Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Researching a Story From All Angles...

Over the past couple of weeks I've been doing some deep research (my opinion) on the thousands of people who sought a transfer to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian by blood rolls. During the course of that research a couple of things came to mind about the story and what was missing from the overall story.

Clearly the main focus for me over the years has been the people of African-Native descent who claimed to have Choctaw or Chickasaw ancestry. I have been noting their attempts at being transferred from the Freedmen Roll to the citizen by blood roll. When you look at documents that were used to determine citizenship, it is apparent (to me) how the Dawes Commission and tribal leaders constructed the rolls to "exclude" people identified as "freedmen" from documenting their "Indian" blood.
You can see from the heading of each nation's Dawes Roll except for the Creek Nation each document made it a point to "not including freedmen." Except for the Creek's where I have yet to locate a form that has the statement "not to include" and the Cherokee nation where they excluded several categories of individuals, the overriding sentiment was "not including freedmen" on the so called "by blood" rolls.

In my recent blog Laws: Customs & Usages, See Things As They Are...

I began the process of illustrating how the Dawes Cards went to elaborate attempts at "not including freedmen" with mixed "African-Native" ancestry from the blood rolls with the practice of "including" people of "mixed parents" with the female parent classified as Choctaw or Chickasaw "by blood" only. As a genealogist I find the practice offensive based on a genealogist's understanding of "descent." In simple terms we are a product of two individuals our genealogy, DNA and the rest results in a total person, not fractions that allows the phrase "not including freedmen."

On both of these cards you have individuals without any trace of Indian blood, but they and their descendants today would be consider "Indian" because they show up on the blood roll.

In congressional testimony before a Senate Committee the attorney for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation's was quite clear that the children of Indian men and freedmen women were no more than illegitimate children and should not be placed on the blood roll.

Senate Document 298 59th Congress, 2nd Session

The subtitle stated "not including freedmen" was the catch-all phrase that allowed the exclusion of thousands of people with Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Cherokee blood to be placed on rolls that are utilized today to proclaim tribes don't want "non-Indians" in the tribes.

Perhaps that should have been their sentiment during the Dawes enrollment process because today many "citizens" of the tribes are the offspring of "non-Indian" and/or "intermarried whites." with no discernible "Indian" blood. Some were even, illegitimate and still received "citizenship by blood."

Lizzie GARLAND Choctaw by blood#6090

Don't take my word for it! If you looked at the first one hundred cards on the "Choctaw by blood" roll you will see the majority of the cards have someone on them with the classification or their immediate parent with a classification of I.W. or Non Citizen somewhere on their card. The Chickasaw cards are in such bad condition it is virtually impossible to look through them for answers but I'm sure a similar history provides similar results. That's just the first one hundred, throughout the more than six thousand cards I hazard to guess that the majority of the cards has someone who is "intermarried white" or "non-citizen" enrolled as a "citizen by blood."

 I assure you at the rear of the roll there is nothing but I.W. (intermarried whites) who are single and not married. What is more revealing is that many of them happen to be women. I mention this because the tribes like to point to their "matrilineal tradition" of determining what status a child follows when they considered enrolling a person on the Dawes Roll.

Senate Document 298 59th Congress, 2nd Session

All of this is tragic and as a genealogist I find it hard to understand how in today's world some tribal leaders would utter the phrase they want a "tribe only of Indians." Clearly they never took the time to research their own history on this matter?

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