The term mixed-blood in the United States is most often employed for individuals of mixed European and Native American ancestry. Some of the most prominent in the 19th century were "mixed-blood" or mixed-race descendants of fur traders and Native American women along the northern frontier. The fur traders tended to be men of social standing and they often married or had relationships with daughters of Native American chiefs, consolidating social standing on both sides. They formed the upper tier of what was for years in the 18th and 19th centuries a two-tier society at settlements at trading posts, with other Europeans, American Indians and mixed-blood or Métis workers below them.[1] Mixed-blood is also used occasionally in Canadian accounts to refer to the nineteenth century Anglo-Métis population rather than Métis, which referred to people of First Nations and French descent.

Similarly in the Southeast, the Cherokee and other tribes started having inter-generational marriage and sexual relationships with the Europeans in the early 1700s. Many Cherokee bands and families were quick to see the economic benefits of having trade, land and business dealings with Europeans, strengthened through marriages. Prominent Cherokee and Creek leaders of the 19th century were of mixed-descent but, born to Indian mothers in matrilineal kinship societies, they identified fully and were accepted as Indian and grew up in those cultures.[2]

Renowned persons of mixed-blood ancestry in United States' history are many. One such example is Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, who guided the Mormon Battalion from New Mexico to the city of San Diego in California in 1846 and then accepted an appointment there as alcalde of Mission San Luis Rey. Both his parents worked with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, his mother Sacagawea as the invaluable Shoshone guide and his French-Canadian father Toussaint Charbonneau as an interpreter of Shoshone and Hidatsa, cook and laborer. J.B. Charbonneau is depicted on the United States dollar coin along with his mother Sacagawea.

Another example is Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2008, in recognition of her literary contributions. She is recognized as the first Native American literary writer and poet, and the first Native American poet to write in an indigenous language. Jane Johnston was the daughter of a wealthy Scots-Irish fur trader and his Ojibwe wife, who was daughter of an Ojibwe chief. Johnston Schoolcraft was born in 1800 and lived most of her life in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where she grew up in both cultures and learned French, English and Ojibwe. She wrote in English and Ojibwe. She married Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who became a renowned ethnographer, in part due to her and her family's introduction to Native American culture. A major collection of her writings was published in 2007.[3]

Louise Erdrich is one of the best known contemporary Native American authors, whose fiction deals with the Ojibwe American heritage of her Minnesota and reservation upbringing. She is of Ojibwe, German-American and French ancestry.[4] Among her many awards have been a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Book Critics Circle Award (1984), the latter for her early novel Love Medicine. In numerous novels over the last 20 years, she has created a richly imagined fictional universe of Native American and European American small town and reservation life.

Mestizo is the contemporary term of choice for Hispanic individuals (whether US-born or immigrant) of a similar mixed ancestry (Indigenous and European), but based on different groups. Many Hispanic Americans who have identified as "white" are of Spanish descent, having had ancestors in the Southwestern United States for several generations prior to annexation of that region into the United States. However, identification on the US Census has historically been limited by its terminology and the option to only select one "race" in the past. Others have classified themselves as mestizo, particularly those who also identify as Chicano. Hispanics of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent are most numerous on the East Coast, especially in Florida, New York and New England.

The most recent Hispanic immigrants, who arrived during mid-century until today, have mainly identified as mestizo or Amerindian. They have come from Mexico, Central and North South America. Of the over 35 million Hispanics counted in the Federal 2000 Census, the overwhelming majority of the 42.2% who identified as "some other race" are believed to be mestizos—a term not included on the US Census but widely used in Latin America. Of the 47.9% of Hispanics who identified as "White Hispanic", many acknowledge possessing Amerindian ancestry, as do many European Americans who identify as "White". Hispanics identifying as multiracial amounted to 6.3% (2.2 million) of all Hispanics; they likely included many mestizos as well as individuals of mixed Amerindian and African ancestry.

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  1. ^ Robert E. Bieder, "Sault Ste. Marie and the War of 1812:A World Turned Upside Down in the Old Northwest", Indiana Magazine of History, XCV (Mar 1999), accessed 13 Dec 2008
  2. ^ David A. Sicko, Review: "Mixed Blood" Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South by Theda Perdue, The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 2 (Fall, 2004)
  3. ^ Robert Dale Parker, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, accessed 11 Dec 2008
  4. ^ Robert Spillman, "The Salon Interview: Louise Erdrich",, accessed 16 Dec 2008


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