Tuesday, June 26, 2007

race wars are always an internal battle

I'm sliding between random fluffiness and serious thought. I flee from serious thought when I should not or worse I try to mix the two. (Example to follow)

I first heard about this via News & Notes and then checked it out in Indian Country Today. The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has voted to expel a group known as the "Freedmen." Prior to the Civil War the Cherokee owned African slaves. The slaves became citizens of the Cherokee Nation after the war and have held citizenship although they did not have any Cherokee ancestry. (although surely it's not that simple. The lists that were created separated people on with the idea of either/or = either indian or black) The expulsion is being described as an ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee Nation. As you can imagine all the ironies begin to landslide:

"That's why the case has drawn the ire of the entire Congressional Black Caucus, which, in recognition of the shared suffering of Native and African Americans, has been a consistent champion of Indian causes. When Cherokee voters decided to strip the Freedmen of their full membership they were essentially legitimizing the one-drop rule. At the turn of the 19th century, the U.S. government relied on that racist tool, originally used to determine whether people were black or not, in combination with other factors for a census of people living on Native American tribal lands. Those who seemed Cherokee, or Cherokee mixed with white, were placed on a "Cherokee-by-blood" list. Those who seemed black, or Cherokee mixed with black, were generally placed on a "Freedmen" list. Both lists, known as the Dawes Rolls, were used to divest the collective tribe of its land holdings and apportion acreage to individual members — to make way for white settlers to move in and buy up the individual holdings. But spouses of Freedmen did not receive land allotments, while spouses of Cherokee-by-blood did, and land given to Freedmen was made available for sale sooner than Indian land. " from a surprisingly interesting article in time.

As stated above: the landsliding ironies

  • the house of representatives is threatening to cut off all federal funds to the tribe because it is violating it's treaty with the us by excluding the freedmen. wow. apparently treaties with indian tribes are important. who knew?
  • there's plenty of interest in reparations for descendants of slaves--as long as the reparations aren't coming from the us government.
  • the lists being relied upon were created to consolidate white power by damaging the concept of collectivity and community and the lists are, apparently, still quite effective
  • Cherokee Freedmen are, again, having to fight for recognition as citizens
  • and once again, identity is being legislated into a callous meaninglessness

The most brilliant quote from the above article:

"I refuse to create a sieve through which our grandchildren will fall out," says David Cornsilk, a Cherokee-by-blood who sides with the Freedmen.

It makes me think of this quote by Cherie Moraga (also brilliant) from the Incite conference I went to with Lopie in Chicago

"How do I teach my child the truth about genocide and still teach him to love past the front door?" She talked about feeling her own world get smaller and smaller, her social circles getting more and more narrow. And then she rejected that isolation. The cost of engaging with the larger world, though, is constantly being hit in the face by shit that should have been figured out already (sexism, homophobia, racism and on & on & on)

Who will my daughter be?

Will any of these questions even matter to her?

Will she feel saudi? arab? like a member of my tribe?

I take for granted that she will feel Mexican/Latina/Chicana (especially since I love to call her mi chiquita chicana)

How does this work anyway? Will she tell me that she feels like a mixed blood brown girl? How will our next child (inshallah) change Khubz's raced identity? Will one be la morenita and the other the light one? Will Khubz (or anyone else who comes to us) love the brown girl josie poem? especially when i say, "i am okay being brown, brown girl khubz. all the time brown girl khubz is okay"

Didn't I say I'd be mixing this with frivolity? What's going on around here?

How about this: If I didn't have a fruitblog I would have either a blog anchored by orchids

or bizzaro underwater sea creatures.

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