Wednesday, June 6, 2007


I agree with the thought that the dominant society at the time did not know what to call these so called mysterious people and labeled them Redbone. The reason being that they were not considered White on one end of the scale, and they were not Black or African at the other end of the color line.

They were obviously mixed blooded people, but let's table that thought for the moment.

It is certain that these folks were of Indian descent but with an admixture, of what, I do not think we can determine as it was too diverse, but we can make some assumptions and speculate as to what the major mixtures could be.

If I was a mixed blooded person who was not accepted on either end of the color line, I would seek association with other mixed blooded people. Indians obviously hung out with Indians and perhaps a mix of Indian and White would hang out with Indian and White, then -- add another mixture and compound it by adding yet another. Now picture Redbone people being closer to one end of the color line or the other -- some were more White than others and some were more Black than others, and I'm not speaking of color from a racial standpoint -- only skin tones.

Compare three possible Redbone families. One with White, Indian and Turkish blood compared with a family that was mixed blood Indian with Portuguese blood and then a family with White, Turkish, Portuguese, Indian and African blood.

None would be considered White on one end of the scale and none would be considered Black at the other end of the color line. All could be called Redbone, yet none would be exactly alike.

I also believe that these groups were often forced by non-acceptance to seek other groups of the same and formed sub cultures much like the Amish do today as a society within a society.

The 1810 LA. census' counted Free White Males, Free White Females, Slaves, Free Negroes and -- Free People of Color. FPC were the folks stuck in between. Were not considered White and not thought Black. No where were Indians, Portuguese, Turks, East Indians, Chinese or any other group including mixes shown -- just FPC.

Mulatto of course was the mix. and it only included African as one of the possible mixes. If you were mixed blood, you could be called Mulatto. Thinking today is if you were Mulatto, you were automatically from a Black heritage. Unfortunately, the professional genealogist cannot assume this modern, incorrect moniker.

Now I'm not saying there was no African Blood in Redbones, FPC, or mixed blood people. There certainly was African Blood in Redbones, but not all of them. Some Redbones were obviously of North American Indian mix and others maybe Turk or Portuguese, and -- some Redbones were not mixed blood at all, but of dark complexion and associated or married into what was known as Redbone families.

The major Indian mixes in this area were Apache, Choctaw, Chickasaw and many older and more Eastern affiliated tribes. Some of these Indian folks had mixed with Turks, Portuguese and African peoples. It's easy to appoint every African as a runaway slave, but the reality is that it was more complicated than that. A slave did not need to be African -- they could be any race, Indian, White -- you name it. The complications and exceptions were many.

The reason I speak of mixed races in the Louisiana Redbone area is that it was a melting pot from way back -- before the 1810 Louisiana Census' that we have spoken of previously. The genealogy researcher must open their mind to the fact that Indians were considered just as socially unacceptable as Africans and other mixed races as well. And, if free people of color or Redbones and Indians could not socialize with the dominate society then they socialized with other Indians, Redbones or FPC.

I believe that pockets of what we could call sub cultures were created as a result of these "race hatred names." Sort of societies within societies created for survival, trade, socializing and self esteem." Some of these Redbone sub-cultures developed at various rural communities around major cities like Lake Charles, and then it became a matter of "our" hood being more Redbone than your hood.

"We might be different and you might call us Redbones, but we'll fight you if you do to our face." Likely, Redbone was not okay coming from the outside. I think that Redbones could have been a part of a cast system albeit short lived as it seems to be. Once you quit Louisiana and moved further West, you would either blend in or be called another racial slur.

Gary J Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

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