand ethnicitya social concept,we must not
be tied to "biological"or bureaucraticcriteriaalone.
There are, of course, many other ways of reckoning
ethnicity,not the least interestingof which is the process
of "naturalization"
(i.e. "nativization")wherebyvirtually
all states can absorb aliens and bestow citizenship. But
"naturalization"harksback to the days, it seems to me,
when "adoption"into an alien group was not only possi-

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ble but involveda spiritual-existential


changeof profound
significance. To be "adopted"into an Indian nation or
community meant to become a nativewith them and to
shed previousidentities.Perhapsit meant the same thing
in other societiesas well.
It is also necessaryto reflect upon the fact that the
modern classificatorymind has evolved the notion of
absolute identities, a notion which has caused so much
painin recenttimes.Bythis I referto the notion thata person must be either"French"or "German",
either"Swiss"
either"Indian"or "nonIndian,"etc.The modor "Italian,"
ern statehas made an exclusiveclaim to our loyaltiesbut
this claim has also been furtheredby a kind of either-or,
this or that,logicfosteredby Christianand othermessianic
religious denominations and by a kind of "black"or
"white"tendencyto oversimplifyhuman experience.
For Native Americans, of course, things have not
alwaysbeen this way.Scholarshipand especiallypopular
writinghas createdthe impressionthatone mustbe either
a Comanche or a Kiowa, etc., but even the term
"Comanche"is a foreignword, applied by outsidersto a
group of people with five geographical divisions who
blendedinto the relatedShoshone (beforebecomingseparated) and who mixed frequentlywith other so-called
tribesas closefriends,campmates,and marriagepartners.
To understandNativeAmericanidentityone must, I
think, begin with the extended family,a kinship unit of
the utmost importance.In fact, the familyis the key element in all nativesocial,economic,and politicallife.Very
often these familiesarenot localized,but by meansof clan
relationshipsextendoutward,sometimesto groupsspeaking totally different languages, and sometimes even to
"enemy"groups.
For many Native Americans, then, identity begins
with a familyidentity.Oftenthis is expressedin a bilateral way althoughmatrilinealor patrilinealdescentmaybe
emphasized. The family in the larger sense may often
embracewithin its folds personswho belong to different
"tribes,"or, after 1500,belong to differentraces.
But nativepeoplealso"belong"to manyothergroupings including"societies,"
(men'sorganizations,for examand
in
modern
times
these include pow-wow drum
ple,
groups,"clubs"et cetera),religiousgroups(includingceremony-givingassociations,the NativeAmericanChurch,
"sun-dancers",etc.), and groups of "friends"(who have
adopted each other, sometimes in a ceremonial way).
Moreover,of course,native people belong to local communities (villages, camps, outfits, hunting bands, etc.),

largercommunities (towns, pueblos, bands, "triblets"),


and nations or confederationsof bands and/or communities.Eachof these levels providesa type of identityand
all are important.But we cannot stop with the "nation"
because native people also had alliances comprised of
closely-linkedgroups speakingdifferentlanguages(such
as the Quechan and the Hamakhava of the Colorado
River,or the Maricopaand the O'odhamof the GilaRiver,
the VerdeValleyYavapaiand the VerdeValleyApache,and
so on). Manyof these allianceshavebeen bonded together by mythic traditions or by longtime sharing of ceremonies,gifts,marriagepartners,clans,etc.Thus,although
usually unnamed, such bondings are very real and provide a sense of belonging. Bilingualismis usuallya characteristicof such bonded groups.
"Identity,"
then, is reallya seriesof concentriccircles,
with manylayersof importance.No single level can adequatelydescribeor encompassidentity.Moreover,in the
case of native clans, they run outwardthrough all of the
concentriccirclesand even extend into "alien"groups.
Todayall of this has been modified somewhat,principallyby the pressuresof colonialism."Membership"is
now often determined by white people's rules or by the
pressurescreated by land and resource shortages.Still,
however,Indianshave multiple identities.
Forexample,a hypotheticalpersonwho is half-Zuni
and half-Siouxmight not be able to be a full memberat
Zuni Pueblo,especiallyif he was raisedelsewhereor if the
Zuni ancestrycame throughhis father(althoughin some
pueblos the matrilineal reckoning is being replacedby
patrilinealemphasisinsofaras membershipis concerned).
Zuni relativeswill recognize him as a part of the family
but if he was never ceremoniallyincorporatedand if he
does not speak Zuni he may not be considered a "real"
Zuni at Zuni Pueblo.In Denver,where he lives,however,
he will be recognized by other Native Americans as an
Indianand be fullyacceptedas a Zuni, a Sioux,or a ZuniSioux (whicheverhe chooses to emphasize).
Thussuch a personmaybelong to a Zuni family,may
be legally a Zuni (from the white government's viewpoint), maybe a non-Zuni, maybe a Zuni-Sioux,maybe
a Sioux, may be an "Indian"all at the same time.
Suchexamplesare numerousand sometimesinvolve
personsdescendedfrom four or five"tribes"who mayalso
be part-French,part-Filipino,part-Hawaiian,and so on.
And to furthercomplicatematters,such personsmayalso
identifyas citizens of the United Sates(or Mexico,etc.)
It is easy to see, then, that one could have a mixed
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61

AmericanAfricanfamilywhose kinship ties run in both


directions. Thus one could have a Nanticoke person in
New Jerseymarried to a Mohegan from Connecticut,
both of whom actually possess variableproportions of
differenttribal and racialbackgrounds(e.g. Nanticoke,
Pocomoke, Wicomico, black African and white on the
black
Nanticokeside and Mohegan,Pequot,Narragansett,
Africanand white on the Moheganside). Stillfurtherthe
two families include relatives who are living in
Philadelphia,Camden,Boston, Princeton,etc., who have
intermarriedwith other "Indians"or with "blacks."
Some of the "cousins"will likely be in the "blackH
community,some are active"Indians,"while still others
may lead a dual life, sometimes being one thing, sometimes another.They may, for example, attend a "black"
churchwhere they do not publiclyannounce any Indian
identity,and yet they may be Indian when visiting relatives or attending a pow-wow function. These multiple
associationsmay not be easy,of course.
The aboveanalysismay,however,sound verystrange
to one accustomedto the usualU. S. government(or even
anthropological)notions about "tribes"and "nations."I
think it likely,however,that many of our "tribes"were
createdby colonial authoritiesin order to have suitable
politicalentitieswith which to negotiatefor land cession
purposes or to have a suitable entity availablefor conquest.Havingmilitarilydefeateda large"tribe,"the colonial power could claim jurisdiction over all of the
territory ascribed to that unit, or at least could force a
large land cession from it. More recently,the need for
contractsfor oil and mineralexplorationhas spurredthe
creation of land-owning large tribes, such as the Hopi
and Navajonations.
Butwhat if the Hopi areactuallydividedinto several
independent"pueblos"(community-republics),each of
which is sovereignand land-owning?But now, of course,
the U. S. governmenthas createda Hopi TribalCouncilto
speakfor all of the communitiesand to have the right to
engagein land strugglewith the neighboringNavajo.
Similarly,the U. S. has ascribedland-owningauthority to the Navajo Nation, but what if the traditional
Navajolocal "outfits"or groups (including local "clans"
or bands) had the actual control over land use?What if
the Navajowere only a very loose confederationof fundamentallyindependentlocal groups?
Perhapsone of the greatestpoliticalachievementsof
Native North Americanswas the abilityto develop confederationsof friendlylocal republicswithout losing the
62

essential sovereignty of the local group. This was the


essential characteristicof all of the great confederacies
such as those of the Powhatan,the Iroquois,the LenapeDelaware, the Creek-Muscogee, the Cherokee, the
Choctaw,the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota
(Sioux),etc.Butthat
form of political genius is unacceptableto the colonial
statewhich requirescentralization,bureaucraticcontrol,
and quick and unambiguouslines of responsibilityand
decision-making.
Thus NativeAmericanidentityhas been badlyshattered and then rebuilt, as it were, along new (and often
false) lines. Now we are stuck with a variety of imposed
concepts, from the very idea of being "Indian"to being
"descendantsof the Mayas"(ratherthan "real"Mayas)to
being membersof tribesor nations whose very existence
depends upon the recognitionof the bureaucraticagencies of the U. S., Canadian,and other governments.
Similarly,Americansof Africanorigin havehad their
originalnationalitiesalmost completelydestroyed.They
were then sculpted by colonialism as negros or Negroes
("slaves")and then groundout as casteswith an incredible variety of terms being used. Moreover,a system of
denigrationresultedin the internalization,very often, of
negativeself-imagesand of the actualizationof a colorshaped status hierarchywhich has survived slaveryand
direct European colonialism. To a significant degree
African-Americans
controlthemselves,as it were,because
internallythey operatewith casteand classrelationswhile
sometimes (in the U. S. particularly)presentingoutsiders
with the appearanceof being a unitedethnic community.
have
Facingsuch dilemmassome African-Americans
of
opted out America(suchas the Rastafariansof Jamaica
and other groups desiringa returnto Africa),while others havesought to createnew Africannations (within the
territoryof the UnitedStatesfor example),while stillothers have sought to achieve "equality"as Brazilians,
Cubans, Trinidadians,Jamaicans,North Americans,et
cetera.Easyanswersare not forthcoming,but it is worth
stressing that Africans were the first settlers of North
America(afterthe indigenousAmericans),long preceding Europeans (from the 1520s to 1565, in South
Carolina)as well as the firstnonindigenoussettlersof the
mainland of Latin America (being in Panama when
Balboaarrived,1513).
African-Americansare also of partial indigenous
Americanancestry.Thus fromseveralpoints of view they
should feel very much at home in Americaand shouldbe
accordedthe respectof being earlyarrivals(not to men-

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tion possibleancientAfricanor Afro Polynesiancontacts


with Mesoamerica).
Racism, which still thrives in North and South
America,must be seen as a majorlimitationplacedupon
the full participationof personsof Africanand American
physical features in the state-basednationalities of the
continent,not to mention the complicationsof economic statusand culturaldifferences.Race,in effect,is a powerful determinantof existentialnationality (as opposed
to mere citizenship)in the Americas.
There is a great deal of confusion today about
whethergroupssuch as African-Americansconstitutean
"ethnicity"or a "nationality."The two terms essentially
meant the same thing until a few decades ago (ethniki
being the Greekword for national). But now it would
appearthat ethnicityrefersto "groupness"while nationalityrefersto "groupnessdemandinga territoryand a sovereign or autonomous self-determination." The
Navajo-Dinehare,then, both an ethnicity and a nationality.They possess territoryand they aspire to self-rule;
they seek collectivesovereignty.
On the other hand, Polish-Americanshave "groupness"but theyprobablylackanyterritory(exceptfor a few
neighborhoodssharedwith other Slavicand non-Slavic
groups) and certainlydo not aspire to collective sovereignty.They alreadypossess a sovereignstate, Poland,to
which they can returnif they wish to live as a Pole exclusively with other Poles in a Polish homeland. It is
absolutelycrucialthat any people who wish to aspireto
nationhood must, these days,avoid allowing themselves
to be referredto as an "ethnicgroup"( or as a "population").They must insist on the use of the term"apeople"
or "anation."What this means is that governments(and
certainscholarsas well) havefound that they can downgradethe claimsof some of their subjectsif the lattercan
be classifiedas "ethnics."The dominant population is, of
course,never"ethnic."Only"minorities"are"ethnic"and,
therefore,shallwe say,abnormal.Morecruciallythey will
alwaysremain mere enclaveswithout any hope of territory or self-determination.
Perhapsthis is why the "BlackMuslims"in the United
Statescall their group the "Nationof Islam"ratherthan
the "IslamicEthnic Group"and why they also seem to
avoidmergerwith orthodoxMuslims(who areheterogeneous as to nationalityor ethnicity).
In any case,the struggleover nationalityversusethnicityis crucialfor NativeAmericanseverywhere.In every
American state some indigenous peoples, after being

as "peasants"and by "patriotic"state(and
"brainwashed"
army) propaganda,come to think of themselvesmerely
as a caste (indios or campesinos) who just happen to
speakQuechua,or Aymara,or Mixtec,or Nahuatl,and if
they could only learn to speak Spanish, or move to the
city, or attend a university, they could stop being an
"Indian"and become a full Peruvian,Bolivian,Mexican,
or Canadian.In other words,the concept of nationhood
or an indigenousnationalitydoes not exist for them.They
are simply"un grupo etnica."
In point of fact,however,we must here challengethe
idea that nationhood must be achievedsolelyby creating
an independent "tribal"or indigenous state apparatus
modeled after European states. Quite the contrary,
Americannations could well be structuredin an entirely
different way, a decentralist, confederationist, localist,
completely democratic way. (Of course, such a nation
might find it hard to exist in the midst of centralized
aggressivestatessuch as currentlydominate the world.)
There is an old story about a Pawnee warriorwho
was on a horse-stealingexpeditionagainstthe Comanche,
many hundredsof miles awayfrom home. While on the
raidhe was ableto observea young Comanchegirl in her
tipi at night,and he fell in love with her.He returnedwith
horses to Pawneecountrybut ultimatelyfelt impelledto
go back by himself to that same Comanche village. To
make a long story short, he crawledinto her tipi at night
and when the familyawokethey found an enemy sitting
quietlyin theirmidst.He told them why he was thereand
eventuallythey acceptedhim and he marriedthe love of
his life. For manyyearshe lived as a Comancheand only
was able to returnto the Pawneecountry for a visit after
peace had been made. He took his Comanche father-inlaw along on the visit.
This story illustrateshow ridiculousit is to think of
NativeAmericannationsas ant-likesocialhiveswherewild
warriorsactedout anti-foreignphobiasand insistedupon
absolute social loyalty.Yetthat is the derogatoryway in
which the term"tribalism"is often used, to referto some
sort of hyper-nationalismof an especially"primitive"
sort.
The fact of the matter is, as I have alreadystressed,
that Native Americanswere united acrossinter-communal boundariesby networksof ceremony-sharing,kinship
ties, friendships,trade,clan relationshipsand manyother
culturalfeatures.Most NativeAmericansappearto have
been bilingualor multilingualand the use of the sign languagefromTexasnorthwardsthroughoutthe GreatPlains
and the use of trade jargons in many areas (such as the
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ChinookJargonof the NorthPacificCoastor the Mobilian


region)contributedto
Jargonof the Alabama-Mississippi
a sense of sharedlife acrosseven languagelines.
Unity also existed across hostile inter-communal
boundariesbecausekinshipoftenexistedacrosssuch lines
(due to the frequentcaptureof women as marriagepartnersas well as becauseof captivechildrenbeing raisedto
be full membersof their adoptedcommunity) and many
customs might mitigate hostility (such as being on a
vision-quest or pilgrimage,being a religious"holy"person, etc.).
Warfarewas not a businessof the state,among most
NativeAmericans,and thereforesome familiesmight not
be hostiletowardsa groupor villagewhich was the object
of enmity by others.Apparentlyone was not expectedto
fight one's own kin or one's own clan relations, even if
they were associated with a hostile group. In North
Americaat least,leadersdid not ordinarilypossess coercive controlover anyoneelse and could not force anyone
to go to war.
I believethat most nationalitiestoday are actuallyof
similarcharacterto the aboveexceptthat they havebeen
molded into their present shape (or have been created)
by state bureaucracies, state propaganda, and state
rewards(which accompanycitizenship,et cetera).
Certainlymost boundaries are quite artificial and
have been subject, in any case, to a great deal of movement in recordedhistory.Are the Limburger-speaking
people to be considered to be Germans, Dutch, or
Belgians?Almosteverywherewe find the same confusion
in border zones, a confusion which often extends over
largeareasas well. I have advocatedthat we find waysto
create cross-boundary limited authority sub-states to
accommodate"peoples"dividedby internationalboundaries such as Limburgers,Alsatians, Frisians, Basques,
Samis, and numerous others. Why can't, for example,
Limburgerscontrol their own universities and schools
and localaffairs,while perhapsleavingforeignaffairsand
defenseto Belgium,Germany,and Nederland?Of course,
in a unifiedEurope,it maybe that eventuallyLimburgers
could have their own state within the EuropeanUnion,
but the cross-boundarysubstateoffers an intermediate
position applicablein other partsof the world as well. 10
Allow me to conclude by returningto my interpretation of the Native American concept of identity as a
seriesof concentriccirclesextendingfromone'sown family outwardto all human beings and beyond.
Fromthis perspectivewe must transformour con64

cept of "society"from a noun to a verb,"associating,"a


dynamicratherthan a staticcondition.We do not possess
fixed "societies"but ratherwe associate,we interact,in
slowlychanging(or rapidlychanging)waysbut alwaysas
a partof a process.
It is importantto stressthat NativeAmerican"associatings"alwaysinclude the animals, plants, waters,the
earth with its mountains and valleys, the sky, clouds,
thunder,and so on. In short, all of the phenomenacalled
"nature"
by Europeansarepartof us, arerelatedto us, and
form part of our identity.We are literallyall childrenof
MotherEarth,brothersand sisters,relatives.Many,many
centuries ago White Buffalo Woman visited the Lakota
people, and gavethem a specialpipe. She said:
"Withthispipeyou will be boundto all yourrelatives:YourGrandfatherand Father[the Great
Spirit],your Grandmotherand Motherthe
Earth... and alsoyou mustalwaysremember
that the two-leggedsand the otherpeoplewho
stand upon this eartharesacredand shouldbe
treatedas such."
There is also an old Lenape prayerwhich refersto
"ourgrandfathers,the trees"and "ourGrandfather,fire"
and a Zuni prayerwhich states:
Whenour earthmotheris repletewith
livingwaters,
Whenspringcomes,
Thesourceof ourflesh,
All the differentkindsof corn,
Weshall lay to restin theground
with the earthmother'slivingwaters...
Over and over again the Native People give out this
I
messageof kinshipand onenesswith other formsof life."
If the earthis to surviveas a viablehome forhumans
and non-humans it would seem that we will need to
adopt the world-view of indigenous peoples in order,at
least, to include "all of our relations"as a part of the
nationwith whichwe identify.Welive in an "earthocean,"
a sea of air which we must come to understandas a kind
of aquarium stretched around the surface of the earth,
and an aquariumcommon to all of us. If part of us pollutes it, then eventuallywe all have to suffer the consequences.12
The dominant concepts of absolute states and

WicazoSa Review Fall 1995

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absolute,fixednationalitiesembracingonly humanbeings
and a possessedterritorymust giveway to a differentway
of seeing the world.
JackD. Forbesis a professorin and Chairof theNative
AmericanStudiesDepartmentat the Universityof
California-Davis.

Footnotes

1 See J.D.Forbes,"TheHistorianand the Indian,"THEAMERICAS:


Academyof AmericanFranciscanHistory,XIX(4) April 1963;J.D.
Forbes,"Frontiersin AmericanHistory,;'JOURNALOFTHE WEST, (1)
ANDTHE
July1962,63-73 and "TheIndianin the West,;'ARIZONA
WEST,(3) Autumn 1959.

2 J.D.Forbes,"Envelopment,Proletarianizationand Inferiorization:

4 J.D.Forbes,"TheManipulationof Race,Casteand Identity:


ClassifyingAfroamericans,NativeAmericans,and Red-Black
OF ETHNIC
STUDIES17(4) Winter 1990, 1-5.
People,"JOURNAL
5 Forbes,BLACK
ANDNATIVE
AFRICANS
177-178.
AMERICANS,
6 Forbes,BLACK
ANDNATIVE
AFRICANS
208.
AMERICANS,
7 See Forbes,"Envelopment..., JOURNAL
OF ETHNIC
STUDIES
18(4),
for a fullerdiscussionof envelopmentand proletarianization.
8 See JackD. Forbes,"TheMestizo Concept"in AZTECAS
DELNORTE:
THECHICANOS
OFAZTLAN. (Greenwich, CT.:Fawcett,1973),
178-204. Also publishedas "ElConceptoMestizo Metis,"
NOVEDADESDEBAIACALIFORNIA
(Mexicali), 1(29) Nov. 20, 1982and
onto 1 (41).
9 See JackD. Forbes,"TheHispanic Spin-Party Politicsand
GovernmentalManipulationof EthnicIdentity,"LATINAMERICAN
PERSPECTIVES
19(4) Fall 1992, 59 78.

Aspectsof Colonialism'sImpactUpon NativeAmericansand


Other People of Color in EasternNorth America,"JOURNAL
OF
ETHNICSTUDIES
18(4), 95-122.

10 See JackD. Forbes,"LimitedAuthorityCross-Boundary


Substates,"PLURALSOCIETIES,
Spring 1985, reprintedin J.Brecher
ETAL,GLOBAL
VISIONS:
BEYOND
THENEWWORLDORDER(Boston:
South End Press,1993).

3 J.D.Forbes,BLACK
AFRICANS
ANDNATIVE
AMERICANS
(Oxford:
Blackwell,1988) 87. The subsequentdiscussionis based partlyon
this work.This book has been reprintedin a revisededition as
AFRICANS
ANDNATIVE
AMERICANS.
(Champaign,IL:Universityof
Illinois Press,1993).

11 JackD. Forbes,COLUMBUS
ANDOTHERCANNIBALS:
THEWETIKO
DISEASE
OFEXPLOITATION.
IMPERIALISM
ANDTERRORISM
(Brooklyn:
Autonomedia,1992) 28, 30.
12 See variouspoems by J.D.Forbes,including"Beneaththe Waves,"
"Kinshipis the BasicPrincipleof Philosophy,""TheUniverseis
Our Holy Book,""Inthe Presenceof Oxygenand MotherEarth,"
and "Inthe Dunes."

Fall 1995 WicazoSa Review 65

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