Skip to main content

tv   Tiya Miles The Dawn of Detroit  CSPAN  November 25, 2017 11:50am-1:01pm EST

11:50 am
[applause]. like us to get publishing news. behind the scene pictures and videos. and to talk directly to authors during our life programs. tv. hello everybody. good evening everybody. hi community. welcome, welcome. how many of you had been here before. thank you everybody for being here this evening. i am very excited for this evening because we head with us a wonderful speaker and a
11:51 am
wonderful person to introduce here. and the wonderful part about this is that this event has happened in such a circular synergistic cooperative and loving way i can tell you i first learned about the book the tentative agreement coming out through the pipeline. i saw dr. miles. yes, it just started like that. and here you are. we've been talking on e-mail. i love the fact that you are here. the nonfiction bookstore. in our book fair in the categories of history and culture health and well-being.
11:52 am
without any further ado i want to introduce you to stephen for with history of his very own i am proud to be introducing my friend and colleague as you will hear from what i tell you and what she will present to you. she is a fierce intellectual force. i want you to know that she's one of the nicest and warmest people that you will ever get to meet. she is an author university teacher and public historian. with the native native american history. the story of a turkey family published in 2005 next the
11:53 am
house on diamond hill. she followed those words. with the study of race and gender. from the civil war era. also a writer of fiction her debut novel the cherokee rose is set on the plantation. it was named the publisher week weekly pick there as well. and selected for from the georgia center of the book. at the university of michigan as you heard. in the departments of american culture african american studies. history, native american
11:54 am
studies in women women's studies. she is a 2011 macarthur foundation fellow. her current work on slavery is supported by another and that research has resulted in the book that we are launching here to discuss and learn about and celebrate. the dawn of detroit the chronicle of slavery and freedom. i'm going to sit in a moment. this is my throne for the evening. i must listen to what she has instructed me to do. how happy i am. and how warm the space feels. i can't imagine a better place am so grateful for inviting me
11:55 am
to do this. i'm also grateful to you for coming out to discuss the history and to learn a little bit more about the city of detroit. i think where i would like to begin with telling you how i came to doing this project. then i will talk about a few of the things that stood out to me. and then we have some time for discussion. we can talk about what we collectively think and even histories like this that are old histories what they mean for contemporary writers and how they can be an asset in trying to solve a problem of social division today.
11:56 am
let me tell you how i came to this project. i'm from cincinnati ohio i grew up with a strong identity of the granddaughter of a woman who came up to the great migration in cincinnati and i also lived close to the ohio river as a child. i associated that river with freedom with the line between slavery and freedom you can stand at the bank and you can see kentucky. that was meaningful for me growing up the idea that i grew up in a free state. the time passed things happened and i started a position here at 2002. and when when i got here i had relearned the place of the
11:57 am
midwest. michigan is not the same as ohio. but this is a different kind of place and one of the reasons why it's so unique is again because of the international border. so one of the ways that i began to begin to explore this place was with my students i'm really touched that some of them are actually here today. it warms my heart that they are here. one of the things that we did was go on local history tours with african-american groups. it was a county back in ann arbor. something that really stuck with me was focused along the underground railroad. i learned for the first time that is how active
11:58 am
southeastern michigan has been. we began to recognize some important sites but also in our town of ann arbor. and we got to go to the historical museum. i hope you will go if you have never been there. i'm sure you had been there. but at that museum they have the underground railroad. it was very small. it was enough to get our imaginations going. it was around 2009 i think. we did research and projects on it. that's it open the door to me. what have taken place here in this area. that's where i started. with the underground railroad. and i was doing research and women in particular i was
11:59 am
reading her memoir and when i saw that she kept pulling to the laws of michigan and a brat very proud way. in looking at some of those laws of michigan that she was talking about she fought for black rates. who fought for black equality. she was correct in the state of michigan there was support for the slave same people who are trying to get their freedom in the years before the civil war. but one thing she did not actually mentioned in her memoir was at previous michigan law has made slavery possible in the directly sanctioned slavery.
12:00 pm
and once i realized that i thought that was a story i needed to tell. there was not enough information about it. i did not know anything a thing about it in ohio. i had been teaching at the university or a handful of years i did not and did not know a thing about it. i really felt that the knowledge was disrespectful to our ancestors and disrespectful to the forebears and the people who came before the abolitionist. instantly abolitionists. instantly before us. who lived lives of great suffering and great sorrow but through it all were heroic. who pushed for their freedom who banded together. and actually did incredible things. so once i started down this path i have the good fortune of being able to apply for a program at the university of michigan and was allowed with
12:01 pm
faculty to work with students. .. .. we spent time in the bentlily beer in ann arbor, one of the students in the group was from on tearey. wonderful. she would go home on her vacation in the school year and hit the archives in ontario and find out more information. so we spent about two years collecting information, seeing what we could find, and also part of the process was translating that information because some was in french some in german. the process was transcribing the
12:02 pm
information because some of the old documents in the fancy cursive, impossible to read. so it took us two years just to get to get to the point where we could say we have sense of the enslaved population, sense of the numbers we're talking be, a list of the people who own enslaved people, sense of job they were doing. and that point i realized, that even though it had taken us quite a while to find the material and even though the primary sources, the record that existed, were actually very few and far between, that there was enough material to tell a story here about the enslaved people who actually built the city. from that point on i started working on trying to piece together the story, and i felt like i really was dealing with bread crumbs because it was a
12:03 pm
little bit here and a mention there and a name here. there was very few full and complete stories. that's partly because we just don't have in the same kind of records here that we have on slavery in the south, for instance. so in the southern states, scholars rely on slave narrative. the life stories of enslaved people, that they were able to rite and have published after they escaped or that -- >> speak a little louder, please. >> i will try to, sir. maybe i'll stand up and that might help. so i was saying that in the southern states, scholars rely quite a lot on slave narrative, that is, the stories of enshaved people they were able to dispute have publish evidence after they escaped or they were able to tell to interviewers. we don't have slave narratives. we don't have personal stories.
12:04 pm
barely he mentioned of enslaved people in the records. and that is in part because there wasn't the same kind of governmental infrastructure here, this used to be a military fort town. it didn't have a court for a very long time even. that's also because of the great fire of 1805, which wiped out the whole town, which meant the loss of many records. so, piecing this together was like work with bread crumbs and it was frustrating at times, but in the end i felt that there was enough to at least create a composite picture of the lives of enslaved people. so, i'm going to tell you just a little bit about what some of these individuals did and what their lives were like as far as we were able to determine, and i want to share a few of the findings i concluded with, and that i think we'll be right about the time that miss jones will tell me we need to out of
12:05 pm
the q & a. so one most important things that became clear to us as we were doing this research, was that the first enslaved people in the city, in this state, and actually in many places in the country, were not african-american but, rather, they were native americans. so when we talk about slavery in detroit we're talking first about an enslaved indigenous population. and within that we're talking especially about women, native american women made up the alarms population of enslaved people here in detroit. and they came from multiple different native nations. some were odala, some iroquoisan. some miami, some fox, some of them were -- women who had been captured from other tribal nations, often times as a
12:06 pm
distance but not always, and were traded, sometimes by other native american people, and then finally traded into the hands of the european settlers. first, the french, then the british. and then actually a few americans were still holding native american enslaved people into the early 1800s. so that is i think the most important and biggest thing we discovered on our research team, was that slavery in detroit was aphone that affected native american women, and the kind of slavery that they endured was i abominable. you can probably anticipate what i'm got to say. enslaved native american women were put into european households, and they did domestic work and they were also
12:07 pm
the victims of sexual slavery. we're familiar with this in the u.s. south. we know at this point that african-american women were sexually assaulted and abused. as was a regular course of their experience. and to our research in detroit we have discovered that native american women were, too and that na fact some of these merchants and traders in detroit, some of the richest ones, would make specific purchase orders asking for native women. now, the name they used, the term the used for a native american enslaved person panis. and scholars have tried to work out where that term came from. a colonial historian has come up with a good theory is which is that this term e term probably is the collapsing of verious
12:08 pm
different native american tribal names, especially pawnee, every native american enslaved person was not panis, but the term panis came to be used for all native enslaved people here in detroit. some of the merchants would write letters to one another between here, mackinaw, mackinaw island, for instance, and they would say, i need two pretty panis. they would say the ages of the girls they wanted. that kind of language is an indicator that these young girls, who were wanted, were more just cleaning up the kitchen, right? this was major find and a -- distressing find, and a find we need to recognize and look at. especially given the continuing vulnerability and invisibility often times of indigenous girlss
12:09 pm
and young women. and we also found that in addition to native american enwomen, african-american men were highly south out by traders and by merchants in detroit. there's a man named james sterling, who moved from new york to detroit, to establish a shop, the fur trade shot, and before he even got here, the started trying to ask around to get black men, he could buy them, he wanted to bring black men with him to detroit, which is an indication that the felt he couldn't really set up shop and launch his business and make a success at it without black men. over time james sterling was able to buy a few young black men, and he would competent in this recorded about them, some of them spoke multiple languages, and even commented that it were better workers than the white men he was paying,
12:10 pm
which is part of the reason why he preferred them. so, black men were actually the railroad cars that were carrying those furs, that made this place so successful and so lucrative, across plains. i'm talking about their bodies, their muscles. that was the motor for the distribution of these fur. we hear about the fur trade and recognize it was the hunting that native men did of beaver, their trade of those beaver to french and then british, people in between in the trade, and then the shipment of the beaver to the east, and across the ocean, places like france and england. we recognize that was a major fuel of a worldwide, global growing industry. but until the students and i did this research, didn't know that
12:11 pm
black men did a lot of the labor of packing those furs, carrying those furs, moving those temperatures across the water in canoes and then some of the really efficient-minded merchants near detroit, once they had their enslaved black men move the furs to places like new york the weather turned cold, they would rent these men or let their friend borrow the men over the winter, and then when the rivers thawed and they could come back, the enslaved men would be asked -- the wrong word -- be compelled to bring the goodded exchanged for the temperatures back here to detroit. and black men and native american men were also skilled boatsmen. these great lakes all the time with these furs. and sometimes the wealthiest
12:12 pm
merchants, such as john askin, would say i can't spare my man, pompeii, for instance, black man owned by askin, for this job. i need him on my boat. so when it came time for pompeii to be on those ships, his rashes were left to those of the white men being paid to do that work. enslaved black men died working the great lakes, which really are inland seas, and when you're on them -- to me they feel that way. those were dangerous waters. these men were out there doing this work and not because they made a cent. they were separated from their families, doing this work. one story that stands out to me is a story of an enslaved black family owned bay wealthy detroit merchant named james may. james may was judge. he was someone who was actually
12:13 pm
very instrumental and went to the university of michigan, and he kept one of his black men on his boat and he kept his black man's wife back at home, working in his household. doesn't pick the time to name these individuals for us because they weren't important enough to him to do that. but they were out in these roles, and there was a terrible ship wreck, and the black man owned by may was killed in the wreck. may then wrote to his friend, john askin, and first he said he was distressed about the wreck because he lost his valuable man. his brother also identity but he didn't talk much about the brother. he's thinking about the -- he says human property that's gone and then he says, now that the man was gone, the black woman won't do any work, just laid around, crying. uh-huh. so, this is a terrible story, but through the story we
12:14 pm
actually see, we get a glimpse of, a black family, a black family that loved one another, that cares for one another, that is distressed and fall as i part when their loved one is taken by the waters. so when james may's black woman, as he refers to her, can't work because she e she is in mourning, he gets they, maybe if i buy her son from the friend and bring her son into hi household, that will cheer her up. we get another indication of how the family has been split and divided. so james may tried to get the son, but his friend says, sorry, i'm keeping this black boy for myself. one more snippet before i conclude and that is a rare look at the experience of a native american woman who was enslaved in detroit, and this is very
12:15 pm
difficult to get at because we just don't have the material, we just don't have the record-especially on native women. when we do have the material, it comes from st. ann's church, and the st. ann's church, very old, it's the second oldest parish in the country. and i'm grateful to them for letting me see their records. i have to say when i first told them what the topic was at the archdiocese, they were receptive but also said, you're not going find anything about slaves in these records. well, not only were there enslaved people all up and down the records but the priests owned slaves. so, going back to this story bat native american woman coming out of the city st. ann's church records, we don't know her name. that's common. in these records.
12:16 pm
we don't know her age. we don't get any kind of a sent of who she was as a person because the recordkeepers weren't interested in that. we do know is that she was enslaved and was pregnant, and then she was imprisoned inside the fort. there was a debate, some conflict, tension, over who was going to get that baby. uh-huh. two men inside the fort were both saying that the baby should come to them. they weren't saying something like, this is my child, i want that child because i want to free that baby. they were just saying, the panis during referring to an indian slave -- native slave -- the panis should come to me. so, turns out they thisser gun smicket of the forth won in that conflict, and he was going to get to have possession of the
12:17 pm
little infant, and what happened to the woman? we don't know. i have thought about this, thought about her, many a night, about her being pregnant, and enslaved, probably the records don't tell us but probably the victim of sexual exploitation, giving birth in the cell and then seeing her child taken away bit one of these two european men in the fort, who wanted to possess that child. st. ann's church records are full of details of the deaths and burials of, quote, panis infants, panis children, about little babies being porn right mere in detroit tone slaved native mothers and died before they even had a chance at life.
12:18 pm
many of this stories, jerry upsetting to discover some they're growing know recount them to you, and i can see in your eyes it's distressing for you to hear them, but i want to tell you, that one of the things that has been important for me, porn for the students in doing the work, is that all these people whose stories i have told you about, even we don't know their names, we are remembering them and my view that means we are honoring them, recognizing that they were here, they lived, their labor contributed in incredible ways to the development and the growth of detroit. and their suffering is not in vain because we hold them in our hearts. i know i do. we hold them in our spirits. and in addition to that, the enslaved people of detroit, they
12:19 pm
thought, why was that woman inprisonned? the reports don't tell us but i wondered about that. did she try run away? what kind of rule did she break? i am betting she was imprisoned because shoe fought back, she fought somebody, and they said, we are going to punish you for this. but that doesn't take away the power of her fight. and enslaved people in detroit, native people, black people, they fought all the time. the records have all these little tiny stories of so and so was upset because her, quote, negro woman, hit her, or so and so brought a case to court because his panis man showed him -- held a knife up to him. enslaved people running away constant in the records, and they're so savvy, they know they can run in multiple directions. they're running south. they run to my home town of
12:20 pm
cincinnati. they're running to canada. they're running to the indian communities and nations surrounding detroit. they're taking every advantage they seek to get free. one of the most dramatic moments in this history, actually takes place after 1800, and this is the story of the denison family, those who have been to detroit at the museum might have seen a plaque for dennison. he and his wife were owned by a family that was up on the river, and when william tucker, their owner, died, he basically willed the family to his wife, and the wife could have sold them at any time, and when she died they could go to her children and the children could have sold them and divided the proceeds and so on. so the denisons went to court
12:21 pm
and suing for their children's freedom. the children should be free because this is the northwest territory. it's supposed to be a free zone wind the united states. the suit they brought did not result in the freedom off all their children-but it did result in the first legislation about slavery in detroit, which was a gradual emancipation plan. that said the people born after 1796 would be born free and those borne just prior to that would serve as enslaved people for a set number of years. so it was not a total victory but it was partial victory, and then the denisons ran. they didn't like the ruling in the judgment. they took off for canada, and not very long after that, the governor of michigan territory, william hall, came to peter
12:22 pm
dennison and asked him if he would lead a militia to protect detroit. you heard what said. the governor went to peter denison and asked him to lead a militia and he did. he led what was describe as a rep gate militia or negro militia. a group of enslaved black men who ran away, ran from michigan to canada, canada to michigan, and took this opportunity to actually have their freedom guaranteed. and that was possible because detroit needed them. detroit was got going last without them. william hall was so terrified of a native american attack -- he was pair bid but so terrified he was willing to do anything, despite the criticism of other people in michigan government about arming black men, and let me tell you, the letters that survive of canadians across the river who saw all these black
12:23 pm
men drilling with arms in detroit are incredible. they even say they have armed our slaves. they recognize those are our people over there, they might put those guns toward us. so, yes, this material on the story is distressing and we have to think of them and care about what they went through, but at the same time, i think this material and the story is inspiring because it shows just what people can do no matter how oppressed they are. , so i will stop there and thank you so much. for your attention. [applause] >> wow. everybody take a deep breath. well, the good news is we have other a microphone in the back
12:24 pm
to use for question and answer. those who are standing wish i could break out the wall and have seats for you. if you can find a more comfortable space up here, it's okay. so, -- will this bother -- yes. >> while she's doing that, would you think about a question. we love comments. if you can make them very short, but think at a question you would like to ask tyia. i tell you in just a minute. you'll be number one and you remember your numbers and i'll call you by your number. so if you have a question, think about it. just feel like id in to take a breath, really. so you're one, two, three, four.
12:25 pm
step there and you'll are. five and six. remember your number. okay? question. >> first of all, thanked to -- i'm -- put into the work because it's works like this that act as therapy that we didn't get upon so-called emancipation. put in going over this material, and that would include your team, it is -- did it exact an emotional toll you and does it continue to? i noticed when you were talking about the women, i could see your eyes, and it made me wonder and we should feel this way when
12:26 pm
we come across this information, because that didn't become -- that then becomes the therapy we didn't get. we need to cry. we need to get angry. and all of those things that people go through when they have proper therapy after a trauma. so, d. >> your question? >> did it exact -- how much of an emotional toll did this exactom now? >> thank you for that. this is better -- thank you for your recognition that the material is serious. i've been studying slavery for a long time now, and i wonder sometimes not why i do it but how i do it and came to do it. i remember many years ago, when
12:27 pm
i first came across a record that talked about an enslaved man committing suicide, and how i cried upon reading that record, and how i called my mother and told her about it, and i said to her, why am i doing this? and she said you didn't choose it. it chose you. and i think that has to be the truth of the matter for all of us who do the kind of work, whether it's historical or the present day, where we are exposing ourselves to people's emotions and needs and suffering. i think about how at least as somebody who work width documents and recovered the past, there's a little bit of distance. what about social workers? what about psychologists and therapists? teachers? people who are told about this
12:28 pm
kind traumatic experienced today that is so difficult. i see my friends, and a wise woman mentor of mine, elizabeth james, she emphasizes the importance of actually having a spiritual understanding of what you're doing. one thing she has done for me throughout this process is to tell me that she felt that this work was important. and having that encourage. helps you to keep going. >> that's a wonderful presentation. thank you so much. i read with great interest your article in the "new york times" about naming and -- we happened to be on cat street right now, believe that is a street name you mentioned. what-under your thoughts on how we deal with the names such as cass and macomb and all the
12:29 pm
other anymores you mexed that are really recording the lives of slaveholders and the actions they took. what are your thoughts on renaming? that's a very popular theme in our culture right now. >> i want for get a short preamble as i respond to that question, which is that my students and i came to detroit to try to identify the sites we had found in our research. we were walking down streets, places where we knew things happened, and looked up and realized the streets were name authorize slaveholders we nod had researched. we didn't expect that going and n quite that way. it's very strange thing when all of a sudden you realize your on macomb street, cass, right now. once you realize it, think two things happen. on the one hand i know my students were angry and they felt like, why didn't anybody tell us this? they felt a sense of offense, that information had been were
12:30 pm
hell from them. then there's also the question -- this is what i tried to get at in that piece you referenced -- the question of, even if we don't know, wife nor fully aware that we're surrounded by infrastructure that celebrates hierarchy, is that affecting us? and i actually think it is. so, what do we do? what a can of worms. if we started listing all of the streets and looking at all the monuments, we wouldn't have anywhere to walk or interior good or be. right? so, i guess what i think about is that it's important for us to recognize it to be forthright about it to talk about it, to discuss it, not hide it to bring it out into the hope, and then to encourage communities to talk it through and work it out. i don't think there's going to be one blanket approach. some statutes certainly need to be taken down.
12:31 pm
some statutes may not need to be taken down. there are some streets that might be renamed amounts ofs that will never be renamed. the processes will be different depending on the location, the community, the kind of monument that we're talking about. so, i really think it needs to be a community discussion at that level, and that at the very least people will talk to one another. >> number three. >> hi. thank you for being here. very, very special and necessary, and for the whole c-span crew. thank you for being here, too. two-part question. number one, it's obviously emotionally draining and common knowledge. what do you do to get a rest from that to be charged new york one, and number two i was fascinated with the st. ann's information, and that's a book in itself. have you thought about that?
12:32 pm
>> in terms of recharging, work with other people helped quite a lot. working with the students made a big difference, and also with other members of our departmental communities and with people here in detroit at some of the community organizations have made a big difference. we're not in it alone, it's not as damaging, i guess, to work with these materials. what was the second part of the question? >> the st. ann- >> oh, st. ann. we didn't even do the whole run of that material. we had -- >> a book in itself. >> we had to choose some book ends in terms of dates, and we also are not experts in french. i took french lessons, but if you ask my teacher how i did,
12:33 pm
she will say, i'm still at square one, and one member of our team was versed in french and she did it. we also hired professional translators for this, for the french and the german, so, with more people and more time and more translation work, those records, i'm sure could reveal a number of story wes don't know about yet. >> number four. >> i was wonder -- first of all, thank you so much for coming here and telling us the stories. it's such a rich tapestry that i never knew about before, and i feel that it's a great gift you're opening that book for us, and i wonder if in view of indigenous nation states coming up, did you find -- come across in your research any stories of
12:34 pm
collaboration or cooperation between the indigenous community and the african-american community in escaping from slavery and winning freedom? was there help and support between the communities for that? >> yes. and thank goodness -- i'll go into details in a moment but i think that one of the major thing is take away from the research is that when native people's lands are rested away from them, it wrongs them and hurts them and also hurts african-americans. , because in this region in great lakes, the northern part of the country, native lands were a buffer zone. the record indicate that when black people ran into native spaces, their ownerred did not want to chase them there they
12:35 pm
were afraid. yeah. and that fear was a protection for african-americans. as native people were being dispossessed in this area, african-americans had fewer places to run and to go. in addition to that, there were a few examples of families that were form, african-american and native american individuals, who were able to bond and to live together, even to run away together. not that they weren't chased, but at least two individuals, jenny and joseph, were able to run away actually from canada to michigan, which i know sound surprising, but, remember, canada was not always a dry -- free space. there an historian here at the detroit mercy, roy, who is doing a lot of work on this very
12:36 pm
question right now about native american involvement in underground railroad, and he is a person whose work you should watch. he's looking for additional snippets of information. the narrative of the josiah henson, person believed to be the model for uncle tom in the novel. henson talks about running into a native american camp and he and his wife and child were taken in by the camp, spent the night there and were actually lost. they couldn't find lake erie, and the native people they stayed with pointed them in the right direction. think there are many examples of this. >> number five. >> i'm glade turned -- glad -- i'm actually interested in how you explained the different -- the cultural difference between the recordkeeping in the south and here. there is something else dish know part of you -- you said
12:37 pm
there was a fire. >> i don't think it's so much of a do you recall difference as a population -- as a population difference and a cultural difference. we're talking about 1300 people total in the early years so 85 enslaved people in earliers and those numbers meant there will be few record produced then on top of that, one the same kind of organization and infrastructure in detroit. people talk about detroit in the early years, describe it as place where people are using their innovation and their creativity and their wit just to make a living herings because if you weren't native you didn't know what you were doing. so, that meant it would be very difficult to sit down and pen all these letters about your enslaved people. it was really the environment, the isolation, the population,
12:38 pm
and then once the fire came, that wiped a lot of things out. >> two or three more questions. one, two, three. okay, number one. >> thank you for coming. my question comes from the first page of your book, and that is detroit is not the scene of natural disasters but rather the scene of a crime. can you explain that? >> i can. thank you for coming. it's changing now, think. you tell me if it's changing. over the last several years, -- more than several -- the last decades, the public i'd from -- public eye from detroit -- outside of detroit, focused own ruin, and ruination to me has
12:39 pm
this connotation of something that is naturally decaying, but this research okayeds to me there's nothing natural about it. there's -- it's not that a tree grew and then withers in detroit. it's that individual who were interested only in profit and were willing to exploit other human beings, and to exploit the natural world, to gain that profit, they came in and they tore the place up. that's the crime i'm talking about. and i think there is a correlation between the early history and the modern history, that things fall apart when people make decisions, when governments make decisions, when candidate make decisions, not because a tree withered and died. that what i mean the by that. owning a human being is a creek,
12:40 pm
stealing native land is a crime. that's what the city is founded on and not unlike the united states. the whole country is founded on dispossessed native lands and enslaved black and native people. >> number two. >> thank you for telling this story so well and bringing to light thing is think probably never thought about, the old history of detroit. i'm curious about the records you found. were these diaries or letters? they have all this -- st. ann's but what form and who is writing this down? >> so, the st. ashe's records are in the form of a church register. so, a list of this person, in the case of enslaved people, panis, or negro, their age and
12:41 pm
what activity they were involved in they were baptized or died and buried and permitted to be buried in the catholic faith. everyone once in a while the priest would write a sentence or even a paragraph, and as a researcher you live for those moments but they give a little bit more of the story. for the most part that record pretty bare bones record inch addition to the st. ann's church records, really the majority of what we were able to find were merchant records. so, the list of transactions that detroit merchants were involved in because they were buying and selling people, we can find people in their transactions. some of these merchants were also writing letters that have been preserved, and john askin is juan figure. if you read a lot of early detroit history you'll see his name often, and it's partly because he was wealthy and influential, but also because he
12:42 pm
wrote a lot, and as scholars, we have a limitation of needing to have records to really help us to begin to reconstruct the past. we use can other things, which is why the students and i came here to try to find the sites in detroit where we knew thing had taken place, but because none of it actually survived, what we ended up doing was our strongest site was the detroit river, and we began to feel -- in fact we have a web site about this if you're curious, called and the students wrote about their experience and took photographs and we began to feel the river was really the only -- we're the only witness to this crime the only witness still with us. so, church records, merchant records, legal cases. the notes of attorney when they were dealing with freedom suits
12:43 pm
and things like that. some personal letters and also the state records and the wills of slaveholders. >> four. >> on my father's side of the family, combination of lunbi native people and africans. any record you come across of those people or others who are native people and african people fought for freedom together. for example i do know because i have cousin -- klu klux klan in north carolina -- other areaes you come across that african and native people have fought together for freedom? >> so thelium -- the lumbi
12:44 pm
situation, i recommend a scholar named linda lowery, she race written a book about lumbi history and looks closely at the jim crow ear ya and think about the lumbi people had to protect themselves from jim crow and segregation and racism, and also tried to find the klan. i'd look for her work, and in addition to that there are a number of instances -- some of them are individual and singular, such as one family that decides to fight against slavery. some of them were more dramatic and larger, and the best example of that has to do with the seminole nation of florida and africas who were enslaved, usually in georgia, who were able to run away and went south into florida, and were taken in by the seminole nation. the seminole nation and the black seminoles as they were
12:45 pm
called, they waged a collaborative war against the out, long-standing war with three phases because the recognize their interests were yoked. they recognized that the u.s. wants to take native land and enslave black people, and if they actually worked together, they could try to fight that. the whole other side to this, didn't ask me about it so i don't know i should say very much about it but die want to say -- >> go ahead. >> all right, all right. the past is never as simple and it's never all pretty and never all celebratory, and so at the same time that native people and black people did form alliances, they also did each other wrong. some native americans owned black slaves, and i didn't talk about this in my time earlier because i only had a certain
12:46 pm
amount of time, but i could give examples of native american merchants in detroit who owned slaves, not just black slaves but also native slaves. there weren't very many. just maybe a handful of these individuals, but they were involved in the fur trade, too. it's certainly not the case that people of color or even people of the same color, all black people, all native people, saw themselves as natural allies. >> number five. right here and then we'll take one more. go ahead. >> my question is not terribly deep because i can barely here in the back but i love everyone else residents questions because they asked all the other questions i thought about mitchell question is you
12:47 pm
mentioned 1796 with the edict that the events that made people no longer slaves born a after 1796. was there a name to that? >> so, that was actually made in 1807, but the decision -- it's not really a name, the dennison v. tucker case, decided by judge woodward -- right. woodward avenue. and it was about whether or not the dennison children could be granted their freedom. and he decided that he had to make the ruling based on international law. so based on what the utah had agreed to with -- what the u.s. had agreed with great britain. so he referred to it as the gray treaty and that what's rope why he used 1796 date for saying that if people were born in '96,
12:48 pm
then they'd be born free. before that, he wasn't going to violate the previous treaties between the u.s. and great britain, and great britain and france, that said that these original set el ares could continue to -- settlers could continue to own slaves. >> in "new york times" article you made mention of grossfield and belle isle, and i can't remember which street name personal -- macomb or someone who owned them and had slaves then. can you elaborate on that? >> uh-huh. i can pick so many examples. i think that -- what was on my minded i had down a tire with the detroit historyam museum of the boathouse and the tour was very interesting and used to be place where black people could not join, but it wasn't until i was driving home i realizedded i
12:49 pm
was passing by camp post street, and out of the blue. in my experience. and so that is how belle isle was in the story because it came to mind as the most recent place i'd been there there was this intrusion of a slaveholder landscape. so the story was that these island and any other prime land in detroit and the detroit area, of course they used to be the land of native people, native people of different nations. over time, european settlers came in and tried to find a way to wrangle that land, whether or not it was legal, they were working their own deals with native leaders, and we don't get to see behind the scenes of those deals. we don't get to know what was told to those native leader, but we can see that they saw part of the -- maybe but they saw thank you writing on the wall.
12:50 pm
they saw what was happening in terms of an increasing european settlement, in terms of people who had guns, and the pressures to sell. and so european americans who moved to detroit, who wanted to strike it rich, they really seemed to do three but i'll say four things there, three main things and a fourth one. they got ahold of slaves. they got ahold of as much native land as the could, by hook or by crook. they were engaged in the fur trade. and they got jobs with the government. i'm tempted to talk about these events but i won't. i will just said was very interesting to me that mean of these wealthy detroiters realized that having a government job increases your influence and gives more opportunity to get more wealth.
12:51 pm
so in terms of belle isle and gross isle, they were pritch, meaning fertile lands, that these merchandise wanted so the bought tremendous them native people and then held slaves on them. >> wow, another deep breath. i'm going to ask for this question and then we'll try do collapse these questions altogether so we can get to a few more people, and then we'll break down and break up and dr. miles is going to do some book signing after you buy a book, or those who already bought the book can have them signed. let me have a question phenomenon you. just give me the question. >> and let her hear it, of course. >> i just -- i followed you on instagram but finding myself reading a lot of material from authors trying to pete e
12:52 pm
piecesters together out of not much because black people weren't record -- were recorded ace property so putting stories together can be difficult. i know that who i was is who i am, and knowing those stories is important to me. i don't know how to say why those stories are important to me, i just know that they are. i'm from oakland, california. my mother's family from valleys and my father's family from new orleans. currently in the process trying to figure out how we get to those plays. now it was a great migration that took us west, but i'm trying to piece those pieces together. don't have any dreams of putting together anything quite as extensive as the research you have done, but i am wanting to find myself specifically, and for someone who has no background in historical research of documents, you have any suggestions, do you have any
12:53 pm
advice as to the best course of action for someone with a limit budget with no grant to go through documents and no body of school body behind me backing my research. >> hold on to that. hold on to that. let take another question and then collapse them together. >> how long does it tike make a book. >> hold on to. that another question. >> i saw another hand somewhere. >> that's it? okay. put those two together. >> okay. yes, they go together. right. one of the wonderful thing about the time we live in now, we have to really, i think, embrace the wonderful things about it because there's so much negativity, but many of us have access to be able to share our thoughts in writing we wouldn't have head before. so, to write other a book like this, that take as lot of research and takes a lot of time and depends on the help of many
12:54 pm
other people, can take a number of years. so this book took six years. but you can write a book over a weekend. and your dad maybe, the person who is hugging you right now, can take you to some copy place, make like staples -- that's not an advertisement -- and get it laminated for you, and you'll have your book. i hope you do it. there are lot of people who are interested in this kind of research because they feel essential to know who they are and celebrate their family, and to expanding their underring of who they are in the world -- understand are funding of who they are in the world. so not being alone in this, to me, is the first step to doing it, recognizing your not alone. this ties some something we discussed earlier over here boyfriend not being alone in the
12:55 pm
research. there are number of web sites that are hosted by individuals working on black family history, genealogy, that you can visit and you can post your questions on the websites. i've doan done some research that way for my book. i thick posted -- anybody know -- denisons. it's a crowd source, and you get to experience the joy and pleasure of doing the research. if you go to the detroit public library on the weekend, you'll see a number of people doing family research, and i bet it would be the case of any library and all the places your family has lived. so that's one thing. you're not alone, reach out. also books that are how to guide african jie genealogy research and organizations you can go to and learn how do this
12:56 pm
step-by-step, and in addition to that, i would say find a book that you really appreciate and try to see if you can put together the steps that the person took to create that book. try to see if you can identify what source this used. the question i was asked about sources or where they went or what they say in the acknowledgments how they pulled it together. and then you can try do that same thing. we all have models for the work we do. and it helps to guide our way. >> you have a book that is -- [inaudible] -- joanology -- genealogy. [inaudible]
12:57 pm
>> okay. >> i just want to name a resource. the hard williams genealogical society in detroit. they do conferences, actually -- potentially this month or next month at the detroit public library, the annual meeting there. great organization that have the resources or information of where to search a web site specifically to native americans or hispanics or i ooh backgrounds that allow you do the research and then help as part of the membership in work with -- have an interest, hart williams genealogical society. one of the oldest societies here in michigan and very fortunate to have them. they're a great -- again, organization, to tap into. >> thank you.
12:58 pm
>> well, we love to hear every single voice and i wish we had three more mother and more space and more chairs but i know they're something burning in your heart and in your mind. just a word or two to say to dr. miles this evening. just think about it. we want to shower her with our good wishes and thank yous. when i say three, you say what you want to say and she's going to get it all. one, two, three. >> [inaudible] [applause]
12:59 pm
1:00 pm
>> people were duped often into voting for donald trump. >> there is that view out there, but is a talk about in "the smear" if you actually watch the rallies of hillary clinton and donald trump, i tried to watch almost every one and if you talk to people outside the big cities, which i


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on