African American Heritage & Ethnography Learning Resources Center: Glossary


the theory that states that minorities can maintain their distinctive subcultures and simultaneously interact with relative equality in the larger society.
the exchange of cultural features that result when groups come into continuous first hand contact; the original cultural patterns of either or both groups may be altered, but the groups remain distinct.
relative by marriage.
African American language
(Black Vernacular English (BEV), Black English, Ebonics) a rule-governed dialect of American English with roots in southern English. BEV is spoken by African-American youths and by many adults in their casual, intimate speech- sometimes called Ebonics.
African Diaspora
people of African origins who have migrated to other parts of the world.
ethnographic and linguistic term used to refer to a cluster of culturally homogeneous groups living in central and southern Ghana and parts of the adjoining eastern Cote d’Ivoire.
Spanish word meaning mayor.
Spanish word meaning field-grade worker, ensign or second lieutenant.
laws enacted to prohibit the marrying, cohabitation and sexual relationships between people of different “races.”
Spanish word meaning agreement, entry or seat.
the process of change that a minority group may experience when it moves to a country where another culture dominates; the minority is incorporated into the dominant culture to the point it no longer exists as a separate cultural unit.
(1) quality or state of being self-governing; (2) self-directing freedom; (3) ability to make choices for oneself.
peoples along the Atlantic Coast of Africa from Point-Noire Congo (Brazzaville) to Luanda, Angola—Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), and Angola.
Mande ethnic group located mainly in Mail, but can also be found in Mauritania, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.
blended families
(1) families in which there are two or more children, at least one child is the natural child of both parent and the other (others) is/ are step-child or step-children. (2) Step-familes.
unacculturated Africans.
captivity boxes, cells or rooms where the enslaved awaited departure.
coal miners
unglazed, low-fired plain earthware made in colonial America between the 17th and 18th centuries
societies devoted especially to a religious or charitable cause; fraternal organizations.
Spanish term for conquerors.
members of kin (descent) group related by blood line.
to challenge or dispute.
ideas about the universe as an ordered system and the place of human in the universe.
counter-cultural resistance (strategies)
ways in which people contest or resist social institutions and organization.
(1) person of European descent born in the West Indies or Spanish America; (2) white person descendant from the early French or Spanish settlers in the Gulf; (3) person of mixed French or Spanish and black descent speaking a dialect of French or Spanish.
Creole language
language descended from pidgin that has native speakers.
person of pure Spanish blood born in Spanish America.
distinctively human process by which traditions and customs that govern behavior are passed down from generation to generation; body of learned behaviors common to a given human society that has patterned and predictable form and content to a degree.
cultural resistance (strategies)
things people do to preserve their cultural identity and language.
cultural resource management
cultural resources are defined by the National Park Service as archeological resources, cultural landscapes, ethnographic landscapes, historic and prehistoric structures and museum collections. The NPS is charged with the management of these resources through researching to identify, evaluate, document, register and establish information about resources; planning to ensure that resources and those connected to the resources are consulted during management processes; and providing stewardship to ensure the preservation and protection of resources.
descent community
a permanent social unit whose members claim common ancestry.
a verbal exchange of ideas; conversation.
knowledge derived through experiment and observations rather that theory.
land in which Indians are given as tribute.
tendency to view one’s own culture as best and to judge the behavior and beliefs of culturally different people by one’s own standards.
ethnographers tool kit
methods that include, but are not limited to: literature review, participant observation, interviews (informal, unstructured, semi-structured and structured), archival and secondary data, focus groups, genealogy, life and oral histories, team research, longitudinal studies, linguistics, site visits, videotaping, mapping, transect walks, and ethnographic surveys.
first hand, detailed account of a particular culture as a result of fieldwork.
ethnographic research
research done by anthropologists using a variety of methods including participant observation, interviews, questionnaires, life histories, oral histories, genealogy, longitudinal research, and team research.
ethnographic resources
cultural and natural features of a park that are of time honored significance to traditionally associated peoples.
bones and other animal life found in archaeological sites used to help reconstruct past ecosystems and cultural subsistence patterns.
fictive kin
personal relationships modeled on kinship; such as godparents and godchildren.
an iron worker who transforms cast iron into wrought iron.
funerary and burial practices (rites and customs)
observances connected with death and burial. Such observances are a distinctive human characteristic. A funeral is a ceremony marking a person’s death. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the death, from the funeral itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor. They are deeply associated with religious beliefs about the nature of death and the existence of an afterlife, and also have important psychological, sociological, and symbolic functions for the survivors. Funerary rites and customs are connected not only with the preparation and disposal of the body, but also with the well-being of the survivors and with the persistence of the spirit or memory of the deceased.
gens de couleur
people of color
hammerer, smith
heritage preservation
is the protection and enhancement of the tangible and intangible evidence of a people’s cultural history. Tangible evidence may include buildings, landscapes, sites and objects. Intangible evidence include the vehicles through which people express their beliefs, morals, values and identity such as language, ceremonies, visual and performance art, body adornment, foodways and crafts.
acculturate to Hispanic ways
indentured servitude
form of contract work in which a person works without pay for an agreed upon amount of time in exchange for room and board, passage fees, or other debts to be eventually freed form the debt obligation at the end of the contract. Indentured servitude can be voluntary or involuntary.
intergenerational families
families that include not only a husband and wife and their children, but can also include grandparents and others from different generation of a family unit.
international historic site
these are relevant to the respective countries’ histories. One International Historic Site, Saint Croix International Historic Site, is relevant to both United States and Canadian history.
people living in west-central Africa along the lower Congo River; Bantu language of the Kongo used as the lingua franca in southern Republic of Congo, the western Democratic Republic of the Congo (formally Zaire) and northern Angola.
(1) person of Spanish (¾) and Indian (¼) heritage. (2) Someone who is linguistically and culturally Hispanic and has adopted the culture.
lingua franca
any of various languages used as common or commercial tongues among people of diverse speech.
a money of account formally used in France and French colonies originally worth a pound of silver.
tracing descent through the mothers line.
falsehood, deception, diversion from the absolute truth.
person of mixed Spanish and Indian (Native American) heritage.
(1) person of brown skin color; (2) person of Spanish and Indian and African heritage, (3) also used to refer to people of darker skin.
person of mixed African (black) and Spanish ancestry.
national battlefield
this general title includes national battlefields, national battlefield parks, national battlefield sites, and national military parks. Example, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Missouri.
national heritage areas
region in which entire communities live and work, and in which residents, businesses, and local governments have come together to conserve special landscapes and their own heritage. Example, Cane River National Heritage Area, Louisiana.
national historical park
this designation generally applies to historic sites that extend beyond single properties or buildings. Example, Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia.
national historic site
usually, a national historic site contains a single historical feature directly associated with its subject. Derived from the Historic Sites Act of 1935, some historic sites were established by Secretaries of the Interior; most have been authorized by acts of Congress. Example, Mary Mcleod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, District of Columbia.
national lakeshore
National Lakeshores, all on the Great Lakes, closely parallel the National Seashores in character and use. Example, Indiana Dune National Lakeshore, Indiana.
national memorial
a national memorial is commemorative of a historic person or episode; it need not occupy a site historically connected with its subject. Example, Wright Brothers National Memorial, North Carolina.
national military park
see National Battlefield. Example, Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, North Carolina.
national monument
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to declare by public proclamation landmarks, structures and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on lands owned or controlled by the Federal government to be national monuments. Example, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia.
national park
generally, national parks are large natural places that encompass a wide variety of attributes, sometimes including significant historic assets. Hunting, mining and consumptive activities are not authorized in national parks. Example, Acadia National Park, Maine.
national parkway
the title parkway refers to a roadway and the parkland paralleling the roadway. All were intended for scenic motoring along a protected corridor and often connect cultural sites. Example, George Washington Memorial Parkway, District of Columbia.
national preserve
national preserves are areas having characteristics associated with national parks, but in which Congress has permitted continued public hunting, trapping, oil/gas exploration and extraction. Example, Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas.
national recreation area
These are generally centered on large bodies of water and emphasize water-based recreation. Some are located near major population centers. When located in urban areas, these parks combine scarce open spaces with the preservation of significant historic resources and important natural areas in locations that can provide outdoor recreation for large numbers of people. Example, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada and Arizona.
national reserve
National reserves are similar to national preserves. Management may be transferred to local or state authorities. The first reserve, City of Rocks in Idaho, was established in 1988.
national river
There are several variations to this category: National river and recreation area, national scenic river, wild river, etc. The first was authorized in 1964 and others were established following passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Example, Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Texas and Obed Wild and Scenic River, Tennessee.
national seashore
these have been established on the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts; some are developed and some relatively primitive. Hunting is allowed at many of these sites. Example, Assateaque Island National Seashore, Maryland.
national trail
the National Trails System, created by law in 1968, is made up of four types of trails: national scenic trails, national historic trials, national recreation trails and connecting and side trails. There are presently 15 national historic trails, 8 national scenic trails, almost 900 national recreation trails, and 2 connecting and side trails. The 23 scenic and historic trail corridors measure more than 40,000 miles in combined lengths. The NPS currently administers 16 of 23 scenic and historic trails and jointly administers two others with the Bureau of Land Management. Example, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Trail, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
nuclear families
families in which mother and father and children live in the same household.
other stewardship land
Other stewardship land refers to units that cannot be readily included in any of the standard categories. Examples include: the White House, the National Mall, Wolf Trap Farm Park, VA and Catoctin Mountain Park, MD.
cheap, unbleached fabric made of cotton.
all of the gods of a people
patrilineal descent group
tracing descent through the fathers line.
a mixed language that develops to ease communication between members of different cultures in contact with each other, usually in situations of trade of colonial domination.
a general term that refers to the political organization of a group.
slave doctors
slaves who treated illness of other enslaved people as well as families of white plantation owners.
systematic, responsible actions directly affecting ethnographic resources.
to support, confirm, uphold.
(1) situation in which a people or region is tribute to a more powerful entity, this entity, however, has limited autonomy. (2) domain of an overlord.
kerchief, headwrap, scarf.
person who paid (or for whom someone else paid) one of the taxes imposed by the General Assembly to support the civil government of the colony; poll or capitation tax on free white makes, African American slaves, and Native American servants ages 16 and older.
Western diaspora
the dispersion of a people to the West, here specifically people of African descent to the Americans and the Caribbean.
Windward Coast
present day Ivory Coast and Liberia.