The Pocahontas Exception: The Exemption of American Indian Ancestry from Racial Purity Law

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2010-11-02 21:05Z by Steven

The Pocahontas Exception: The Exemption of American Indian Ancestry from Racial Purity Law

bepress Legal Series
Working Paper 1572
47 pages

Kevin N. Maillard, Associate Professor of Law
Syracuse University

“The Pocahontas Exception” confronts the legal existence and cultural fascination with the eponymous “Indian Grandmother.” Laws existed in many states that prohibited marriage between whites and nonwhites to prevent the “quagmire of mongrelization.” Yet, this racial protectionism, as ingrained in law, blatantly exempted Indian blood from the threat to white racial purity. In Virginia, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 made exceptions for whites of mixed descent who proudly claimed Native American ancestry from Pocahontas. This paper questions the juridical exceptions made for Native American ancestry in antimiscegenation statues, and analyzes the concomitant exemptions in contemporary social practice. With increasing numbers of Americans freely and lately claiming Native ancestry, this openness escapes the triumvirate of resistance, shame, and secrecy that regularly accompanies findings of partial African ancestry. I contend that antimiscegenation laws such as the Racial Integrity Act relegate Indians to existence only in a distant past, creating a temporal disjuncture to free Indians from a contemporary discourse of racial politics. I argue that such exemptions assess Indians as abstractions rather than practicalities, which facilitates the miscegenistic exceptionalism as demonstrated in Virginia’s antimiscegenation statute.

Table of Contents

    • A. Support from the Founding Fathers
    • B. Assimilation Schemes and the Dawes Allotment Act
    • A. The Growth of the Eugenics Movement
    • B. Fear Ingrained in Law: The Racial Integrity Act
    • C. Accommodating the Elite: Redefining the Parameters of Whiteness
    • A. The Indian Grandmother Complex: A Different Kind of Birth for the Nation
    • B. To the Margins of Society: The Non-Threat of Indian Blood

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Factors in the Microevolution of a Triracial Isolate

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2010-11-02 18:55Z by Steven

Factors in the Microevolution of a Triracial Isolate

American Journal of Human Genetics
Volume 18, Number 1 (January 1966)
pages 26-38

W. S. Pollitzer
Department of Anatomy
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

R. M. Menegaz-Bock
Genetics Training Committe
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

J. C. Herion
Department of Medicine
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Triracial Isolates today attract the attention of the anthropologist, the geneticist, and the medical scientist as questions arise concerning the origin of such isolates, their history, social status, breeding structure, and inherited pathological conditions. This paper describes the physical, serological, and clinical characteristics of a hybrid population in northeastern North Carolina (Witkop et al., 1960; Menegaz-Bock, 1962), its racial composition, and the cultural and biological factors in its evolution.


The population can be traced at least as far back as the American Revolution. The most common surname in this region today is the same as that of two brothers, said to be descended from Cherokee Indians and whites, who fought in that war. The census of 1790 for the county in which the majority of this population now live lists this name only under the designation “all other free persons;” four of seven other surnames frequent in this population are listed as “free white,” while three are listed under both of these headings. Many of these names, well-known in the isolate today, can be traced through the census reports of the nineteenth century. In 1800, ten are listed, mostly under “free persons of color,” and the census of 1810 lists six of these as “other free persons except Indians not taxed.” By 1820, most of these names appear in the column “free Negro.” Eleven surnames common in the current population are listed in the census of 1830 as “free colored persons,” and most of these are listed under the same heading again in 1840. The census of 1850, designating free inhabitants as “white,” “black,” and “mulatto,” registers a dozen of these family names as “mulattoes” and half of these also as “white.” In 1860, the census for the western district of the county listed 13 of the common names as free inhabitants, either white, black, or mulatto. In the 1870 census for the township where most of the population now lives, five of seven last names common in the group include mulattoes. The census of 1880 contains ten names common in the township now, and all but two of these are to be found under “mulatto.” The census of 1890 was destroyed, and names are not released for the censuses from 1900 on…

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Re-imagining mixed race: Explorations of multiracial discourse in Canada

Posted in Canada, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2010-11-02 02:37Z by Steven

Re-imagining mixed race: Explorations of multiracial discourse in Canada

York University
December 2008
190 pages
ISBN: 9780494517864
Publication Number: AAT NR51786

Leanne Taylor

A Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of graduate Studies in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

This dissertation analyses discourses of racial mixture, with particular focus on the Canadian context. I suggest that mixed race has been largely under-theorized in current racial and multiracial research and argue that this deficiency, as well as the controversies that mixed race often inspires, is an effect of the limitations in discourses about race, racism and identity. Throughout, I address many of the challenges, questions and controversies surrounding racial mixture (including struggles over identity, classification and the recent multiracial movement), and engage stories depicting experiences of mixed race people in Canada. I focus most closely on Lawrence Hill’s Black Berry Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, Carol Camper’s anthology Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women, and Shanti Thakur’s documentary Domino. I use their stories as a means of commenting on broader struggles around racialization, racial identities, and racial discourse in our present multicultural context—one that is increasingly placing unbalanced focus on ideals of colour-blindness and neo-liberalism. My study is meant to inspire a re-thinking of some key concepts in contemporary theories of race and mixed race and the growing societal claims that we are moving toward a raceless state. The issues and questions I raise in this dissertation are intended to address the problems and concerns that many critical theories of race and mixed race fail to consider. I argue that creolization theory, particularly Edouard Glissant’s theory of “Relation”, his attention to rhizomatic identity, and his challenge to linearity and fixity, offer a critical challenge that might move complex discussions of mixed race and multiracial theory forward and away from the restrictions of binaries, racial biologism, and essentialist identity politics.

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Interview: Whiteness Redux

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-11-02 00:39Z by Steven

Interview: Whiteness Redux

borderlands: e-journal
Volume 3, Number 2 (2004)

Mike Hill, Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies
State University of New York, Albany

Damien W. Riggs
University of Adelaide, South Australia

1. Damien: As a research area that is rapidly growing within ‘Western nations’, how would you understand whiteness studies as both creating the potential for critique, but also the potential for reinforcing the normative status of whiteness?

2. Mike: It’s interesting that you use the word “potential.” Because one of the issues that the whiteness studies phenomena in the US has raised—productively, if painfully—is whether or not humanities research in Western nations is at this moment capable of doing anything significant at all, critical, normative, whatever. Whither whiteness, and with it, whither scholarly books as the most effective basis for political agency? From a historical vantage point this is not a flippant question. We assume that writing leads to what significant social event, exactly? On the whiteness front, we know that writing has lead, well, to more writing, more conferences, additional debate. Do we presume a connection between this relatively recent outpouring of scholarship and progressive mass movements, radical insurgencies, real social change? The relation between humanities knowledge and the masses has I believe never been more confused. But neither has it been more crucial.

…15. Damien: There has been much talk recently, particular within the US and UK, of white people engaging in a movement towards ‘race abolitionism’, and as being ‘race traitors’. Do you think this connects with work in the area of whiteness studies, and in what regards (if any) do you see it as creating the potential for challenging the racialised structures of ‘Western societies’?

16. Mike: That word “potential” again. If we could only measure such a force in some way beyond just saying “yes, this or that provides our one true hope,” or “no, it surely does not.” I’ve been somewhat critical of the race traitor movement in the US on the grounds that it was voluntaristic and prone to all sorts of ontological thefting, to fetishizing the margins, to romantically blackening up, and so on. Maybe these charges were facile, or the underlying logic not so clear. But I still wonder, as I did in an article for Postmodern Culture back in 1997, about programatically performing “treason to whiteness” in order to ensure one’s “loyalty to humanity,” as that historically imperious neo-Enlightenment slogan goes. Humanity is a nice desire. But I wonder if this term, as evoked by the race traitor group, might turn on the way white men in particular are playing out a sense of late-capitalist public disenfranchisement, variously retooling, or really, gearing up their affective relations to colour, for everyone to witness and once again applaud…

…36. Damien: Whilst it is important to recognise the very local ways in which whiteness achieves hegemony, it has also been suggested that there are broader connections between the practices of whiteness in differing countries, particularly through their relation to discourses of empire and imperialism. Where do you see some of the important international connections within the study of whiteness?…

…40. Mike: Enter here the multiracial movement, which maintains an express disavowal of whiteness and, for that matter, disavows allegiance to blackness, our two longstanding oppositional correlates. There are something like sixty multiracial organizations in the US touting the cause of civil rights, self- and state-recognition, full and frank disclosure that the population designated black is mostly mixed race (as if race is a quantifiable set of blood ratios!). As I said, it’s significant that, for them, “white” is a bunk historical fiction. But it’s a horror for the NAACP that so too is “black.” The multiracial activists seek the right to be counted as one would choose, which means the full extension of a civil rights legacy that emphasises self- over observer-enumeration. Race is addressed once again as the matter of getting identity correct in one’s own eyes and in the eyes of the state. This time though, the traditional categories of race are exhausted thevery moment that race is embraced.

41. What the old civil rights organization’s realised, especially given the enthusiasm of republican legislators to get multiracial people officially counted, is that the new abundance of race categories threaten to terminate the juridical unity of race altogether. A new and accelerated civil rights lexicon increases the number of race categories that individuals may legally claim. On this order, race is everywhere significant and nowhere identifiable in the old formalist sense. So you have the NAACP’s awkward defence of the one-drop rule of hypo-descent—formerly associated with Jim Crow—as a sort of desperate, ironic collective self-defence against the difficulties implicit in the post-civil rights epoch.

42. This latest process of governing vis-à-vis racial distinction is different from previous civil rights struggles, which tried to liberalise the state and get government justly interested in the racial identities it once denied. Under this new set of protocols, the state has admitted racial interest and with ever greater freedom and nuance. But it has done so in order to rob racial coherency of its former political significance.

43. If you pursue the multiracialism debate to its logical ends, you can start to see how an individual’s right to self-identify, paradoxically, provides an opportunity for racial identity itself to release the state from its previous civil rights obligations. In this way, the state jettisons the most important historical cite of domestic dissent the very moment it presumes to go global. You could say that the neo-nationalist end of liberalism is hereby found dormant in the logic of its once benevolent ends. In effect, all and no race relations exist in the eyes of a racially emancipated state. Multiplicity is unleashed upon identity, and the organizational capacity of government is both maximised and evaporated within the simple act of saying, “I am…”…

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