Who is an Indian?: Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-08-24 17:12Z by Steven

Who is an Indian?: Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas

University of Toronto Press
August 2013
272 pages
Paper ISBN: 9780802095527
Cloth ISBN: 9780802098184

Edited by:

Maximilian C. Forte, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Who is an Indian? This is possibly the oldest question facing Indigenous peoples across the Americas, and one with significant implications for decisions relating to resource distribution, conflicts over who gets to live where and for how long, and clashing principles of governance and law. For centuries, the dominant views on this issue have been strongly shaped by ideas of both race and place. But just as important, who is permitted to ask, and answer this question?

This collection examines the changing roles of race and place in the politics of defining Indigenous identities in the Americas. Drawing on case studies of Indigenous communities across North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, it is a rare volume to compare Indigenous experience throughout the western hemisphere. The contributors question the vocabulary, legal mechanisms, and applications of science in constructing the identities of Indigenous populations, and consider ideas of nation, land, and tradition in moving indigeneity beyond race.


  • Preface
  • Introduction: “Who Is an Indian?” The Cultural Politics of a Bad Question / Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)
  • Chapter One: Inuitness and Territoriality in Canada / Donna Patrick (Carleton University, Sociology and Anthropology and the School of Canadian Studies)
  • Chapter Two: Federally-Unrecognized Indigenous Communities in Canadian Contexts / Bonita Lawrence (York University, Equity Studies)
  • Chapter Three: The Canary in the Coalmine: What Sociology Can Learn from Ethnic Identity Debates among American Indians / Eva Marie Garroutte (Boston College, Sociology) and C. Matthew Snipp (Stanford University, Sociology)
  • Chapter Four : “This Sovereignty Thing”: Nationality, Blood, and the Cherokee Resurgence / Julia Coates (University of California Davis, Native American Studies)
  • Chapter Five: Locating Identity: The Role of Place in Costa Rican Chorotega Identity / Karen Stocker (California State University, Anthropology)
  • Chapter Six: Carib Identity, Racial Politics, and the Problem of Indigenous Recognition in Trinidad and Tobago / Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Anthropology)
  • Chapter Seven: Encountering Indigeneity: The International Funding of Indigeneity in Peru / José Antonio Lucero (University of Washington, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies)
  • Chapter Eight: The Color of Race: Indians and Progress in a Center-Left Brazil / Jonathan Warren (University of Washington, International Studies, Chair of Latin American Studies)
  • Conclusion: Seeing Beyond the State and Thinking beyond the State of Sight / Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)
  • Contributors
  • Index
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Real Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood [Review by Steve George]

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2012-04-20 20:33Z by Steven

Real Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood [Review by Steve George]

Volume 27, Number 2 (2005)
Pages 272–274

Steve George
Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Real Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood. By Bonita Lawrence. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004. Pp. 303, bibliography, index, ISBN 0-7748-1103 -X)

The title of Lawrence’s book is as direct as it is provocative. The book’s title states the book’s purpose to examine the central and perhaps most volatile question in Aboriginal communities today: “Who is an Indian?” In 2003, Lawrence edited Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival (Sumach Press) with Kim Anderson and in many respects this new work is a continuation of the voices heard in that book. Lawrence is a Mi’kmaq scholar whose research at Queen’s University, and more recently at York University, has concerned how “Indian/nativeness” is defined in Euro-Canadian and Native contexts, from within historical and legal paradigms as well as within native communities across Canada.

Bonita Lawrence’s work is a continuation of powerful works like Howard Adams’ Prison of Grass (1975) and Maria Campbell’s Half-Breed (1973) and more recent works by Joseph Bruchac, Bowman’s Store (Lee & Low Books, 2001) and Warren Carriou’s, Lake of the Prairies (Anchor, 2003). It has the depth of these works because we read mixed-blood peoples’ voices directly from the page. The importance of these voices lies in how each of these persons tells their stories, relates their experiences, and shares their family and community histories. Lawrence’s style of writing is easy to read while her research approach is organic in its having informants speak for themselves.

As a mixed-blood Mi’kmaw, I read this book from both a very personal level of experience as well as from an academic one, as a Masters graduate student in Folklore. In Canada the subject of mixed-blood Native people remains a controversial one from within native communities and from without, in the large urban centres across the country. Lawrence has interviewed several mixed-blood informants to tell stories that show the different kinds of experiences mixed-bloods have had in the city of Toronto and across North America. Some of these narratives involve pain, abuse, neglect, and lack of self worth, while others involve stories of empowerment, community involvement, and survival. Each one of the informants speaks from life experiences that involve a mix of acceptance and non-acceptance of their “Indian/nativeness,” both from within themselves, from their families as well as from different native communities. The responses interviewees give Lawrence are direct and bear fruit to the underreported and underwritten subject of mixed-blood Native peoples…

Read the entire review here.

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“Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood

Posted in Books, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Science on 2009-11-18 03:08Z by Steven

“Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood

University of Nebraska Press
303 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-8037-3

Bonita Lawrence, Associate Professor
York University, Ontario, Canada

Mixed-blood urban Native peoples in Canada are profoundly affected by federal legislation that divides Aboriginal peoples into different legal categories. In this pathfinding book, Bonita Lawrence reveals the ways in which mixed-blood urban Natives understand their identities and struggle to survive in a world that, more often than not, fails to recognize them.

In “Real” Indians and Others Lawrence draws on the first-person accounts of thirty Toronto residents of Native heritage, as well as archival materials, sociological research, and her own urban Native heritage and experiences. She sheds light on the Canadian government’s efforts to define Native identity through the years by means of the Indian Act and shows how residential schooling, the loss of official Indian status, and adoption have affected Native identity. Lawrence looks at how Natives with “Indian status” react and respond to “nonstatus” Natives and how federally recognized Native peoples attempt to impose an identity on urban Natives.

Drawing on her interviews with urban Natives, she describes the devastating loss of community that has resulted from identity legislation and how urban Native peoples have wrestled with their past and current identities. Lawrence also addresses the future and explores the forms of nation building that can reconcile the differences in experiences and distinct agendas of urban and reserve-based Native communities.

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