Date of this Version
Published in The Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2016), 23 pp. doi 10.1093/whq/whv038
Based on legal and genealogical records, this microhistory chronicles the difficult choices between whiteness and Indianness made by two Salish sisters and their biracial children in order to maintain their kinship networks throughout the Salish Sea borderlands between 1865 and 1919. While some of these choices obscured individual family members from historical records, reading their lives in tandem with other family members’ histories reveals remarkable persistence in the midst of dramatic racial and political transformation. Focused primarily on San Juan Island residents, this article suggests that indigenous and interracial family histories of the Pacific Northwest and other borderland regions in the North American West can be more fully understood when examined collectively rather than in isolation. Such a model emphasizes the importance of personal borderlands histories and allows historians to overcome the archival silences so common among people living on the margins.