Thursday, December 16, 2010

Numerous Cases of Mixed Indian & Negro Blood Cited...

In my blog on December 7th of this month I began to tell the story of people on the Choctaw "citizen by blood" roll who had a parent that was considered to be a freedman, colored or Negro. My interest in this was motivated by an excerpt from a congressional hearing in 1907.

Tams BIXBY was providing the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs a rebuttal to testimony given by Webster BALLINGER an attorney representing a class of "mixed blood" people of Choctaw or Chickasaw and African descent. In BIXBY'S rebuttal appeared a phrase that caught my attention (curiosity) and sent me on a hunt for more information.

Senate Report 5013 59th Congress, 2nd Session pt2 pg1542
 There it was, "numerous other cases could be cited of persons of mixed Indian and negro blood who have been finally enrolled as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation." Clearly BIXBY was trying to deflect criticism of the Dawes Commission and it's procedure to enroll people of "mixed" Indian and Negro blood to certain rolls if their mother was a "freedwoman."

However, being the idiot that I am, I had to look at what he was claiming, NUMEROUS other cases in my mind indicated there was a lot to discover. It also indicated that the idea that people in some families could easily end up on separate rolls as citizens and "non-citizens" in the case of Chickasaw freedmen, but this was about Choctaw's and I was determined to locate every last one (what an idiot I am!)

Just so you know, there are over six thousand Choctaw by blood cards and I was going to have to go through each and every one to determine who was enrolled and had a freedman, colored or Negro father and Choctaw mother.

The other thing in the back of my mind is the word numerous; meaning many or abundant, for BIXBY'S statement to have any truth or validity there should be an ABUNDANT number of individuals who fit this particular description?

For me the jury is still out on whether he is supported by the evidence because out of more than six thousand cards I found less than one hundred. That included the "New Born" and "Minor" cards. Also consider the six thousand cards represented over eighteen thousand people who were finally enrolled as Choctaw citizens by blood in 1902; of that figure 1587 were intermarried whites.

So now my juices are flowing and I'm on a mission! Who were these people and just how numerous are they? There was one other curious part of what Tams BIXBY said that quickly got my attention. He gave two examples of the people who were enrolled and I found that hmmmm, interesting!

Senate Report 5013 59th Congress, 2nd Session pt2 pg1541

Senate Report 5013 59th Congress, 2nd Session pt2 pg1542

With this information I felt confident I would be able to at least locate these two examples and begin the process of locating the numerous mixed blood (African-Negro) families on the Choctaw blood rolls. I believe I understand why BIXBY chose these two cases and the Bulah MARSTON case in particular to illustrate his point.

When you first look at the information on this card there is very little that would have you think it fits the criteria for someone being on the Choctaw "citizen by blood" roll who was also of African descent. You will note however several factors that require you to dig a little deeper if you want to know why Tams BIXBY recalled this particular case as his example of the "numerous" mixed blood Choctaw Negroes.

First, both parents of Beulah were still alive which meant there should be a card that could provide information. In addition, the mother of his children is listed as an Intermarried white but the remark after her name says she is a "non-citizen colored." Clearly there is some conflicting information but that's what we live for as genealogist and family historians; a little meat on the bones!

This is a very interesting little note. If Beulah's wife was an intermarried white, NO PROBLEM! She becomes a "citizen by blood" an official "Indian" and life goes on, but there is that notation that the mother of Beulah's children, Mary, is a "non-citizen colored" woman.

This means two things; one, she is not to be enrolled as an "intermarried citizen" because she isn't "white." Two, if she isn't white and children follow the status of their mother, none of the children listed on this card should receive Choctaw citizenship by blood. However the commission enacted a rule that to get around this hurdle an applicant had to show they were recognized in other tribal records. None of this had anything to do with documenting if a person possessed "Indian blood."
Realizing that Beulah's father is a non-citizen, I know there is not a card with him on it unless he was enrolled as an Intermarried white, his mother is another matter, she is alive and indications say she is a citizen! So I needed to locate her card as well as the interview jacket on her and Beulah.

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Beulah's mother was African-Choctaw!!! This meant that Beulah, his mother and all of Beulah's children were "mixed blood" Choctaws.
Another question as a genealogist is how could Beulah and Mary MARSTON'S children not be Choctaw by blood? Call me crazy but if Beulah is considered a Choctaw by blood, his mother is considered Choctaw by blood and his mother's mother is considered Choctaw by blood his children should be considered Choctaw by blood? Somehow the Dawes Commission and the Choctaw tribe found a way to muck this up!

As you look at the information provided on this card you will note how at one point the two children of Beulah and Mary MARSTON were placed on the "D" for "Denied" roll; number D404 to be exact. There is also the notation giving the "reason" as their mother Mary being; say it together group, A NON-CITIZEN NEGRO!
Beulah's card provided a great deal of information and it has to be noted that there were other children born to this couple, a set of twins to be exact! I think that brings us to seven people who were enrolled officially as "mixed Indian Negro."

I alluded to it earlier about the reasons I suspect Tams Bixby used this family as one of his examples of "enrolled mixed Indian Negroes." Beulah MARSTON had the temerity to challenge the system that would deny his wife the same rights an intermarried white woman was given and have his children enrolled as Choctaw by blood despite their mother being a "non citizen colored woman."

Dawes Interview Jacket Beulah MARSTON Choctaw by blood # 4383 p05

Dawes Interview Jacket Beulah MARSTON Choctaw by blood # 4383 p07

Dawes Interview Jacket Beulah MARSTON Choctaw by blood # 4383 p24

Because Tams BIXBY, the Dawes Commission and the so called Five Civilized Tribes sought to minimize the "mixed Negro Indian" population in the tribes, Beulah's actions amounted to a major threat and had to be challenged. Beulah MARSTON deserves a lot of credit for standing up to a system that he knew was inherently wrong and racially motivated. The tribes with the help of the Dawes Commission conspired to exclude thousands of people who had a right to citizenship that included three hundred and twenty acres of land as opposed to the forty acres given to "freedmen."

To understand why the tribes and Dawes Commission sought to minimize the "mixed Indian Negro" population compare the numbers. The number of people on Equity Case 7071 who sought a transfer from the freedmen roll to the Choctaw and Chickasaw by blood roll numbered between 1600 and 2000 individuals.

Those "mixed Indian Negroes" officially enrolled with mixed Choctaw and Chickasaw blood amounted to less than 100. The impact on the tribe and the land distribution which was the underlying motivation (my opinion) for the Dawes "allotment" process would be huge! For the sake of an argument, if you choose to take the maximum numbers 100 and 2,000; that amounted to a difference between 32,000 acres as opposed to six hundred and forty thousand 640,000 acres.

This would have had an impact on the future development of the state of Oklahoma, the railroads that traversed the state, and exploitation of the natural resources like coal, asphalt and almighty oil!

But that's another story!


  1. Well done Terry! Thanks for your truthful insight.

  2. Greetings Vicky and thanks for taking the time to read the article.

    Vicky I think bringing this history to others, hopefully citizens and leaders in the tribes; will motivate them to understand the legacy of slavery among them.

    It would also allow the citizens of the tribes to consider how they can be influential in preserving ALL of their history.

    One simple but important action would be to ensure the identification and preservation of burial sites!

    Segregation and certain policies could have been instrumental in having "Indians" buried in "freedmen" cemeteries.

    If preservation of Native American "sacred burial sites" IS important, the possibility of any cemetery associated with freedmen to become overgrown with vegetation or ignored could be critical to documenting history.

    A program of this nature would also allow these two communities to discover how much they have in common as opposed to the artificial differences that have existed over the decades.

  3. Comment forwarded from another site:

    By:Barbara Ellison
    Date: 12/19/2010, 9:59 am In Response To: Numerous Cases of "Mixed Indian Negro Blood" Cited (Terry LIGON)

    Thank you for this post. VERY GOOD!

  4. Thanx for the kind words Barbara,

    I have been looking at about 20 "mixed Indian Negro by blood" cases in the Choctaw Nation and plan to write about them all.

    These cases bring up some interesting questions and provide an insight into the actions taken by the Dawes Commission and the tribes.

    In the coming blogs I plan on illustrating how "identity, culture and community" have been influenced and developed for each family as "citizens by blood" in the tribe.

    Quite frankly these families provide insight into the politics of culture and identity today as well as how the tribes view "freedmen" and their descendants mixed or not!