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Partly ColoredAsian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South$
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Leslie Bow

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814791325

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814791325.001.0001

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The Interstitial Indian

The Interstitial Indian

The Lumbee and Segregation’s Middle Caste

Chapter:
(p.57) 2 The Interstitial Indian
Source:
Partly Colored
Author(s):

Leslie Bow

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814791325.003.0003

This chapter explores one arena in which segregation forced the question of color and status: when faced with the pressures of white or black association, the Lumbee of North Carolina became, ironically, Indian. Robert Thomas noted that some whites “think Lumbees are really a mixture between black and white. They use the word Indian, but they use it to mean a middle ground status position.” The chapter traces the ways in which that position was fought for and won. Following the rise of Jim Crow, school segregation compelled the assertion of their Indian identity in ways that prefigured ongoing arguments for tribal federal recognition. Crucial to this process was the discourse of blood: differentiating from blacks had to be visually inscribed while claims to whiteness—the oral lore of being descended from Raleigh's Lost Colony—ironically contributed to Lumbee claims of Indian specificity.

Keywords:   segregation, color, status, white, black, Lumbee, North Carolina, Indian, Jim Crow, tribal federal recognition

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