The Origin of Race

The March 1881 edition, only the ninth, of Carlisle Indian School’s first newspaper, Eadle Keatah Toh, contained the following article on the origin of race:

 

An Indian Tradition.

Among one of the south-western tribes of Indians there is a tradition that long ago there were in the world only three men, who were all black. Once as they journeyed together they came to a deep pool of beautifully clear water. Here they halted, and one of them plunged into the water, from which he came out no longer black, but white. Seeing this the second man followed his example but the pool was so clouded that he emerged neither black nor white but a brownish red. The last man feared more than ever when he saw how dark the water had become so he timidly touched it only with the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, which were thus made a little lighter color. So from this time on there were three races, the white man, the Indian and the Negro.

After this the three men journeyed still farther until they reached a place where three packages were lying. The white man caught up the first which contained books and paper and pens. The Indian was quite satisfied with the bows and arrows of the second, while for the poor black man who held back timorously as before, nothing was left but the hoe and the ax, and thus concludes the tradition, did the white man become a scholar, the Indian a hunter, and the Negro a slave.

This piece raises a lot of questions. It would be useful to know more about its origin.

 

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