Skylark — great questions you’re asking over on the ancestors’ sins thread! Sorry I’m slow to respond. Karissa and I are expecting our first child in the next week or two, and March 31 was the end of MCC’s fiscal year, which meant lots of extra bookkeeping work. Life just doesn’t seem to let up for blogging!
I think I miscommunicated in my “sins of the ancestors” post, and your response is helping me see how. The family research you’re doing is valuable (and by all means I’d encourage you to keep digging into it!), but I’m also talking about “ancestors” on the collective level. Individual family inheritance (of land, wealth, social connections) is one way that privilege (particularly class privilege) is perpetuated from generation to generation, but it’s not the only way. When I say “I benefit from the sins of my ancestors” I’m referring in part, but not solely, to my biological ancestors.
What do I mean by this? I grew up on fertile farmland in northern Indiana. Only a few miles from my parents’ house is the spot where used to stand Five Medals’ Potawatomi village. Five Medals (or Onaska) made peace with the United States in 1795 (Treaty of Greenville) and met with several presidents. Nevertheless, the US Army torched his people’s village and all their surrounding crops in 1812, and then again in 1813. In 1838 Menominee (leader of the last major Potawatomi settlement in northern Indiana) was “tied like a dog” and he and his people were force-marched to Kansas, a journey on which many of them died.