Friday, April 30, 2010

The Concept of Race in the Five Slave Holding Tribes Part 3

In my examples I wanted to concentrate on one man; Robert H. LOVE who fathered several children; some became citizens of the Chickasaw Nation as did their children and one was not, she was enrolled as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation despite her protest that she be enrolled as a Chickasaw “by blood” citizen along with all of her children. There is and shouldn’t be any ambiguity about this simple fact yet among the Five Slave Holding Tribes the idea seemed a bit inconvenient “if” it was too be applied to the children of Indian men and African descendant women; the record will bear that out!

The theory that marriage was integral to establishing paternity is as one attorney who argued before the Senate Select Committee on Affairs in Indian Territory; Webster Ballinger, correctly defined this type of thinking as “an abuse of intelligence.” The Dawes Commission though careful to scrutinize people on marriages and lineal descent, seemed to take a “crooked path” when it came to establishing African-Native ancestry.

In my next example we are confronted with another refutation of the idea that marriage was the path to citizenship in the application of Joe N. LOVE Chickasaw by blood card # 1717. His path to citizenship is not unlike those children of Chickasaw men and African descendant women, except in one crucial aspect……….he was enrolled as a citizen!

Some might say that it is the exception to the rule but even if that were true, it sets a precedent that tears at the fiction that a “legal marriage” was the law that determined “citizenship” and “race!”

African-Native people of Indian Territory were not “equally protected” by laws that were designed to circumvent their rights, IF they could get an attorney to represent them in these complex legal matters! Clearly the laws and procedures established by the Dawes Commission and the Five Slave Holding Tribes were designed to suppress information that established their ancestry based on the laws already on the books.

In our next example Joe N. LOVE states in a letter to the Dawes Commission that he is an “illegitimate” child of Robert H. LOVE a deceased Chickasaw Indian and his mother was a non-citizen “white” woman. Despite all of this and let me reiterate he was illegitimate, by definition there was no “legal” marriage and still, he was granted citizenship and his full rights AND land allotment because of his Indian father.

The infamous Choctaw and Chickasaw Citizenship Court, the legal body in the Nation setup with deal to have legislation enacted that would deliberately bar freedmen from being transferred to the blood rolls was the legal entity that violated the supposed law that allowed only children of “legal” marriages to become citizens in the nation.

When you look even closer at the documents and the actions of the Dawes Commission which was supported by the tribes an unmitigated fraud was visited upon thousands of men, women and children who were denied the protection of a legal system that failed them miserably.

The only tribe that created a list of “intermarried whites” was the Cherokee tribe. Yet the four mother tribes, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek all engaged in the miraculous transformation of turning white people into Indians by blood by simply including “Intermarried Whites” on the “Citizen by blood Rolls.”

This fiction that marriage was the legal process to determine paternity was already refuted by the laws on the books at the time and I will attempt to cover certain aspects of that in a future post.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...

My Ancestor's Name: They Served with Honor: The 809th Pioneer Infantry---"Quiet Heroes of the Brawny Arm"

Another amazing story of our ancestors has been posted to this site. I would also like to add that among the many things that tie and maintains my relationship with Angela I can proudly proclaim another!

Apparently one of my great uncles served in the same 809th Infantry with Samuel Walton, survived the influenza epidemic and now his story can be told along with the other brave men who served their country in World War I.

Angela, thanks so much for taking the time to research this particular unit and bringing their story to light. I'm eternally grateful!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exploring the Concept of Race in the Five Slave Holding Tribes - Part 2

Continuing with the thought that the “concept of race” was integral to the eventual process of determining citizenship in the Five Slave Holding Tribes of Southeastern Indians known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muskogee) and Seminole tribes I thought it would be illustrative to used children born of the same father but different mothers and allow it to show how race played a part in how each would gain citizenship in the nation of their father’s birth.

The first child was named Thomas B. LOVE the son of Sally LOVE (deceased) and considered a Chickasaw. His father was also deceased and named Robert H. LOVE and known to be “one half” Chickasaw by blood. Thomas and his family appear on the Chickasaw (blood) card number 580

What becomes remarkable and interesting about Thomas and his family is the treatment of his wife and children and their status as Chickasaw Indians. His wife is clearly identified racially as white but she is listed in the “citizenship” records as an “intermarried white” and on the same “Chickasaw blood roll” as her husband and children.

When you look at the record (M1301) of the oral interview jacket on this family the bulk of the information deals with the issue of citizenship for Mary LOVE who admittedly was not born in Indian Territory, her parents where not born in Indian Territory and apparently Mary HUDDLESTON arrived in Indian Territory at the age of 18 or 19 and married Thomas LOVE. There was very little information for Thomas other than he appeared on a roll of citizens (presumably based on his father and/or mother being a citizen of the Chickasaw nation, but there was no actual documentation included in the file to support his citizenship other than a cursory interview.

Through this marriage Mary would subsequently be placed on the Chickasaw “Citizen by blood” roll and not have a single drop of Chickasaw blood in her veins unlike Thomas’ “half sister” Bettie LIGON and approximately two thousand other similarly situated individuals.

This is an image of page 10, of the Interview Jacket for Thomas LOVE Chickasaw by Blood # 580.
His wife is enrolled as a “citizen” by “intermarriage” and should have been placed on the I.W. roll, but you will note her name appears as the spouse of Thomas on the Blood roll, just another example of how white’s became Indian with the stroke of a pen.

It was also the means by which her children could be considered “Chickasaw Indian” not because of their mother but based on their father’s status as an Chickasaw Indian.

This is said to be the culture of the Chickasaw Indians but it says a great deal more about how race and politics collided to embrace the children of white women and excluded the children of black women when it came to citizenship in the Chickasaw Nation and throughout the Five Slave Holding Tribes.

It is a specious argument about genealogy when you validate a person’s identity based on “marriage” as opposed to paternity and maternity. When the Dawes Commission was mandated to “construct a correct roll” of Indians by blood, Intermarried Whites and Freedmen, the inclusion of Mary HUDDLESTON on the blood rolls was in direct contradiction to their mandate.

We will explore how the concept of "illegitimacy" play a role in raced based biases in the Five Slave Holding Tribes in our next installment.

Anger Management and Anonymous “Native” Writers

Apparently the anonymous defenders of “Indian” life and culture have been agitated to the point of writing the usual hate mail because of my drawing attention to the history of slavery and racial prejudice in the Five Slave Holding Tribes known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

It appears they are of the opinion that I should post their vile and incendiary language just because I omitted mentioning the contributions of Africans to the institution of slavery among the Five Slave Holding Tribes. My misguided defender of all things Native American goes further to suggest that it is because of me and my colleague Angela Walton-Raji speaking on these issues, we have somehow driven a wedge between the Black and Red communities. I doubt quite seriously either of us having that much power and influence over either community that the statement is laughable.

However that was not the end of my detractors hate filled rant, OH NO! The fact that I would post primary source material too substantiate my point is not impressive enough for Mr. or Mrs. “Native.” Like so many people “Native” did not want to be confused by the facts, they preferred to continue down the road of denial and blame everyone else but the “poor defenseless Indians” from their participation in the “peculiar institution” of enslaving humans. THAT ain’t gonna happen!

They noted I didn’t BLAME THE WHITE MAN! Nor did I BLAME THE AFRICAN FOR SELLING MY ANCESTORS FOR A BOTTLE OF RUM! Quite frankly, he/she is right! I’m not blaming them or anyone else for that matter, I’m just interpreting the history according to the documentation that I read and from where I sit, the Five Slave Holding Tribes where just that! Slave holders! They were racist and they were fathers to a whole lot of African-Native children they denied. Not a pretty picture but very true and documented. They are not being blamed for a thing, but they need to take responsibility for their history and legacy of oppressing humans.

I have no idea what the Africans were thinking when they participated in the slave trade and for that matter, it is not clear if they understood their part in the institution. No, I’m not blaming the white man because in this case, there were plenty of whites in the nation to such a degree, many were considered, say it with me boys and girls, INDIANS!

The “Indians” in most of the five tribes with the notable exception of the Seminoles were so mixed with whites and intimately involved in their culture that Indian and white could be interchangeable when you discuss the Five Slave Holding Tribes. But I digress.

My buddy “Native” seems to think that it is impossible to discuss the history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes AND NOT implicate all the other Native American tribes on the North American continent. “Native” apparently is of the belief there truly is a “Native American race” of people which the Five Slave Holding Tribes are central to it’s being. I on the other hand don’t see “Native Americans” as being monolithic or a “pure” race, sorry, that’s just my opinion.

The Five Slave Holding Tribes have developed their own history and culture and it included owning, dehumanizing, ostracizing, oppressing other humans. When they attempt to elicit sympathy for their plight as an oppressed people I will be there to tell the other side of the story. The Five Slave Holding Tribes cloak themselves with the pain of other tribes but never, NEVER seem capable of telling their true history when it comes to the institution of slavery; so I’m here to help them see the evil in their past and hopefully work through some of their anger management issues when confronted by their history.

Look, I can understand how some of this rhetoric sounds if you are not familiar with the history and the documentation. I am not even suggesting I have all of the answers or that I’m 100% correct on my interpretation of the data. However, I do know right from wrong, and the “Five Slave Holding Tribes” have been wrong for some time and they are going to be called on it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Exploring the Concept of Race in the Five Slave Holding Tribes

It has always been a curious argument heard over the years that “race” was not a part of citizenship among the so called Five Civilized Tribes of Southeastern Indians known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee) and Seminole nations. It is curious because most of the documentation flies in the face of that argument.

The citizens in the nation will speak of their history of adopting people into the nation and will give some isolated example of how an individual was embraced by their tribe to demonstrate they were adhering to some ancient practice that is a part of their culture. The practice appears to be rare for black folk when you look at the record of the five slave holding tribes. Understandably, being southern, plantation slave owning tribes, race was every bit of their makeup.

Take for example the 1896 Applications for citizenship in the four “mother tribes” Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek. This little used record set also known as M1650 at the National Archives contains many applications of people attempting to become citizens in the nation of their birth but as one should expect, race was a factor when the Department of the Interior and its employee’s began the process of “racial” categorization at least in the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. Their attorneys included language that spoke emphatically on the subject of racial prejudice in each file where someone with mixed African-Native ancestry applied for citizenship.

The records were separated into distinct categories of citizenship; intermarried white, freedmen and “by blood.” Even the applications that were submitted for “by blood” citizenship would receive a notation on them that ensured the applicant would be classified by race and in the case of the Chickasaw nation, not entitled to citizenship if the individual had a mother who was of “African” descent.

During the Dawes enrollment and land allotment process in which the Dawes Commission was mandated to construct rolls of individuals in distinct categories according to their “racial classification” a sordid and convoluted process was utilized in my opinion to minimize the amount of land that would be granted to anyone of “discernable” African dissent.

As genealogist we recognize the fact that a child is the product of both parents and two sets of grandparents and so on… What is so unarguably ridiculous is the method the Dawes Commission and the Five Slave Holding Tribes contrived to establish that a person is considered the race of their mother and their father’s contribution should not be used to determine whether an individuals possessed “Indian blood.”

In my next installment I will illustrate my point with additional documenatation too illustrate how the science of genealogy was corrupted to prevent thousands of people from being "correctly and legally" described as possessing "Indian blood."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

The descendants of Indian Territory Freedmen, the former slaves of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Indians have an enormous task in preserving the known and unknown burial sites of their ancestors. What I'm puzzled by is the eargerness these descendants have for asserting their rights as citizens in these nations but show no such energy when it comes to preserving these sacred sites.

When you couple the fact that none of the five slave holding tribes have a program to help preserve these sacred sites with the clear possibility that there are "Indians" interred in these "burial grounds" is perplexing!

If their sole aim is to become citizens of these five tribes based on their rights obtained through adoption and treaty, why is there no program organized to preserve this history?

If the tribes one day have an attack of honesty and somehow realize their history is part of the "Freedmen" history will they establish a program to clean up and preserve these sites?

If the tribes never adopt the descendants of their former slaves as citizens in accordance with the Fort Smith Treaty of 1866 following the Civil War, will the freedmen descendants totally abandon the gravesites of their ancestors?

We need to address these issues now and begin to establish what is important.

Mockery of Native American Heritage?...

I was reading a commentary today on the issue of mocking “Native Heritage” and how it “perpetuates Native issues.” Contained in the article was an analogy of how offensive this mockery was to “Natives” with the use of someone parading around in “blackface” and how it would be offensive to “blacks” in this country.

In making this argument the writer does what I believe a lot of writers, Native and otherwise do, establish their arguments by using black people as the measuring stick for what is deemed offensive.

Granted blacks have been used in so much racial hatred by way of caricature that I understand why the author of the article thought it was a useful tool for arguing against such insensitive behavior when people appropriate certain aspects of culture but the blackface argument may not apply because one is culture, the other is racially tinged.

Which brings me to another aspect of this article that I find rather disturbing when it comes to defenders of “Native culture” and how it weaves an intricate maze of misinformation regarding the intersection of native culture and history?

When people talk about the parallels of oppression or cultural insensitive behavior visited upon “Native Americans,” rarely do they write, discuss or vaguely bring up that “Native Americans” are not a monolithic community or race of people. They never make the connection of how Native Americans were oppressors in their own right when you look at the history of the so called Five Civilized Tribes and their enslavement of people of African ancestry. When they discuss the issues of Native American blood and culture, the years of slavery and miscegenation among the five slave holding tribes and African descendant people never reaches polite conversation.


I would think someone, so thoughtful, so articulate and seemingly knowledgeable about “Native Issues” would be as thoughtful and articulate about the history of the five slave holding tribes and their abuses during the antebellum period?

I would think their concern for being “sensitive” to the issues of mockery of culture would surely have them speak out on the history of racism in their own community?

Yet, we see once again that an issue of Native American culture being mocked is another justification to measure their pain and suffering with another marginalized community that has a sordid history among the Native American community and very few enlightened “Native Americans” ever broached the subject of the Five Slave Holding Tribes and their legacy of racial intolerance.


The last question on my mind is; what is "Native Culture" when it comes to the Five Slave Holding Tribes? Is the culture they are now attempting to portray as an ancient people with customs that demonstrate their close family ties, respect for ALL life and spirituality as they run like Forest Gump from their racist past when the institution of slavery was every bit a part of their way of life and culture?

Monday, April 19, 2010

MADNESS Monday...One Drop Rule Determines Race

In 1905 a Senate investigation was held regarding the enrollment and allotment of land to the former slaves of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. During this investigation it was discovered that many of the former slaves of the Indians were children and grand children of Choctaw and Chickasaw men.

During the investigation testimony was taken from many of the people involved with the enrollment process but one person in particular gave damaging testimony to the practice of racial identification practiced by the Dawes Commission that was detrimental to the future land wealth of thousands of people of African-Native American descent.

Charles Cohee gave testimony to the method of forcing people who were multi-racial from the tent that received testimony on their Indian ancestry and forced them to enroll as a freedmen.

What was maddening about this procedure is the deliberate act of denying for ages thousands of individuals who had possibly more Indian blood than people who were enrolled as Choctaw and Chickasaw "by blood." This act also deprived these thousands of men, women and children 320 acres of land they were rightfully entitled too.

The one overriding reason for denying these people their birth rights as "Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians" was there mother was of African descent.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surname Saturday...

What I know of my family's genealogy is largely based in Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma. The oldest record I know is that of my Great Great Grandmother Margaret Ann WILSON nee ALEXANDER who was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama circa 1822.

Margaret Ann traveled to Indian Territory on the so called "Trail of Tears" around 1843 with Colonel Benjamin LOVE as his slave. Benjamin LOVE his immediate family and auxillary families were Chickasaw "mixed blood" Indians and were one of the largest slave holding families in the Chickasaw tribe.

Margaret Ann would become the matriarch of many Indian Territory Freedmen families whose names are well known among those who research this unique and rich history. She gave birth to many children by an enslaved man by the name of Cornelius PICKENS.

Of this union there are five children documented their names are: Salina PICKENS, Isabella PICKENS, Susan PICKENS with two known sons named Colbert ALEXANDER and William ALEXANDER. Additionally Margaret had several other children who were born prior to the Civil War and emancipation of Chickasaw and Choctaw slaves in 1866.

She had a daughter by a man named Mink LOVE whose name was Louisa LOVE. She had a son by a man named Philip WILSON, whose name was John WILSON. Margaret had one other child named Bettie LOVE by a relative of her original Chickasaw owner Benjamin, his name was Robert Howard LOVE and their daughter was named Bettie LIGON nee LOVE.

Salina married a man by the name of Culosh HAWKINS and gave birth to six children. Isabella married a man named Henry CLAY and gave birth to ten children. Susan was married to Sank JACKSON and together they reared six children.

Margaret son, Colbert who appears to be named after her father had one child named Margaret ALEXANDER whose mother was Silla JAMES. Cornelius and Margaret's son William married Victoria MAYS and together they reared five children.

Margaret's daughter Bettie married William Hadley LIGON and together they reared eight children. These comprise just a few of the surnames I research in my family's genealogy: