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Louise Erdrich

(Novelist)

louise2Louise Erdrich is the author of 13 novels as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel “Love Medicine” (1984) won the National Book Critics Circle Award and “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse” (2001) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Most recently, “The Plague of Doves” (2008) won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Louise lives in Minnesota and is the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore.

Erdrich is descended from a father of German descent and a mother of the Turtle Mountain Chippewas, a Native American tribe in North Dakota. Her maternal grandfather was a tribal chief and her ancestral homestead (which she is currently restoring) is one of the oldest extant structures on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Erdrich has traced both sides of her family stories back 200 years and cares enormously about her Native American heritage. Her genealogical work is just beginning.

  • L.Tallchief

    Excellent interview. Thank you, Louise, for pointing out that we were given U.S. citizenship AFTER so many of our boys gave their lives in WWI. Few non-Indians realize that we remain the LAST people to be given U.S. citizenship, in 1924. Thank you, too, for dispelling the notion that we all rely on the dole and/or casinos for our livelihood. Our land is our most precious resource, and all of us, not only the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) are committed to preserving it for the Seventh Generation.

  • VMail

    Never knew much about Ms. Erdrich – what an interesting story. However, unless I missed some clues or wasn’t highlighted in her piece, I didn’t realize she also has a native american heritage (read in wikip). Since much of the Face program focused on prejudices, really surprised they discuss those against German-Am. begining in WWI (a war Germany was sucked into through treaties). Just ask authors Theodor “Dr. Suess” Geisel and Eric Carle about shameful treatment received growing up.

  • Kevin

    Not to in anyway diminish the ludicrous fact that native americans were not recognized as citizens in their own land until 1924, but Guamanians were the last to receive citizenship in 1950.

  • Lou Ann Roth

    Is there a “family tree” for each of the profiles? I saw the first episode and am curious about her grandmother’s last name.

  • Charles

    This is not a comment regarding the stories in the program itself, but Dr. Gates’ narration should be fact checked before the episodes are broadcast.
    In the narration for the story on Louise Erdrich, Dr. Gates states that Pforzheim was bombed (”fire-bombed”) on September 5, 1945. This bombing (by the RAF) actually took place on February 23. Germany had surrendered nearly four months prior to the date cited in the narration.

  • beny dictus

    wish you all the best,,,,

  • Ken Kolbe

    Grew up with Karen in Wahpeton. The communitee had and still has a large off resevation boarding school for the Native Americans. It was looked down on by the community back in the 50’s and 60’s. I no longer live there and can only hope that relations are for the better. It would be wondwrful for Native Americans to have a spokes person like Karen to help educate others.

  • Michael S

    Good catch Charles. I noticed the same error, and I have to say that it undermines my confidence in the veracity of everything else Gates “uncovers” in the program. I love genealogy and was engrossed by the show, but this obvious error (even the Pacific war was done by Sept 5!) is too sloppy for national television.

  • A.D. Powell

    If a tribe has intermarried so much with whites that few of its members “look Indian,” should they still be considered Indian?

  • Lisa

    Thank you Louise for being so eloquent. I also am of Native heritage and don’t look it – am proud to help my tribe in any way that I can. There is no reason to not help or claim your heritage – no matter how much -intermarriage has happened. The intermarriage is not something that can be changed – why should we deny our heritage when other ethnic groups do not.

  • Kyla

    You know that is an interesting question…. traditionally with many tribes, before and even after the arrival of Europeans, race (skin color) had little to no influence on weather you were a tribal member or not, the thing that matter is if you were part of that community. They are instances in history were non-Indians were adopted into the tribe. However since the institutionalization of the BIA system on Tribal entities, for supposed self rule, it is required that each Native entity much include in its constitution a set rules of determining who is a Native American and who is not. Some tribes don’t look at your blood quantum, but rather how involved you are in that said communities, but most use blood quantum. The thing is, as a person that is half native American and half Caucasian, this is something I think about alot. The truth is…. I personally feel I could never choose to White over Native American or vice versa, I am made up of all that I am and Proud of that. However I worry that my children depending on who I have children with may or may not be tribal members, and if not them I know most certainly my grandchildren will not be considered Apache anymore, No matter how I raise them to observance the cultural ways of Apaches. Best answer I can give. I do know this is something on forefront of my mind and many scholars in American Indian Studies.

  • Detroit 1701

    Louise, I have no idea who you are or what you wrote. But I too am an Descendant of the founders of Detroit. I may have some documents that you may be interested in, including the Detroit Census from 1701. I think PBS may have given you some documents that I may be interested in as well. Both of us being descendants means we are probably related somehow. I am NOT looking for Fame, Money or notoriety. I just want to know more about my Family’s history. If you have an emaill address I can scan my documents and email them to you, although I have alot of documents. I don’t want you thinking I am some creepo (because you are a famous person), so if you have a P.O. Box I could mail you hard a copy of my documents. My email address is attached per PBS requirements from there I can prove as too who I am. Please reply me, or because you are famous,have somebody you trust reply me!!!
    Tim K. from Michigan

  • Detroit 1701

    Also on the other side of my family, My Grandfather is almost 100% Cherokee from Qaw Paw, Oklahoma (not sure if I spelled Qaw Paw correctly). When he was growing up, he had blond hair from the white side of his family, the kids at school would call him “The Blond haired black boy”. My Grandfather is still alive today, in his 90’s.To this day everyone calls him “Bud”, a nickname which the actual Bonnie and Clyde gave him. This is a true story, I could go into a little more detail, as he told it to me, but I don’t type very fast, lol and it would take me a while

  • Thomas L.

    Tim K., I am also part of that original Detroit group through my ancestor. Along with that (perhaps because of that) I am also an enrolled Shawnee. I would be interested if you get a hold of Louise…obviously our ancestors not only knew each other but were friends and perhaps intermarried. Are you Tim K. the author that has written about Detroit history?
    Thomas L. from Ohio

  • J.Fafard

    I was shocked to see some of my own french-canadian genealogy show up on tonight’s episode! While we had some information about Francois Fafard dit Delorme being a founder of Detroit, I did not know that he was hired to be an interpreter with the First Nations people, although I was not surprised. I’ve read Erdrich’s books, and her comments on her Native American ancestry and culture make so much sense to me…how interesting to have a genealogical connection, however distant that may be. Thank you, PBS for such a great series…I never thought that I would find out something about my own family on the show!

  • Detroit 1701

    Hi Tom!! My long lost relative!!! No I have NOT written any books. I wish I knew how to get ahold of Louise, this is the only way I can think of. I have traced my roots back to France. They did come with Antoine De Lamothe Cadilliac thru Canada. It’s kind of interesting, because I actually had “Detroit 1701″ tattooed on my fore arm, and man what a conversaion starter!!!! I always like to tell people “All the Street names Down town are my relatives, LOL” Some of my Descendants (I don’t have my books in front of me) are the Dequindre’s, Metay’s, Bissetts…. That is all I can remember off the top of my head. But I should have around 10 certifactes from the City if Detroit from the 2001
    Tri-Centenial celebration. Did you attend any of the functions? If you would like, I can get my documents to you, for your use as well
    Tim

  • Charles Wheeler

    Ms Erdrich,

    Please excuse my typo, mispelling your name. OOPS!

    CCW

  • Detroit 1701

    My Grandfather is 3/4 Cherokee, so that makes my Mother 1/2 and me 1/4. I do consider myself to be part Indian.

  • Jennifer Fritsch

    I too am interested in one of the surnames. I noticed a Leppeller surname in her ancestry, and I have Deppeler that I am stuck on. Maybe a mis-pronunciation at some time in the past cause my surname to be changed.

  • Thomas L.

    Tim,
    There is a Timothy Kent from Michigan that has written some amazing books about the founding of Detroit. Thought you might be him. No, I couldn’t make the 300 year celebration in 2001. Do you belong to the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan? They have a mountain of info on early Detroit and put out an amazing quarterly publication. If you are not familiar with them be sure to Google it. Many of the members are descendants of Detroit founders. My ancestor was Etienne Boutron who came with Cadillac and intermarried.

  • Detroit 1701

    interesting. I will Google that

  • Suzanne B. Sommerville

    Thanks, Thomas L. for referring to the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

    The Etienne Bontron you mention is one of my many, many French-Canadian ancestors, and François Fafard dit Delorme is a distant cousin.

    This is the FCHSM web site for anyone who might be interested

    http://fchsm.habitant.org/index.html

    French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

    Click the Plaque button for photos of the plaque honoring the first 51 French-Canadian voyageurs who accompanied Antoine Laumet dit (called) Lamothe Cadillac to Detroit on 24 July 1701. You can find the plaque next to the Cadillac statue and state historical marker in Hart Plaza, Detroit. To our knowledge, this is the only historical plaque in the state of Michigan erected by a genealogical society.

    François Fafard dit Delorme’s name is there on the plaque.

    Also see the Journal button for an index of articles published from 1998 to 2009, under the Contents button.

    Information about joining the society and the meeting schedule is also on the site.

    If Louise Erdrich reads this: Louise, you can be proud of this interpreter of the Ottawa / Odawa language. His brother, Jean Fafard dit Maconce, was also an interpreter, of more than one Indian language. He married Marguerite Couc dite Lafleur de Cognac, the daughter of an Algonquin woman and a man from Cognac, France. I’m sure you would be interested in the Couc / Montour family . See the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan for articles.

    The story of the contributions of French Canadians to the making of America is a proud one but a neglected one in the main-stream history of the United States. I’m grateful Professor Gates was able to include even this one small mention. There is so much more…

    Suzanne

  • Patrick McCarthy

    I was also excited to see the connection to Francois Fafard dit Delorme – not a direct ancesor of mine, but he did mary the sister of my ancestor Jeanne Loisel – Barbe Loisel. Francois was Barbe’s third husband and she was his second wife, after Marie-Madeleine Jobin died in 1711. Barbe’s first husband, Pierre Roussel, was born in France (not sure when he died); second husband Francois Legantier died abt. 1710 in Detroit, and then she married Francois Fafard 30 Dec. 1713.

  • Suzanne B. Sommerville

    Actually, Patrick, Barbe Loisel also made. pre-nuptial marriage contracts with two other men but those marriages never took place. I have copies of those contracts and also her contract with François Fafard dit Delorme. Barbe and François lived in Detroit after their marriage. She is a most interesting woman.
    Suzanne

  • Patricia Sabourin

    My ancesto rLouis Fafard Delorme was a brother to Francois Fafard Delorme. It was very exciting to see the program and find out that my ancestor is a brother to a founder of Detroit.
    I am sorry that Wednesday is the last program. I hope they make more in the future. This was a high light in my week.
    Pat Sabourin

  • Jennifer DeBruin

    I have been enjoying your series over the last three week and I look forward to upcoming episodes. I must say that I was thrilled to hear a name I recognized from my family tree – Fafard! As other family members seem to have already left messages here, it seems that even generations later – we have not forgotten those who have gone before. Francois Fafard’s Great Uncle Bertrand Fafard is my direct ancestor. I am eagerly seeking out information to add to my archive on this facinating relative. Hello to all my relations on this website and I wish Louise continued success! And to Henry Louis Gates Jr. – you make history come alive – your real enthusiasm for connecting generations is very apparent and exactly how many of us amateur genealogists feel when we meet our family – even from generations ago!

    Jennifer (Lalonde) DeBruin

  • Sterling In Texas

    This was a great segment and the information contained in it was a wonderful educational experience.

    Having grown up in far west Texas, I was able to visit on a number of occasions the Mescalaro Apache lands north of El Paso in the beautiful region of New Mexico around Ruidoso. Sadly, as a kiddo born in 1951, I had basically no exposure to a school education where history taught us anything of substance about Native Americans.

    My wife is 1/16th Native American and has subtle facial qualities suggesting her lineage. Her older sister is a dead-ringer for a Native American… and this series about Ms. Erdrich makes it all the more interesting.

    Abilene, Texas

  • Tosatel

    I’ve just watched Gates’s program on Public Television and he stated that François Fafard dit Delorme was Native American. That’s not so. Could someone could enlighten me as to where Louise Erdrich gets her Native American background? It’s certainly not through François Fafard (dit) Delorme.

    In French-Canadian historical terms the word “dit” (as in François Fafard ‘DIT’ Delorme) simply means “also known as” or “also called”. It’s the past tense of the French verb “dire” which means “to say, or to speak”.

    Where has Fafard- Delorme’s Native American ancestry been established? Yes he learned the native Ottawa tongue and acted as an interpreter but he wasn’t Native American himself – or at least Prof. Gates didn’t establish it.

    Futhermore Eva Longoria’s Spanish ancestors surely slaughtered Native Americans yet that’s left out entirely. Has anyone heard of the Aztecs?? The Conquistadors (invading Spanish) yanked land out from under Native Americans as much as their counterparts on the east coast of the United States. The King of Spain, I’m quite certain, didn’t consult with the local indigenous tribes before he handed out three thousand acres of land to Longoria’s ancestors!

    Why are the English always the “bad guys”? The Irish, Spanish, French, and the Pennsylvania-Dutch (German) also owned slaves during the 18th century yet the wagging finger of blame is solely pointed at those of English descent. Hogwash.

    Even Meryl Streep was apologizing for her Rhode Island ENGLISH ancestry (Wilkinson). Preposterous.

    Gates’s stroll down genealogy lane is a slanted one at best. That show’s enough to make real genealogists shriek in disgust at the television screen!

    I was appalled when Stephen Colbert called his German (Alsace/Lorraine ancestor) Lutheran ancestor “a heretic”. Come on people. Everyone has reason to be proud of their heritage!

    Gates’s take is biased.

  • Tosatel

    And that’s only the tip of the iceberg Charles… thanks.

    Warning; Do not take Gates’s “scholarship” as Gospel. The show’s riddled with old stereotypes and misconceptions.

  • Suzanne B. Sommerville

    Tosatel,
    Professor Gates did not say François was Native American. He said François Fafard dit Delorme was an ancestor of Louise Erdrich. François was a French Canadian, born in New France of French ancestry, and one of his male descendants is also an ancestor of Louise.

    The very quick showing of the ancestral lines streaming on the program was frustrating, at best, for those of us interested in the precise connections, though.

    As for your other observations, modern political correctness concerning Native Americans has been a necessary adjustment to the dismal historical record. I’m waiting for the time when French Canadians are also treated with real respect, as a counter measure to revise the misinformed and biased historical record about us.
    Suzanne

  • Tosatel

    Suzanne,

    Thank you for your good reply and thanks too for clearing up the business with the Fafard dit Delorme ancestry.

    As a linguist, I travel often in the Province of Québec and have been fascinated at how the existing French Canadians speak and how vestiges of 17th century French still survive in their language. It was my experience that those I met in P of Q wanted no association with their Continental Europen French ancestry. When I attemtped to speak Parisian French to one lovely woman she refused to respond though it was obvious she fully understood me.

    I asked “Claudine? Pourquoi vous ne me parlez pas en Français?”

    She responded “I’m embarassed to since your French sounds so lovely”. To me that’s a great shame.

    I’m definitely FOR the adjustment toward ALL Native Americans when we deconstruct the myths in an attempt to reconstrust an accurate look at what truly transpired. That’s why I’m so aghast at Gates’s “scholarship”. See my comments re Meryl Streep, Louise Erdich, and in particular Stephen Colbert.

    I understand your frustration with the way the French Canadians have been maligned (not to say ignorned) historically over the generations. There is (in my view) one of the finest minds on this topic who’s an historical genealogical librarian at The New Bedford Library here in Massachusetts. You should know his name. It’s Gary Cyr. His tireless efforts to correct erroneous information about the Maritimes and all of the French Canada is well-documented. Yet too few know of his existence.

    I come from nearly 100% Englsh-American background. Not one of my ancestors landed in Massachusetts post 1712 and they remained along coastal Massachusetts for sometimes (coming to me) 14 or 15 generations. So obviously I was appalled when I detected an apparent bias on Gates’s part about the English (recall Meryl Streep’s apology for her Rhode Island Wilkinson roots!) Those who came to the New World be they the English, the French, the Spanish, or the Dutch were all equally invested in slamming the door behind them.

    My great fear, Suzanne, is that the greater viewing audience is buying Gates’s malarkey as genealogical Gospel. I see no great scholarship in his work. And genealogy is my fondest avocation. I take this (as I see do you) very seriously.

    Tosatel

  • Deepthinker

    Does CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News not undermine your confidence? Hmmmm.

    BTW, slavery is about “old stereotypes and misconceptions.” Whether we think of ourselves with ’slave’ mentality or not.

    If you know more than the person standing up and speaking, then create your own show, school, or scholarship and make things happen rather than stand off and talk about the person who is doing it. And see how many people will challenge your information. It comes with the territory but it takes someone rather brave to take that first step, walking into the stones being thrown.

  • Tosatel

    Deepthinker

    No television doesn not “undermine [my] confidence”. I know what Gates is up to. He’s a historical revisionist. However versions of history that bear no real resemblance to fact do NONE of us any good (you included). This has nothing to do with confidence and if Gates had any he wouldn’t need to zero in on any particular nationality as “the bad guys”. And stereotypes are not solely about slavery. Here, in Gate’s production we see some old ones against the founders of this land (my ancestors) being reinforced. I’m just as proud of my ancestry as the next guy and I won’t stand for your bashing or Gates doing so.

    Again; the French (Canada and it’s indigenous peoples), the Dutch (New Amsterdam/Hudson River and it’s indigenous peoples), the Spanish (Aztecs, Inca, Toltecs and North American indigenous peoples), and the English on the east coast of the continental United States ALL took land multilaterally from the existing population. They slaughtered as they went. But for YOU or Gates to suggest that the English were any better or worse than the Spanish (who I suggest were worse than any others) is laughable. Heard of the Conquistadors oh “DeepThinker”?? They weren’t slaughtering pigs to take control of Central and South America and relieve the native peoples of their gold.

    Simply because (I suspect) you sympathize with what Henry Gates is postulating does not make it fact.

    And kindly lose the attack mode.

    I’ll speak my mind here. I won’t “create your own show, school, or scholarship”. I didn’t take on this genealogical trek Gates has. He did. So he’s answerable.

    What information that I’ve posted do you challenge? Come on state your case.

    And in case you hadn’t noticed YOU are “throwing stones” just as Gates is.

  • Kathy W.

    Hello Tim and Tom, I came to this website just because I was hoping to also find a way to contact Louise Erdrich. My mother in law came to live with us a few years ago when she was 92, and I have been doing genealogy for 20 years so I asked her if she would like to do more of hers. She was thrilled and surprising remembered so much even though she had dementia. She was only here for 9 months before she passed away but now I have so much more information to give to our children, grandchildren and the rest of our family. I was so happy to find this information for her before she passed away, she really seemed to enjoyed helping me and find out all this wonderful information. In one day with the help of the Internet and the great set of Books called “The French Families of the Detroit River Region”, we got back to a Jacob Marsac who came over with Cadillac. So once I saw the show and heard about Louise’s connection with Cadillac I was so excited. Now I am really excited to find both of you. Hope we can share information.

  • Lynda Davis Moore

    Ms. Erdrich: I was excited to see the show for the first time tonight (March 3rd). I sat up immediately when I learned you were of Chippewa heritage. I have a mysterious great great grandmother who looked very Indian and from whom stories were passed down through subsequent generations, mostly through her daughter (my great grandmother). Like your ancestral heritage, my great great grandmother, Sarah Ann Hughes, was part Chippewa Indian and part German. Her mother was a German immigrant, and her father Chippewa. Sara was born in Wisconsin sometime between 1841 and 1846. I have traced Sarah back to the early 1870s in Kansas, but am having trouble getting information on her before that. Sarah used several different names during her lifetime — Ruth Ann, Nancy Ann and, finally, Sarah Ann. We are not sure what first name she was given when she was born, but we believe her maiden name was Reynolds. She once pointed to a Reynolds tobacco tin and said “That’s my name.” She has been difficult to trace in Wisconsin. The most remarkable thing, though, is that she passed on (orally) a number of fascinating stories about her life, which was very difficult in her youth, and these stories were preserved through subsequent generations. I am wondering if there is a strong oral tradition among the Chippewas, and that is why she passed her own story on to her descendants. However, the stories were short on details needed to pin down additional information about her parents and other ancestors. I am searching for more information, but it is difficult going. At any rate, I am glad to have heard your story, and look forward to hearing more. I fully intend to find your books and read them.

  • Dee

    You may not realize this, but when you make statements like “I know what Gates is up to,” your tone comes across as hostile. As a person with mixed heritage (both North American indigenous and European), I certainly think it is about time that history be reexamined. Most of the history I learned while growing up was told solely from the prospective of those who colonized this land. Today, I am glad that more people realize there are many angles from which our nation’s history should be examined and told. From everything you’ve written on this thread, it seems as though you feel attacked or threatened by this notion.

    In the first episode, Dr. Gates, was discussing the fact that one of the guests had a black ancestor who owned slaves. If he were only trying to blame your ancestors (the ones you call the “founders of this land”) for slavery this would not have been noted in the program.

    I am just as proud of my heritage, as I’m sure you are. While can trace my ancestry back to Mary Queen of Scotts, I also have many incredible Dakota/Nakota ancestors. I would not exist if it wasn’t for colonization. However, I do NOT feel that the colonizers (Spanish, French, English, etc.) should be blindly revered or worshiped as great heroes (as they have historically been made out to be), since they were primarily responsible for a great many atrocities committed against the indigenous people of the Americas in the name of greed.

    Yes, our Tribal people warred against one another for territory and resources (some even practiced slavery), but there was always a balance that existed. It wasn’t until the colonizers came that many Tribes were almost completely wiped out; to argue that these kinds of atrocities were going on before colonization so it somehow justifies what happened after the Europeans arrived in the Americas is a flimsy argument in my view. No we can not go back, but we should at least examine all aspects of history to include the views of those who were colonized, or used in the slave trade since they have as much to do with the founding of this country as our European ancestors.

  • Dee

    I wonder the motivation behind a question such as the one you’ve posed. To that end, I ask: What does an Indian look like? Furthermore, who gets to decide who is to be considered an Indian?

    In my opinion, I think the Tribes alone should decide who is eligible for membership. In regard to “looking Indian,” I think there are many stereotypes that have been perpetuated over the years by Hollywood and others, that seem to have defined what an Indian should look like. Certainly in my own family there are many hues of skin, eye, and hair color.

    That said, a person’s exterior and Tribal enrollment are not the only indications of what it means to be Indian. Someone can be a full-blood, mixed-blood, or anywhere in between and identify more or less with their Tribal heritage depending on how they were raised. For example, before the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) there were many Indian children adopted out and raised by non-Indian families and apart from from their Native culture. As such, there are individuals who certainly “look Indian” and may be a card carrying enrolled Tribal member, but may not have much identification with the traditions and culture of the Tribe from which they are descended.

    On the flip side, I have a relative who is extremely fair complected–she and her children are enrolled Tribal members (they are all well over 1/4 Indian blood quantum, which is the minimum requirement of our Tribe ), but they don’t “look Indian” (in the stereotypical sense), yet they speak our language, know our stories, live on our reservation, dance, and practice many other aspects of our culture. It goes to show we should not judge a book by its cover.

  • Brian A. McGee

    Maybe we should start some sort of FAN GROUP OR WEB GROUP/Genealogy Group on
    Yahoo and Facebook for Mr. Gates Programs???

    I ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO START IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY TO RESEARCH AND
    PRESERVE THEIR FAMILY HISTORY. OR, AT LEAST CONNECT WITH YOUR FAMILY
    HISTORIANS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR FAMILIES.

    BEST WISHES TO EVERYONE!!

    HEALTH, LOVE, PEACE, PROSPERITY, WISDOM & FAMILY UNITY!!

    BRIAN A. MCGEE
    RAIN DANCE PRODUCTIONS
    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

  • fred schumacher

    It was obvious Colbert was making a joke when he called his Lutheran ancestor a “heretic.” The man is a comedian, after all. However, since Martin Luther did not start a brand new religion but derived it from his own Catholicism, it is certainly appropriate for a Catholic to call his Lutheran ancestor a heretic. Heresy is simply a descriptive term, grounded in historical fact. He was not making a value judgement, which you, sir, are.

    Louise Erdrich’s Native American ancestry comes from her Anishinabe ancestors of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota. That was made clear in the program.

    The English are the bad guys because they are the ones who developed slavery into the “peculiar institution” which denied the humanness of Africans. The Spanish never did that. They mistreated slaves but they never denied those slaves were human. Spanish and French Catholics intermarried to a much higher degree with Native Americans and Africans than the English ever did. That is why there are huge populations of mixed race people in North America called Metis in Canada and Mestizo in Mexico.

  • Tosatel

    Since I am unable to respond to “Dee” recent response to my post from several days ago I’m forced to do so here.

    “Dee” wrote:

    “You may not realize this, but when you make statements like “I know what Gates is up to,” your tone comes across as hostile. As a person with mixed heritage (both North American indigenous and European), I certainly think it is about time that history be reexamined. Most of the history I learned while growing up was told solely from the prospective of those who colonized this land. Today, I am glad that more people realize there are many angles from which our nation’s history should be examined and told. From everything you’ve written on this thread, it seems as though you feel attacked or threatened by this notion.

    In the first episode, Dr. Gates, was discussing the fact that one of the guests had a black ancestor who owned slaves. If he were only trying to blame your ancestors (the ones you call the “founders of this land”) for slavery this would not have been noted in the program.

    I am just as proud of my heritage, as I’m sure you are. While can trace my ancestry back to Mary Queen of Scotts, I also have many incredible Dakota/Nakota ancestors. I would not exist if it wasn’t for colonization. However, I do NOT feel that the colonizers (Spanish, French, English, etc.) should be blindly revered or worshiped as great heroes (as they have historically been made out to be), since they were primarily responsible for a great many atrocities committed against the indigenous people of the Americas in the name of greed.

    Yes, our Tribal people warred against one another for territory and resources (some even practiced slavery), but there was always a balance that existed. It wasn’t until the colonizers came that many Tribes were almost completely wiped out; to argue that these kinds of atrocities were going on before colonization so it somehow justifies what happened after the Europeans arrived in the Americas is a flimsy argument in my view. No we can not go back, but we should at least examine all aspects of history to include the views of those who were colonized, or used in the slave trade since they have as much to do with the founding of this country as our European ancestors.’

    You’re mistaken. I’ve “justified” nothing and given the onus of blame (in every post) to those who deserve it. “Deepthinker” came at me in a hostile manner.

    You illustrate what I’ve been writing all along in your lengthy post to me requoted above.

    No one is guilt free. I’m just not going to let my ancestors be the SOLE “fall guys”.

    I hope that’s clear Dee.

    *also

    You may be interested to know that according to some very reliable sources Gates did NOT do the research for his series. It was provided to him. He simply presented it the way HE saw fit.

  • Tosatel

    I did not see Colbert’s comment as a “joke”.

    He said in an earlier interview (paraphrase) “I grew up knowing I was the right nationality, the right religion Roman Catholic, and believed I was 100% Irish. I was the embodiment of being American”

    The pomposity of that statement suggests he was NOT joking with his “heretic” remark fred.

  • Lana

    I found it very unsettling that Ms. Erdrich opted out ot the dna testing. What does she and her family have to hide? You should be able to stand behind your representation of yourself irrespective of dna findings. She must have already known that she is predominantly European and wishes to maintain her image of being native american. It’s funny that the Spanish are accussed of having killed off the majority of native americans, when many “Latino’s” have more Amerindian ancestry than Americans. Yet everytime I see someone in the US representing themselves as “a native” they look more European than anything??? Granted looks do not tell the whole story, but you rarely find a person who looks more European and dna testing confirms that it is not the case.

    These are the speculations that come to my mind when people undergo this process representing themselves with an ethnic group that they aesthetically do not resemble, and then refuse to take dna test. It makes them appear deceptive.

    I recently received my admix results from 23andme and learned I am 66% African, 23% European, and 11% Asian. I have nothing to hide about my ancestry. Anyway, I highly recommend the company. They processed my results and everyone I know of who used them quickly. They also have a relative finder service that can detect cousins as far back as 10 generations.

  • Lana

    As a former political science student I’ve taken a few race & ethnicity courses :), there was nothing one-sided about the way he presented the information. This country, since it’s inception, maintained a bias geared towards the benefit of Anglo’s. Other Europeans had to petition to be considered “white” and part of that process involved them joining the Anglo’s in their bigotry towards the endogamous “black” ethnic group. Obviously you are still relying on bland textbooks for your data. I challenge you to actually research the National Archives and pull up old newspaper articles, court hearings… any documentation that covers the political mindset of this country throughout its history and then come back to this blog with an informed mind so you can actually speak with some authority and not just through your bruised ego.

  • Tosatel

    fred schumacher wrote:

    “The English are the bad guys because they are the ones who developed slavery into the “peculiar institution” which denied the humanness of Africans. The Spanish never did that. They mistreated slaves but they never denied those slaves were human. Spanish and French Catholics intermarried to a much higher degree with Native Americans and Africans than the English ever did. That is why there are huge populations of mixed race people in North America called Metis in Canada and Mestizo in Mexico.”

    Again stop bashing my ancestors if you please. I’ve held the English as accountable as the others but they are no MORE culpable.

    Tell me where you get the information you state in your first sentence I’ve requoted above please where you say “the English are the bad guys”.

    The Spanish came into South and Central America and slaughtered willy nilly anyone who did not bow and scrape to their greed for gold for the Spanish crown. And what does it matter who “married with Native Americans and Africans”? We’re talking about original settlement and the subjugation of indigenous peoples. Gates’s chat with Longoria was like a genealogical fairy tale where her Longoria ancestor was “given three thousand acres of land by the Spanish King” (said Gates with utmost glee to an ever uninterested Longoria). Then he presented Meryl Streep’s maternal ancestry to her and made her feel so guilty about the way her ENGLISH (Gates called them “European” ancestors) fought with Metacom, the Narragansetts, and other indigenous New England peoples. King Phillip’s War doesn’t hold a candle to the wanton slaughter exacted at the hand of the Spanish. We’re talking numbers and severity here fred. Please do your homework.

    The Spanish, in this regard, take the cake on that one.

    They entirely slaughtered or absorbed the native peoples into their culture forcing Roman Catholicism down their throats (all the while thinking themselves more evolved during the 17th and 18th and 19th centuries) as they sat dictating what those they’d subjugated do. Simply because the Spanish began to marry into Native American families in the nineteenth century now giving us a mixture of race and nationality association does nothing to undo the vicious slaughter of the Aztec, Maya, Toltec, and Maya to the point that until the late 19th century their temples, any settlements, and culture were lost to an ever-encroaching jungle.

    I grant you that the English (French and Dutch too) had the “European take” on those they encountered upon arrival but match what the English did to what the Conquistadors did as far as subjugation and violence toward native peoples and we’ll talk turkey. Your flimsy excuse of “they intermarried more often” is irrelevant. And you know it.

    Bottom line? Europeans thought the Native American a curiousity to be studied (like an animal or plant) and looked at them initially as a curiousity. But that old thing called Christianity weighed in heavily slanting the European take on the equality of the native peoples they encountered. NO ONE IS EXEMPT and to put the concentration of blame of the English solely is utter and intentional historical distortion.

  • Tosatel

    Lana?

    I have researched the National Archives. I know from whence I speak.

    Now address the Spanish in the same way you’ve lambasted those you call “Anglos” (they were ENGLISH).

    If you read Spanish I’d ask you to read the accounts of what the Conquistadors did to the Mayans, the Inca, the Atzec, and the Toltecs before you decide that the “Anglos” are worse than the Spanish. I suggest you visit the Archives in Madrid. And fortunately, most Spanish documents concerning early New World have survived and are in the Archives in Seville. Many other Spanish colonial documents survive in other locations as well but it’s become terribly in vogue to think of the English (those your derogitorally called “Anglos”) as the sole “bad guys”.

    None of th Europeans are without blame in this. And in my view the Spanish were the worst offendors.

    Perhaps you and Gates would enjoy a beer at his home in Cambridge.

  • Tosatel

    Not everyone is a bigot Dee. And you’re roaming around this board as if you’re Gates’s right hand girl Friday to detect any dissenting opinion.

    You’re aching to dissect every post and make bigots of everyone who doesn’t buy Gates’s take hook, line, and sinker.

    I have a question for you:

    I am nearly 100% English by ancestry. There’s a smattering of Scots-Irish in the 18th century but basically I’m all English. My family in some instances has been on this continent (North America) for thirteen generations.

    Now the question:

    Have I a right to be proud of my Colonial English ancestors (several of whom figured prominently in the independence achieved during the Revolutionary War)? What say you?

  • Tosatel

    “Maybe we should start some sort of FAN GROUP OR WEB GROUP/Genealogy Group on
    Yahoo and Facebook for Mr. Gates Programs???”

    I won’t be applying for membership.

  • Lana

    That’s a great idea! If someone does please announce it here so I can sign up!:D

    As an alternative there is a forum called http://www.thestudyofracialism.com that I frequent, where I am certain someone will start a thread concerning this series. The creator of the forum is a molecular anthropologist working on his Phd. One caveat, people who love to make accussations with limited data will find this site very challenging. Many of the people registered have a background in the social sciences and/or genetics.

  • Lana

    My dear Tosatel,

    I have no interest in placing blame, but merely telling history as events occurred. Blaming at this point makes no sense. As I mentioned in another post based on 23andme ( the company used in this series for the admix results) roughly 23% of my ancestry is European. Who owned more African slaves or ever had them is irrelevant to the point I was addressing, which is your disdain for hearing any information about the Anglo’s pyramidal caste system that they created in this country. This impacted Europeans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Asians, everyone! It was originally based on who was Anglo and who wasn’t. Once other Europeans dropped any vestiges they had remaining in their place of origin to prove they were “American” (read Anglofied) began to petition for the classification of “white” and then adopted the prevalent racist beliefs already existing in the country, they were merely acting out a system put in place by Anglo’s prior to their massive immigrations. All of them were originally prejudiced against until they proved their “whiteness” and then became included in the cultureless endogamous group of “white”. Unfortunately those of obvious African ancestry, regardless of how minimal, where not extended that same opportunity. There are isolated events of mixed families being vouched for as “white” so they could enjoy the privilidges associated with the term. But the majority of the time, this was not the case. Contrast that to Louisiana (prior to Anglo arrival), the Spanish and French speaking Caribbean & Latin America, it was a completely different phenomenen.

  • Dee

    I didn’t accuse anyone of being a bigot, and the way you are describing my comments tells me all I need to know about you. Why can’t you refer to Dr. Gates as such, instead of just Gates? No, I’m not “aching to dissect every post” and I am not “Gate’s right hand girl.” Just read those words you’ve written. They say a lot about where YOU are coming from and YOUR motivations here.

    Also, as I wrote in the post above (not this one that you chose to respond to), you have just as much right to be proud of your “Colonial English ancestors” as I can be proud of my Scottish, French, or Dakota/Nakota ancestors. No one is trying to take that from you. At the same time, you talk about historical revision, as if it were not based in any facts and as if it is a bad thing. I think it is important to consider that there are other sides to the historical record of this nation that for too long have remained untold.

    Clearly, from your comments, any notion of the other side’s story being told freaks you out. Just because we acknowledge that our ancestors weren’t all perfect in their actions, doesn’t mean we have to be any less proud of them. By the way, I have ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War too. I also have ancestors who fought in World War I before they were even allowed to be considered citizens of this nation. I’m proud of them all.

    I think one of the main points of the whole series is that we are all related to one another in some way–that we are more alike than we may think. Personally, I choose to rejoice in our similarities and our differences, since it is all okay and no one is more important or better than the other.

  • realnative

    I loved this show, I was saddened to see Louise Erdrich refuse to take the last DNA test that would tell here what percentage of Am. Indian vs Euro she was. After these long pontificating conversations about how important it was the know your true heritage, she refused to let it be known, because she may be shown to be somewhat of a phony.

    I despise people that “play up” the native american side when it suits them, or helps them sell books.

  • Tosate

    No you didn’t accuse everyone of being a bigot but there’s decidedly a eye of suspicion on your part to any opinion other than that put forth by Henry Gates.

    And I’m not “freak[ed] out” by anything. I didn’t realize there were “sides” to this thing. I’ve striving to put forth some semblance of historical accuracy without holding one single nationality at the root of all colonial evil.

    I no more would deny your ancestry than rob a bank but by that same token you nor Prof. Gates, nor anyone else will make me anything but proud of my English ancestry. And the inclination of Gates’s presentation (and many posters here) is to “Anglo” (as one person put it) bash where no on is exempt in the arena of wrong-doing.

    Dee writes:

    “you have just as much right to be proud of your “Colonial English ancestors” as I can be proud of my Scottish, French, or Dakota/Nakota ancestors. No one is trying to take that from you”

    When people call my ancestors “Anglos” and use terms like “tool of the English” when referring to the Scots-Irish I’d say that quote is mistaken. One poster outright said “the English are the bad guys”.

    Dee writes:

    “I think one of the main points of the whole series is that we are all related to one another in some way–that we are more alike than we may think. Personally, I choose to rejoice in our similarities and our differences, since it is all okay and no one is more important or better than the other.”

    I couldn’t possibly agree more.

    Would you please convey to those others and Gates that your good conclusion applies to ALL nationalities? Thank you.

  • Tosatel

    Lana,

    Not only are you suffering from and oft-told false bias but you’ve not done your historical homeword perhaps preferring to continue to make solely your “Anglos” into the only bad actors.

    Speaking of “Anglos”, your use of the word “Anglo” is telling. It shows a preconceived bias.

    Please, if you mean “English” write “English”. My forbears thank you as do I.

    I have no “disdain” for anything you write but you appear to give the Spanish (who were far more heinous in their caste system application) a free pass. What’s that about? And your statement regarding the French and Spanish in the West Indies and Louisiana prior to The Louisiana Purchase is preposterous.

    Lana writes:

    “Contrast that to Louisiana (prior to Anglo arrival), the Spanish and French speaking Caribbean & Latin America, it was a completely different phenomenen.”

    Now let’s focus on the French:

    You certainly don’t mean to suggest that in the West Indies and Colonial Louisiana prior to the arrival those of ENGLISH descent) the culture was unfettered by discrimation toward African-Americans and slavery do you? I mean really. You’re not suggesting that are you???

    You have a giant chip on your shoulder and you need to reeducate yourself.

    The portion of an article from “Slavery in Early Louisiana” by David P. Rider is but a small portion of what the French did to the indigenous peoples after a French priest had been found to have been murdered by the local Chitimaca Native American:

    “The FRENCH then retaliated in the traditional manner of European kingdoms. In the summer of 1706, they assembled an army of 100 soldiers, marched to the nearest Chitimacha village, and killed everyone in sight except for 20, mostly women and children, whom they dragged back and claimed as slaves. Still not satisfied with the payback for the single murder committed by a Chitimacha, the FRENCH continued raiding and sacking Chitimacha towns for the next 12 years, always killing nearly all, but always taking a few slaves on each successive raid. In this manner, the French built the core of their slave population among the Chitimacha women and children they spared the torment of their terrible swift swords.

    Google “Slavery in Early Louisiana by David P. Rider” if you care to educate yourself. (And this is but ONE example).

    Now let’s address the West Indies:

    The quote below is from “The Beginnings of Slavery in the West Indies” (it predates the ENGLISH!)

    “Already negro slaves had been introduced by the Spaniards into the West Indies. They first enslaved the natives, but these were unequal to the required toil, and they were soon almost extinguished by hard labor and cruelty. Charles V. of Spain granted a license to a Fleming to import 4,000 negroes annually into the West Indies. He sold his license to Genoese merchants, who began a regular trade in human beings between Africa and the West Indies. These were found to thrive where the native laborers died. The benevolent Las Casas and others favored the system as a means for saving the Indian tribes from destruction; and the trade was going on briskly when the English, under the influence of Hawkins, engaged in it in 1562.”

    To give the English their due I’ll quote additionally from the same piece about the Englishman John Hawkins. BUT PLEASE NOT QUEEN ELIZABETH I’s reaction to the institution!

    “John Hawkins, an English navigator, seeing the want of slaves in the West Indies, determined to enter upon the piratical traffic. Several London gentlemen contributed funds liberally for the enterprise. Three ships were provided, and with these and 100 men Hawkins sailed to the coast of Guinea, where, by bribery, deception, treachery, and force, he procured at least 300 negroes and sold them to the Spaniards in Hispaniola, or Santo Domingo, and returned to England with a rich freight of pearls, sugar, and ginger. The nation was shocked by the barbarous traffic, and the Queen (Elizabeth) declared to Hawkins that, ” if any of the Africans were carried away without their own consent, it would be detestable, and call down the vengeance of Heaven upon the undertakers.” HE SATISFIED THE QUEEN AND CONTINUED THE TRAFFIC, PRETENDING THAT IT WAS FOR THE GOOD OF THE SOULS AFRICANS, AS IT INTRODUCED THEM TO CHRISTIANITY” (the capital letters in the last sentence are my own for emphasis)

    There’s that old devil Christianity justifyy prejudice and conformity again!

    Now explain to my your “different phenomenen [sic]“

  • Lana

    @ Tosatel

    No, I did not imply that the French or the Spanish were “unfettered by discrimation “. Their caste system was completely different than what occurred in the Anglo colonies. No European colonist get’s a free pass but let’s discuss the differences. 1)Spanish and French colonies extended their priviledges to their offspring and OPENLY held relations (however dubious they may have been) with black women. They also did not sell their own children into slavery , a common practice that occurred within the Anglo system. There are many documented instances of the French in Louisiana and Haiti sending their children to school in France. How many of these occurrences were common within the Anglo colonies? 2) Everyone who was slightly of color was not lumped under the category of “black” unlike what occurred within the Anglo West Indies and North America. As a result many Spanish-speaking Latin Americans come from countries that have over 100 classifications to describe their ethnic backgrounds. There is more national pride from many of the black people in those countries because they have not been ostracized in a way that occurred within the US 3) To this day the French refer to the people in the Lome-Dome countries as French whereas the English only use British as a terminology for foreigners, so no foreigner can every be called English. There has always been and still is and air of classism within English society, where they choose to exalt and distinguish themselves from other groups.

    These are just some of cultural distinctions concerning colonial practises. London School of Economics has devoted an entire Master’s program to this field of study and I have no incentive to spend my time here arguing back and forth about the extent of Anglo policies in the America’s vs the Spanish and the French.

  • Lana

    Here Here!! That is exactly how she came across to me. Surely she should have thought twice about agreeing to do the show. It just causes one to speculate why she and her family were so against it.

  • Tosatel

    It’s painfully obvious the “limited” (not to say prejudiced) data is yours Lana.

    I’ve explained and illustrated point by point the reasons for my stance. You prefer to keep your one-sided biases when they’re unwarranted and you cannot explain your stance.

    Sure. Start a fan club of reverse bigots.

    But real genealogists know the difference between Gates’s propoganda and the real truth behind the myths. Did you even BOTHER to read what I had to say in retort to your preposterous assertions about the French and Spanish in Louisiana and the West Indies?

    Pity you can’t back up your biases and prefer to thrive in ignorance of historical fact.

  • Tosatel

    Lana?

    Your url is bogus.

  • Tosatel

    @ Lana who writes:

    “No, I did not imply that the French or the Spanish were “unfettered by discrimation “. Their caste system was completely different than what occurred in the Anglo colonies. No European colonist get’s a free pass but let’s discuss the differences. 1)Spanish and French colonies extended their priviledges to their offspring and OPENLY held relations (however dubious they may have been) with black women. They also did not sell their own children into slavery , a common practice that occurred within the Anglo system. There are many documented instances of the French in Louisiana and Haiti sending their children to school in France. How many of these occurrences were common within the Anglo colonies?”

    You tell me! Since you posture yourself as some sort of expert on the topic have you neglected to research the English Colonial practices toward people of color or was everyone just horrible BECAUSE they were “Anglo” as you so crudely put it. You’re so invested in your hatred of the English your blind to it.

    Back what you say up with reference and fact. You have no knowledge of what the English colonists did in this regard.

    “These are just some of cultural distinctions concerning colonial practises. London School of Economics has devoted an entire Master’s program to this field of study and I have no incentive to spend my time here arguing back and forth about the extent of Anglo policies in the America’s vs the Spanish and the French.”

    Another blind assertion with no fact to back it up…

    And again you insist on using the negative racially-charged epithet “Anglos” for the English. In doing so you sustain a reverse prejudice without recognizing it yourself. And if you don’t want to continue arguing with me why do you? You certainly don’t back up anything you say with fact. You simply hurl out blind assertions with no reference.

    Did you even bother to read my response to your erroneous post about the French in pre AMERICAN Louisiana or the Spanish in the West Indies? What have you to say for yourself.

    That chip on your shoulder is mighty unattractive. Additionally I refuse to allow you or anyone else to make an effort to diminish my heritage. Were it not (like it or not) for the Founding Fathers of this land (all of whom were from the British Isles) you’d not be so readily able to bash the very people who laid the governmental groundwork for your ability to speak in the broad negatives you use.

    Signed,

    Proud “Anglo”

  • tribal member

    Native Americans have reason to be leery of DNA testing. We already gave up our lands, we do not have to donate our DNA for public entertainment . The Turtle Mountain Chippewa were forced to cede ten million acres of prime real estate for 10 cents an acre. It took 100 years to get paid for that deal. Meanwhile, the Turtle Mountain Band were one of the tribes targeted for Termination in the 1950s, in part citing European admixture since the fur trade as an excuse to renege on previously established, legally binding treaties and agreements. There are echoes today in the persistent misconceptions of the federal-Indian trust relationship and Native identity, evidenced even in somewhat-educated forums such as this one, and deeper issues than this show would illuminate.

  • Susan

    I dont see what difference it makes. Erdrich is at least part Native American and is accepted as such by Native Americans. She doesn’t need a DNA test to tell her who she is, or what her culture is. Let’s be honest, the people who most need DNA tests are people who don’t know who they are, or who don’t like who they are, and want a new identity based on ancient ancestry. Moreover, those tests are not even 100% accurate.

  • tribal member

    By educated, I meant by the series itself, which was pretty good overall. It did an admirable job of showing how an accomplished individual may be the beneficiary of the struggle, sacrfice, tenacity and foresight of previous generations. That is something to be honored and appreciated. The stories of Kristi Yamaguchi and Yo Yo Ma are particularly good examples.

  • Susan

    There is less discrimination here than in Latin America. I don’t know where you’re getting your information. And while every Latin American country is different, if you think that blacks are accepted there, you are sadly mistaken. Moreover, the reason Latin America has so many mixed race categories is not because of acceptance, but because whites are in the minority. They use mixed race categories to divide the non-white population into smaller groups that can be pitted against each other. That keeps them from uniting politically. They don’t care what the minorities call themselves, as long as they don’t call themselves white.

    During the antebellum era, the American South had mixed race categories too, but after the Civil war, when whites immigrated in large numbers and became the majority, those mixed-race categories were eliminated. I can see them making a comeback as whites become a smaller percentage of the population. Furthermore, many AAs want to be called mixed. Dr. Gates made a big deal out of that last night.

    I know you want to demonize the English, and historically, they have been brutal. No doubt about that. But without their culture, especially the Puritan love of knowledge, we would not have our great country.

  • Susan

    Considered Indian by whom? What matters is what the Indians themselves think, and who they accept into their community.

  • Tosatel

    Susan,

    “demonize the English”.. yes perfectly stated.

    Thanks for seeing things in persective rather than a lop-sided biased “Anglo” assignment of blame we’ve witness across this thread. Imagine. Gates’s innuendo to “blame it on the English” isn’t recognizeable to those who’ve seen that show.

    Gates’s (and several key poster’s here) have a reality of selection not one of historical fairness or accuracy.

  • Lana

    While the Spanish and Portuguese colonies had an intricate system of classifying racially diverse people and incorporating them into society, the English colonies did not create a system of ranking race. The term mulatto was not used in the United States. While for some purposes people were sometimes recorded as being mulattos, for the most part Americans considered anybody with Negro ancestry to be a Negro. While it was beneficial to be white, these benefits were only available to those who were completely white. For a Negro, it was not truly advantageous to have a trace of European lineage. The Spanish and Portuguese colonies had worked their glossary of terms into their laws in order to distinguish how each classification would be considered before the law. The only reason English laws ever included the term mulatto was to establish that racially mixed blood did not exempt a person from slavery. In Central and South America, a process had been developed which slowly turned the descendants Negroes into white men. In the English colonies there was a firm barrier between whites and those of Negro ancestry. However, once a person had so little Negro blood remaining that they appeared white, society was forced to accept them as white. Americans inability to recognize a midway between white and black led to the development of a silent method of passing from being a Negro to a white man.

    English society did not have any terms for mixed heritage and therefor were forced to borrow the Spanish word mulatto. In White Over Black, Jordan Winthrop explains the significance of this lack of English vocabulary:

    “Another indication of the refusal of the English continental colonists to separate the ‘mixed breed’ from the African was the absence of terminology which could be used to define a hierarchy of status.” (Winthrop 168)

    As in the French or Spanish Caribbean and Latin American colonies, the Louisiana territory also developed a mixed-race class, of whom there were numerous free people of color (gens de couleur libres). In the early days they were descended from European men and enslaved or free black or mixed-race women. In the early colonial years, there were few European women in the colony. French men took African women as mistresses or common law wives, and sometimes married them. Even when more women of European descent were in the colony, wealthy white Creole men often took mixed-race mistresses before, or in addition to, their legal marriages, in a system known as plaçage. The young women’s mothers often negotiated a form of dowry or property settlement to protect them. The men would often transfer social capital to their mistresses and children, including freedom for those who were enslaved in the early years, and education, the latter especially for sons.[2]

    As a group, the mixed-race Créoles rapidly began to acquire education, skills (many in New Orleans worked as craftsmen and artisans), businesses and property. They were overwhelmingly Catholic, spoke Colonial French (although some also spoke Louisiana Creole French), and kept up many French social customs, modified by other parts of their ancestry and Louisiana culture. With enough numbers, the free people of color also married among themselves to maintain their class and social culture. The French-speaking mixed-race or mulatto population came to be called Black Créoles and Créoles of color. “New Orleans persons of color were far wealthier, more secure, and more established than blacks elsewhere in Louisiana.”[2]

    The transfer of the French colony to the United States in 1803 under the Louisiana Purchase and the arrival of Americans from New England and the South ignited an outright cultural war. Some Americans were reportedly shocked by aspects of the cultural and linguistic climate of the newly acquired territory: the predominance of French and Catholicism, the free class of mixed-race people, the strong African traditions of enslaved peoples. They pressured the United States’ first Louisiana governor, W.C.C. Claiborne to change it.

    When Claiborne swiftly moved to make English the official language, French Créoles in New Orleans were outraged and allegedly paraded the streets and rejected the Americans’ effort to transform them overnight. In addition, upper class French Créoles thought many of the arriving Americans were uncouth, especially the rough Kentucky traders who regularly visited the city, having maneuvered flatboats down the Mississippi River filled with goods for market. Creoles of both white ancestry and free people of color resisted American attempts to impose a binary culture splitting the population into black and white, as they were used to one in which there was a fluid upper class of mixed-race people.
    2.^ a b c d e Helen Bush Caver and Mary T. Williams, “Creoles”, Multicultural America, Countries and Their Cultures Website, accessed 3 Feb 2009

    I do not refer to Anglo- American as English, The colonies kicked the monarchy to the curb and designated themselves as autonomous creating their own policies concerning immigration and segregation. Anglo-American policy was not as inclusive as other colonial empires. Anglo contribution to the political system has absolutely nothing to do with that point! Get over it! It happened and I am free to speak of it as it occurred and not sugarcoat facts in history just to accommodate your ego.

  • Lana

    Correction: YOUR OPINION, is that people who take dna test do so because they do not know who they are. Do you have statistics to back up this gross assumption? You know what they say about people that ASSume. At least preface your statement with this as being your perception. Do not attempt to make an opinion a fact. You made the same gross generalization when you claimed to know the origins of south american racial classifications. Please provide a reference for your source and stop pulling gross hyperbole’s out of your @–!

    And funny enough most of the people I come across on dna forums are 100% European based on dna test and already knew who they were. The test just confirmed it. Based on your statement everyone that appeared on this tv show is insecure.

  • Lana

    Now I can get back to the real reason I commented on this thread.

    I can respect that opinion, but what is there to fear? Would any rights or privilidges be taken away based on dna results?

    It’s truly sad if the state of Amerindian society in the US is that fragile. There are a number of Central and South Americans I have communicated with who have taken dna test and they range anywhere between 50-75% Amerindian. They feel no shame or reason to hide dna test results or any reason to avoid making them public. It should not matter what the test revealed about Eldrich ancestral background if she is already accepted into a native american tribe. The fact that she states her family does not want her to share that information makes her suspect. There are many AFrican Americans, Latino’s who have taken these publicly and uncover that their genetic make up is not what they expected, yet they still feel no shame in results being made public or would allow someone to deny them inclusion into a particular group. Why is this not the case in her regard, was my question? It appears as if she has something to hide.

  • Tosatel

    @ Lana

    ” Anglo-American policy was not as inclusive as other colonial empires.”

    Again another unsupported claim submitted undoubted because I’ve proven it false and you cannot refute it other than to repeat your own singular bias toward English colonists.

    “Anglo contribution to the political system has absolutely nothing to do with that point! Get over it!”

    No. We won’t. And it has EVERYTHING to do with ENGLISH contribution to the political system.

    **one note; you use “Anglo” one more time and I’ll see if I can’t find a juicy epithet by which I can refer to some of your ancestors. Be forewarned. The knife cuts both ways.

    Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Thomas Paine, Roger Sherman, John Jay, James Wilson, and Gouvernor Morris created this fine nation and to a man they’re all of Anglo-SAXON descent (primarially English though Hamilton was Scottish thereby partly Celtic as was Patrick Henry).

    It has EVERYTHING to do with your ability to spew your lies on this board. But your thankless stance toward those who enabled you to live in a country where the right to speak your mind (even when it’s utterly mistaken) is upheld and supported. You’re just unbelievable.

    “It happened and I am free to speak of it as it occurred and not sugarcoat facts in history just to accommodate your ego.”

    You bet “it happened”. And you’d better thank your lucky stars.

    It’s your ego that’s ’sugar-coated’. No. I’m wrong. It’s coated with vinegar skewed biases toward the English colonists and the Founding Fathers. It appears it’s YOUR ego that’s fragile and unrequited…

  • Tosatel

    Hey Lana?

    How do you feel about what the Conquistadors did to the Maya, the Toltec, the Inca, and the Aztec?

    They sure did want them some G-O-L-D them there Spanish now didn’t they? And they were willing to seduce those indigenous peoples into a false sense of security only to slaughter them by the hundreds of thousand looting, pillaging, and raping along the way all in the name of the King of Spain. See that gold ring on your finger? Dollars to donuts there’s a piece of plundered Central or South American native peoples’s blood that got it to that location.

    Neither Susan nor I has attempted to let the English off the proverbial hook. But you’re so obsessed with hating your “Anglos” (which by the way is short for “Anglo-Saxon”) that you give the Spanish a free pass. Then you speak of Louisana while never mentioning a word about what the French did to Canada upon arrival prior to the English colonization of the East Coast of the United States. You’re a pip you are.

    How is the Spanish utter annihilation of those peoples somehow “ok” with you when in comparison to what the English did upon arrival in Jamestown and Plymouth its diddly squat?

    Yours is a history of biased convenience to make you feel better about yourself.

  • Susan

    Professor Gates himself said that when the paper trail runs out, it’s time to turn to DNA. As for what I said about racial classifications, you are free to read books by Paolo Friere, or to take history classes on colonialism. As I said, whent the colonizer is outnumbered, they come up with mixed race categories as a buffer to keep the majority population from uniting politically. This happened in Latin America, South Africa, and in the Southern USA before the Civil War. We have always had mixed race people in the United States. It’s not a new phenomenon.

    And getting back to the original topic, which was Erdrich’s refusal to take a DNA test, notice how some people here challenge her right to define herself as Native American, but nobody challenges Queen Noor’s right to call herself Arab. The Queen is not majority Arab, in fact, only her paternal grandfather was Arab. They didn’t even show Queen Noor’s DNA test.

    So why is it such a big deal for Erdrich to refuse the DNA test, even though she is enrolled in a tribe and accepted as Native by her community? It’s kind of scary if people lose the right to define for themselves who they are.

  • Susan

    Lana, you don’t know what you’re talking about at all.

  • Susan

    Re: “The fact that she states her family does not want her to share that information makes her suspect.”

    Suspect of what?

  • Susan

    Re: “I despise people that “play up” the native american side when it suits them, or helps them sell books.”

    Most books on the best seller list are not about Native Americans, so that doesn’t make any sense. It’s funny how so many peope think that a white person gets some special advantage by claiming Indian ancestry.

  • Saddened

    I have been reviewing the comments and find it sad that there is this much animosity over a program. For those of us who would like to know our ancestors beyond slavery, I enjoyed the program because it gave me hope. The level of negativity is completely unnecessary. The fact of the matter is, the colonization of North and South America was an ugly affair. There were many guilty parties and whether anyone wants to or not, they have to be able to acknowledge that much wrong was done by some of their ancestors. Let’s process that information and move on. If you don’t agree with the program, then don’t; however, if you invest this much time in criticizing it, then you will have to ask yourself “why” criticizing it means that much. Everyone has their interpretation of history. You don’t have to agree; however, we all have to acknowledge that much wrong was done regardless of whether the wrong was done by the French, the English, the Dutch, the Spanish, etc. Now, I for one would love to be part of the geneology research because I want to know who my ancestors were…the good, the bad, and the ugly. That was the point of the program as far as I could tell. Knowing who you are, not pointing fingers of blame.

  • Saddened

    Oh, one more thing…as far as Louise Erdrich’s choice not to do the DNA testing, that was her right. She respects the wishes of her people and therefore she deserves respect. It is my understanding that in some (if not all) native tribes, you are a member of the tribe regardless. It may not have been uncommon for someone to not be related at all, but they became a member of the tribe. It is a concept of family that I admire. My family does not make a distinction between blood and nonblood relatives. Family is family regardless of how you bacame a member. Ms. Erdrich has my respect.

  • Tosatel

    Dear Saddened,

    It was not my original intent to quarrel. But no one (under my watch) is going to hold the “Anglos” (as one disgruntled poster calls my ancestors) responsible for all the colonial ills which befell Native Americans.

    But when I saw so much negative false information applied only to my ancestral European colonists I had to say something.

    I concur; “family is family regardless of how you became a member”.

  • Fallon

    I was also disappointed that Ms. Erdrich did not participate in the DNA testing. I have a feeling she knows her family is of mostly European ancestry but I don’t know why she would not embrace whatever mix the testing would reveal. My brother studied the Potawatomi language and it has French words embedded from hundreds of years ago. I’m guessing more than just the language was passed on. It’s too bad that Ms. Erdrich’s pride was more important to her than her actual heritage. She left a big hole in the program.

  • Lana

    Irrespective of her findings why could she not say, “culturally I was raised as a native american and that’s what I identify with”. Something similar to what occurred with Elizabeth Alexander, who learned she was predominantly European and mostly likely knew it was the case before she agreed to be tested. She is an African American studies director at Harvard and categorizes herself as African American so one could argue that it would be in her benefit not to disclose that information. In fact, there are many African Americans who have learned through dna research that they have no african ancestry at all. One person shared their story in this link. http://dienekes.50webs.com/blog/archives/000407.html

    I agree with you that family should not distinguish between blood and non blood relatives as the terminology can be applied to anyone who is accepted as a family member. But then if that holds to be true, what shame is there in revealing your actual genetic similarity with the group? Your comment in contradictory to their response. It they truly believed they were connected by a stronger bond than genetics, IMHO there should be no shame in airing your dna results when you agree to do this type of show. Everyone else did, even George Lopez has random celebrities take dna test for his show. This is something so familiar and results showing diversity are widely known, that the unexpected should be expected.

    2 African American Lives series, Faces of America: and out of all those people (some who even assumed they had native ancestry, yet they learned didn’t) she is the only one to decline. I’m not buying whatever excuses people are trying to sell here.

  • Lana

    Clever comeback that didn’t address one point I made. And this time I provided references, of which you have yet to do for some of the gross assumptions you made.

  • Tosatel

    @ Lana who wrote:

    “Clever comeback that didn’t address one point I made. And this time I provided references, of which you have yet to do for some of the gross assumptions you made.”

    Nothing clever about it. Your references were as contrived as you URL doll.

    Name me one ‘gross assumption’ I’ve made. I double dare ya.

    That chip on your shoulder is becoming so large it’s beginning to look like you have dowager’s hump.

  • janzie

    Regarding the posts from “Tosatel”: I watched all four episodes of the series and do not recall any instance where Dr. Gates was involved in “bashing” anybody. Not a single instance. Could you please explain to me what Dr. Gates said tthat set you off and threatened you so much? For me, the series confirmed my beliefe that we are all more alike than different and bound together by our common human nature. As you probably know, human nature involves honor, cowardice, generosity, greed, love, hatred, industry, sloth, love of family and indifference toward others and that no one culture, tribe, nationality, race or religion is, by it’s nature “good” or “bad”. Know what? Just like everybody else’s ancestors, some of your Anglo ancestors were ignorant jerks and some of them were noble, talented, intelligent and generous – just like the Africans, Swedes, Italians, Native American tribes, Germans, Asians, Arabs, Hispanics and everyone else they share the planet with.

  • Tosatel

    @ janzie…

    Don’t mistake me janzie.

    This thing is subliminal. Where Eva Longoria’s ancestors were lauded for being “granted three thousand acres BY THE KING OF SPAIN!!”, Meryl Streep was basically apologizing for her Wilkinson line.

    You’re the individual who’s threatened or you would see the inherent bias in Gates’s LACK of scholarship and how he postures himself when he addresses Streep to the point that she’s embarassed to be English on her mother’s side.

    I’ve given the English (not “Anglos”) their onus of blame but to suggest any colonizing European country was worse than the other is hogwash No wait. The Spanish were worse but Gates and Longoria were all giddy about how the first Longoria stole land from the Native peoples. Outrageous.

    And have the decency not to lecture me. I know where both you and Lana are in this thing. It’s as offensive as your inability to see what Gates is doing.

    You and Lana can go on vilifying the “Anglos” (what’s THAT negative epithet all about?). They’re called English or Anglo-Saxon. Remember it. I can think of some handy-dandy negative epithets to call the Spanish but I shant since it’s wrong and reduces the user to a position of being no better than those he admonishes.

    Better still? Watch Lisa Kudrow’s “Who do you think you are?” on NBC. It’s riveting. And the scholarship is real. It doesn’t jump from one subject back and forth to another either. This PBS series is Gates’ version of this American past. And it’s skewy at best. It does nothing but promote old stereotypes.

  • janzie

    @tosatel

    Wow! I’m not lecturing anybody – we’re just having a conversation here and since when is “Anglo” an epithet? It means English. I’m “Anglo”, German, Irish, and Swedish and have no problem with it. If it offends you, I can respect your sensitivity on the matter and try to avoid using the term. “English” it is.

    Conflicts over land, resources, and treasure have been an inescapable part of our human history since day one and will continue until the end of time and I can not think of one single group, race or nation that has not been the agressor in some conflict. That being said, the history books in this country have for years lionized our English ancestors when, in reality, theyre no better than anyone else. Of course, they’re no worse, either.

    When I saw Eva Longoria, I saw someone who was “giddy” over finding out about a hidden part of her family history she didn’t know about. You saw her being “giddy” over her ancestors stealing land from the indiginous people. During Meryl Streep’s segment, I saw a person relieved that her ancestor paid for the land he acquired instead of taking it at the point of a gun. You saw someone ashamed of and appologizing for her ancestors. I’m not really sure we watched the same program.

    I thought Faces of America was well done and showed aspects of our common history most of us were never exposed to while studying the Anglo-centric (sorry) text books used in our public school history classes. I saw Lisa Kudrow’s show and thought that was also well done.

    Family history is tricky business. We all want to be proud of our ancestors but each and every one of us are descended from saints and sinners alike. For fighting in the War of 1812, the U.S. government granted one of my ancestors western land that once was the hunting ground of indiginous people. I’m not ashamed of that any more than the Longoria’s should be ashamed of living on land deeded to them from the King of Spain.

    I don’t really think Dr. Gates was attacking our English ancestors. He was just trying to tell a more complete story of our past than most of us have been exposed to in the past. I found it refreshing.

  • Carmen

    All the European countries had the same goal, which was to eliminate the Native population and take their land and resources, but why do you think the Spanish were worse? More Natives survived in Latin America than in the United States, and I’m not sure they were treated any worse there than here.

    Also, Anglo is a term frequently used in the Southwest, even by historians. It doesn’t only refer to the descendants of the English settlers, but to any white descendant of northern or westerrn European ancestry. This is the first time I have ever heard anybody consider it a slur.

  • Tosatel

    @ janzie-

    “Anglo” is a term used primarilly by those of Hipanic descent to describe those by whom they feel subjugated. You know it and I know it. Why not call us what we are “English-American”?

    janzie writes:

    “When I saw Eva Longoria, I saw someone who was “giddy” over finding out about a hidden part of her family history she didn’t know about. You saw her being “giddy” over her ancestors stealing land from the indiginous people. During Meryl Streep’s segment, I saw a person relieved that her ancestor paid for the land he acquired instead of taking it at the point of a gun. You saw someone ashamed of and appologizing for her ancestors. I’m not really sure we watched the same program.”

    You’ve missed my point entirely. Gates made Longoria’s story sound entirely innocent and just ducky whereas Streep bought into the ever-present notion that your “Anglos” are at the root of all racial dominance and woes. It’s simply not the case as I described in my previous. It’s Gates with whom I take issue not those he sedueces into his way of thinking.

    janzie writes:

    “We all want to be proud of our ancestors but each and every one of us are descended from saints and sinners alike. For fighting in the War of 1812, the U.S. government granted one of my ancestors western land that once was the hunting ground of indiginous people. I’m not ashamed of that any more than the Longoria’s should be ashamed of living on land deeded to them from the King of Spain.”

    I didn’t say YOU ‘were ashamed’. I state the program is biased. One more time with feeling; Gates and Longoria (to a degree) were all giddy when Longoria learned of her ancestor’s usurping of land in the New World. However when Streep was confronted with her Providence, RI ancestor’s 17th century line and said “at least they paid for it” there’s a double standard exacted at the hands of Gates’s instruction and the action of his editors.

    There was nothing “complete” about Gates’s approach. Where he gave Longoria’s ancestors (not to say the King of Spain) a free pass for what he maligned (note his nodding in the affirmative to Longoria and ’shame on you’ way of agreeing with Streep) the English in Rhode Island for doing. Even Meryl Streep has bought into it! She stated “my mother and father never bought into the cast or Brahmin thing). I honestly suggest Meryl’s mother didn’t now diddly about her ancestry. They were middle class people making their way in New Jersey.

    Let me assure you. Metacom (King Phillip’s) War was peanuts compared to what the Spanish did to the Native Americans in the New World.

    If you don’t see his intentional bias to direct focus toward the English and away from the Spanish (or any other European nation) there is nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. You, too, have bought into those ‘dreadful Anglos’ myth. (I mean ‘myth’ in the sense that the English were any worse than any other European interloper)

    The history books for forty years have not “lionized the English” but let’s give credit where credit’s due. Those “Anglos” (English) of whom you speak DID play a pivotal role (albeit often careless and exlusionary) in the make up of this country. I hardly think we should throw THAT baby out with the bath water as the old saying goes.

    Didn’t you note the difference in Kudrow’s production? That’s real geanealolgy. Hell they were at the Massachusetts Historical Society and The New England Histoic Genealogical Society). Kudrow’s production ran smoothly and chronicled with the real scholarship of how Miss Parker’s ancestors found their way from old Salem, Massachusetts (then a part of Danvers) to Ohio and indeed to the Gold Rush in California. There was no assignment of blame the way Faces of America implies incessantly.

    Now THAT’S the “American Story” in my view.

    To tell you the truth I thought Longoria’s “enthusiasm” was feigned and that, in truth, she seemed rather uninterested in the entire process. It was Henry Gates who was giddy FOR her.

  • Tosatel

    Carmen,

    This from Wikipedia;

    “In some parts of the United States Anglo-American is shortened to Anglo and applied to White Americans who are not of Hispanic or Latino origin, and sometimes to those who are not of French origin.[3] However, it is not a universally accepted term and is considered inaccurate, or even offensive, by some White Americans.”

    If you’d like me to find a more bonafide reference I’m more than willing.

  • Tosatel

    Carmen,

    This from “eHow”. The internet is chuck-block-full of similar references to the term “Anglo”.

    “The word Anglo was used primarily before the 1970s in the USA to describe anyone who is Caucasian. It has fallen out of fashion within the popular usage of young people. It is not actually correctly being used in this sense. Describing any person of European descent as Anglo is a misnomer as this would include Slavs, Southern Europeans, the Irish and those of Jewish descent. It can also mean a Caucasian who speaks English.

    Best not use it.

  • Carmen

    Re: “Anglo” is a term used primarilly by those of Hipanic descent to describe those by whom they feel subjugated.

    In the Southwest, white people themselves use that term, and as I said, even historians use it. It doesn’t mean what you think it does, but I respect your right to want to be called English-American.

    As for Eva Longoria, she already knew that her family was in Texas before it was a state, and she knew that her family had owned land for a long time, but she didn’t know the details. If you’re from the Southwest and of Mexican descent, your history is erased and you are cast in the role of “newcomer” at best and “alien” at worst, so she probably felt vindicated when the historical record confirmed what she already knew.

  • Tosatel

    Re: “Anglo”

    It means what “I think” to me and I’m not alone in that feeling as I illustrated. I think it’s best it’s not used.

    With regard to Longoria? You appear to have missed what I was explaining entirely. I didn’t need a notion of how “Longoria felt”. I saw her reaction and Gates’s overt enthusiasm for the same phenomenon he denounced with Streep by those of European descent who did similar things to the indigenous peoples of New England.

    Bias.

  • janzie

    Tosatel – I know it’s not this thread but Stephen Colbert was kidding. He’s a COMEDIAN! As for the Longoria’s, their family was deeded land by a government that “stole” it from indiginous people. My ancestors (and probably yours too) were given land grants in payment for military service from our government – who “stole” it from indiginous people and whether someone on TV was “giddy” about their family history doesn’t really matter that much when all is said and done. And our history books? They most certainly did lionize our British ancestors at the expense of other people who’s labor helped build this nation. Yes I know they played a pivotal role in the formation of our country but they were the ones that had all the money, all the power and all the guns. Who did you think they were going to let run things? The slaves? The German immigrants perhaps? There’s really no need to defend the honor and memory of your British ancestors. If it had been the Irish Catholics in 1840s or the indiginous people in our early history that had all the power, money and guns, I’m sure the shoe would have been on the other foot. Even the native tribes fought with each other over hunting lands, water, horses, guns, women and whatever else they thought the other guy had that they wanted. It’s human nature. Now that the English have less power, less money and less military strength, they’re way less troublesome. Before them it was Napoleon’s armies and before them, the Spanish Conquistadors, Atilla the Hun, the Roman Empire and back into the dim recesses of human history. Right now it’s America’s turn in the spotlight and after we shoot ourselves in the foot, somebody else will run things, perhaps the Chinese. Hey they already had their turn during the Ming Dynasty didn’t they? No fair!

  • Nic

    Hi Lana,

    Did they give you a more detailed breakout for each of your ethnic categories … i.e – the 66% African is comprised of (Nigerian, Kenyan, etc)? I assume this was your mother’s side or did you have a male in your family provide the DNA?

    Thanks much!

  • Tosatel

    Testing my posting privileges…

  • Tosatel

    janzie ..

    Prior to my last post I spent an hour on one and when I tried to post it it simply disappeared. I have neither the time nor the energy to rewrite the thing.

    It did, however, counter much of what you’ve said. I’ve worked as an unbiased historian in Masschusetts for thirty years and most Amercan’s view of the colonizing English is rote bull__t.

    Try reading “Saints and Strangers” or going to this url (below) directly from Plimoth Plantation which will give you a clearer idea of how the English and the Narragansett, Pequot, Womanoag, and Nauset peoples lived and interacted. There was a time of great peace and interaction in 17th century New England between these two cultures who could NOT have been more frightening and odd to one another

    So if it’s “America’s turn” lets include all the Europeans who colonized this continenta and Central and South America since you’re used the broad term “America”.

    http://www.plimoth.org/education/teachers/timeline.php

  • Tosatel

    janzie-

    Perhaps this quote taken from the Plimoth Plantation literature written by present-day Wampanoag descendats working at Plimoth Plantation and descendants of those “Pilgrim” families states it better than I could:

    “Bradford and Massasoit were extraordinary leaders. Their political wisdom, prudence and restraint, allowed them to keep in focus principles that enabled the Pilgrims and Wampanoag to live PEACEFULLY FOR DECADES. The appearance of Samoset and Squanto was fortuitous, but the leadership of Bradford and Massasoit was providential. Bradford’s success as Governor required more than good luck. Football coaches know that luck may win a game but not a winning season. Good fortune comes to everyone from time to time; skillful coaches know that winning seasons come to teams that capitalize on good fortune. Bradford and Massasoit were imminently skillful leaders who were flexible adhering to the treaty when unpredictable events could easily have overwhelmed both men. They capitalized on fortunate situations and allowed the situations to evolve into sustained successes.”

    This is no story of the Conquistadors in Central and South American I assure you.

    Remember too the Spanish were Roman Catholic and the “Pilgrims” (Anabaptists) were not.

    In this particular situation that last statement is pivotal in the way one human being treats another. Where Roman Catholics impose religion of their conquered peoples those in New England (especially the Quakers) were not so ardently inclined. The Quakers, in fact, are in the forefront of the Abolitionist Movement long before Abraham Lincoln threw his hat into the ring.

    I live on coastal Massachusetts three doors down from where Frederick Douglass stayed while visiting this city and denouncing slavery along with his white brothers (and Quaker luminaries) like William Lloyd Garrison.

    Malign the English all you like but it was the Southern sector of these United States (especially in largely-French by heritage) New Orleans that wanted to keep slavery intact during the War Between the States.

    Again. PERSPECTIVE people.. PERSPECITIVE

  • janzie

    I don’t have any desire to malign the English or anybody else and hope it’s not your wish to malign the Spanish, French or Catholics. It’s not, is it? Did you forget about the Scotch-Irish Protestant “Christian” plantation owners in the deep south, who WAY outnumber the slave owners in French New Orleans because there’s plenty of blame to go around without leaving anybody out. Though I was raised in the Protestant Christian faith, I have a healthy skepticism of organized religion and am aware of how much bulls**t has been pulled in the name of “the church”, whether Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or whomever. One of my favorite historical sites is the Roger Williams museum in Providence, RI. I’m sure, as a historian, your’e familiar with it.

    Thanks for the info on Bradford and Massasoit. They sounded like two individuals who valued the peace process, respected each other, and shared resources, thus guaranteeing the safety and success of both groups. Wise leaders are frequently in short supply so the English colonists and indiginous people who were followers of these two men were indeed fortunate. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could project the noble actions and behavior of the best among us onto all members of the group, whatever that group may be? I suppose my point is this (and this is where you and I seem to part ways) – I believe that, as human beings, we’re all more alike than different and that the things that motivate our actions today are the same basic things that motivated our ancestors – things like wanting to provide for and protect our families and just basically not having to work so doggone hard to have a decent life. It’’s never quite so simple as “English good, Spanish bad”, or “Protestant good, Catholic bad”, or “Indians good, cowboys bad” or whatever. In reading some the posts on this site it was evident that some people take their own family history a bit too seriously – like the lady on Mario Batali’s thread who just wanted to make sure we all knew HER people came from northern Italy, not southern Italy where the people were illiterate peasants with criminal tendancies – they started the Mafia, don’t you know. It is my belief that there are good and bad among us in every nation and no one group has a corner on the nobility and honor market.

  • Tosatel

    I only bring up the Spanish in vast contrast to the English. The Spanish (16th c.) were “conquerors”. The English (for all their short-comings) made initial and profound attempts to interact positively with what must have been the most unusual thing both sides of that scene had ever encountered in November of 1620. When Massasoit greeted William Bradford (my surname) Massasoit spoke to him in broken English since he’d dealt with English and Scandanavian fishing parties which had made it that far afield from Europe. The men bonded instantly. Bradford and Winthrop wanted nothing more than a peaceable relationship and they were UNQUESTIONABLY aware of the fact that they were the interlopers. Were it not for William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” a personal account of his experiences we’d have little-to-nothing. The Indians simply didn’t prize possessing things the way Europeans did and how we think of land transactions today. Indeed the cultural differences were so profound it’s notable and commendable that the “great peace” existed between those now called “the Pilgrims” and the Native Peoples of New England for over forty years.

    Plymouth Plantation had (during those early days) an open door policy to all the Native Peoples. Thanksgiving WAS celebrated and it was equally peopled by the English and the Wampanoags. It was only when the elder “Pilgrims” began to die off (Brewster, Bradford, Winthrop, Carver, Fuller, etc.) that a first generation of English colonists born on this continent began to encounter the generation which followed Massasoit particularly in the person of his son Metacomet (later known as “King Phillip”). Metacomet had always been a problem to his father and was known as a “hot head” among his own. It was at this time that the real troubles began. No one can be certain precisely what went on since no written account was kept but the earlier English account by Governor Bradford. King Phillip’s War was a last and final (easily understandably) attempt for the indigenous peoples (prodded by Metacomet) to gain back their homeland and expunge the interlopers. It failed miserably (indeed many colonists lost their lives or were taken as captives and spirited north to French Canada) and ever-after (even into the early 20th century) those of partial (for there have been no full-blooded New England Native Americans since roughly 1850) Native American descent (nearly always with a mix of some white but largely African-American) were allowed only to live on the fringes of Yankee (read English- Scots-Irish French Huguenot) society.

    But everyone who watches Henry Gates’s program needs to know this without equivocation:

    Today it’s a very different story. I’m friendly with the chief of the Wampanoags (those descended from the tribe encountered by the “Pilgrims” upon arrival in 1620). He lives in Mashpee on Cape Cod. There’s no bitterness today since over the last fifty-odd years much has been given back in the way of reparation. It’s not what others in other parts of this country imagine here and it angers me no end that (I realize I’m being redundant) that the “Anglos” (read English settlers) are so vilified when so much has been done in an effort to give back. My ancestry is (for all intents and purpose) 100% “English-American” (though I’d be looked at oddly were I to use that terminology). I have a line to the Scots and one French Huguenot line too but ninety percent of me is English by heritage and it’s precisely with my ancestors where so many posting here would enjoy placing the largest onus of blame. It’s simply that more has been touted historically about the “Pilgrims” since they got here so bloody early. Jamestown in Virginia had it no better or worse. Indeed the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but veered terribly off course plunking them on the sandy shores of what’s today known as Cape Cod.

    I’d like to hear of similar efforts at reparations exacted by the invading and usurping French in Canada, Spanish in Central and South America, and even the Germans (Pennsylvania Dutch) who arrived very early to the Eastern Seabord. For the sake of this post I’ll omit the Dutch in New York.

    That common mentality is incorrect and I – much as I’ll own my ancestor’s part in this thing – won’t allow them to be unduly characterized as the bad guys. By the way? Can anyone tell me the term Mexicans/Hispanics/Latinos use for the conquering Spanish? I don’t believe there is one. Hmmm.

    I realize it’s never as simple as “Catholic bad” or “Protestant good” but let’s have some perspective here. The Roman Catholic Irish after enduring unbelievable hardship upon arrival during the 19th century to the Boston area are now among (along with those who call themselves “Italian-American”) those who are the most outspokenly vehement in their efforts to inhibit immigration reform. Curious to me they’d want to slam that door shut when fully cognizant what their ancestors endured only three or four generations before. We’re a short-sighted species in my view.

    I do think “all or nothing” religionists have it wrong. And in my Quaker ancestors I saw the effort to rid this nation of the evils of human inequality and a passivity of nature and faith can only be described as more evolved. (With regard to the Quaker efforts at the abolition of slavery it’s real and it’s documented)

    Now to your comment on what that woman had to say in Batali’s piece; I have lived in Italy. I’ved there for six years. I speak Italian fluently and I can tell you that THAT particular bias is tame compared to that which exists in Italy itself. The northern Italians consider themselves better and the southern Italians feel identically. In truth Garibaldi only unified the country on paper. He could not unify all those City States. Italy even today competes with itself as to what actually consitutes “Italian”. Were you to say to Sophia Loren “oh I understand you’re Italian Miss Loren.” She’d respond “No I’m not I’m Neapolitan!!”. So we really can’t hang that bias on this American culture. However I will say that what programs like “The Sopranos” have done to the continued image of the Italian-American is an affront to all thinking Americans of Italian descent. I’ve been to Campagnia and Sicilia too. They DO have “criminal tendancies”. La Cosa Nostra has been a way of life so long in the south of Italy I’m of a mind to think it’s actually become a genetic predisposition. You really need to experience it to know.

    With regard to your comment to the commonality of the societal beliefs of our ancestors when compared to ou own today I’ll simply say this; I believe those (broad generalization here) who came before (in my case the English) had a stronger sense of propriety – in many ways – than that had by the larger American population as we know it today. My optimism is not great.

    THIS (ABOVE ALL ELSE) STOOD OUT AS TRUTH IN YOUR LAST:

    “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could project the noble actions and behavior of the best among us onto all members of the group, whatever that group may be?”

    Yes! That’s the ideal. But I suspect we’re not very much closer to it than we were in the 16th and 17th centuries however as we (the upstart Americans) globally impose our “American values” and way of governing on cultures who want no part of it we’re no different than the “Anglos” or “the Conquistadors”. We’re making the same bloody mistakes our ancestors did but we’re too short-sighted to see it. We simply don’t learn.

    I’m really very pessimistic about it all. We’re an exclusive society rather than an inclusive one and as this country takes its “sides” we become more and more estranged from one another daily. I’m ready to pack my bags and move to rural Vermont except for the fact that I love Cape Cod. It (and surrounding areas) has been home to my ancestors for fourteen generations you see.

    Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful post.

    ** by the way you and I share that very same skepticism when it comes to organized religion.

    I knew I liked you. ;-)

  • Janzie

    Intresting info on the Italians. I’m just starting to get into Italian history as I’m working on my husband’s family history. Though his (our) last name is Zeoli, he is 1/4 Italian – the part with the surname attached – and 3/4 New England Yankee English. Thank God he’s not a violent criminal. Anyway, his Italian ancestors came from Campagnia – a small town in Benevento province called Santa Croce del Sannio, a place they left in 1893 to come to Weymouth, MA and work in the shoe factory. When I plugged his surname and “Santa Croce del Sannio” into Google, up came an article titled “Briggantaggio a S. Croce Del Sannio”, written, of course, in Italian. After translating it (roughly) in Google, I’m starting to suspect one of his ancestors was shot by the local police for some sort of outlaw activity. The whole scene over there sounded perfectly lawless with lots of political unrest mixed in for good measure. I’ve also read some about the Risorgimento and Garibaldi’s efforts to unify the country. My husband’s great-grandfather, the immigrant, would never speak of the “old country” so it was always suspected that something bad happened that would be better left in Italy. I’d love to learn more as you always wonder what motivated people to leave their home and move to a strange land. We live in southern Maine in the summer so are planning a trip down to Weymouth to look up relatives, poke around graveyards, etc. this summer. Maybe we’ll run into you – who knows. One more thing about the Gates series: I’ll give you this – Meryl Streep is a bit of a drama queen but, hey, she’s an actress. What could we expect?

  • Anny Rabbit

    For those of you questioning Louise Erdrich’s desire NOT to do the DNA testing – I understand if you are disappointed, but please try to respect the fact that her relationship to this kind of scientific digging might be different than your relationship to it. And this is personal stuff too. She has shared much – and she is not required to share every last bit of personal information with the general public. To surmise that she has something to hide is really unfair and strange. You don’t know her, and you don’t know her thinking – but if you listened, her people told her ‘it is not yours to give.’ This is a cultural belief and though it may be different from your beliefs, it is still to be respected. Also, all this stuff people say about ‘you don’t look Indian.’ It is actually incredibly offensive and racist. There is a lot to being native American and it is not all about skin color. Native people look all kinds of ways – just as you have Europeans and African-Americans who look all kinds of ways. Since most non-native Americans really have not seen a wide range of Indian faces and people, they should not be so quick to judge who looks native and who does not. It is very racist thinking to do that – and yes, you can engage in racist thinking no matter who you are or what race you are. So please have a little respect for the fact that cultural differences really do exist in this world. Not everybody thinks like you and not everybody is comfortable with the same things. Erdrich went to her elders and they told her not to do the testing. Have some respect.

  • Tosatel

    WEYMOUTH?

    Hell, we’re nearly neighbors. I was born and raised in rural Bridgewater (not so rural anymore). I’ve done much research in Southern Italian genealogy both in Italy and here. It’s VERY difficult to extract records. I’ve sent euros to several towns for my best friend’s husband (he’s 100% Southern Italian) and it once took THREE YEARS to get the record. As in most things, the Italians (be they North, Mid, or South) do things in their time.

    It is “pretty lawless” over there. They aren’t governed. They’re “ruled” by partisan groups. And yes much corruption exists. That’s why it’s so difficult to get the records. I was warned of it in Rome. I’ll give you my google email address and if you’d like to keep in touch e-mail me there and I’ll send you my legitimate one.

    My sister married a fellow who is ten years her senior and also 100% Abbruzese on his paternal side. His family did NOT allow the children to speak Italian wanting to entirely Americanize them. It was an odd phenomenon when old Vincenzo (father to my sister’s husband) would come to visit (with his obligatory bottle of homemade wine) and he and I would carry on in Italian. It would infuriate my brother-in-law (with whom I have absolutely nothing in common). In italiano? “il mio cognato mi sono rotto le palle” (it’s and idiom and Babelfish will make you crazy should you try to use it or any other translation site.) Should you e-mail me I’ll translate that and anything else you may need help with.

    I adore Meryl Streep… I’m think she embodies the word “quality” like none other. … not “class” (that forbidden word) but “quality”.

    The one who was a bit over-the-top to me (much as I loved her reactions) was Sarah Jessica Parker in Kudrow’s series Who do you Think you are?

    Here you are:

    Tosatal@gmail.com

    (I encourage you to write me) We have a network of genealogists in Plymouth, Norfolk, Bristol, and Suffok counties and perhaps we can compare war stories.

    You seem very nice and I suspect we share ancestry if yours come originally from the South Shore. Sorry we got off to a rocky start. But I love my American ancestry .. so forgive me my passion. ;-)

  • Janzie

    Tosatel – Non e possible determinare la cui erano rotti le palle, la tua o la sua. I’ll catch you @ gmail.

  • Ashley

    Tosatel, in the media there are always some misinformation or errors. Get used to and do your own research as well. That’s what I do.

    Truth isn’t always pretty. We have to face the truth of the history of our country. Atrocities happened in the name of Greed and it can’t be erased. I don’t believe Professor Gates is trying to make anyone look like the bad guy. That though never even occurred to me while I watched the show.

    The show gave great information and insight. I took something positive away from it. I got the message that we are really all related in some way or another. No one is better than anyone else.

  • Ashley

    I find it sad to that the animosity is so great over this program. I want the truth. I know the bad and the good about my ancestors and it doesn’t make me feel any less about who I am. It is what is. I can’t change what happened back in time. I never felt the program was pointing the finger at anyone. Unfortunately, I think some of the people on here are doing that on their own.

  • Janzie

    Tosatel – contact: Zeolifineart.com

  • Becky

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  • Jovi K

    Ok seriously?…This suspicion about people’s motivations & any & every opinion that is not your own is bending on the hysterical and quite comical in a very surprisingly uncomfortable way, lol. This guilt & fear is the same fear that start feelings of racism. It’s the constant: “They are not respecting me! They are going to take what is due me!” Seeing ghosts everywhere shows a guilty & fearful conscious, right there-the anger is just an expression of that. The same state of mind that pushed the Americans/English to say about Germans coming to Pennsylvania: “They are going to take our land/we don’t trust their complexion”. It’s funny but these kind of comments and attitudes are exactly what some descendants of the other cultures are talking about: you are just living up to the expectation & proving the point of those who have extreme views about these things.
    No one’s asking for an apology or an explanation: we all understand, we’re humans. Some of those English people are our ancestors.

    Being proud of ancestors & their accomplishments doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t recognize their humanity as well, that’s a healthy perspective. But comments like these really show insecurity. LOL! Which is just hilarious! Man, the English just have it so rough, lol!
    I think Gates is saying: “it doesn’t stop here-there’s more to the story”. And that helps us be proud of our ancestors that weren’t English & we’d like to state our opinions & enjoy the freedom to express them without having to be mischaracterized & misdjudged. We can disagree w/o being accused of malicious intent. Isn’t that what the colonial English ancestors fought for? Oh but what’s the point, right ? I’m just going to laugh b/c this is too funny! ha ha ha ha….

  • Jovi K

    The previous comment was in response to Tosate’s reply ;) ha ha ha, im still laughing!

  • Belcourt

    Wow, this is all so entertaining. Kudos to you Louise, for respecting all your relatives DNA and probably mine too. I have to admit that I was curious. The Headline’s should read ” DNA Testing: Changing the Faces of Native America”, especially since that David dude of Seinfield, Charles Barkley, and Snoop Dog all found out that they are part “Aboriginal” during their guest spots on George Lopez. It was humorous to say the least. Hmmm, go figure.

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  • Eleanor

    They don’t have respect and they never will. Look up envy.

    The people who claim that race doesn’t matter seem to be the biggest proponents of using DNA tests to classify people by blood quantum. What hypocrites. Edrich doesn’t have to turn over her DNA to anybody for any reason. She’s not confused about who she is, unlike many of the people posting on these threads. In fact, the people with the strongest sense of history, heritage and ethnic identity and the ones that seem to inspire the most envy from those who lack those things.

  • Rob

    Tosatel- Don’t you have a job?! AND there is no such thing as “reverse bigotry “or “reverse prejudice”.

    PREJUDICE: 1. opinion formed beforehand: a preformed opinion, usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge, irrational feelings, or inaccurate stereotypes

    BIGOT: intolerant person: somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views

  • Native Hoop

    an excellent interview you had. It’s always great to see our people being for their works. Thank you for sharing your accomplishments and life with us. Please keep up the great work ahead you.
    james

  • Marianne Johnson

    I have seen you on 60min and was very impressed. I have a very good friend , Native-American.
    My Mother and Father German.
    I have lived 4 and 1/2 Lives. looking for a good writer. ” from poor to riches and back to poor” . I know it will a Best Seller it could also be written for a Television Serious
    Sorry my english writing is not the best, rhis is why I can not write the book. All my friends are very impressed about my past live, no one ever has mead a person like me. I only speak 4 Languages

    Please advise

    Thank you, your wonderfull

    Marianne

  • Candy

    I noticed that many of the people he interviewed were disappointed when they found out they were 100% of one race (black, white, asian). It’s fun to discover a closer connection to other groups.
    As to Eva being giddy to find out her history .. you can’t hold it against people just because their ancestors hundreds of years ago behaved badly, nor are you responsible for their actions.
    I think Dr. Gates whole point was that we are all related.

  • Keynote

    This show is so awesome. I’ve read the previous comments and the truth in the matter is that I’d rather watch this type of television show than some of the other options that we have on television.

  • SKWarren

    Jennifer, I, too, was caught by a surname mentioned in the LOUISE ERDRICH piece. Did you get a copy of the family tree? I am VERY interested in the LaFramboise branch. Thanks for any help!

  • Lynn

    I for one love the show. The piece with Yo Ya Ma and his ancestors was so awsome and a little bit of a tear jerker! (I don’t think I spelled his name correctly). But anyhow, Yes, I agree that Louise Erdrich should have given her DNA, but it was her choice not to give it. Maybe she is hiding something? I watched a program a while back on Hitler’s family tree. The programs surprise is that Hitler still has family members living here in the U.S. in-cognitto…..hmmmmmm. I’m just saying……………
    They said that no one here in the U.S. knows who they are, the government does though. Isn’t that interesting?

  • Sa

    My husband is a full-blood Native American, and his tribe doesn’t care one way or the other about DNA testing.

    I think Louise Erdrich is “hiding” something, and that something is her blood quantum. Her grandfather, while tribal chief, was a mixed blood himself, which would make Louise perhaps 1/8th. Clearly she identifies with her tribe, and she is an enrolled member , so as far as anyone is concerned, she’s Indian… but while some people are fine with “one drop” others mind very much indeed how much Indian you are. The genomic DNA test would quantify that, if she had taken it.

  • Christelle Sneider

    I was going through all the comments..too many opposite views. However, I totally agree with you in the fact that we’re all related. I find it the perfect way to close the subject.
    Anyway, it’s a good interview.
    PS. I watched her in 60min, she’s just ‘perfect’ :)

  • angelo

    i think she should start writing in e-books from now on, because not too may people read hard copies now-a-days.

  • riv

    I very much enjoyed the four-part DVD. Yes, there were some flaws. For one, there were parts which were sketchy, but I trust the fully fleshed-out genealogies and stories were made available to the subjects. It can’t all be crammed into the program, and to expect so shows a surprising naivite on the part of the complainers who must understand how media works. Or do you not? Such a program moves from story to story that has been recorded. Never recorded, cannot be traced.

    And that brings me to an aspect of genealogy which is race sexist: women ancestors were by and large left out, glossed over, forgotten, not recorded. This hold true for all cultures, but is doubley problematic in North America, and is why Black and First Nations genealogies are so difficult to do. Gates focused on our forefathers, but had it not been for First Nations women, and Black enslaved women, none of you would be here.

  • Tara

    I completely agree! Erdrich can identify more closely with her Native American roots and still acknowledge her true genetic history. She is far too concerned with her image.

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    I have seen you on 60min and was very impressed. I have a very good friend , Native-American.
    My Mother and Father German.
    I have lived 4 and 1/2 Lives. looking for a good writer. ” from poor to riches and back to poor” . I know it will a Best Seller it could also be written for a Television Serious
    Sorry my english writing is not the best, rhis is why I can not write the book. All my friends are very impressed about my past live, no one ever has mead a person like me. I only speak 4 Languages

    Please advise

    Thank you, your wonderfull

    Marianne

  • mimi

    It’s thestudyofracialism.org

  • Francesca

    Arguing over who is more barbaric seems very silly and embarrassing. And hypocritical/oxymoronic.

  • Francesca

    It’s a very ill-informed stereotype, regarding Native Americans. There are tribes that practiced chattel slavery against Africans, including the Cherokee (Knights) and the Creek. Others have gone so far as to remove the descendants they enslaved from tribal membership so that they wouldn’t have to “share” casino earnings, etc.

    It’s a racist, hypocritical end to a racist, hypocritical story. Many now show sympathy or shame for what was done to Native Americans – yet they turn a blind eye when it comes to denouncing what was done BY Native Americans TO African-Americans.

  • Francesca

    What is there to be proud of? If one of Hitler’s descendants, no matter how far down the line, (or a Nazi party descendant) asked if they should be proud of their Nazi-era ancestor(s), what would be the answer??

    A firm and resounding NO!!

  • Francesca

    I thought it was cowardly of her to not allow them to reveal her admixture. Why not?? It’s very clear to me that there’s an effort not only on her part, but on the part of her “tribe” to hide their primarily European (and often African) ancestry.

    Be proud of all of who you are. You’re not fooling anyone. Note that Native Americans in the US look overwhelmingly white, while those in south america and canada look overwhelmingly Native.

    I thought the fact that she refused to reveal her ancestry was hilarious. My husband had his done and he’s Creek. His results returned primarily European ancestry with some African and native ancestry.

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