Slavery in the Indian Territory

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Jul 11 08:44:21 MDT 2003

George Lipsitz, "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness":

Aggrieved communities of color have often curried favor with whites in
order to make gains at each other's expense. For example, in the
nineteenth century some Native Americans held black slaves (in part to
prove to whites that they could adopt "civilized" European American
ways), and some of the first chartered African American units in the
U.S. army went to war against Comanches in Texas or served as security
forces for wagon trains of white settlers on the trails to California.
The defeat of the Comanches in the 1870s sparked a mass migration by
Spanish-speaking residents of New Mexico into the areas of West Texas
formerly occupied by the vanquished Native Americans. Immigrants from
Asia sought the rewards of whiteness for themselves by asking the courts
to recognize them as "white" and therefore eligible for naturalized
citizenship according to the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1790;
Mexican Americans also insisted on being classified as white. In the
early twentieth century, black soldiers accustomed to fighting Native
Americans in the Southwest participated in the U.S. occupation of the
Philippines and the punitive expedition against Pancho Villa in Mexico.
Asian American managers cracked down on efforts by Mexican American farm
workers to unionize, while the Pullman Company tried to break the
African American Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters by importing
Filipinos to work as porters. Mexican Americans and blacks took
possession of some of the property confiscated from Japanese Americans
during the internment of the 1940s, and Asian Americans, blacks, and
Mexican Americans all secured advantages for themselves by cooperating
with the exploitation of Native Americans.


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