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ERIC Number: EJ1008223
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
"In Family Way": Guarding Indigenous Women's Children in Washington Territory
Jagodinsky, Katrina
American Indian Quarterly, v37 n1-2 p160-177 Win-Spr 2013
Just two years after losing her Danish father, Coast Salish mother, and metis sisters to an undocumented tragedy in 1877, Nora Jewell faced another tragic ordeal. The twelve-year-old cleared fields and mended fences for James Smith, a guardian appointed by the court to protect her body and estate until she reached eighteen or married. As Nora confided to her maternal aunt Ellen Jones, however, Smith repeatedly assaulted her in the marshy grasslands of central San Juan Island, a secret she would have kept had he not put her "in family way" by the age of fourteen. Nevertheless, a jury of Smith's peers acquitted him, seemingly convinced that Nora's mixed-race and fatherless background proved her promiscuity. Nora Jewell's compelling story is told at greater length elsewhere in this author's work, but this article's concern is the role of nineteenth-century guardianship practices as a pivotal phase in the larger history of formal and informal indigenous child removal. Nora Jewell's painful experiences mirror the larger history of settler-colonialism in the Puget Sound region, and they began when Washington's territorial guardianship law defined her as a ward of the state because she had been orphaned. As they collectively stripped Nora Jewell of dignity, family, and property, Probate Judge John Bowman, guardians Ed Boggess and James Smith, and Washington territorial jurists practiced the "microtechniques of dispossession" outlined by Paige Raibmon, who argues that "colonialism's network of laws, attitudes, and practices placed" interracial families like Nora Jewell's "at the center of the transformation and transfer of lands" from indigenous to settler ownership. This essay also chronicles the experiences of other wards who were able to avoid such extreme outcomes. Their stories include those who used guardianship to dodge the harrowing realities of colonialism as their family members lost their land to homesteaders and taxes, and lost their kin to epidemics, starvation, and racial violence. (Contains 44 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington