Sen. Warren’s DNA means nothing to #ICWA #NativeTruth #WeAreStillHere

When I heard the drum at this powwow in Wisconsin, when I was 12, the sky opened up and my heart fell in. I was adopted out to strangers but I would find my family, no matter what. (My memoir is now retired. I will be rewriting soon.)

BY LT

What? Back so soon with breaking news?

Yep.  First, I want to thank my friend and blogger KC for asking me to think about and share my thoughts on what it means to have Indigenous ancestry and the recent headlines about Elizabeth Warren.  Next, I defend Sen. Warren’s right to claim her ancestry.  It’s hers! Heck, many Americans do have some American Indian ancestry, too. But what you do with it is what truly matters.

We are all mixed, one way or the other.  American, so heavily colonized, is very populated with mixed people.  We have (hi)storians to blame for not explaining much about this stark truth and reality.

For me personally I was not raised in a tribal community setting, though I had many Native people around me when I was growing up.  Being adopted out, I struggled until my 30s with identity and isolation, but no longer. I met my birth father and did a paternity DNA test with him when I was 38. The history he shared with me, that was what I needed, at that time. But words and blood tests DO NOT make me who I am or the direction of my life’s work.  My Oglala Lakota relatives made sure of that. They were in my life years prior to my finding my father who is mixed Shawnee-Cherokee-Delaware-Euro).

What is required of us:

Once you attend ceremony, once you pray in your language, once you show humility to elders, and once you work for them, and when you learn it’s not “me” but “we” – it is then you are made a relative and accepted as family.  Then you are in tribal community (which is American Indian tradition on Turtle Island). It may take many years, because it should.

As the following story by says, “Half a century ago, the Standing Rock Dakota scholar Vine Deloria Jr. wrote, “Whites claiming Indian blood tend to reinforce mythical beliefs about Indians.”

Falsely claiming Native American identity is a white American tradition, with a deeply racist past.  – Nick Estes

Warren is not living her life as a member of any tribal community, yet like so many, she seems to romanticize the idea of her blood being Indian.  She was raised with her family in Oklahoma, with her history, but she was not enrolled with the Cherokee Nation, who determines their citizenship based on Dawes Rolls, not DNA.  If the Cherokee tribe wishes to change that, and enroll her, it’s completely up to them. (She’ll have years of unlearning and good history lessons ahead.)

To my knowledge, what Warren did with her “ancestry” all these years, was she helped herself.  To my knowledge, she did not assist any tribal nation or community, and in fact, she has not even helped the tribes struggling right here in Massachusetts!  What we are fighting for in this century, like Standing Rock, federal recognition, sovereignty, treaty rights, water rights, protecting Bear’s Ears, ending destruction by mining, pipelines, poverty, all of that – where is she?

This is a new hashtag campaign: #NativeTruth  #WeAreStillHere

If Elizabeth was in her community, she’d know this: Blood quantum is an invention of the governments to widdle us down to “not enough Indian.” (Wiping us out on paper. Gone, erased.)

I actually know many lost Native adoptees who use the DNA test to get their family name, and slowly worked their way back to their tribal families. Some are back on the rez, while others join their urban Indian communities. (I do not recommend or trust the DNA testings or the data they collect and sell. Those TV ads are false and misleading. Very few Indians will submit to giving DNA though some scientists took it without their consent.)

When is a DNA test useful? My adoptee friend Rhonda did a DNA test with an uncle (her birth father’s brother) to determine if she was a family member, and she was – then she was enrolled in her tribal nation. DNA can connect you with a living tribal member, if you were adopted out, or fostered. That is very very helpful.

So, Sen. Warren, it’s not the amount of blood.  DNA doesn’t make you Indian. If you belong to a community (urban or reservation), that makes you a member of that tribal community.

BIG READ:  How Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test hurt our struggle (and took away the news coverage of what matters): READ

Intercept podcast: the last two segments are so good – please do listen!

If you do have Indigenous blood, if it is loud, it won’t leave you alone.  If this speaks to you, then find and join an urban or reservation community and work for them and work with them, and think a new way: “we” not me.

And ask them what you can do and please do what they ask respectfully.

Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related!

xoxox

A new address for my blog: American Indian Adoptees

THIS REALLY MATTERS: Native perspective: Sherry Treppa: Why #ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities

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Museums Art on Slavery | Transformation Mask | Ahasteen Comics 2018 | All White All Male History and more

 

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EXCERPT:

Removing a person’s name was a means of erasing their identity and imposing a “social death” that transformed enslaved persons into property rather than living individuals. Both historians and museum professionals have begun to realize the need for revising the way we frame and label the past, and to support this movement within museums.

…White people in every part of early America directly or indirectly benefitted from the “peculiar institution” of slavery. It created wealth for white families and oppressed the African-Americans forced to perform labor in service to them. This labor allowed wealthy men and women the luxury of free time and money to get their portraits painted at a hefty price by a well-known artist. As Athens notes, museums have the power to engage with an underscore this part of American history: “I think museums can play a part in social justice movements through honest, clear-eyed reassessments of the stories they tell, what those stories privilege, and what they obscure.” Restoring people of color to American museums isn’t just about editing collections or artwork on display, it must also address the labels we have attached to them for hundreds of years.

READ: Can Art Museums Help Illuminate Early American Connections To Slavery?

What took so long??? Massachusetts museums, thank you!

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“Transformation Mask” does not simulate a specific Indigenous ceremony, but its digital transformation of the gallery is meant to emulate the experience of dancing and wearing a transformation mask. “The mask is about bridging, and my intent really was to bring the non-Indigenous viewer into that cultural world,” Hunt told Hyperallergic.  “When you go look at our masks you are generally going to a gallery or museum, and in that context the masks are not masks but rather sculptures, not something you can wear or interact with.”

The Audain Museum calls “Transformation Mask” a “hybrid between the physicality of a transformation mask and the ephemeral experience of being part of the transformation.” But the installation, and transformation masks in general, might better be understood as an interface. “They are an interface with the unseen, whether it be the spirit world or the internet,” Hunt said. Through his creation, the viewer briefly inhabits another experience, another world and culture.

READ: An Indigenous Artist’s Futuristic Vision of Traditional Transformation Masks

 

BRILLIANT Navajo Times editorial cartoonist Jack Ahasteen’s latest comic.  Source: Ahasteen Comics 2018 – Navajo Times

Yet, the recent all white male history conference held at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University seems to suggest a return to history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society. Happily, the strong and growing presence of and disciplinary focus on women in history as well as the sharp criticism and condemnation (and rightly so) of the exclusive conference make clear that a return to great white men history and historians is a fantasy. Even so, the holding of this conference and others of its kind reflect the ongoing challenges women historians and women history face. The CCWH strongly condemns the choice of holding an all-white, all-male conference at Stanford University, and expresses concern regarding its implications for the historical profession and for its treatment of women in history.

READ: On Stanford’s All White Male History Conference – AAIHS  Why am I not surprised by this??? (shaking my head)

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Thanks to Pete for this shock:  Report on United States human rights abuses in 2017

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Ruth Hopkins: “Native Tribes Could Lose Federal Recognition of Tribal Sovereignty Under Trump”

From Teen Vogue, here.

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When the news about the protest at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline burst into the spotlight in 2016, Tristan Ahtone welcomed the chance for greater coverage of Native American issues.

GOOD READ: Nieman Fellow battles media stereotypes of Native Americans – Harvard Gazette

 

By LT (your intrepid reporter)

Hello Everyone! I think we will have spring here in western Massachusetts eventually. Not soon but someday.  The MA state government is now addressing our urgent need to address climate change. Good thinking! Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage. See the “Valve Turners” video here.  (States step up better than the feds.)

I saved up some good reads that I hope you enjoy.

As much as I want to believe we are making progress on rewriting history with a more balanced view on the invasion and conquest of North American, I am reminded (by the story above) that the history industry is still a white male occupation, mostly. If you really think about this, this is really human rights abuse with creating a one-sided less-dreadful history for schoolkids. Museums in Massachusetts and other cities are finally waking up.

We have a long way to go but a new journey has begun.

Good news:  My brilliant colleague Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock) has joined the Indian Country Today newspaper as editor and they are up and running and publishing again! Thanks to the National Congress of American Indians who bought the national Native newspaper from the Oneidas in New York. Here’s a great OP-ED by Associate Editor Vincent Schilling (Mohawk) on rewriting history.

I contributed an OP-ED to Indian Country Today on the Baby Veronica case a few years ago. Mainstream media wasn’t interested in publishing me or my views, despite the fact I’d studied adoption history, the Indian Adoption Projects (and this case) and published relevant anthologies (more than one!).

Expect great things from Mark and Vince on their new publication! Go take a read!

Thanks to everyone for reading this long post! XOX

 

 

Blog Bonus: Halibut Hook

Halibut Hook

BOSTON– Throughout history Native Americans have had their land, possessions and culture taken away. But in recent decades the U.S. government has worked to right some wrongs through repatriation. Museums and federally funded institutions are required to go through their collections and report artifacts that might belong to tribes.

Now a small theological school in Newton is navigating this complex legal process for the first time.

Its collection of about 125 Native American artifacts includes one known as the Halibut Hook, and a lot of people are interested in its fate.
“Halibut Hook,” Haida or Tlingit artist, ca. 1800 (Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, via the Andover Newton Theological School)

David Katzeek is one of them. He sang for me over the phone, like tribal fishermen have for centuries as they lower a V-shaped, ornately carved, wood-and-bone hook into the water

“We would stomp our feet,” Katzeek recalled, and continued to chant in his ancestral language. The ceremonial hook is part of a ritual that helps fishermen honor the fish’s sacrifice. Halibut, like all living things, have a spirit, he believes, and his tribesmen would talk and sing to the fish below.

“They would be warning and letting the halibut know that it was coming to do battle with them,” Katzeek said, then explained the meaning behind the fishermen’s words: “‘You’re going to fight with this, it’s going to fight with you.’ ”

Katzeek leads the Thunderbird Clan in Southeast Alaska. He says the Halibut Hook (known to him as the G̱ooch Ḵuyéik Náxw, translation: “Halibut Hook with Wolf Spirit”) is a treasured spiritual object.

Now Katzeek and the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes are fighting to reclaim the Halibut Hook they believe is theirs.

But the hook is not in Alaska — it’s in Massachusetts, in the collection of the Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS), the oldest graduate seminary in the United States.

The tribes didn’t know where this Halibut Hook was until last summer. That’s when they learned the financially struggling school was thinking of selling or transferring dozens of Native American artifacts as it weighed the future of its campus. (In November ANTS announced it was putting the campus on the market, citing decline in enrollment, and would either relocate or merge with another school.)

The school’s trove — along with the Halibut Hook — has been stored at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem for decades.

“This Halibut Hook — which has carved clan figures on it — is quite distinctive,” the museum’s director, Dan Monroe, told me. “A just straight-forward, functional Halibut Hook has quite a different form.”

Monroe looked at a photo of the Halibut Hook while in his office. He explained that the story of how an object like this hook might go back to Alaska, after decades in Massachusetts, reveals the complexities of a legal process that repatriates potentially sacred artifacts.

“The level of pain surrounding these issues is hard for many people to understand,” Monroe said, “but it’s very real.”

He knows the dark history behind that pain well. The PEM holds the largest collection of Native American artifacts in the Northern Hemisphere. And Monroe lived and worked in Alaska for years, where he developed relationships with the tribes there.

He talked to me about missionaries who fanned out across the U.S. in the late 1800s and 1900s to convert Native Americans. With westward expansion, he said people feared Indian culture would be eradicated.

“There had already been tremendous displacement of native people through disease, warfare and forced removal from their tribal lands, so there was there was this ‘fear of the vanishing red man,’ ” Monroe described, “which was the way that this was characterized. Consequently not only missionaries but natural history museums began an intensive period of collecting Native American material.”

That’s where a law known as NAGPRA comes in. The acronym stands for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Monroe had a hand in designing it in 1990.

“The whole history of Indian policy in this country is painful,” said Melanie O’Brien, the NAGPRA program manager at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “NAGPRA was enacted to try to help fix some of those painful pasts.”

Since 1990 the act has required museums and federally funded institutions to submit lists of human remains and sacred or cultural objects. Hundreds of tribes can review the inventories and make claims to their cultural heritage.

Staff at the Andover Newton school say they didn’t fully understand its responsibility to NAGPRA that came to light when it briefly explored the sale or transfer of its Native American collection. The Interior Department alerted the school that it needed to comply with the law and is helping the school navigate the repatriation process.

“It’s a daunting responsibility,” admitted Nancy Nienhuis, a dean at the school, “and I’m not an expert — I’m a theologian by training, so this is new territory for me.”

Now it’s also become her job to document dozens of artifacts, consult with experts, and ultimately contact dozens of tribes. It’s like sleuthing, Nienhuis said, because the histories behind many of the objects — including the Halibut Hook — are elusive and challenging to trace.

It is believed that in the 1830s a Presbyterian missionary is responsible for five of the objects. Others were gifts from alumni. But Nienhuis said most of the paperwork and information about the artifacts’ pasts has been lost overtime.

“It’s not like a movie where you get to see that story unfold. We don’t know who the original donor was. We don’t know if they’re the ones who received the objects originally,” she said. “Did someone give it to them? Are they the daughter or son of someone? Without knowing exactly how things came to us, it’s very difficult to be able to tell the story of any particular object.”

Piecing those stories together takes a long time, Nienhuis said, because it’s crucial for the school to get it right. O’Brien explained that while the repatriation process is rigorous and intentionally deliberate, careful and slow, “I don’t think that Congress envisioned it would take quite so long to resolve the rights to all of these cultural items,” she said. “I’m not sure that Congress realized how many were in the possession or control of museums and federal agencies.”

But according to O’Brien, ownership rights to more than 1.6 million Native American cultural items, human remains and funerary objects have been resolved since 1990.

Even so, scores of others — like the Halibut Hook — are still undetermined.

That’s frustrating to tribe members and Rosita Worl, president of the nonprofit Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau.

“Some clans haven’t had what we call ‘at.óow’ — they’re clan ceremonial objects, and they haven’t been able to participate in our ceremonies,” Worl explained.

Worl has been working with clan leaders, including Katzeek from the Thunderbird Clan, on their claim to the ceremonial Halibut Hook. She’s of the Tlingit tribe and told me that when sacred objects are repatriated, the healing effects reach beyond a single tribe.

“It’s brought museums and tribes together. We have better working relationships,” she said. “I also think it’s contributed to the knowledge about the belief systems and spirituality around the objects.”

Worl is a former NAGPRA Review Committee member and acknowledged the 25-year-old law isn’t perfect. Barriers include a lack of funding and the amount of time and money tribes, museums and institutions spend on the repatriation process. Next week the NAGPRA Review Committee will ask Congress for more support.

Meanwhile, Worl hopes the unfolding story of this Halibut Hook’s fate raises awareness for other institutions that might not know or understand what they might have in their collections.

Photo credit: “Halibut Hook,” Haida or Tlingit artist, ca. 1800 (Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, via the Andover Newton Theological School)

 

Massachusetts State Flag Controversy:

It’s no Confederate flag, but our banner is still pretty awful …

Jun 25, 2015 – Though the Massachusetts state flag is not as overtly abhorrent as the one … Over the years, controversy has flared up over the state’s official …

Does Massachusetts’s Flag Depict Violent Conquest? Should

indiancountrytodaymedianetwork….
Indian Country Today Media Network

Jun 25, 2015 – Is it time we got rid of Massachusetts‘ strange imagery? … the controversy over the Confederate flag that flies outside of South Carolina’s state … And then there’s the state flag of Massachusetts (above), which prominently …

 

Did you know about The Mashpee Nine?

My friend Paula Peters and I met at the Native American Journalists Association years ago

Paula Peters is an active member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe based in Mashpee, Massachusetts and owner of SmokeSygnals, a media and communications consulting firm.

She is currently producing a documentary on nine Mashpee Wampanoag men jailed in 1976 for drumming and singing their traditional music. The Mashpee Nine were later acquitted and law enforcement held accountable for their actions. Mashpee Nine: The Beat Goes On will premier at the 2016 Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow in July, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the raid on the men.

An independent scholar of Wampanoag history Paula is also the Executive Producer of  “Our”Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag Survival,” a traveling multi-media exhibit telling the back story of the colonization of Plymouth from the indigenous perspective.

A graduate of Bridgewater State College she was formerly a writer at the Cape Cod Times where she won numerous national awards for her journalism.

She lives in Mashpee with her husband, two daughters and elder mother.

About the FILM

During the summer of 1976 the revival of cultural and traditional values of the Mashpee Wampanoag was occurring at the same time tribal leaders and town government were clashing over land entitlement. An incident involving an over zealous tactical police force disrupting a group of traditional drummers and singers evolved into a high profile trial of nine young men arrested, eight Wampanoag and one non-native friend. Defended by one of the American Indian Movement’s most skilled and dogged attorneys the Nine won in a rare case of a court ruling against law enforcement. Court documents shredded, news accounts buried in microfilm, the case has faded into distant memory but the stories of the surviving Nine and those who rallied to their defense. What does survive is the tradition the Nine sacrificed their freedom for, even for a night, and fought vigorously to defend, the drum, the songs and the night. This documentary will resurrect that legendary incident and preserve the memory of those who experienced it for the generation now sitting at the drum, and those to come.

INDIGENOUS FILM FEST in New Hampshire: Nov. 6 and 7, 2015 READ MORE

In The News: Slavery

The Economist’s review of Edward Baptist’s book on slavery and capitalism sparks a firestorm – and a retraction

The Economist’s review of “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward Baptist, along with the magazine’s retraction:

http://www.economist.com/news/books/21615864-how-slaves-built-american-capitalism-blood-cotton

And some reaction:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/economist-denounces-one-sided-slavery-account.html

And a review from the Los Angeles Times:

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-edward-baptist-20140907-story.html

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Boston’s bright light: The African Meeting House

Trymaine Lee MSNBC September 5, 2014 (photo above)

 BOSTON — The city’s bad reputation for race relations has been well-earned. In the mid-1970s, when Massachusetts moved to desegregate its public schools through a busing program, white Bostonians erupted in violent protests and riots. The Boston Red Sox were the last major league baseball team to integrate. And Massachusetts was the first slave-holding colony in New England and played a central role in America’s early slave trade.

But there’s another side to the racial history of this much-maligned city. It played a historic role in the abolition of slavery and helped shape the lives of many of the important historical figures of the time.

Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison founded his Liberator Newspaper in Boston which called for “the immediate and complete emancipation” of all slaves in the United States. Prince Hall, a black abolitionist, stalwart defender of equality and the father of black Freemasonry, was a pillar of Boston’s black community and used the city as a launching pad to feed the national abolitionist movement.

Read more: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/bostons-bright-light-the-african-meeting-house

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Note: I’ll be back posting next week… birthday break…Lara

1722, Massachusetts: Hunting Savage Indians for bounty

Redskins, Posted on February 2, 2014 by

In 1722, Samuel Shuttle, the governor of Massachusetts, declared total war on the Abenaki. Part of the concern of the English colonists was the presence of Jesuits among the Abenaki. The colonial Puritans were vehemently anti-Catholic and particularly anti-Jesuit. Father Sebastian Rasles had strongly encouraged the Abenaki to defend their lands and themselves against the English colonists.

The English colonists viewed North America as a vast wilderness, ignoring the fact that the park-like environment they encountered was, in fact, carefully managed by Native Americans. They viewed the Indians as savage nomads, ignoring the fact that Native agriculture had fed them; ignoring the fact that Indian people lived in permanent villages and raised a variety of crops. The English felt that it was their God-given duty to “tame” the wilderness by exterminating all animals they didn’t like and for this reason they encouraged the killing of coyotes, wolves, and, of course, Indians.

To encourage the killing of these “wild” and “dangerous” animals, the colonial government established a bounty system. To get paid the bounty, hunters had to provide proof of the kill: for this they submitted coyote skins, wolf skins, and red skins (usually the scalps or heads of the Indians they had killed). Some colonists earned their livings through bounties.

In January 1725, Captain John Lovewell organized a militia group to hunt Indians. With the bounty set at £100, Lovewell and his militia members saw killing Indians for the bounty as a way to get rich. In his book The Forgotten America, Cormac O’Brien describes Lovewell’s decision to hunt Indians this way: “A farmer with little to do in the winter but fight off boredom, he decided to raise a company of volunteers, go off into the woods, and cash in on the government’s offer of scalp money.”

The group set out to attack the Abenaki village of Pigwacket (near present-day Fryeburg, Maine), but they changed plans when they came across the tracks of an Indian party heading south. They followed the tracks and came across and Indian camp.

At about 2:00 AM on February 20, the sixty-two English bounty-hunters formed a semi-circle around the sleeping camp. Lovewell fired first and the others followed. One surviving Abenaki man jumped up and began to run and the English set their attack dogs on him. The English stormed the camp, clubbing to death any who had survived the volley of bullets and then scalping all of them. They then took the Abenaki guns (which were of French manufacture and considered quite valuable) and other souvenirs.

When the militia arrived in Boston, they proudly displayed ten scalps which they hoisted on poles for all to see. They were greeted as heroes. They were paid £1,000 by the General Court and they sold their booty for another £70. At this time, this was a lot of money.

Having found bounty hunting for “red skins,” Lovewell decided to raise yet another militia and to enrich himself even further. By spring, Lovewell had signed up 46 men for another bounty expedition hunting Indians for profit and fun. Among those who joined the expedition was Jonathan Fry, a twenty-year-old graduate of the Harvard Divinity School. Fry was to be the group’s chaplain, seeking God’s help in their slaughter of Indians.

Once again, the initial target was the Abenaki village of Pigwacket which was believed to be friendly to the hated Catholic Jesuits. They set out in April, in good weather. On Sunday, May 9, just a short distance from an Indian village, Fry called the men together for a prayer service. The service, however, was interrupted by a gunshot. The English rushed to the shore of a pond where they saw a lone Indian hunting ducks.

Lovewell told his men to leave their blankets and gear so that they could move in quickly to kill the Indian. They quickly surprised the hunter who was carrying some dead ducks and two muskets. The hunter fired one of the muskets, which had been loaded with shot for duck hunting, and wounded two of the English militia. Fry and another man returned fire, killing the hunter. Fry, the group’s chaplain, then scalped him so that he could claim the bounty.

While the English were busy killing and scalping the Abenaki duck hunter, a party of Abenaki under the leadership of Paugus, a Mohawk who had become an Abenaki war leader, were in canoes. When they heard the gunfire, they put ashore and happened to find the English camp. They concealed themselves and waited for the English to return.

The English returned to their camp, basking in the victory over the lone hunter. As they became aware of the fact that their blankets and gear were missing, the Abenaki opened fire. As the battle raged, the surviving English took refuge on a small peninsula on the pond. From here their accurate rifle fire could hold off the Abenaki.

Among those killed in the battle were the English leader Lovewell, the Abenaki leader Paugus, and the Abenaki spiritual leader Wahwah. Twenty of the English bounty hunters survived.

The Battle of Saco Pond, as it was later called, became glorified in American history and literature. In 1820, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “The Battle of Lovewell’s Pond” and in 1824, the Reverend Thomas Cogswell wrote “Song of Lovewell’s Fight.” In the histories and in the literature glorifying the battle, however, the initial cause—hunting Indians for their bounty—was generally omitted.

Harvard project covers thousands of 18th- and 19th-century anti-slavery petitions

Images courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives and the Center for American Political Studies Citizens of East Dennis, Mass., filed this petition against the repeal of the Personal Liberty Laws. These laws were passed in several Northern free states in response to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. States began repealing Personal Liberty Laws in hopes of averting war between the states.
Images courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives and the Center for American Political Studies
Citizens of East Dennis, Mass., filed this petition against the repeal of the Personal Liberty Laws. These laws were passed in several Northern free states in response to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. States began repealing Personal Liberty Laws in hopes of averting war between the states.
An April 24, 1851 poster warning colored peopl...
An April 24, 1851 poster warning colored people in Boston about policemen acting as slave catchers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Digitizing a movement By Colin Manning (FAS Communications May 1, 2013)

Citizens of East Dennis, Mass., filed this petition against the repeal of the Personal Liberty Laws. These laws were passed in several Northern free states in response to the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. States began repealing Personal Liberty Laws in hopes of averting war between the states.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, thousands of petitions were sent to the Massachusetts Legislature asking lawmakers to abolish slavery and end segregation, and urging them to refuse to cooperate with the federal Fugitive Slave Act. The petitions — signed and circulated by abolitionists and former slaves, as well as members of the literary and social elite — help to paint a clearer picture of the lives of African-Americans in the young United States.

A project undertaken by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University is cataloging, transcribing, and digitizing 4,000 to 6,000 of the petitions housed at the Massachusetts State Archives, making them accessible to scholars around the world.

The Center for American Political Studies received a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the project, which in addition to the digitized petitions will include an interactive map, with connections to statistical and geographical data. Completion of the project is slated for June 2015.

LINK: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/05/digitizing-a-movement/

outside my window

(c) 2011 Lara Hentz
Autumn in New England

outside my window, perfect light