In this essay, I would like to focus on identity formation with respect to one of these groups-the Xoco community-especially the relationship between law, identity, and race. I hope to bring to light, if only in a tentative and suggestive way, the broader significance of such an inquiry by narrating the story of the Xoco in dialogue with some discussions of similar issues in the United States. In particular, I will compare the successful struggle for recognition of the Xoco with similar struggles for recognition in the U.S. by the Lumbee and Mashpee Indians, who have not achieved full legal status as tribes. I am particularly interested in the question of who is an Indian when such an identity is legally defined and when the population in question is made up of people descended from both blacks and Indians. In the broader project, I am also concerned with the interpretation of narratives and representations of history when they are recounted and remembered in light of the knowledge that production of collective memory may lead to access to land.
Copyright © 2005 Albatross Press. This chapter first appeared in Race, Roots, and Relations: Native and African Americans.
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French, Jan Hoffman. "Making Identity: Law, Memory, and Race in Comparative Perspective." In Race, Roots, and Relations: Native and African Americans, edited by Terry Straus and Denene Dequintal, 248-64. Chicago: Albatross Press, 2005.