Saturday, January 2, 2010

Myths regarding FREEDMEN, The Dawes Rolls and the Tribes

For the new year, 2010, we are going to assist our friends in other tribes a bit more so that we can increase the volume on all of us who have been wronged by our tribes. For my family, that would be the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. But we have friends and supporters who are Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes. Here are some issues to help you learn about their situation. Please share it on Facebook. IF you are a Freedmen, please send a link out to your family and friends so we can help this information become common knowledge.
Myths regarding Freedmen, the Dawes Rolls and the Tribes

1) "Freedmen are only after money and benefits and don’t want to build up the tribal culture". - There is no evidence of this in actuality. Peoples of African descent who are enrolled tribal members do attend stomp dances and learn the language of their nation. Some have written books regarding history of their tribe. (An example of such an Afro-Indian is Mr. Bob Curry, an enrolled Chickasaw who has written the book, the "Chickasaw Rolls"). Many freedmen descendants are employed as engineers, doctors, lawyers, systems analysts, etc.; such individuals would not even qualify for income based tribal assistance programs such as housing assistance and have no need for Indian Health Service programs, since they can access insurance through their employers. Descendants of Freedmen for the most part, have always known that they had Indian descent as well as African descent, and never have tried to hide it. That is contrary to many of the "white Indians" whose Indian descent was not discernable; these people hid their Indian descent until after the proliferation of Indian programs began.

2) "Freedmen and their descendants have no Indian blood" - The historical record does not bear this out. Approximately 1/3 of the original Chickasaw Freedmen went to court to be transferred from the Freedmen rolls to the "Chickasaw by blood rolls". (Equity case 7071). Each of these individuals had affidavits, witnesses, parents marriage licenses, etc. in order to substantiate their case. That they did not prevail at trial was due to procedural grounds and racism in the court system, not to lack of evidence. A look at Dawes census cards also shows Freedmen with Indian descent. For example, the Dawes census card of Ed Johnson, a Chickasaw Freedmen, indicates that his father was Frank Colbert, a deceased Chickasaw Indian who was his previous owner. However, Ed Johnson was not enrolled as a Chickasaw by blood by the Dawes Commission, but was enrolled as a Chickasw freedmen. In another case, Emmitt Homer, son of Ed Homer, a fullblood Choctaw Indian who was legally married to Annie Homer, a Creek Freedwoman; was enrolled as a child by the Dawes Commission as a Creek Freedman, and not as a Choctaw by blood.

3) " Indian Freedmen did not want to be classified as Indians by blood and wanted to be classified as Freedmen". - Again, the historical record does not bear this out. Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen only received 40 acres at the time of the allotment, while Choctaws and Chickasaws by blood received 320 acres as their share of land allotments. It is inconceivable that an Afro-Indian Choctaw tribal member would willingly settle for 40 acres as a Freedmen rather than 320 acres as an Indian by blood, given the choice. Also, in the Chickasaw nation, the Chickasaw nation provided no education for Freedmen since they did not deem them to be Chickasaw citizens. Education for Chickasaw Freedmen was almost non-existent until Oklahoma Statehood, thus it would have been to an Afro-Chickasaw advantage to claim his Chickasaw ancestry in order to obtain education for his children. Thus it is clear that it was the Dawes Commission who made the choice of whether an individual was enrolled as a Freedmen tribal citizen or a citizen by blood. It should also be noted that many tribal citizens of African descent were not fluent English speakers and lacked education; and lacked understanding of the legal process and how to fight discrimination.

4) "Enrollment of the Freedmen descendants will bankrupt the 5 tribes" - This myth also does not hold up to scrutiny. The enrollment of Seminole Freedmen did not bankrupt the Seminole nation, which continued to enroll Seminole Freedmen as tribal members until recently. Surveys show that the average individual of African descent has a higher income than the average non-African Indian. Thus, the newly enrolled Descendants of Freedmen would be less likely to use the needs based tribal services. It must also be noted that the amount of Federal funding is tied to the number of tribal members. Thus, larger tribes such as the Navaho or the Cherokee receive a larger share of Federal Funds for programs than smaller nations such as the Peoria or the Shawnee.

5) "The Dawes Rolls are accurate rolls of tribal members blood quantums" - This again is a myth, a genealogical search of different families shows brothers and sisters of the same parents being enrolled with varying degrees of Indian blood. And again, the rolls were set up to generally record degrees of blood of those tribal members of Indian descent who had no African descent. If a tribal citizen was recorded as an adopted white citizen, he clearly had no Indian blood. However, if a tribal citizen was enrolled as a Freedmen, this did not by definition indicate a lack of Indian blood. Indian blood of Freedmen simply was not recorded.

6) "Freedmen Descendants are wannabe Indians" - Again the historical record shows this to be a myth. Unlike many other currently unenrolled individuals, Freedmen descendants do have legitimate treaty rights, and ancestors with legitimate ties to the 5 nations. Many also do have documented Indian blood, although the blood degree is not listed on the final roll . Although it is true that the majority of the tribal members prior to the civil war did not have slaves of African descent; the unpaid labor of these former slaves allowed slaveholders to have extra money to provide advanced educational opportunities for their children that helped them in their later positions as tribal leaders in dealing with the US government. (An example of such an individual was WP Ross, a member of the slaveholding Ross family who became a Cherokee Chief after the Civil War , a "mixed blood " white Indian and who was also a relative of longtime Cherokee chief John Ross). Thus, the entire nations benefited from the slave labor, not just a few individuals.

7) Freedmen “Buffalo soldiers “ were used to oppress other citizens of the Five nations – Again this is only a myth. After the Revolutionary war, the US government forbade free blacks to serve as armed military troops. Thus there were no black soldiers participating in the “Trails of Tears” of the five nations during the 1830s. There were black soldiers who volunteered and served in the military after the Civil War.. However, these troops mostly consisted of what were called by the five nations Citizens, “State Negroes”, i.e. Black citizens of the United States as opposed to the black Indians who were citizens of the 5 nations. The reason for this was that there were few job opportunities in the United States for free black men and the army offered a steady paycheck. The 5 nations citizen freedmen had more opportunities than the US citizen blacks, as they could work the land in common with other citizens and were able to receive education, training, and employment , including opening small businesses and serving in the tribal governments much easier in the 5 nations than other people of African descent could in the United States. Thus the 5 nations black Indian freedmen generally worked to build up their own nations. The Buffalo soldiers were organized into segregated infantry and Calvary units, almost always commanded by white officers. These black soldiers were used to search for certain Native leaders among the plains Indians and to guard the 5 nations citizens against some of the plains tribes. It must also be brought out that only about 10% of the military at that time consisted of black troops; as the mood of the times would not have allowed huge numbers of armed black troops, even in the territories. Also, black troops were not present at the massacres of indigenous people perpetrated by generals such as Custer at the Battle of the Washita against the mostly women and children of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle. There were no black troops in the 7th Cavalry who shot the unarmed women and children of Lakota Chief Big Foots band under orders of Colonel Forsyth at Wounded Knee. Thus, tales of mistreatment by the 5 nations Freedmen of their fellow tribal citizens due to their military service are definitely untrue.

8) “The Freedmen all gave up their citizenships in the 5 nations after being bought off. Again, this is not true. A few Choctaw freedmen, in 1885, did take a cash payment and gave up their right to Choctaw citizenship. The number of people who accepted the cash payment were less than 100 people, including women and children. The vast number of Choctaw Freedmen elected to remain in the Choctaw nation, the land of their fathers.


Erich Hicks said...

Number 7 is very correct. Read the book, Rescue at Pine Ridge, rescue of the famed 7th by the 9th. This story is not about killing Brothers and Sisters...

Anonymous said...

I’m so glad someone is putting facts out for us to see. This is what is needed so everyone can see how illegal these tribal governments are.

Anonymous said...

The facts are there, and it's good to see them published.

We need all our friends and families to look at these websites.

Tribes are getting away with their outrages because so few people know what's going on.

We need to shine the light on the cockroaches.

creeper said...

Good article, telling the truth
correcting th lies that have been spread by Chad Smith and his cohorts.
I transfered this to my face book.
Mark Lucero

kurux said...

THe Cherokee Nation under Chad Smith's administration is pushing blatantly racist policies. While I am, for the most pat, staying out of the CA indian battles, I would like to comment on specifically the Cherokee Freedmen issue. One must understand that no one is safe from dsenrollment, so long as tribal and federal law is followed. With the Cherokee, our constitution and 1866 treaty is what saved the Freedmen. Were it not for that, they would be disenrolled and there would not really be aything they could legally do. SO here, I guess my advice to the Cali indians is to make sure you are protected by your tribal govt.

What makes the Freedmen disenrollment so wrong is that the 90% of Cherokee enrollees who are white with a thin strain of Cherokee Blood (or none at all!) who aer listed on the "by blood" section of the Dawes Roll, want to kick out the Black enrollees with a thin stran of Cherokee Blood. Both groups are mainly he same, with only one exception which is their skintone. Now som Freedmen might want benefits, but that is their rights as citizens: full access to tribal programs. The same could be said abuot the White Cherokee. The whites have exploited their "indian" ctizenship, and when you visit any Cherokee program, you would never think it was an "indian" program because everyone there looks like a white person.

The Fullbloods have been marginalized in our own tribe, and we are pushed to the back of the line for everything as our chief currys favor with the white Cherokee who elect him to office, most who dont even live in Oklahoma.

Now my opion is that if we had a REAL BQ that cut across all classes of Cheroee Citizens: Freedmen section, 'by blood' section, delaware section, shawnee section,adopted whites, then some of the Freedmen would be disenrolled based on their provable BQ (which can be done using other rolls created by the Cherokee Nation prior to the Dawes). BUT again their protection may be so that they ae the only class who cannot be disenrolled period based on the fact that they are specifically mentioned in th Treaty; this will be decided in court. But eithr ofthese scenarios would also entail many whie thinblods to be disenrolled as well.

So anyway, the the White elite who run and control the Cherokee Nation mainly just want to kick out the Blacks period, and it is what they have done. They still eat up all the tribal funding and do not want to share it with anyone but their cronies (we also have a big time nepotism problem)

So that is what has happenned in the Cherokee Nation. I think the courts should rule in the Freedmens favor (i they are fair) but Chad Smith is pouring well over $15 mil atlast count to fight them.

Allen L. Lee said...

I usually prefer a focus on the Indian Home Guard and Freedmen unity with tribal “Indians”
and a mention about the Freedmen tribal “Light horsemen”((Tribal Police)
"“Slavery in the Cherokee Nation: …
By Patrick Neal Minges

…The Cherokee, members of the Keetoowah Society, were bringing messages of support and solidarity… They reported that there were two thousand warriors within the Cherokee nation led by a Cherokee named Salmon. there were also reports of a significant number of former slaves, being enrolled as “wooly headed” Indians, joining up with the loyalist forces in Indian territory”"Indian Home Guard"

"Story of Freedman Caesar Bruner

...When there was trouble between two bands, a meeting was called between the two bands to discuss a settlement. If it was obvious that neither band would accept the other's suggestions for settlement, the two bands in question would "shoot it out." Reportedly this happened quite frequently and on one occasion, Tecumseh, a light-horseman and one of Bruner's sons shot and killed one of his own brothers because he refused to go when Tecumseh attempted to arrest him."
Part 5 and Conclusion
Black and White Lighthorsemen in Indian Territory
By Art T. Burton
There were quite a few black lighthorsemen in the Creek and Seminole Nations who became renown. In the Seminole Nation, Freedman Dennis Cyrus was the most noted black Indian police officer. Cyrus served with the Seminole Lighthorse for twenty-five years. Five of those years he held a deputy U.S. marshal commission under Marshal John Carroll at Fort Smith. Cyrus died on December 24, 1912. Other black Seminole Lighthorsemen included Cumsey Bruner, Ceaser Payne, Thomas Bruner, John Dennis and Tom Payne. Ceaser Payne was noted for killing a gang leader in the Seminole Nation named Bob Dossay.
In the Creek Nation, Thomas "Tacky" Grayson, a black Freedman was captain of the Lighthorse police for the Coweta District. He was involved in the capture of the Rufus Buck gang and was involved in more than a few shootings during his tenure as a lawman. One other black Creek Lighthorseman of note was Robert Marshall whose reputation was known throughout the Indian Territory. He was murdered in Muskogee on September 10, 1894 by a black criminal named Charles Smith, whom Marshall had caught in the act of trying to steal some horses. Other black Creek Lighthorsemen of the Muskogee District included Tom Kennard, John Miles, John Flowers and John "Cat" Roberts.

Allen L. Lee said...

George Price wrote an essay in response to William S. Yellow Robe Jr.'s play "Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers"
I think one statement in his essay is appropraite here:

"To be shunned, ostracized, or exiled from one's people has always
been one of the most unbearably painful things that a traditional person could ever go
through, and before contact with Europeans that kind of treatment used to only be given
to people as punishment for the more serious types of crimes. To be punished in such a
way for something that is no crime whatsoever, but, instead, a natural condition of birth
and something that for all the ages of time before the Jim Crow era was as normal and
accepted by traditional Native people as the welcoming of and occasional adoption of
strangers, surely brought immeasurable anguish to those who received such treatment.
For those of us who have not lived in such a world, only the power of theater can even
begin to show us something of what such an experience was really like.

For the dis-enrolled, they are living the theater.

Allen L. Lee said...

To Buffalo Soldier # 7 and 9,

The history of the Wounded Knee Massacre shows the Buffalo Soldiers were complicit is staging the massacre and subjugating the survivors after the massacre.
As an African American,I dont feel anything short of an official apology from Buffalo Soldier re-enactors and builders of the Buffalo soldier Museum will suffice.
The fact that Indian soldiers also helped stage the massacre doesn't diminish the Buffalo Soldiers culpability in it, even though there is a contigent of Native racists that continue to draw on this point to oppose the rights of Cherokee freedmen descendants.
As for the Buffalo Soldier interaction with the Five Tribes in Oklahoma, they played a pivotal role in holding back the land boomers and intruders into Indian Country. Including one instance where they were ordered to massacre a group of unarmed white intruders that they had surrounded, an order they refused to carry out.
It's funny to hear some Indian people blame the tribal Freedmen for the loss of Indian land when one looks at this aspect of history.

Black Valor - Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of honor, 1870 -1898
Chapter 9
pg 121
“…After panic struck and terrified Indian agents sounded the alarm, troopers from posts converged on the Sioux reservations. The Ninth , stationed at nearby forts in Nebraska and Wyoming, arrived first.
…Major Henry’s battalion of the Ninth Cavalry left the Pine Ridge Agency and went into the field with orders to find Big Foot’s band -- “the gallant colored boys,” reporter W.F. Kelley…called them, as they sat out to scour the country north and northeast of the agency… They never caught up with Big Foot. The Seventh Cavalry did,…On the morning of December 29 the Seventh’s attempt to disarm the Indians turned to a bloodbath”
Schubert, Frank N. “ Black Valor Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870 -1898”
Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1997

just do it said...

thank you Allen

Terry LIGON said...

It is refreshing to see someone from the "Native American" community has the courage to speak truth to power.

Unfortunately there are institutions like the NCAI that continue to ignore the illegal and unconstitutional practices of the Five Slave Holding Tribes.


(grGrandson-Bettie LIGON.Equity Case 7071) Chickasaw by blood descendant

Choctaw/Chickasw Freedman Descendant

Stefanie Colbert Stringfellow said...

It is refreshing to hear of those who speak the truth, without apology.
My name is Stefanie Colbert Stringfellow. I am a descendant of Susannah James Colbert, a Choctaw mentioned in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, Major James Holmes Colbert, a Chief in the Chickasaw Nation and Edmund Colbert, Freedman and minister.

It is my hope that others like yourself, will look into the truth of this matter, and realize that what is being said is not what is true, or right.

There are few things worse than what we as Native Americans have endured for centuries in this Nation-Being thrown out of our respective Tribes however, is the ultimate degradation, because we have been wrongfully stripped of our Citizenship, while those who stand accountable for these tasks stand idly by and do nothing. I am certain our ancestors mourn in their graves, while those who can do something stand by, shaking their heads, but in the end doing NOTHING.

It is time, that this Nation uphold Treaties made with this countries Original people, insofar as is possible, and that includes recognizing and rectifying this matter of racial prejudice.

May truth one day prevail,
Stefanie Colbert Stringfellow
Nanaiya-acts for peace

Anonymous said...

t to let them his is totally not my grat grand ma had a original indian name when she married a black she became a freedmen if they do not o them to let them enroll give back what was given to them so they can build there own tribe my grand ma was full blood so was her mother hse-ge-nah-na what ever

Anonymous said...

what ever po-e-bo-no we -ga -ba he- m ah- kah-tah the freedmen were there for as long as any one else they were alloted land even full tblood were slaves the slave owner married them so thats just like buying a piece of land but than i will through you out so give back to them what is theres than they will build there own tribe than things will turn around other people will try to enroll look up the truth

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