Black, White, and Indian

Claudio Saunt. Black, White: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 




In Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family, Claudio Saunt examines the history of a Creek family over five generations from 1780 to 1920. The history of the family reveals a fraction within the family. One branch family is of African descent and the other is Creek Indian. The family’s history is traced back to Scottish trader Robert Grierson and his Creek wife Sinnugee during slavery. In the early 18th century, slavery in the Creek Nation was defined through kinship ties. As the 19th century dawned, the Creek Nation adopted to the American definition of slavery thereby rejecting previous kinship and familial ties. Creeks divided themselves by adopting white America’s racial hierarchy that defined blacks as outsiders, created stigmas against African Creeks, and symbolized blackness with slavery. In the 1820s, Creeks began enacting laws that further marginalized African Creeks. This embracing of racial slavery divided the Griersons into black and white families, with the white side refusing to recognize their black relatives to this day.

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