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‘The Red And The White’ And The Stories That Follow

“The Red and the White”.  A new history of interracial marriage and massacre in the old American West

Detail from Alfred Jacob Miller's "The Trapper's Bride." Author Andrew Graybill's book, "The Red and the White," looks at three generations of a mixed-race Native American-white family.

Detail from Alfred Jacob Miller’s “The Trapper’s Bride.” Author Andrew Graybill’s book, “The Red and the White,” looks at three generations of a mixed-race Native American-white family.

We talk about the taking of the American West in terms of destiny, genocide, resistance and conquest.  Lakotah and Blackfoot.  Cavalry and Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee.  But there is a more subtle human story woven deep in the Old West.  Of blended families — Native American and newcomer.  White trappers who depended on Indian help and sometimes married high.  Native Americans whose families came to include the conqueror.  Racial acceptance and racial resistance.  Up next On Point:  a new history of inter-racial marriage and massacre in the old American West.

– Tom Ashbrook


Andrew Graybill, historian and director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. Author of “The Red and The White: A Family Saga of the American West.”

S. Neyooxet Greymorning, professor of anthropology and Native American Studies at the University of Montana’s Native American Center, author of “A Will to Survive: Indigenous Essays on the Politics of Culture, Language and Identity.”

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Tapping Into the Land, and Dividing Its People – “It is an increasingly common sight for tribes across the West and Plains: Tourist spending has gone slack since the recession hit. American Indian casino revenues are stagnating just as tribal gambling faces new competition from online gambling and waves of new casinos. Oil and fracking are new lifelines. One drilling rig on the Blackfeet reservation generated 49 jobs for tribal members — a substantial feat in a place where unemployment is as high as 70 percent. But as others watched the rigs rise, they wondered whether the tribe was making an irrevocable mistake.”

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Blackfeet remember Montana’s greatest Indian massacre – “It came to be known as the Baker Massacre. In 1870, the attack was celebrated as a great military victory by the Army and by residents of Bozeman and Helena. When newspapers back East reported the high numbers of women and children killed, it created a scandal, which was quickly extinguished by a cover-up in Washington. And then, for many years, it was largely forgotten. Carol Murray grew up on the Blackfeet reservation, but never heard of the massacre until she went away to college. Murray, now past president of the Blackfeet Community College and a tribal historian, recalled interviewing one elderly woman in 1970, who was still afraid a century after the event that talking about it could land her in jail.”

Read An Excerpt From “The Red and The White: A Family Saga of The American West” by Andrew Graybill

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  • Wahoo_wa

    The indian casino culture is just plain sad. I grew up in eastern Connecticut. I remember when the only person living on the reservations was an elderly woman. Once the casinos came to town and took advantage of the reservation everyone suddenly became part of the tribe in order to get a monthly check. The casinos promote a fake indian culture; destroy the landscape and character of a region; and promote poor social values. While historically other cultures have harmed the indians, the indians now harm themselves. They have lost their soul and have replaced it with kitschy and vulgar “entertainment.”

  • AlanThinks

    Tom, please mention the book “Empire of the Summer Moon” about the Comanchee chief, Quanah Parker, who was the son of a white woman and Indian chief father and played a major role in the events of the late 1800s.

  • geraldfnord

    It might just be a conceit, but it suddenly seemed as if the Plains people suffered from the ideology of both sides: the Unionists wanted a more unified nation, the desire for which often seems antithetical to the existence of separate peoples; the Confederates retained the habit of _insistent_ white supremacy (all but a few saints among the white people were at least a little supremacist, but it was a significant guiding ideology of the Confederates, as any study of their speeches and writings will show).

  • Jim

    finally, someone can at least mention the history of this lost group of people and the genocide committed by the anglos.

  • Scott B

    I grew up with my mom telling me about our Mohawk heritage, and we were very proud of that part, much to the consternation, and often derision, of my step-grandmother (Mom’s mother-in-law), who boasted of her English heritage.

    One Sunday dinner at the grandparent’s, they neighbor was over, and after hearing my step-grandmother make some more derisive comments on Mom’s Indian blood, and went on and on about how her family’s long American heritage, having arrived on something like the fifth boat after the Mayflower, the neighbor couldn’t take it any longer and told Mom’s mother-in-law, “Your family got off the boat. Her family (pointing at my mom) was already here waiting for them.”

    In school I was called “Mohawk”, by those that would try to bully me, but I wore that nick-name like a badge of honor.

  • J__o__h__n

    Scott Brown gets to decide who is Native American enough.

  • patrick oleary

    … thanks for covering this topic ..
    America in many ways is “unsettled”
    Elizabeth Warren used her “Indian” ancestry to gain more “minotity ” status in a university setting …
    As an Irish Emigrant I am tired of “hyphenated” Americans ..
    attempting to use their ancestry for political gain ..
    however its a great subject of debate..
    do more on this topic ..

  • Tecpatl

    Actually, since the beginning of European invasions of the Americas, white males had to take Native American wives, or remain celibate (unless they were gay), for most of the earliest white explorers were almost all males. Nearly every expedition of the documented Spanish Conquistadors, including ones already married to a wife in Europe and supposedly celibate missionaries with them, had native girls as concubines, and in most cases the white (and their black slave) males produced mixed race offspring (in Mexico, the kids were called mestizos). North American English-speaking white explorers had multiple native squaws as concubines even when they also brought along white wives to their colonies. Rum was a great ice-breaker with native men, and many of them gladly shared their wives, sisters and daughters for a night or longer with a whitebearing a keg of “firewater.” On the other hand, Native American males were prohibited from cohabitation with white women. Such red-white cohabitations usually were described as “rapes,” or “pagan rapine, lascivious assaults, involuntary lewd congress, vicious defilements, etc.” Which may explain why so many whites today claiming Native American ancestors usually identify the unnamed obscure native in their family genealogy as an “Indian Princess,” like Pocahontas! Seldom do the whites claim “Indian tribesmen or braves” as their Native American ancestors. Their ancestor is usually always a “squaw,” “a native bride,” even when the marriage was without benefit of clergy or even any sanction.

  • Pingston

    Your history sounds off. The Americans did that, not the English.

    The ‘French and Indian War’ also known as ‘The Seven Years War’ finished with the English taking over the Colony of Quebec (Ft. Detroit to Atlantic Ocean) and down the middle of what is now the U.S., west of the Appalachians along the Ohio and Mississippi River and related river valleys to the Gulf — all from the French.

    The natives fought as allies WITH the English against the French. And on October 7, 1763 for the first time were recognized by ‘The Royal Proclamation of 1763′ which laid out their rights, how treaties were to be negotiated, and effectively forbade English settlers from moving into and settling Indian lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. (It’s a proclamation that still affects Canadian law and was re-incorporated into their Constitution in 1982. Arguably, it officially established Canada, making it 250 years old last week.)

    The Proclamation became a grievance along with taxes, etc. that led to American Revolution just over a decade later. AGAIN, the Indians fought with the English as allies against the American upstarts. This time they lost. The English responded by giving land in the Colony of Quebec (which still stretched from modern-day Detroit to the current province of Newfoundland, not being split into the two parts we now know as Ontario and Quebec until 1791) to all those former residents of the 13 colonies AND the natives who had remained loyal to King George during the Revolution. In Canada they are still known as United Empire Loyalists — in the U.S. we call them losers, and worse. It was this land granted to natives and non-natives, primarily in modern-day Ontario, that established that province and led to its defense in the War of 1812-14.

    So your ancestors weren’t moved by the English. They were granted land by the English after being on the losing side of the Revolution. Many of those who remained behind were killed after the revolution, already having lost all of their land and possessions.

    Side-story. Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant from New York’s Mohawk Valley was granted land in today’s Ontario post-Revolution and the settlement of Brantford was named for him. It is in that city Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Brantford is also the hometown of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and music legend Robbie Robertson, of The Band, who has native blood.

  • Pingston

    Also often left out is how bloody-minded the French were with Indians, literally. They slaughtered thousands of them, often by deceit. For example, at Fort Frontenac (now the city of Kingston, Ontario) strategically located where Lake Ontario flows into the St. Lawrence River, there is a record of the French commandant inviting all of the highest ranking native chiefs for a meal. They came and were quickly killed. They then set out and destroyed local Indian villages. This was reputed to have been so widespread that by 1750 there were very few natives left in what is now Southern Ontario (basically the area between Montreal and Detroit). So when the American Revolution ended in 1783 the English were able to parcel out the entire southern tier of the province to Loyalists and natives (and later arrivals from U.S. often called ‘late Loyalists’) without difficulty. It is a complicating factor for land claims by natives who re-occupied Ontario after the French were vanquished and want reparations for land they claim was taken by some Loyalist settlers (granted by the British Crown).

    One of the bottom lines is that the American Revolution effectively created two great democratic countries — one that was brash and initially led by its revolutionary vanguard, and one that was more deferential having been conservative in not wanting the Revolution but whose families would ultimately non-violently wrest democratic control of the land from British Governors and create the second largest country in the world. I live in both countries so have great respect for the history and success of each.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Actually “my people” arrived here in the early 1950′s so I don’t buy the whole “white guilt” non-sense.

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