Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Freedmen Like All Other Indians?

This is my response to a comment made by a reader of a recent article I blogged about: "Choctaw Freedmen ARE Citizens" 

“To answer why Terry, the reason is simply because Freedmen like all OTHER Indians desire to have full fellowship and Citizen status (sic) within their respective Tribes.”

I have a problem with your characterization that “freedmen like all OTHER Indians” because that is not factually true. The majority of the people known as freedmen and their descendants are not Indian.

Those who were classified as freedmen but had a male ancestor or parent that was “Indian” were systematically refused, ignored and marginalized as not having any Indian blood because their mother or another female ancestor was classified as having African descent.

These factors contributed to the eventual removal of freedmen as citizens. It also contributed to former slaves and their descendants realization that freedmen were people of African descent, which is also how the majority conducted themselves following Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

Despite what appears to your solidarity with freedmen descendants; when you engage in misrepresenting the freedmen and their descendants in my opinion does not support their rights as adopted citizens by the Treaty of 1866.

I've lived almost 60 years as a black man, it would be the height of hypocrasy if I started walking around in some so called "Indian dress" just to prove how much Indian I have in me. I see people who have no problem doing this and I wonder why?

“WHY?! Because it is their BIRTHRIGHT! WHY does anyone want to be American? Because they are American.”

Here we agree, it is their birthright as descendants of the former slaves of the Five Slave Holding Tribes. They were born in one of the nations and except for the Chickasaw Nation, the former slaves and their descendants were granted citizenship in the nation of their birth; just as someone being born in the United States.

However, it is the leaders in the Five Slave Holding Tribes who choose to ignore this simple fact. Contemporary leaders of the Five Slave Holding Tribes have ignored the Treaty 1866 and devised a strategy of “Indian tribes for Indians.”

“Do Freedmen want second class Citizenship status? NO! WHY not? Because they are no less Citizens than any other Indian.“

Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes have been illegally disenfranchised, it is wrong and should be rectified. J.D. Colbert wrote an *excellent* article about Citizenship, and stated that Citizenship should be about blood quantum and cultural fluency. It's an idea...

I found this argument confusing to say the least. I read the article and came away with the idea Mr. Colbert is in direct opposition to your point of view?

If as he argues “citizenship” should be about “blood quantum and cultural fluency” it again ignores the Treaty of 1866 and the adoption of the former slaves of the Five Slave Holding Tribes. The Dawes Commission with the complicity of the tribal leaders sought NOT to enroll everyone with “Indian blood” and the constructed separate rolls to insure the former slaves and their descendant’s would not be citizens, despite their already having that distinction before the Dawes enrollment process.

Again, you argue freedmen should be citizens but I’m scratching my head to see how J.D. Colbert’s article supports your argument?

It is that concept that "blood quantum" somehow denotes an Indian racial purity test. If there is a Chickasaw race, Choctaw race, Cherokee race, Creek race, or Seminole race, I fail to see it. The idea that there is an Indian race frankly seems problematic to me.
I've looked at a lot of Dawes cards and there are a lot of I.W.'s (intermarried whites) who appear to be citizens by blood in the nations that refused to honor their treaty adopting "freedmen." Anyone promoting an "Indian Race" from the Five Slave Holding Tribes is someone who does not know their history.


  1. You don't understand it Terry, because you are, as you self describe yourself a black man. I've met countless others who see things from an angle you may not be able to appreciate, and that is the viewpoint of an Indian.

  2. Greetings Stefanie,

    I appreciate your response and perhaps you can clarify your statement for me.

    It is not clear what you are responding to regarding what I’m unable to appreciate and what is the “viewpoint of an Indian?”