Sunday, February 13, 2011

Black (Indian) History Month Charles COHEE

Graphic created by Terry Ligon © 2011
Charles Cohee was born in February of 1848 he was considered to be part Chickasaw and part African descent. His wife Mary was mixed white and African descent. His father was a free man who it was said, appeared to look like an Indian with long straight hair. Charles Sr. came to Indian Territory with the Chickasaws around 1837. He attended the Chickasaw Council’s and acted as their interpreter.

Chickasaw Freedman card 171 Charles COHEE et al (front)

Chickasaw Freedman card 171 Charles COHEE et al (rear)

In time Charles Cohee Jr. became a prominent leader among the freedmen in his community of Berwyn and Dresden. In 1891 Cohee and freedman Marcus Hamilton travelled to Washington to voice their concerns to Congress and the President of the U.S.

Senate Miscellaneous Document 24 (53rd Congress, 3rd Session)

In 1894 Chickasaw Freedmen held a convention and established contracts with attorneys named Mullen and Belt who were hired to secure allotments for the Chickasaw freedmen and if failing to do that, Mullen and Belt were instructed to negotiate and secure land for the freedmen some where else.

Senate Miscellaneous Document 24 (53rd Congress, 3rd Session) p28

The Committee of Chickasaw Freedmen’s Association which included Isaac C. Kemp, George W. Hall and Mack Stevenson brought to the attention of U.S. Congress that the freedmen did not participate in the creation of the Treaty of 1866 and therefore insisted the United States fulfil its fiduciary responsibility to protect the rights of the Chickasaw freedmen.

Senate Miscellaneous Document 24 (53rd Congress, 3rd Session) p 36

The United States represented by the Dawes Commission began work to dissolve the Five Civilized Tribes in 1898, Charles Cohee, now the President of the Chickasaw Freedmen’s Association called for a convention to meet at the Dawes Academy near Berwyn on August 4th and 5th of the same year to pass several resolutions too again fight for their rights under the Treaty of 1866.

Senate Miscellaneous Document 24 (53rd Congress, 3rd Session) p 37

The “Twin Territories” became the state of Oklahoma in 1907, in less than a year in April of 1908 Charles Cohee was deceased. Throughout his life Charles Cohee served the Chickasaw Freedmen and his community by representing their interest and desire to become citizens in the nation of their birth. His example of leadership is something we can learn from today as we preserve and highlight his legacy as a leader among the African and African-Native people of Indian Territory.

Senate Miscellaneous Document 24 (53rd Congress, 3rd Session) p 38


  1. Comment forwarded from Facebook

    Hi Terry,
    Kwame Mboya commented on your link.

    Kwame wrote: "Hotep: History shows that the “The Statement of the Chickasaw Freedom, setting forth their Wrongs, Grievances, Claims and Needs” submitted to the United States Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians, Muscogee, Indian Nation in 1894; by Charles Cohee, Isaac C. Kemp, George W. Hall and Mack Steveson was during the Jim Crow Era, an era that “personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States”.

    These noble men, our African Ancestors, were fighting to get the United Statement Government to “fulfill its fiduciary responsibility” when the tenor of America was filled with racial bigotry.

    This is the time of the Fifty-third Congress United States Congress and the fifth and sixth year of Grover Cleveland’s presidency, a time when “One hundred and thirty-four African Americans are known to have been lynched in 1894”. To ask this Congress to act on behalf of the African-Chickasaw Freedmen or to “fulfill its fiduciary responsibility” is asking for more than a prayer.

    These Honorable Men, Charles Cohee, Isaac C. Kemp, George W. Hall and Mack Steveson, are Giants in the African-Chickasaw Freedmen Nation and hopefully more research will be done on their behalf. Ashé – Let it be"

  2. Hi Terry,

    I thank you, I thank you, Iam so deeply moved, that men of honor are being honored, and remembered for their dedication to their people,our people the Chickasaw Freedmen. And the depth, that you go to in presenting the Senate Document,on the work and plight of the Freedmen.

    May we never forget These Dedicated Honorable Men, Charles Cohee, Issac Kemp, George W. Hall and Mack Stevenson.

    Iam Honored to have a "Giant" GGGrandfather, Mack Stevenson.


  3. Hi Terry my name is Ashlie, Charles Cohee Sr was my 5th great grandfather. Ive been trying to prove my blood line to him and as u know the paper trail only goes so far. Any advice for me?

  4. Greetings Ashlie,

    By using standard genealogical standards you should be able to make that connection to Cohee Sr. through his son and all of the ancestors between you and them.

    Have performed any genealogy research on Charles Cohee the younger? His children? their children? I would think there is a substantial amount of material available to assist you beginning with Cohee's Dawes card, the 1900, 1910 census and so forth.

    Have you interviewed anyone in your family regarding your history and connection to Cohee? His Dawes Card is at the beginning of this particular article. If you live in the Ardmore, OK area or have family there they should know a few Cohee descendants who have remained in the area.

  5. I've become fascinated with the hidden history of black indians . I think this is the kind of history people need to know. Beautiful.