Thank you for this interesting and enlightening article on the term "mulatto" and it's effect on people of Native American decent. I as a direct Native american descendant can relate because some of my Native American ancestors where "misclassified" as "Mulatto" not only on census records but death records as well. In the southeast where racial politics and Jim Crow attitudes often wreaked havoc on the few scattered remnant Indian families it was difficult to maintain one concept of "Indianness". Where one was forced to chose an identity or side along color lines, something our people had no concept of before the arrival of Europeans. If a person of color of mixed ancestry was politically connected or financially well off or had ties then they could move up a level from Mulatto to white. There were mixed race black and Natives who performed this social feat. Another matter was at the census takers descretion. As in the case with my family " A white historian" who knew of my family said they were neither black nor white but Indian and Mulatto was used as the term "for Indian" at that time. In the southeast "Indian" had become obsolete. The erasure of Indian meant no one could come back to claim the land. Make them something else and leave them confused. I believed that confusion of identity was meant to cause so much conflict in the future about who and what is Indian and that is what we have now. There were families who where of White/black mixed extraction who tried to pass as white or Indian or people who self identified as Indian who may have had no ancestry or intermarried with Indian families. With this we find ourselves here hundreds of years later trying to untangle the meaning of the word of this word "Mulatto" in the divisive society we call America.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 14:53