By: Attaqua Ethel Herandien
Racial Hierarchies- New non-lineage tribes and the re-packaging of colonization:
The “Indian Problem”(Canada and the United States), “Native Problem” (South Africa), “Aboriginal Problem” (Australia) are the biggest problems European invaders had with those whose lands they invaded and tried to genocide. These campaigns were to erase pure blood natives with “primitive habits”, assimilate those of mixed blood through child trafficking, enslavement, residential schools and illegal adoptions to assimilate into the European settler community.
The Canadian Government, in attempting to level the playing fields between settler and Indigenous people, set up a series of grants. Much of this funding was taken up by those pretending to be indigenous. In February 2021 discussions were held around the criminalizing of people pretending to be Indigenous in Canada. Settlers, who discover “thin” indigenous ancestral lines from up to 300 – 400 years ago, have started forming their own indigenous nations. These Canadian hobbyist/cultist groups of Europeans and enslaved people have started their own pow-wows, dressing up and mimicking dances, to coincide with Native celebrations. They have even sued indigenous communities for hunting, fishing and logging rights.
Race is a social construct to support White supremacy. White supremacy cannot exist without a racial hierarchy. Race cannot exist without racial hierarchy. The labelling of individuals as “different,” is a part of creating social hierarchies, the foundation of oppression. Since race is portrayed as natural and found in nature, those benefiting from racial hierarchy no need to denaturalise it. Within the racialized hierarchy, indigenous people continue to be “othered” by settler groups. Anti- indigenous racism is expressed through stereotyping, stigmatization and violence.
European settlers and racialized immigrants experience race very differently to natives in settler colonies. To be able to make the distinction between the European settler and racialized settler is to identify the objective of the colonial project and process of either inclusion or exclusion.
Stereotyping include pervasive insulting descriptions and name calling such as drunkards, drug addicts, lazy, savage, violent and incompetent. These stereotypes become internalized and reinforce racialized generalizations. “Whiteness “and the proximity to “whiteness,” the right to, and to control property and people, became strongly linked to the racial category of “whiteness”. European colonial societies are socially constructed on white possession. Whiteness became a strong form of treasured property.
“Settler fragility” is born out of the need for distance from generations of privilege built on genocide, racism and land dispossession. This “settler moves to innocence” relieves them of guilt and responsibility without making them materially uncomfortable. Whiteness is historically associated with righteousness, virtue, progress, modernity and victory. White identities have lost their allure because of their newfound awareness of colonial injustice and a rise in environmentalism and holistic spiritualism after the rise anti-colonialism.
Colonial settlers feel more and more morally dispossessed, ethnically homeless and history-less, despite their victorious representations in colonial archives and public symbols in their lands and the lands they occupy.
The attraction to” romanticize” Indigenous culture globally, and the rejection of whiteness, is related to the need for a sense of belonging to colonized lands even if it means being part of the “underdog’s” narrative of “guilt free” ethnicity. In the centuries in between invasions, these settlers lived as privileged whites or enjoyed the benefits of racial and complexion hierarchies. Most of them believe that Indigeneity is something learned rather than born into, finding the idea of ancestral memory seductive. As Indigeneity become more valued and perceived to have more spiritual and environmental connection, so does the faking of identities.
The majority of Academics researching and accessing funding for Indigenous studies have never met a self-identifying indigenous person. Their harmful behaviour deprives Indigenous people the opportunity to access funding.
Xenophobia is characterized as a “fear or hatred of foreigners.” Xenophobia works hand in hand with racism and adapts to race-making. The treatment of Indigenous people by people from foreign lands, are characterized as Xenophobia. Indigenous culture, attire, language, skin colour, habits and religious beliefs are foreign to the settler and therefore hated ad their wearing is seen as mocking and ridiculing. The long term rule by “aliens” whose loyalties remained with their mother country for centuries created the “us” and “them” distinction.
The regularly discussions about the Holocaust by Europeans, who committed multiple genocides in all over the world and our continent, killing hundreds of millions of people reminds us that Native lives do not matter as much as Caucasian lives. History has shown that settler societies erase indigenous identities by replacing it with their own by banning, assimilating, ridiculing, shaming and imposing the settler “struggle for the land” narrative.
Most settlers hold a variety of ethnic and racial identities and uphold colonial ideologies. This is called “Settler moved to innocence” in which the settler gets to equate their oppression with that of indigenous people. Solidarity and claiming Indigeneity, alleviates settler guilt without doing anything meaningful to undo the harm of settler colonialism. Solidarity is often built by settlers on the rewards they receive “feeling” accountable.
In the naturalization of colonial history, “Settler moves to innocence” is a response to the discomfort of guilt in historical narratives and the way that colonial hierarchies seem natural or inevitable.
Indigenous people find this narrative frustrating. Settlers have not lived through centuries of banned beliefs, ceremonies and regalia, experience centuries of genocide, familial trauma, oppression, racism and some of the worse human atrocities recorded.
Academic funding is often given to those who claim ally-ship and had opportunity to study indigenous people and how grant-makers think. To claim to be of a particular tribe or native of long ago, is the same as settlers in the “new world” saying, “We are all African” based on all humans sharing traceable DNA to an African ancestor. This is often seen and portrayed as an appreciation of indigenous culture. These ideas suggest that there is evolutionary hierarchy as Europeans feel entitled to those ancient ancestors.
As settlers consume and commodify identities by claiming some distant ancestor, self-indigenization, a rather new trend, is born. Indigenous identity itself is now a victim of settler encroachment. Race shifting is an indulgence enjoyed mostly by urban based people with settler privilege.
Historically, there been no advantages to ingenuous identity. Membership to ethnic groups are complex is more than just bloodlines. It involves complex family histories and relationships. Race shifting dismisses colonial violence against indigenous people while perpetuating it by claiming that someone who lived in subordination 350 years ago had the same lived experience as his oppressor. These settlers yearn for an indigenous history to them a “morally defensible” history.
The emergence of New Agers and hobbyists, has given a platform to this fetishized cultural phenomenon, to those who wish to “play Native,” move from colonial individualism to living in Indigenous collectivism, sometimes to overblown Indigenous ancestry claims. The “foreignizing” of indigenous space, started with the onset of the slavery, land grabs and colonization. While descendants of enslaved settlers are victims of internalized colonial concepts, they mourn the loss of identity but not their loss of their Indigeneity, creating generations of de-culturalized people.
In countries and regions where there was violent territorial conflict between colonial settler groups, the weakest group pledged loyalty to the winning group. This new loyalty causes xenophobic shifts against natives and these groups work together to drive natives off their land in exchange for the status of “whiteness”, proximity to “whiteness” and associated privileges. Natives then become the collective target of their xenophobia and they become foreign on their ancestral land, which have been foreignized by Europeans and enslaved people.
Modern Indigenous people come from populations that existed on land before colonization. These now exists as minorities due to genocide and on-going violence of settler colonialism. The invisibility of Indigenous people is a form of modern racism and creates deep conscious and unconscious bias and establishes the idea they are not real; living in countries that pretend that they don’t exist. Because indigenous people are portrayed as the underclass of society, indigenous stories are often an afterthought in discussions in mainstream media. Most news indigenous news are received via activists communities and community networks.
Anti-indigenous racism is experienced acutely by indigenous people in interpersonal, structural and violent ways. Racism is lived by individuals, families, communities and nations through structures and systems put in place by colonial settlers. The labelling of indigenous groups as “different’ is an important part of creating racial hierarchies for the success of Native oppression. Indigenous people are either idolized or demonized or “othered’. The virtues and values of the “good immigrant” is often used to undermine and discipline poor disenchanted domestic minorities and show that the system is fair. Sharing skin colour does not mean understanding or empathy. It is the way colonial race definition organizes itself and how it is defined and portrayed by different groups. Immigrants from the “third world”, themselves colonized people, tend to uphold colonial ideas and values.
Indigenous peoples’ wishes to have settlers change the value systems, worldviews and practices to be more adaptable to the land. Indigenous ways of relating to foreigners are laid out in their histories, stories and spirituality. Disingenuous coalitions of mixed blood people, within these settler groups are once again advocating their assimilation into and recognition of themselves as Natives.
In Tasmania, the indigenous community had raised alarm that they are overrun by people making questionable DNA claims. The population jumped from 671 in 1971 to 19 625 in 2016 as these “new natives” take up positions in government funded bodies and self- identify and settle on their lands.
Native Americans have dismissed them as “gold diggers” trying to access indigenous resources, ethnic frauds, culture vultures, “pretendians,” New Age poseurs, cultists and wannabees, appropriating native cultures.
The end of Colonization was followed by Apartheid. In both these periods, racial hierarchies and status changed for the European and Asian settler, while it maintained its increasingly more anti-Native African position, essentially infantilizing them.
In the Cape Colony, the ethnic shifting was swift. The Heeren Seventien enforced assimilation criteria onto those who wished to settle. The xenophobic shift promoted Boere and Griqua, Born frees, indentured and enslaved Batavians into a new the race, with Native Africans at the bottom. The Cape Malay (Melayu) was made up of those who arrived free and those who became free in the Cape. Javanese Artillery Corps and recruits from the Mardykers fought on the side of the Dutch. Employed by the Heeren Seventien, they came as exiles, artisans and labourer from countries colonized by the Dutch.
At the British invasion at Blaauberg, in 1806 they supplied 5 groups of professional soldiers on horses with rifles. They swore and upheld the Oath“I promise and swear by the one Almighty God and his Great Prophet Mohammed my loyalty to the Batavian Republic, (and) to defend this land in which we live against all enemies of the Batavian Republic.” They also supported the British in 1846 against the Xhosa in the Seventh Xhosa war and were disappointed as were the Griqua, that Apartheid did not recognize and reward their loyalty. Since the land was first foreignized by the Dutch and then the British, there has been very little acknowledgment of African existence. The National Party of South Africa was born out of three centuries of politicized xenophobia and the promotion of violence against natives.
Prime Minister Hertzog made it clear when emphasizing his policy in his 1925 speech where said that the coloured belongs to “a section of the closely allied to the white population” fundamentally different to the native. He owns his origins to us and knows no civilization other than the European…even speaks the language of the European as his mother tongue…Cape Coloured people must be treated equally with Europeans-economically, industrially and politically.” Indigenous ancestry, faked or invented, has become a source of British pride and belonging, although it means erasing their own history of forced removals during the Highlands clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries.
In Cape Colony, the ethnic shifting was swift. The Heeren Seventien enforced assimilation criteria onto those who wished to settle. The xenophobic shift promoted Boere and Griqua, Born frees, indigenous Khoi and San, indentured and enslaved Batavians into the race, complexion and hair hierarchy. Colonial “Separateness”, was formalized and institutionalized by Apartheid. In both these periods, racial hierarchies and status changed for the European and Asian settler, while it maintained its anti-Native African infantilized position. Cape born Hendrik Biebows, was the first person to “race shift” Claiming in 1707 that he was an “ Afrikaner”, emphasizing that he was a native to Africa although born of German and Dutch parents.
The National Party of South Africa was born out of years of politicized xenophobia and the promotion of violence against natives. Nowhere in South Africa is Apartheid/separateness more successful than the lateral violence currently at play in the Cape, where ethnic tribes made up of European and Batavian Enslaved people are practically springing up overnight. Since the land was first foreignized by the Dutch and then the British, there has been very little acknowledgment of African existence.
In 1950 Hendrik Verwoerd’s National Party invented a brand new “Coloured” race to join the already superior European and Indian races, forcibly assimilating indigenous people with the Griqua and the Asian descendants. The ever popular “Verwoerdian” ideology and Grand Apartheid that Africans were foreign to South Africa, is pervasive among European and Asian settlers, and has recently been adopted by fringe non-indigenous revivalists. Irish people with their indigenous lifestyle’s, were also “othered.” They were depicted as beer drinking, short tempered, disease ridden, practice alien religion, rapists and undesirable. Potato was a staple for the Irish, British and European poor and during the Great Irish Famine also known as the Irish Potato Famine and Great Hunger which started in 1845, when close 2 million Irish fled their country.
Newspapers at the Cape carried regular reports, evoking sympathy and Cape settlers raised close to 2000 Pounds. Although officials, sailors, stowaways, convicts, and pirates settled in the Cape as early as the 17th century, settlement started in earnest in 1820. There was continued anti Irish xenophobia in the Cape although as many as a third of the Governors at the Cape were Irish. The 1820 Irish settlers were recruited to help drive Natives off their land on the Eastern frontier. Irish males over eighteen were each allowed 100 acres of land to cultivate which would be transferred too them after three years.
In 1948, Earl Grey proposed that Irish petty criminals be sent to Cape to serve their sentences and be allowed to stay after release. In 1949, the Cape European settlers formed an Anti- Convict Association against the establishment of a penal colony. When the first Irish convicts arrived, riots broke out in the Cape resulting in the Neptune carrying their cargo to Tasmania. This incident discouraged Irish settlement in the Cape. Irish settler, U.S President Andrew Jackson, who had spent many years staging forced removal campaigns against natives in Georgia, Alabama and Florida signed the “Indian Removal Act” in 1830. This forced removal act was implemented with the most severe brutality. This genocidal journey is called the “ Trail of Tears” 1831-1877 after hundreds of thousands of people, at gunpoint, many shackled, were given minutes to pack up their belongings, their villages burnt, bounties took out of their heads and marched off their lands. Many thousands died on the 500km march to this land that was called “Indian Territory”.
Irish Edward O’Connor commanded the massacre, killing hundreds of Soshone villagers in what became known as the “Bear River Massacre”. Phillip Sheridan led attacks against the Cheyenne, Koiwe and the Comanche people.” He coined the phrase “the only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” After that demonstration of savagery, the Irish experienced a demographic shift in racism from “dirty savage Celtic” race of people to the status of “whiteness”.
In 1847, Native Chocktaw community raised and sent $170 to the Irish even though they had just been driven off their land on the Mississippi by European expansionism. Theirs were also a statement of humanity. Irish and Boer relationships started in 1896 when the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and Dr Mark Ryan and a second generation settler Solomon Gillingham met. By then there was approximately 1000 Irish in Johannesburg, with many others in rural areas.
The Irish joined the Boers in the Anglo Boer war 1899 – 1902. Unlike the English, they supported the regime of Paul Kruger. When it became clear that there would be a war, they formed the Irish Brigade. The Colonelcy was given to John Franklin Blake, an officer who had been the 6th, J.S Cavalry in Arizona, U.S. He was instrumental in ethnic cleaning in the Apache wars in Mexico 1949 – 1886.
University of Sydney Anthropologist Gaynor MacDonald, who worked with the Wiradjuri people in New South Wales for 40 years, estimates that 5% of Australians are white Europeans settlers “self- identifying” as Indigenous. The Identity fraud phenomenon of settlers claiming to have indigenous ancestors and belonging to a tribe is called “Pretendians” in Canada, known as“ Race Shifters” in the US and “ Box-tickers in Australia.
After many decades of relative equality with Europeans, Apartheid “demoted” enslaved people to the level as indigenous people in the 1950’s. Indigenous people lost their ethnic identities after they were forcibly assimilated into settler groups. The eight Apartheid groups were Whites, Coloured, Malay, Griqua, Chinese, Indian, Other Asian and Other coloured. African Natives were erased.
Native Africans were only recognized as foreign labourers. While all others carried identity documents, they were forced to carry the “dompas” and their movement restricted by “Influx Control” laws.
When Verwoerd was assassinated in 1966, despite his pro- Nazi/anti-Jew activities, he was eulogized by a rabbi as “one of the greatest Prime Ministers, if not the greatest” South Africa has ever had and celebrated for giving Apartheid “moral basis.” Verwoerd was not convinced that Jews, Lebanese and Southern Europeans were white enough to enter South Africa. Indentured racialized labourers in Natal and the Cape, where a large group of Indians arrived, chose not to assimilate, imposing their culture over native cultures.
When Natal became a colony of the Crown in 1856, they brought indentured labour from colonial India to replace Native Africans. The first 650 indentured labourers arrived in 1860. Between 1860 and 1911, 150 000 indentured labourer were imported to South African shores. They were dispatched to areas now called Isipingo, Tongaat, Umgeni, Cato Estate, Umhlali, and any other previously occupied by Africans. Phoenix, the home of the most recent massacre of Natives, was founded 9 years before all Native Africans were stripped of their land. After their indentured contracts ended, many chose to stay instead of taking their free return passage to India, instead opting for free land.
Nowhere in South Africa is Apartheid, separateness more successful than the lateral violence currently at play in the Cape, where cults made up of European and Batavian enslaved people are practically springing up overnight, claiming clans. 1994 ushered in a more representative all Africanised future, reversing the erasure of Native Africans and spearheaded the scramble for ethnic African land. The ever popular “Verwoerdian” ideology and Grand Apartheid, claiming that Africans were foreign to South Africa, is pervasive among European and Asian settlers and has recently been adopted by fringe non-indigenous revivalists calling for the Secession of the Cape and the expulsion of Native Africans.
In South Africa, it is fascinating why settlers would find indigenous ancestry, no matter how remote, among all their other ancestors including European, African and Asian compelling.
This disturbing trend is new, no label have been given to these predominantly Cape Coloureds and Griquas. For now they are referred to as “Camissas”, because of their outrageous claims to a Goringchoqua ancestor Krotoa 1643 – 1674, and a sacred river of the ancient Table Mountain.
Researchers and writers, of these claims, has no concern about the historical damage done by their colonial thinking ancestors, the appropriateness of more colonial perspectives, respectfulness, the lack of benefits and research on, rather than with indigenous communities. The elimination of race hierarchies and their loss of associated benefits in post-Apartheid South Africa, settlers are now feeling racially isolated and there is sudden need to find indigenous family trees. This has given rise to “Khoisan” and settler cults.
Racial Ideologies have created social hierarchies through which African Natives are denied access to resources while dominant groups maintain power and authority. Native Africans, with their compassion for imported enslaved people and “amnesia” of their own genocides and slavery, are yet to develop vigilance against this form of repackaged colonization which has become a plaque in other colonized lands.
It is important to remember, all Asians in South Africa did not come here as enslaved people. The majority of them came here as free people, soldiers and assassins, exiles and indentured labourers. Many of them owned Native slaves and continues to benefit from race, complexion and hair hierarchies.
Native Africans need to disabuse themselves from the homogenization of the “Rainbow Nation” myth and learn from colonised Canada, Australia the US (where there’s an actual cult tribe called “Rainbow warriors”) that re-packaging colonisation and cultural appropriation is erasure and not in their best interest.