Legacy of slavery in California

Native Children on the Hoopa Reservation

Native Children on the Hoopa Reservation


I started this blog just before the Hoopa Tribal Chair was arrested in an incident involving an argument, a gun, and a family member or two (see article ).

While the incident was shocking and sad for all involved, thankfully no one got hurt, physically.  Emotionally it may have been a different story, and not just for the family and the tribal members involved.    Comments from readers of the Times Standard article ranged from sympathetic  to racist and hate- filled.  

It was unbelievable and far too familiar.  These were the same ignorant , misguided, judgemental beliefs that caused such suffering here so many years ago when the whites came in and marginalized the indigenous people.      

Last night  Patricia Whitelily commented that even now being Native American is  looked at as a deficit by some people,  and though I’d really like to argue with her,  some of the evidence falls in her favor.

It can be a disadvantage, but not in the way others might think.  Native Americans, especially those living on isolated reservations across the country, have less access to health care and education than the general population.  More live in poverty and have a shorter life expectancy.

According to the American Indian Relief Council,  Indian Elders are 48.7% more likely to suffer from heart failure, 173% more likely to suffer from diabetes, and 44.3% more likely to suffer from asthma than the general population.

If Native Americans were assimilated, or living a quality of life on par with the average white, these statistics couldn’t BE true, could they?  But they are.

I don’t write this because I think we should pity the Native Americans, or offer them help they don’t ask for or need.  I guess I just want an opening of perspective… some acknowlegement that history’s effects are felt today by the Native Americans and the racist idiots who can’t keep their mouths shut and fingers off the keyboard.

Much has been made lately about African Americans, and the experiences of slave descendants.  Many Native Americans are also descended from slaves, whether the general public knows this or not. 

I just found the following on wikianswers.com, which doesn’t make it gospel, but certainly worth the read.  Please notice that if you change a few details, and substitute “Native American” for “black”, it pretty much describes what happened here …

My husband’s grandfather once said that he pretended to be Mexican when he was younger, because it was better than being thought an Indian…

Some Effects of American Slavery

Slavery completely devastated Black Americans.

First of all, the numbers of blacks who didn’t even survive the journey by ship from the African coast to America is staggering. Many millions died on the way over from disease, malnutrition, and suffocation.

For those who made it over, slavery destroyed most ties to their native African countries, decimating linguistic and cultural links to Africa. For survival, these Africans had to learn to speak English. Remember: the enslavers took Africans from all over the West Coast of Africa. These Africans were from different tribes, which had their own languages and customs. Just because these people were all Africans didn’t mean that they spoke the same languages. English became a common language between these different groups of people who had no other choice.

Slavery completely disrupted the notion of the black family because family members could be sold away from one another at any time. Mothers could be torn away from their infants; husbands could be sold away from their wives without warning.

Slavery made blacks into work animals, or beasts of burden, who were expected to work from sun up to sundown without stopping, and who were sometimes actually bred like cattle or horses to make better, stronger slaves.

Slavery also made black men, women and children extremely vulnerable to brutal violence, the likes of which we cannot even imagine today: rape, murder, torture, lynchings, tar and feathering, whipping, etc.

Slavery also caused severe emotional and psychological trauma, which resulted in oftentimes in self-hatred because blacks were taught that everything black was bad and everything white was good. Some blacks learned to hate the color of their skin, their physical features, and the texture of their hair because they were told over and over that they were ugly because they weren’t European.



4 Responses to Legacy of slavery in California

  1. Well, Lynette, I hate to say I told you so, but there is much evidence to support what I say about a continuing prejudice against Native Americans in this country. Some of it is loud and plainly ugly such as the man you report as AntiIndian in this article. Others are more covert but in fact, even more destructive to the Native American. I would like to invite you and your readers to go to nativeweb .org to see some of the thousands of places you can go to learn about Native Americans or, as some prefer to say now, “First Americans”. I can report, as an aside to all I have said above, that living in one of the “Frontier” states now, with large Indian populations of Lakota and others, I have learned their is much “quiet” anti-Indian sentiment in this state/region. I know that a lot of this anti sentiment is due to a couple hundred year history of whites being killed by Indians, but from my perspective, the whites fired the first shot and then had to reap the wind.

    • lynette77 says:

      So do you think that these people who are prejudiced actually think that far into the past and consider WHY they feel that way? Or do you think it is more a generational thing? Great Grandpa Joe had his aunt Bessie killed by Indians (in retaliation for a raid on a village), and so Joe has always hated Indians, his kids hated indians, etc, etc…

      Kind of like one of those family feuds where folks forget why they hate each other in the first place… I guess I’d rather believe that than that people believe there are actual reasons to support prejudice

  2. cleta says:

    I am white and my stepdad was half white and half indian. In our house we never talked about it. As a family we were worried about our grades, food and trying not to get in trouble. My stepdad was a wonderful dad. He had it rough when he was younger but, he took that and turned it around. He taught us to be proud not be a taker and do good in this world. He would take you down he was not a weak person. Born in 1925 died in 2004. I have been researching his history. His mother was a Maple from Blue Lake. Hard to find her family.

    • Lynette M says:

      I am glad to hear you had a strong family/upbringing. You were fortunate. If I run across anything re: your family, I’ll be sure to let you know

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