Thursday, May 18, 2006

Redbone Clans and Homeland

For the most part, we Bearhead folk have been slow to embrace the notion of Redbones as a separate people. Our history is one of opposition to that idea. We were never taught that we had kinship to other similarly situated mixed-race people. To us it's always been about kinship. If I'm not kin to you then there's no connection.

While we never thought of ourselves as Redbones or Indians, we always recognized surnames. That is a clan system. Intellectually, I've come to expand my understanding and acceptance of the idea of Redbones. Emotionally I'm still back on the creek. You Redbones of the diaspora
have grown up with a longing for a sense of place. We have it. We didn't wonder who we were, we knew. How can you not know when you live in the midst of hundreds of cousins? Somebody once asked me what did we call Redbones when I was growing up, and I immediately answered "cousins." We didn't need another word.

By naming herself Redbone, Bearhead Clan, Kim has at once told you her genealogy and her homeland. Lee Murrah could start saying Redbone, East Texas Clan. I know immediately from whom he descends. LV Hayes might say Starks Clan. Starks is a funny place in that there are many Bearhead Clan living in Starks, but not all Redbones in Starks are Bearhead Clan. We know the differences immediately. Most of you folk don't.

You've asked us to share with you our experience of growing up in that uniqueness. We're looking for words.

Here's how my cousin, Brenda Bass, described that uniqueness.

I guess, Linda, Kim, Terry, Ray, and I would know what the term "Bearhead Clan"
means. A person can move a million miles away, but they will always have that
spot in their spirit that belongs to Bearhead. You can only define "Bearhead
Clan" through your heart. It's an emotional family connection between a group of
clannish people that lived up and down Bearhead Creek (South Beaurgard and
Northwest Calcasieu Parishes). We were related in many different ways, but
hardly ever saw each other. If one family needed help, then these families from
up and down Bearhead Creek would suddenly appear out of no where. It was
almost like a sense, that some family member needed you and you would get to
them no matter what. We never called each other Redbones (maybe only in
picking), that's what someone called us if they didn't like us. I love my
Bearhead families, I guess that's why I'm moving back there.

No comments: