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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re:Black and Native Relations
In Response To: Re:Black and Native Relations ()

Lewis is a surname which occupies a unique place in Virginia Indian history. Do you have a family tradition that Roger Lewis was of African descent, or is this an assumption made from census and court records ? In 1785 Virginia passed a law which in effect defined the population as either "black" or white. Anyone with less than a specified quantum of "black blood" was defined as white. The "black blood" of concern was Indian blood, not African, as certain of Virginia's leading families were well known to be descended from Pocahantas. There was never the consideration of admitting persons with a quantum of African ancestry to the white race in Virginia. Indians remained in the black category, a fact that has skewed ethnohistory and assumed that the only surviving Indians of Virginia were to be found on either the Pamunkey or Mattaponi Reservations. Any Indian not living on a reservation was officially a Free Negro and required by law to be registered and recorded as such.

I have no personal knowledge of Roger Lewis, but his association with the Pamunkey Indians suggests the possibility that the issues of slavery and manumission may be irrelevant in his case.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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