Ethnic heritage in the U.S.

There’s a map provided by the U.S. Census bureau in 2000 detailing the location of immigrant populations by ethnicity, albeit 15 years ago. In 2013, the UK’s Daily Mail wrote an article about it here.The article states that by far the largest population in the U.S. — just under 50 million in 2000 — were of German heritage.

With DNA testing becoming more common, new demographics are being worked up at places like Ancestry.com. Admittedly, the population on the Ancestry.com map numbers a quarter of a million, compared with 317 million surveyed for the 2000 census.

Now that I’m looking into the history of Scottish immigration, I’m finding the data on these maps less than enlightening. On both, a separate category for Scottish people is not delineated. Apparently, citizens of Scotland are lumped with the English, under Great Britain.

A closer look at the 2000 census map reveals the category “American”(not meaning Native Americans, who have their own separate designation). According to the Daily Mail article, these respondents called themselves Americans for political reasons, or because they are unsure of their identity.

Political reasons? Clustered mainly in the south, especially in the Appalachian mountains, so-called “Americans” chose this identity on the census due to political tensions that exist in the South regarding “those who consider themselves original settlers and those who are more recent.” What, like job seniority, where the earliest arrivals get more privileges than those who come after? Oh my.

On paper, the Scots (and Welsh) and English might fall under the same helmet. But in reality even today, a clear distinction is made between the Scottish people and the English, based on dialect, customs, and race. When it comes to that, the country of Scotland is actually two separate entities — the Highlanders, people mainly of Celtic origin whose original language was Gaelic (now spoken only in small remote areas of the Highlands), and Lowlanders, where most share a Saxon heritage with the English.

Especially for the Highland Scots, the erasure of their ethnic identity began well before their arrival in the colonies. Starting in the mid-1700s, the English had begun systematically dismantling their language, manner of dress, and clan way of life.

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