Great Lakes Creoles A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860 by Lucy Eldersveld Murphy (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-06-08 22:55Z by Steven

Great Lakes Creoles A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860 by Lucy Eldersveld Murphy (review)

Ohio Valley History
Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 2016
pages 81-83

Margo Lambert, Assistant Professor of History
Blue Ash College, University of Cinicinnati

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy. Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750-1860. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 326 pp. 25 b/w illus. 6 maps. 7 tables. ISBN: 9781107052864 (cloth), $94.99; 9781107674745 (paper), $34.99

Lucy Murphy adroitly focuses her lens on the complex tale of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, a community peopled by Native Americans, French-Canadian fur traders, British soldiers, and eventually Americans (and even a few African Americans) after the American Revolution. Europeans first entered the native world slowly, inter-marrying and establishing a multi-ethnic Creole community only to face further change when Anglo-Americans took control and eventually became the community’s majority. For Native American historians (and others) looking for a deeper glimpse into this world, Murphy’s probing analysis of the mixed multitudes of one small fur-trading community delivers. And, if that were not enough, Murphy adds another layer to her study: she compares this borderland to that of the American Southwest after the Mexican-American War—where the community’s pioneers became the political minority—and to that of the Métis culture that developed on the western Canadian border in the late nineteenth-century—there probing why that culture developed a clear indigenous ancestry, whereas south of the border in the Great Lakes area a similar culture never arose.

Murphy begins in the 1750s, tracing the community’s transition from Native American Meskwaki village to fur-trade enclave. By the early nineteenth-century the Meskwakis had relocated, although some remained behind, having intertwined their lives with European-descended fur traders and borne them children. With the establishment of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the final showdown of the War of 1812, the United States government began to assert its control of the town. Government officials courted the Creole community they found there, recognizing Creole support would only aid United States’ control, legitimizing America’s domination and opening of the West to Anglo-American settlers. The most vital point, Murphy argues here, was that this courtship prompted the United States government to identify the Creole community as white.

Next, Murphy assesses the shifting political structure as Prairie du Chien came under United States’ control. Because of the region’s multi-ethnicity, U.S. officials—as a minority—had to tread carefully, identifying Creoles as white, evidenced by their voting and serving on juries. Native Americans were deliberately left out of this process, but even Creoles with Metis status and Metis wives still fell into the white political categorization. Murphy shows that Creoles exerted much agency politically in the early days, defending themselves against what they deemed inappropriate newcomer behaviors that did not mesh with their established ways. As American control solidified and relegated Creoles to minority status, the town’s Creoles managed to hold some strength within the new legal system, despite their mixed-race realities. However, the rising Anglo tide reduced Creole influence considerably by the 1830s. But Creoles’ “white status” labelled them to identify culturally rather than racially: as French, rather than Métis. Here was why most mixed Native American groups south of the border diverged from their northwestern neighbors in Canada.

Perhaps one of Murphy’s most striking contributions to Native American studies is her work on gender. The chapter “Public Mothers” describes a different gender world denied to Anglo women but open to the town’s Creoles. Many of the town’s Creole women managed to position themselves as cultural mediators, explaining Creole and Native ways to incoming Euro-Americans, especially via marriage, adoption, and traditional gender roles in areas of charity, hospitality, midwifery, and the like. Whereas Creole men were increasingly denied a political voice as American numbers rose, Creole women managed to meet on a middle ground with American women. They served as public mothers, Murphy asserts, mediating between the various ethnic groups and succeeding in connecting Creoles, Native Americans, African Americans, and Euro-Americans by shared women’s activities that aided both private and public spheres, the latter sought by traditional “female” activities noted above. Their mediation, Murphy argues, further solidified Creoles as “whites” in the…

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Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750–1860

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2016-06-08 15:17Z by Steven

Great Lakes Creoles: A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750–1860

Cambridge University Press
September 2014
326 pages
25 b/w illus. 6 maps 7 tables
236 x 157 x 22 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781107052864
Paperback ISBN: 9781107674745
eBook ISBN: 9781139990660

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Professor of History
Ohio State University, Newark

A case study of one of America’s many multi-ethnic border communities, Great Lakes Creoles builds upon recent research on gender, race, ethnicity, and politics as it examines the ways that the old fur trade families experienced and responded to the colonialism of United States expansion. Lucy Murphy examines Indian history with attention to the pluralistic nature of American communities and the ways that power, gender, race, and ethnicity were contested and negotiated in them. She explores the role of women as mediators shaping key social, economic, and political systems, as well as the creation of civil political institutions and the ways that men of many backgrounds participated in and influenced them. Ultimately, The Great Lakes Creoles takes a careful look at Native people and their complex families as active members of an American community in the Great Lakes region.

  • Builds upon recent research in gender, race, ethnicity, and politics
  • Connects American Indian history with major historical themes
  • Examines Native people and their complex families as active members of an American community in the Great Lakes region

Table of Contents

  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. ‘The rightful owners of the soil’: colonization and land
  • 2. ‘To intermeddle in political affairs’: new institutions, elections, and lawmaking
  • 3. ‘Damned yankee court and jury’: more new institutions, keeping order and peace
  • 4. Public mothers: women, networks, and changing gender roles
  • 5. ‘A humble type of people’: economic adaptations
  • 6. Blanket claims and family clusters: autonomy, land, migration, and persistence
  • Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Index
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“We Called That Touch”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-04-01 02:06Z by Steven

“We Called That Touch”

Boston Review

Ed Pavlić, Professor of English and Creative Writing
University of Georgia

Race and the Intimate Tangle of American Experience

It might seem to you that I am white. Then again, depending upon how and where we meet—and upon things in your life I know nothing about—it might seem to you that I’m not white. So far, in forty-nine years here, my experience has indicated this much to me. My father came to the United States by way of Canada from what is now Croatia. My mother is a white American liberal from Wisconsin. Many in America would say that, because of the race of my parents, my identity is essentially fixed in those terms, that such matters are innate, inborn. For many on all sides of the color line, this either/or racial paradigm possesses the self-evidence of a law of nature. Yet the social and political machinery necessary to maintain the reality of this illusion proves lethal to men, women, and children everyday.

Nonetheless, contrary to this culture-bound delusion, whiteness is not a natural inheritance. People “believing themselves white” (to borrow a phrase from Ta-Nehisi Coates, who borrowed the idea from James Baldwin) must invest in that belief continually. Whether consciously or not, they must rehearse its prohibitions and privileges all their waking days—in their dreams, even. Our world offers them a great assistance with this and, on average, the dividends paid by this pact with whiteness are real. At the same time, Eula Biss recently argued that this “believing themselves white” business accrues a cost, “White Debt.” It seems to me that she is describing shame even more than debt. Her essay tiptoes around naming the terrible price people believing themselves white pay to sustain that belief.

I confess that, even in the abstract, I have never been able to acquire a knack for honoring the supposed impermeability of American racial categories. Just where is the border in what one says, thinks, imagines, who one loves? Even more, where is the border in how one goes about these things? My racial ambiguity has not only been internal but has been reflected in—perhaps fueled by—the ways that, since childhood, my race has been so frequently “misread,” or far from self-evident. More than once in my twenties, police asked me point blank: Are you black or white? In these previews of often subtler interrogations to come, it always seemed to me that the question was the answer. Yet for years and long after I knew better, and even up until now, I have been afraid to openly analyze the dynamics that have produced these questions. I dealt with them lyrically, both in poems and in life. But in a fearful and tiresome symmetry, this silence and lyrical angularity (like Dickinson’stell it slant”) also forced me to treat my condition as if it were a personal psychosis, mine and mine alone, an essential and incommunicable privacy. It’s taught me how necessary privacy is but also how an incommunicable privacy narrows, collapses, becomes a trap…

Read the entire article here.

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Young Gifted Black

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-01-04 04:02Z by Steven

Young Gifted Black

Madison, Wisconsin

Allison Geyer, Staff Writer

Fiery activist group praised and panned for disruptive protests in name of racial equality

Dozens of protesters with the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition marched on March 19 to a mayoral forum at the Barrymore Theatre, where two white, progressive mayoral candidates were preparing to debate the issues facing the city of Madison. There was no question the city’s racial inequalities would be on the agenda.

Deep disparities are considered by many to be liberal Madison’s secret shame. And the officer-shooting death a few weeks earlier of unarmed biracial teenager Tony Robinson dealt a crushing blow to the city’s already disenfranchised community.

Protesters marched down the aisles of the theater holding a banner declaring “Black Lives Matter.” The rallying cry has emerged nationally in response to what many see as a pattern of systematic state violence against African American citizens that fails to take account of lost lives.

What did they want? “Justice!” When did they want it? “Now!” And if they didn’t get it? “Shut it down!”…

…Young, Gifted and Black is in some ways a misnomer.

The group is certainly youth-oriented — middle school, high school and college-aged students walked out of class to join the numerous marches in the weeks following the Tony Robinson shooting. And many more youth have attended direct action training sessions at UW-Madison. But key organizers of the group range in age from their mid-20s to mid-30s, with members up to 40 and older.

Members are passionate, with a capacity to inspire and mobilize — and to piss certain people off. Many are African American or identify as such, but Asian, Latino and white allies also have a strong presence in the group.

Group leadership is also deliberately feminist and “conspicuously queer,” committed to dismantling patriarchy as well as combating racial inequality. Organizers say these are characteristics that set the movement apart from older iterations of civil rights activism.

But perhaps what unites many of the core members is a shared experience of discrimination that fuels a desire to change what they see as an unjust world…

Matthew Braunginn’s activist roots go deep — his father, Stephen Braunginn, was president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and a co-founder of Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Braunginn, 29, characterizes previous efforts to combat racial disparity and racism as “lip service” and “half attempts” that didn’t address the root causes of problems plaguing minorities. He graduated from Purdue University and now works for the UW-Madison PEOPLE Project — a college readiness program for minority and low-income students. He joined Young, Gifted and Black to confront institutionalized racism directly.

“Racism is more than just being hateful,” he says, adding that many white people have a “poor understanding” of the minority experience and how implicit biases exist throughout the society.

“It’s almost worse that Madison is liberal,” he adds.

Braunginn is biracial, but he identifies as black. He says his ethnic ambiguity has been a source of stress and confusion — unable to truly “pass” as either black or white, he has struggled with discrimination and uncomfortable questions about his race. He says his identity struggles led him to abuse opioids in his teens and early 20s…

Read the entire article here.

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BEST OF 2015: Not Quite White

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-01-04 03:19Z by Steven

BEST OF 2015: Not Quite White

Madison, Wisconsin

Matthew Braunginn

Matthew Braunginn

I may never be able to truly “pass” or to be “race neutral.” I have always been and always will be “not quite white.”

I reject those terms because I have been othered on their terms. I can never fully fit in among a group of white people. And even though my pigment is closer to that of my white peers, I have always found more comfort in being around my black brothers and sisters; a sense of belonging and shared struggle that I have never felt in a room full of white people…

I live in Madison, Wisconsin, a predominantly white, liberal city that maintains egregious racial disparities. According to the Race to Equity report, Madison has one of the largest education gaps in the nation: 75 percent of its children living in poverty are black, with black children making up just 8.5 percent of its population; black unemployment is at 25 percent versus 5 percent for whites. Adult black males are 4.8 percent of its population, yet in 2011 they made up 43 percent of new prison placement.

Madison is a very different experience for blacks than it is for whites. I grew up in a bi-racial house. My mother is white and my father is black. I am fair-skinned enough so that I can “pass” at times, but times that are not of my making. My parents raised my sister and I to be racially aware, to understand the racial dynamics of this nation, and to understand the sins of its past. But I am not white. Throughout my childhood this reality created and fostered an extra layer of confusion for me. I fought through a gauntlet of anger, confusion, pain, and deep depression. Now I am experiencing an awakening, a taking back of my power of self-identification…

Read the entire article here.

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Tony Robinson’s mother files civil rights lawsuit over fatal police shooting of son

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-17 01:24Z by Steven

Tony Robinson’s mother files civil rights lawsuit over fatal police shooting of son

The Guardian

Zoe Sullivan

Andrea Irwin alleges officer Matt Kenny violated 14th amendment equal protection rights and fourth amendment right against unreasonable searches

The mother of a biracial man killed by a white police officer in Madison, Wisconsin, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over her son’s death in March.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Tony Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, alleges that officer Matt Kenny violated the equal protection rights guaranteed by the 14th amendment as well as Robinson’s fourth amendment right against unreasonable searches.

At a rally Wednesday afternoon outside the state capitol, Robinson’s mother told the small crowd gathered that the lawsuit was part of an effort to end needless deaths of black men at the hands of police. “This will stop. If this is the only way that we can start to do this, then by God, this is how we will do this.”

Robinson was shot on 6 March during an altercation with Kenny, who told investigators that he thought he heard a disturbance in an apartment recently entered by Robinson…

Read the entire article here.

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Pew: Multiracial Americans Now Make Up 7% Of Population

Posted in Audio, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-12 21:16Z by Steven

Pew: Multiracial Americans Now Make Up 7% Of Population

Wisconsin Public Radio
Thursday, 2015-06-11, 16:35 CDT

Aliya Saperstein, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Stanford University

Jennifer Sims, Adjunct Visiting Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin, River Falls

According to Census data, only about 2 percent of Americans consider themselves to be multiracial, but a new report out Thursday from Pew suggests that the real number of people with multiracial backgrounds is more than three times that. It also shows that the number of people who identify as…

Listen to the story (00:22:49) here.

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Who is Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s prosecutor in Tony Robinson’s death?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Law, United States on 2015-05-20 21:52Z by Steven

Who is Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s prosecutor in Tony Robinson’s death?

Cable News Network (CNN)

Michael Martinez, Newsdesk Editor & Writer

(CNN) Ismael Ozanne wiped a handkerchief across his forehead, nervously tapped a stack of papers on the podium and slowly cleared his throat.

It wasn’t the first time he’d made history; that happened in 2010 when he became Wisconsin’s first black district attorney.

Still, the Dane County district attorney seemed acutely aware of his role on the national stage Tuesday as the man who would decide whether an officer should be charged for the March 6 shooting death of an unarmed biracial man, 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

Eventually, Ozanne told reporters that he’d cleared Matt Kenny of the Madison Police Department, declaring that the officer’s gunfire was “a lawful use of deadly police force.”

But before he revealed his long-awaited decision Tuesday, the prosecutor also made it a point to talk about his past…

…Wisconsin’s first black DA

Ozanne became the first African-American district attorney in Wisconsin history in August 2010, when former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, appointed him as Dane County district attorney.

Ozanne’s appointment filled a vacancy created when the prior DA was elected as a Court of Appeals judge…

…Ozanne’s grandfather, Robert Ozanne, was a high school teacher, a labor organizer, an author and a professor of economics at University of Wisconsin at Madison in the 1950s, according to Ismael Ozanne’s biography.

His parents are also teachers: His father taught at Tuskegee University in Alabama and in Madison public schools, and as of last year, his mother was still in the classroom, teaching reading at a middle school.

Ozanne describes himself as biracial.

“I’m a person of color from a biracial marriage. … I am the son of a black woman who still worries about my safety from the bias and privilege and violence that accompanies it,” he said Tuesday…

Read the entire article here.

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No Charges for Wisconsin Officer in Killing of Unarmed Black Teenager

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-13 13:42Z by Steven

No Charges for Wisconsin Officer in Killing of Unarmed Black Teenager

The New York Times

Richard Pérez-Peña (@perezpena), National Desk

A Madison, Wis., police officer who killed an unarmed black man in March, in one of a spate of similar incidents that have set off protests around the country, will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

The shooting of the man, Anthony Robinson Jr., had led to protests in Madison and raised concerns of potential unrest if the officer, Matt Kenny, who is white, was not charged, particularly after rioting in Baltimore recently following the death of an unarmed black man from a severe spinal injury sustained while in police custody.

Walking through the case in detail for a room full of reporters at the Public Safety Building, the Dane County district attorney, Ismael Ozanne, repeatedly stressed that on the day he died, March 6, Mr. Robinson was behaving erratically and violently, assaulting several people — apparently including Officer Kenny. He left the room without taking questions

“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson Jr. back,” he said. “My decision will not end the racial disparities that exist in the justice system, in our justice system. My decision is not based on emotion. Rather, this decision is based on the facts as they have been reported to me.

Although Mr. Ozanne did not mention either man’s race, he discussed his own identity at some length — the biracial son of a black woman from Anniston, Ala., who, he said, worries that his skin color puts him at risk…

Read the entire interview (00:26:30) here.

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Tony Terrell Robinson was shot dead by Madison police. This is how it happened

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-15 01:07Z by Steven

Tony Terrell Robinson was shot dead by Madison police. This is how it happened

The Guardian

Oliver Laughland, Senior Reporter
Guardian US

Zoe Sullivan

Robinson as a child. ‘There is something so beautiful about a black kid, especially in America, trying to make it against all odds and fucking up so bad, but then actively trying to better his situation.’ Photograph: Robinson family

Exclusive: Many questions remain about the shooting of the Wisconsin 19-year-old, but accounts from close friends and family paint a picture of a young man turning his life around who needed help that night – and instead wound up another young man of color whose life was tragically cut short

Madison, Wisconsin—Tony Terrell Robinson was born into poverty and spent the last moments of his life bleeding from a gunshot wound, surrounded by no one but local police officers on the porch of his shared apartment.

At around 6.30pm last Friday, Madison police officer Matt Kenny forced entry into the house where Robinson had been living for the past few months with two of his friends. He was responding to a series of 911 calls about a young man behaving erratically, possibly violently. Shots were fired. A few minutes later, a witness says she saw officer Kenny and another officer dragging the limp, bloody body of the biracial 19-year-old out on to the porch.

The details of what actually happened that night are only now starting to emerge. The Guardian has spoken to witnesses who say hallucinogenic drugs played a role in Robinson’s strange behavior that night, and that at least one of the people who called 911 was a friend reaching out to police in the hope they would come to help Robinson deal with the episode.

Police say Robinson was acting violently before the shooting, and had knocked Kenny to the ground before he was shot.

Meanwhile, the community has erupted in protest, as young people marching under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement again question why lethal force had to be used against a young person of color who had no weapon himself. They are describing the death as murder, and calling for justice to be served…

Read the entire article here.

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