Race and Indigeneity in the Life of Elisha Apes

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States on 2013-01-31 01:13Z by Steven

Race and Indigeneity in the Life of Elisha Apes

Volume 60, Number 1 (Winter 2013)
pages 27-50
DOI: 10.1215/00141801-1816166

Nancy Shoemaker, Professor of History
University of Connecticut

This essay examines cultures of racial categorization in New England and New Zealand through the life of one migrant, Elisha Apes, the younger half-brother of the radical Pequot Indian writer William Apess, who preferred to spell the family name with a second s. Elisha Apes settled in New Zealand in 1839 and married a Māori woman of the South Island. Their six children came to be labeled “half-castes” in the language of the nineteenth-century New Zealand state. If half-caste had been a term in New England, it would have been applied to Elisha Apes, for he was indeed of mixed descent. However, in New Zealand, where native referred to the Māori only, Apes’s native origins elsewhere had no bearing. His status as a foreigner who came to settle in New Zealand cast him into the same category as New Zealand’s European/white population.

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