The Trail of African Tears
As we near the close of the so called Black History/Heritage Month it is important to note that there is some history and heritage that constantly gets overlooked and ignored during this time of remembrance and celebration. The history of chattel slavery among the so called Five Civilized Tribes barely is mentioned in the mainstream history books and sad to say there appears to be very little acknowledgement of this tragic chapter in Native American history.
|M-234-Emigration Roll #144 (1839-1842)|
It is more frustrating for me is practically everyday someone is voicing concern for the “tragic” story of survival as they tell the story of the “Trail of Tears” when they speak about native atrocities. However it is a constant frustration to see this empathy for the native population especially the nations known as Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole when you see how they engaged in the institution of enslaving people of African and African-Native descent. The story of little boys and girls of their enslaved population is something that is lost to the pages of history.
Over the years I’ve attempted to convey this bit of history when I saw someone post various comments about “Native Americans” specifically one of the aforementioned “Five Slave Holding Tribes” because it perpetuates a story that is not fully and accurately told.
|M-234 -Emigration Roll #144 (1839-1842)|
In the examples provided there were more enslaved people on the trail yet they are absent from the story of the Chickasaw Nation's story of "forced migration." Clearly the majority of the tears on that particular trail came from people of African descent who were forced to travel from Mississippi and beyond.
If the records for scholars were not readily available I might be convinced the admiration and support for this specific community was warranted but the record suggest that is an emotion that flies in the face of what the true history of the Chickasaw Indians and their relationship with people of African descent?
In the Chickasaw nation alone there were thousands of people who suffered as enslaved people and they were part of the infamous “Trail of Tears.” But you wouldn’t know it from the many celebrations among the Five Slave Holding Nations as they talk about their struggle of being forced from their homes west of the Mississippi and “removed” to “Indian Territory.”
As that story gets replayed year after year there is no mentioned of the men women and children of African and African-Native descent that made that same journey as enslaved people, why? When the story of the Trail of Tears is told I would hope the story of the Indian Territory Freedmen and their descendants is included in that story.