UNC Asheville’s history and humanities student
associations will host a talk on “Race and Removal: How One Creek
Indian Family Survived the Journey West” by historian Claudio Saunt
at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at UNC Asheville’s Laurel Forum,
Karpen Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
In his talk, Saunt will examine race relations
in early America through five generations of a Native American
family. At the center of the story are Creek Indian siblings Katy
and William Grayson, who both took partners of African descent. Katy
later married a Scottish-Creek man, disowned her black children, and
became a slave owner. In contrast, William refused to leave his
black wife and children and eventually emancipated them. In 1907,
when Creeks were granted U.S. citizenship, state law further divided
the Grayson family by defining some members as black and some as
white. The divergent paths of this American family parallel many
interactions among whites, blacks and Indians in the late 19th and
early 20th century.
Saunt is an associate professor of history at
the University of Georgia. His first book, “A New Order of Things:
Property, Power, and the Power of the Creek Indians, 1733-1816,”
traces the emergence of deep divisions in Southeastern Creek
communities. In 2000, it was named the best book on Southern history
by the Southern Historical Association and the best work in
ethnohistory by the American Society for Ethnohistory. His recent
book “Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American
Family” chronicles the Grayson family. Saunt holds a doctorate in
colonial North American history from Duke University.
For more information, call UNC Asheville’s
History Department at 828/251-6415.