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Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family Paperback – July 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0195313109 ISBN-10: 0195313100

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195313100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195313109
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

History professor Saunt examines the complicated history of race in America through five generations of a Native American family, the Graysons, whose long-denied descendants include African slaves. From 1780 to 1920, Saunt traces the Graysons and their interaction and intermixing with whites and blacks. At the center of this family saga is Katy Grayson, a Creek woman, who, along with her brother, had children with partners of African descent. Katy later married a Scottish-Creek man, disowned her black children, and became a slave owner. Her brother, William, stayed with his black wife and children, later emancipating them. In 1907, when Creeks were granted U.S. citizenship, state law split the family by defining some as black and some as white. The divergent paths of these families parallel the interactions among whites, blacks, and Indians as racial and social differences solidified through slavery and the mistreatment of Indians. This is a fascinating look at a seldom-recognized aspect of American race relations. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"The strength of Saunt's narrative is the juxtaposition of social constructions of race skewed by emotions and convictions.... Enriching the mosaic of American race far beyond the duality of white and black, Saunt illuminates a racial picture that blends black, Indian, white, and class beyond simple description."--William L. Hewitt, The Journal of American History


"Black, White, and Indian is an enormously valuable book, one that any scholar interested in Native or American history could profit from and one that could be taught in undergraduate and graduate classes. A wonderful example of what can happen when a talented historian tells an important story about which he cares deeply. The results are likely to stay with you for a long, long time.--Joshua Piker, American Indian Culture and Research Journal


"Southern Indians, Saunt's book makes clear (better than any other work presently available), participated in and were victimized by the entrenchment of racism and racial understandings of human abilities by southerners and Americans generally. That dichotomy between Indians as enablers of racism and Indians as victims of racism guides Saunt's book and exposes sometimes discomforting realities of life for southern Indians since the United States arrived in their world.... Black, White, and Indian is enlightening, disturbing, and a welcome addition to Americna Indian and Southern history."--Greg O'Brien, H-Net Reviews


"All histories, especially family histories, harbor silences wherein uneasy truths reside. But few such histories--once those silences grow full with stories--speak so directly to the central sorrows in American society, past and present, as that of the Grayson family. Claudio Saunt's sensitive and daring recovery of the Grayson's centuries-long struggle to navigate the perilous racial triangle of Black, white, and Indian is at once irresistible and heartbreaking. It is a work for the ages."--James F. Brooks, author of Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America


"Meticulously researched, eloquently written, and full of the pain of slavery, dispossession, racism, and history itself, Black, White, and Indian sits at the leading edge of the exciting body of new work on African/American/Indian relations."-- Philip J. Deloria, University of Michigan


"The intersections between Native American history and the history of race in America are not always clear. Too often fear and fantasy obscure our memory and our vision. This compelling story of human beings struggling to survive and make lives for themselves and their families shines a fascinating light on the many places where red and black and white overlapped, blurred, and made history. This is a very important book."--Frederick E. Hoxie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



More About the Author

I teach and write about early American and Native American history at the University of Georgia.

My most recent book, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (W.W. Norton, 2014), invites readers to extend their bounds and discover the continent beyond the British colonies. It explores nine American places in 1776. The settings are diverse, stretching from the Aleutian Islands to San Diego, and from the Florida Gulf Coast to the Saskatchewan River. Yet, there are surprising connections between them, sometimes through trade networks that intersected in distant warehouses, at other times through imperial administrators who plotted far-flung colonies on maps that contained more fiction than fact. As West of the Revolution illustrates, Americans across the continent faced revolutionary changes that were diffuse but powerful, unmanageable and often beyond the comprehension of participants.

Customer Reviews

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Great book, will be keeping this one.
H. Mommaerts
So this kind of "reflected" "second-order" racial sickness is still alive and well, if not endemic among striving sub-classes within racist societies.
Herbert L Calhoun
The book is a must read for anyone interested history not told in American history books.
Carl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Rosen on January 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I will always see the history of race in America differently after reading this courageous book. Professor Saunt complicates issues that once seemed more simple, but I take this as a result of his deep research and honesty about a sensitive matter. The book left me with great sympathy for those minority people who have had to make difficult choices in order to survive in an impossible, racist environment. What Faulkner saw intuitively, Saunt documents with careful research, that we are all brothers in America, literally. The lines between the races in America are tenuous at best, and often non-existent, much more a matter of choice and chance and upbringing than of blood and DNA.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Andrews on May 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
An intriguing study of the social forces and personal choices that give rise to racist attitudes in a family and a nation. The author shows the complicated origins of racism within one family, illustrating the many and lengthy consequences of some fateful decisions about who one marries, which ancestors one claims and which one denies. The book also demonstrates the powerful illusions many people hold about their pasts, illusions that serve one's present needs more than any sense of truth.

A good read, too, for students of Oklahoma history and of American Indian history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Mommaerts on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I agree with Gerald Rosen, opens your eyes to new ways of thinking about the history you learned differently in school. Had to read this book for a college course. Great book, will be keeping this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rochelle Bryant on March 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the reviews from the relatives of the people in this book when I bought it. After reading some of the family member reviews I thought I may be disappointed. I've read the book twice since receiving it and if half of what Mr. Saunt has written is true then WOW. I think Mr. Saunt did a great job of presenting the facts that were available to him. I learned some new things about my family and the struggles they had to overcome. What happened to the Creeks, whatever their racial makeup was just sad. I don't get a clear sense of what slavery was like in the Creek nation. There does seem to be more than a few interracial relationships but in my mind no matter how nice an enslaved person is treated they are still a slave, property to be bought and sold or inherited like a thing. It is harder still to believe that slavery was "better" in the Creek Nation when you think how easily they threw anyone who looked black under the bus during the enrollment. It's too bad they couldn't stick together and save their territory because in the end tehy lost, no matter their racial makeup.

I gave this book 3 stars because it raises more questions than it answers and as informative as it is there is something missing. I can't name it but after you read this book you get the feeling that something important was left unsaid.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carl on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, I am a descendant of my great-great grandparents, Doc Grayson and Susan Harjo Grayson. Their son James L. Grayson was the father of my grandmother. I recall my grandmother,Virey Grayson(1889-1971) telling me about life in Indian Territory. I am an enrolled cotizen of the Musc
ogee Creek Nation.
The book Black, white, and Indian written by Claudio Saunt was brought to my attention by another relative presented information about relatives I know and others I did not now. It is my understanding this book is also a required read by some colleges and universities.
The book is a must read for anyone interested history not told in American history books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Creek Indians, who predate the founding of the Americas at least by a century, held their own against the British, French, and Spanish up through the mid-18th Century. They even survived against European-transported diseases; protected their land from colonial squatters; played world-class real politik on the global stage taking full advantage of imperial rivalries; and succeeded at trading on advantageous terms with them all -- especially in European textiles and guns, which made the Creek warrior feared across the colonial frontier.

Between 1790 and the 1830s, the U.S. forced a number of treaties on the Creek that drove them West across the Mississippi along the "trail of tears" with other tribes to the so-called "designated free Indian territories." However, by 1907, the "Five Civilized Tribes" were officially dissolved by the US government and the "designated territory" was turned into the State of Oklahoma. Not until the 1930s did these Indian nations reconstitute themselves, and then only in much weaker and much more diminished form.

This book is the story of how one Creek family survived in the face of overwhelming genocidal racist force. It is a story of how two branches of the same family survived on opposite sides of the racial divide, by coming to terms with the survival imperatives still being dictated by race -- the defining issue of the Revolutionary generation, and still today the defining issue of the American social structure and the central obsession of the American democratic project.

In the mid-18th Century, survival was predicated on abiding by both the written laws and rules, as well as by the unwritten rules and laws encoded in America's racial hierarchy. Even though it is still down-played in US public discourse and in U.S.
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