Monday, May 31, 2010

Decoration-Memorial Day Indian Territory Freedmen & Descendants

Decoration Day began to commemorate Union soldiers from the Civil War and expanded later to include veterans from World War I. The commemoration continues today with the practice of decorating soldiers gravesites.

As a way to incorporate the practice of honoring America's soldiers and commemorate the participation of Indian Territory Freedmen and their descendants we proudly present some military heroes from Indian Territory/Oklahoma.

Civil War Veterans
(Original Dawes Enrollees)

Mobile BOYD

World War I Veterans
(Original Dawes Enrollees)

Byington CHERRY

Dixie HARKINS (World War I)

Nathaniel LIGON (World War I)

Joe LOUIS (World War I)

Turner SHANNON (World War I)

Golden TUCKER (World War I)

Women of World War II

Bertha L. FRANKLIN (World War II)

Ivory HARRIS (World War II)

World War II
Choctaw Freedmen Descendants

Luther LIGON (World War II)

Thurston "Jack" LIGON (World War II)





Nicholas William PERRYMAN

Korean War Veterans
Joseph David LIGON (Korean War)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday...Hollow Spring Cemetery

Hollow Spring Cemetery
Established 1912

Click all images for a larger view

Photo provided by Carlotta "Kemp" WHEELER

There are many aspects that are unique about Hollow Spring Cemetery, chief among them is the energetic activist Mary LAMEY-KEMP, who was the guiding light that formed the Hollow Spring Cemetery Association. 

Photo Courtesy of Carlotta "Kemp" WHEELER
When you read stories about the people of Oklahoma and Indian Territory there are not many that talk about the contributions made by women, yet it is these pioneering women that not only maintain the traditions in the "Freedmen" communities but they were also some of the important leaders as we see by the efforts of Mary LAMEY-KEMP.

She was born Mary LAMEY,  in 1888 to Simmion and Alice LAMEY. She was the fifth child of seven and the family lived in Wiley, Indian Territory. Mary's parents were both slaves of Chickasaw Indians; her father was the son of a Chickasaw Indian.

This remarkable woman at the age of 23 was fast becoming a leader in the community of Filmore, Oklahoma when she sought to form an association to acquire the title for a plot of land with the purpose of establishing a cemetery known today as Hollow Spring.
The insight of this woman was quite extraordinary when you consider her age and the fact her parents were both slaves of Chickasaw Indians.

There was a constant struggle by the Chickasaw Freedmen to secure an education for their children. The tribal leaders would not allocate any money for the children of their former slaves because they never adopted them as citizens like the other four slave holding tribes; Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

Mary's pursuit of a cemetery for her community was not to be denied. It is a testament to her tenacity that the original land that was secured by her letters to the Dawes Commission and Department of Interior stand as a legacy for us too see today.  Along with the other members of this Freedmen community in Filmore I'm sure the efforts of Mary LAMEY-KEMP are remembered with great pride.

It is the selfless actions like Mary's and many more people like her that help tell the wonderful and unique history of the Chickasaw Freedmen and we celebrate her achievement by speaking her name and more importantly, preserve the cemetery she fought so hard to create.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This is Dedicated...Warren G. Ligon Jr.


My big brother Junior as we called him or “The Bug” to his many friends and family was one of a kind. He died at too young an age and his memory deserves to be preserved. If he were alive today he would be a grand father and great grand father to some wonderful children. His two daughters never really got to know him because they were mere toddlers when he was taken from us.

“Bug” was just twenty years old when he died from complications of an enlarged heart while he was asleep. His young wife awoke to find him unresponsive when she tried to wake him. I can recall her calling the house in a panic to speak to my mother and tell her, Junior was dead. It is one of those moments you never forget.

For the record, I’m the “baby boy” of four sons and thought the world of my big brother. I can remember when we were young and played football games in the front yard of my parent’s house he would look out for me when my other brothers tried to put a hurt on me because I was the smallest. However I do recall one incident when I was running with the ball and everybody did the old dog pile routine on me with great amusement. To them, not me!

I can remember when we were young and whenever we got a new pair of sneakers (when there was only P.F. Flyers and Keds) we would all line up on the sidewalk and race from the corner to the alley just too see who was the fastest and break in our new shoes. Junior was fast!
When the older boys in the neighborhood would play tag football in the street (and wouldn’t let me play) I would watch him run all over everybody and he was very fast for his size. I was much younger and smaller and he had to be about six feet two as a teenager. I don’t believe he ever played high school sports because he was “involved” in other activities.
Some of his activities prevented the rest of us from attending the Junior High School in our neighborhood and had us walking probably about two or three miles to another school on the other side of town. My mother said we could not go too the same school Gompers Junior High because of his reputation there and she was afraid the teachers would hold it against us. Clearly he was not a model student but as I recall he was not stupid.
As I said my brother was no saint as a young man growing up in Watts, California he had his run-ins with “trouble.” However, in the few years before his death he became a father and realized it was time to turn his life around which I’m proud to say he was in the process of doing when tragedy hit.
“Bug” and Brenda became parents in 1965 and he began to take on the responsibilities of a man and father by working right out of high school. Their first daughter was born in April of that year and a year and one day later their second daughter was born.

At twelve I was an uncle and love all of my nieces and nephews, yet understandably there is a special place in my heart for these two girls who are women with children of their own today, those grandchildren and great grandchildren I mentioned earlier.

I wish so very much my big brother could be here today and it’s not just for me but for those grandchildren and great grandchildren who will never know his smile, his warmth and embrace. It is also my wish that his two girls could have grown up and grow old knowing their father through the years and see how much of him is in them.

Over the years everyone in our family has become like surrogate parents to his girls and it I’m grateful that we have been able to remain tight through the years. I could never replace their father but I do relish the role of the Uncle they come to and just talk.
As genealogy goes “The Bug” has left a great legacy, and it is my hope that one hundred years from now when we are turned to dust, he’ll be remembered as a man who loved his family deeply and he touched my life as well as others in the all too short time he walked this earth.

"This is Dedicated to the One I Love..."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What is Wrong With This Picture?...

Congressman Jim McDermott (Wash) and Senator Sam Brownback (Kan) had nothing better to do than indulge in stroking Chad Smith’s ego and further perpetuating the myth that the Five Slave Holding Tribes have some moral authority to be present at a ceremony “apologizing for "ill-conceived policies" and acts of violence against American Indians by the U.S. government.”

Ebony 2008 Marilyn Vann
This is the same man that stated slaves were forced on the Cherokee people, yet even my son’s history book continues the myth that the Five Slave Holding Tribes were just “farmers” when they were forced to “remove” to Indian Territory now present day Oklahoma.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of issues Native Americans have to argue concerning their treatment by the United States, you will get no argument here, but for three representatives from the Five Slave Holding Tribes to be present at this reading of the “apology” bill screams of hypocrisy!                                                                                                

For the record, the Cherokee, Creek (Muscogee) and Choctaw nations to “force” themselves in this ceremony with “The Chief Who Shall be Named Today” Chad Smith; as the mouth piece for reconciliation is beyond belief. One has too ask how much did these three tribes pay to get in front of a camera to talk about; ““Storytelling is a valued tradition in Native American heritage and coupled with an opportunity to relive Cherokee history on these revered grounds was a tremendous experience for guests,” added Chief Smith. “The Congressional Cemetery provided for a unique setting where visitors were immersed in traditional stories and historical accounts regarding the Native American people.”

This man can’t even tell about his tribe’s history of enslaving people of African and African-Cherokee heritage, but he wants to extol on the fabled “traditions” of “Native American heritage” what a crock! Chad Smith was in Washington, D.C. when the Cherokee Supreme Court ruled that according to the treaty of 1866, the former slaves AND their descendants were deemed to be “citizens of the nation with ALL the rights and privileges as any Cherokee citizen.” Once he got wind of this decision he flew back to Tahlequah, OK and immediately began a campaign of overturning a legal decision and further took steps to place his on man as the Chief Justice of the Cherokee Supreme Court because he did not ever want to have a decision rendered like that again.

Tulsa Today Online Chad Smith and wife

This man and his and members of the Cherokee tribe have done more harm to the idea that Native People have been harmed by the injustices of this country because they don't have the moral character too do the same for the people The Five Slave Holding Tribes enslaved, and fathered children by Indian men and now he refers to them as "non-Indian."

The Cherokee Nation fought on the side of the Confederacy and were required to enter into treaty agreements that abolished slavery in their so called “sovereign nations” AND adopt their former slaves as citizens in 1866. To the credit of the leaders at that time, they adopted ALL freedmen and their descendants in 1863 and reinforced that act by the langugae of the 1866 Treaty. I know that may never come up in a traditional story telling event like the one held in D.C., but keep hope alive!
Clearly McDermott and Brownback may have written their legislation with all the good intentions it deserves but I must say to have representatives of five Indian Nations present and three of the five representatives of the Five Slave Holding Tribes is a remarkable feat of ignorance on their part.

Jet Magazine 2009 Congresswoman Diane Watson
For almost ten years Cherokee Freedmen led by Marilyn Vann and efforts by Eleanor Wyatt have brought the history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes to various publications like the Washington Post, Ebony Magazine, Jet, Wire Magazine, ABC Newshour, and other numerous print and broadcast stations, and yet, these two “gentleman” were clueless on the symbolism that Chad Smith brings too the party? Incredible! I guess it is nice to have some of the best lobbyist’s in the country on retainer if you are Cherokee?

To show you how out of touch these two congressmen were about the history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes are this part of the article just blows me away:

“Prior to A Time of Rededication and Story-Telling event there was an official presentation and reading of The Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), co-hosts of the day’s events and co-authors of the resolution, which took place in the Congressional Cemetery chapel.

The Resolution of Apology to Native Peoples cites seven key acknowledgment and apology points including one that apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.

There is no way on God’s green earth the representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw and Creek tribes could keep a straight face when they heard “the many instances of VIOLENCE, MALTREATMENT AND NEGLECT INFLICTED ON NATIVE PEOPLES BY CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES” and not understand what their so called traditional sovereign nations did too people of African and African-Native descent who were enslaved in their nations and suffered VIOLENCE, MALTREATMENT AND NEGLECT INFLICTED ON BLACK PEOPLES OF THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES.
Ebony 2008 photo of Verdie Triplett

Just like there is a record of the trials and tribulations of Native People at the hands of the United States, these five tribes have some serious blood on their hands figuratively and factually! Instead of attempts at reconciliation these five tribes are attempting to hide, ignore and obfuscate their own sordid history so they can continue receiving enormous preferential funding based on their suffering at the hands of the United States. Must I remind you slaves in the United States and Indian Territory were not involved in their maltreatment, but can they say their tribes were not complicit in the maltreatment of African and African Native people?

For more on this subject I hope these links are still good:

A nation divided

Kenneth J. Cooper
March 8, 2007 — Vol. 42, No. 30
Kenneth J. Cooper, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is a freelance journalist based in Boston.

16 Offspring of Slaves Owned By Cherokees Seek Damages


Published: June 22, 1984

An Unjust Expulsion

Published: March 8, 2007

The Cherokee Nations decision to revoke the tribal citizenship of about

2,800 descendants of slaves once owned by the tribe is a moral low point in modern Cherokee history and places the tribe in violation of a

140-year-old federal treaty and several court decisions. The federal government must now step in to protect the rights of the freedmen, who could lose their tribal identities as well as access to medical, housing and other tribal benefits.
This bitter dispute dates to the treaties of 1866, when the Cherokee,

Seminole and Creek agreed to admit their former slaves as tribal members in return for recognition as sovereign nations. The tribes fought black membership from the start even though many of the former slaves were products of mixed black and Indian marriages.

BIA leader resigns amid controversy

By JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau


His 13 months in office were marked by the Cherokee freedmen dispute.

WASHINGTON -- Bureau of Indian Affairs leader Carl Artman, a major player in the ongoing freedmen controversy with the Cherokee Nation, is leaving office, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced Monday.

Artman, 41, was confirmed to his position 13 months ago. His entire term in office has been marked by the Cherokee freedmen descendants controversy, which has drawn the interest of Congress.

Freedmen Can Sue Cherokee

Chief Smith: Let Courts Decide on Freedmen

Opinion: Playing the Nation Card Over Freedmen

Cherokee Nation Wrong on Freedmen

NAACP Denounces Cherokee Nation Over Freedmen

Opinion: Ross Swimmer to Blame for Freedmen

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Do Arizona and Five Slave Holding Tribes Have in Common?

From the category of “be careful what you ask for” I can’t help but comment on two news articles regarding the subject of “illegal immigration” and the current political climate in Arizona.

The two articles that I refer too involve the opinions and commentary from what appears to be a Native American point of view. The first comes from a writer named Phil LOWE and his online article “Let American Indians control immigration.”

At first glance Lowe’s comments are what I would view as the typical comments you might expect folks in the so called Native American community would have, “They proceeded to take the Native Americans’ land by force” and the one that really got my attention; “white Europeans then bought and sold imported African natives to work the fields as slaves as they built churches and spread their varied versions of their religion across the land.” Phil if you didn't know Native Americans owned African and African-Native Americas as slaves you need to ask somebody!

Perhaps Lowe felt compelled to articulate the usual complaints and demonstrate the invasive nature of European contact with the indigenous population in North America way back when. However it is the last statement that indicated too me, Mr. Lowe may not be a student of history and like many folks, assign some idea that the Native American community is monolithic and without some sordid, and despicable history among its members.

I would think that before anyone from the “Native American community” speak about faults in others they take a good look at the history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations.

These five Native American tribes have a sordid and race based policy of “immigration” themselves, regarding people with a noticeable skin color difference or as we like to call them, black folk.

Mr. Lowe goes on too say; “Today the European conquerors are in search of a quantifier over the question of legal and illegal immigration. Should everyone without papers be exported?”

Senate Miscellaneoud Document 95 43rd Congress, 3rd Session pg 1

Here again, Mr. Lowe could use a crash course on the history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes. Following the Civil War the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes signed Treaties with provisions to adopt their former slaves as citizens with rights and privileges as any member of their respective tribe. The Cherokee preempted their treaty in 1863 by emancipating their slaves and supposedly adopting them into the body of the tribe and reconfirmed this act with the signing of the treaty in 1866. Mr. Lowe you should note, the Chickasaw tribe did it's level best to "export" their former slaves out of Indian Territory rather then risk they become a vital part of the political body with the possibility of one day (heaven forbid) become political leaders and control the tribe.

The Choctaw reluctantly adopted their former slaves as freedmen along with their descendants in 1885; the Chickasaw passed an act to adopt their former slaves in 1873 only to rescind the decision before Congress could ratify it. The Seminole tribe adopted their former slaves and until the year 2000 the two “freedmen” bands known as Ceasar Bruner and Dosar Barkus bands remained integrated in the tribe. In 2000 the Seminoles attempted to remove the two bands on the premise they weren’t Indian and therefore not worthy of citizenship despite a treaty that had not been abrogated by Congress. Today, the Ceasar Bruner and Dosar Barkus bands “enjoy” a second class citizenship with limited rights of citizenship.

The idea of carrying papers in Arizona seems to be an issue for this writer, is he aware that to be recognized as a “citizen” in any of the Native American tribes you are required to possess and carry what is known as a CDIB (Certificate Degree of Indian Blood?)

Since I’m not certain about Mr. Lowe’s tribal affiliation, if any and my focus is strictly on the Five Slave Holding Tribes I think its important to illustrate this point based on the second article that just perplexes me to the nth degree.

CDIB Application Choctaw Nation

Somebody tell the Creek (Muscogee) tribe sometimes you need to keep a low profile when you have problems in your own backyard. I’m just sayin’, anyone who performs research into the Five Slave Holding Tribes knows that in 1866 these Native American Tribes legalized the institution of chattel slavery of African AND African-Native descendant people.

This tends to take the wind out of their sail when they go on about their “moral” argument how oppressed they were. When you look at it from the perspective of those enslaved and their descendants who are to this day being denied citizenship in the nations of their ancestors birth, say it again, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee) and Seminole!

I tell you, these folks in the Five Slave Holding Tribes are like the gift that keeps on giving. Check these quotes out:

Perhaps Mr. Tiger was not around in February 27, 2009 When Creek "Freedman" Ron Graham challenged the Creek "immigration" policies on excluding Freedmen descendants from citizenship in the tribe? Let me take a moment to remind and inform...

By CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer

Ron Graham, Creek Freedmen Descendant
Officer in the Creek Freedmen Association
Published: 2/27/2009 2:19 AM

Last Modified: 2/27/2009 2:48 AM

In the summer of 1983, Ron Graham became what he calls "a documents person."

The Okmulgee resident wanted to apply for citizenship in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. After going to the registration counter and giving his father's name, Graham waited for a reply.

It wasn't the one he had hoped for.

The citizenship office told him his father was on the freedmen roll, so he wasn't Indian. His father, Blue Graham, who was 62 when Graham was born, was an original enrollee who spoke Creek fluently, was a tribal traditionalist and participated in ceremonial stomp dances.

Graham protested.

"She said 'Well, he's a freedmen, and freedmen are no longer with us,' " Graham said. "That drive home was something else. It hurt me."

“The resolution's sponsor, George Tiger, said: "I think it's important a tribal government or government of color opposes this. To me it's kind of going backwards in terms of the whole era of civil rights. It seems like we're going backward instead of forward."It appears the Creek Nation is indeed "bass ackwards!"

There is a little matter that the Creek Nation has at it’s doorstep and that is the issue of denying citizenship to the descendants of the former slaves that was a vital part of their reconciliation with the United States after the Civil War BECAUSE say it with me boys and girls, THEY FOUGHT ON THE SIDE OF THE CONFEDERACY AND HAD TOO EMANCIPATE THEIR SLAVES!

The Five Slave Holding Tribes with their poster boy in the Cherokee Nation, “The Chief Who Shall Not Be Named” have been going backwards for quite some time and now they want to be a champion for “Civil Rights?”

Child please!

Give me strength!

Tiger considers his tribe a tribe of color, well tell that to the colored folk you continue to deny their rights secured with the Treaty of 1866!

Yeah, and you thought Tiger was through, not a chance! Like they say, when you find yourself digging a whole, you should stop digging. Not Tiger! He continues to serve up some fat pitches down the middle of the plate.

And I quote, “The resolution states that Congress should take up immigration reform and that the current system is "broken" but that the problem with Arizona's law "is that the notion of reasonable suspicion has race as its most critical factor." Some of the readers to this blog or no doubt familiar with the issues of (come on say it, say it!) CITIZENSHIP in the Cherokee nation and how “He Who Shall Not Be Named” has gone about getting Lannie Davis and the Podesta Group to lobby congress to prevent the Cherokee Freedmen from becoming citizens based on their treaty rights. We are also aware of the duplicity the Chief engages in when he demands that Congress stay out of Sovereign issues of the tribe and allow the court system to rule on the citizenship of thousands of people who are African and African-Native descendants who had an ancestor enslaved by CITIZENS of the Cherokee tribe.

If you compare what is going on in Arizona with the contemporary actions of the Five Slave Holding Tribes, you can only conclude in the words of George Tiger, “the notion of reasonable suspicion has race as its most critical factor.”

Not through, Tigger is very very good to me! Tigger concludes with this line, “

"If anyone should understand about immigration, it's us. We should have had better immigration laws." Yep! They know just how to keep those dark skin people out! I LOVE THIS GUY!!!

Now it is important I don’t close without commenting on the conclusions and suggested remedy given by my friend Phil Lowe “I suggest that the president appoint and Congress confirm a commission on immigration composed of one member from each Native American tribe still in existence today and let them write the laws that control immigration.” Phil until you get up to speed on the history the Five Slave Holding Tribes, you may want to hold off on this suggestion. They don’t want to have a thing too do with Congress if it involves immigration (adoption) of the descendants of their former slaves as written in the Treaty of Fort Smith 1866.




Seminole Segregation Application

Creek (Muscogee) * note: the Official Creek web site did not have an easy to locate link for their CDIB application, this is the best I could find to illustrate my points.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

America: The Story of This Can't Be Us?...

Is it just me or is the History Channel’s series “America: The Story of Us” over rated? I was mildly interested in the program enough to look at a few of the episodes over the past week and was not thoroughly impressed with the presentation of the history and a bit skeptical of some of the inferences and accuracies.

Last night took the cake! I’m watching an episode on the Civil War and was pushed way outta shape when there it was, a little “Etch a Sketch” type of map being drawn of the “slave states” juxtaposed against the “union states,” and it was amazing to see how the map configured a familiar shape! Now I recognized it! Yeah, just above a shape that resembled Texas, which I knew was a slave state, so this unique looking area that the producers claim did not have slaves, was not a part of the Union and was not a part of the Confederacy, could it be.....YES! OOOOOOOKLAHOMA WHERE THE WIND COMES RUSHING DOWN THE PLAIN!!!

Of course I am a bit biased when it comes to the history of Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma but you would think (no you wouldn’t) that a program and channel dedicated to presenting history in an accurate manner would have the good sense to know there were slaves in Indian Territory? I mean there had to be at least ONE historian with some knowledge of this fact?

I should have known better when all of the talking heads were “celebrities” displaying their “knowledge” of history that there would be some fudging of the facts, but this was going beyond the pale. The emphasis of this part in the series dealt with slavery and the Civil War, and though one could argue Indian Territory was not the scene of “significant” battles during the war that warranted mentioning the Battle of Honey Springs, I get that!

This is reminiscent of the “blunder” perpetrated by CNN last year with their series “Black in America” when they committed the same grievous error.

A colleague of mine worked with me in putting the video together as a response to the continued omission of Indian Territory as part of the history concerning slavery.

The largest slave uprising occurred in Indian Territory but all we hear about is Nat Turner. The only slaves to receive land as a result of enslavement were those of the Five Slave Holding Tribes, yet these documented facts continually are never mentioned, one has to ask why?

The community of historians throughout the country some who are quite familiar with this history have not called these networks and programmers on the carpet for the omission of this history and the time may have come for an explanation?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Word Up Wednesday...

In 1909 the Senate received a report by an investigator on the affairs going on in Indian Territory. Joseph W. HOWELL presented more than one hundred pages in his report that is worthy of publication by itself. However space prohibits my placing all of the information which is vital to understanding the effects of the Dawes enrollment process on Indian Territory in general and especially on the so called Freedmen who were former slaves of the Five Slave Holding Tribes.

To illustrate a few of the issues undertaken by HOWELL, I am presenting just one page of that report pertaining to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen. If there is enough interest I will continue to bring excerpts from this valuable document.

Click on image for larger view

Senate Document 1139 (62nd Congress, 2nd Session) p136

What makes this page of the document important is part (f); it refers to the “Act of April 26, 1906” which would prohibit any name erroneously placed on the Freedmen roll from being transferred to the “by blood” roll. This act was the brainchild of Tams Bixby and the Five Slave Holding Tribes to minimize the land acquired by the African-Choctaw and African-Chickasaw from obtaining their full rights to the land and citizenship correctly based on their lineal descent from a “citizen by blood.”

Taken along with some other evidence that demonstrates these actions were deliberate and obstructionist, the Act of April 26, 1906 was a method to strip people of their due process and rights under laws that should have correctly awarded them three hundred and twenty acres of land too which they were legally entitled to before the enactment of this legislation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday Special...Lena Horne

Okay I have to admit, I had a thing for Lena way back when I was a youngster, there it's public now!
When I discovered later we shared birth dates, I knew our relationship was special. I never got over she was married but that didn't stop me from appreciating her talent and love for political causes that helped uplift people. I always thought Lena would live forever! She lived a full life and did it well!

"One Love, One Heart"

Lena Horne was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Reported to be a descendant of the John C. Calhoun family, both sides of her family are a mixture of European, African, and Native American descent.

Each were part of what W. E. B. Du Bois called "The Talented Tenth," the upper stratum of middle-class, well-educated African Americans. She grew up in an upper-middle-class black community. She was raised in the Hill District community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Her father, Edwin "Teddy" Horne, a numbers kingpin in the gambling trade, left the family when she was three. Her mother, Edna Scottron, daughter of inventor Samuel R. Scottron, was an actress with an African-American theater troupe and traveled extensively.

For more use the links provided below:

Tombstone Tuesday...Elwood CHRISTIAN

Elwood CHRISTIAN was my great uncle and unfortunately I don't recall ever meeting him. If he was anything like his brother, who we all called "Uncle Willie" I'm certain he was a kind and gentle soul.

Elwood was the son of Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen, his mother and father respectively.

Their family like many who have ties to Indian Territory and Oklahoma inherited a great deal of land wealth prior to Oklahoma becoming a state in November of 1907, however because of his date of birth, Elwood was not a direct recipient of land as his brother's and sister's born before him.

In 1912 his mother Martha died due to complications of childbirth, my uncle Willie and the family spiraled down into poverty despite having received hundreds of acres of land just five years earlier.  Life in the territory was not easy for the descendants of former slaves of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians and yet they managed to survived to give birth to another generation.

I recall seeing a picture of Elwood and perhaps one day I'll locate it again because in many cases family resemblance is noticeable as succeeding generations emerge and I do recall how much Elwood resembled Uncle Willie, big smile, bright eyed and deep baritone voice, I'm sure they shared these qualities or I like to think they did.

As I read his obituary it is amazing that I don't recall ever meeting him because I do recall having known practically everyone of his relatives that survived him.

This is obviously another teaching moment. As genealogist and family historians we have an obligation to gather and preserve the stories of our family for future generations. Our elders have a huge reservoir of knowledge that must be recorded and time is not on our side.

That reminds me, I need to call my Aunt Barbara and get her story!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Surname Saturday...List of persons who should be entitled to enrollment...

Senate Document 1139 62nd Congress, 3rd Session

Click on images for larger view

The Congressional Serial Set has become some of the best genealogical records for me as a researcher of Indian Territory. Some of the reasons have to do with the adversarial relationship the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen had concerning their fight for rights as citizens in the nation of their birth.

These records cover a wide range of topics and include a great deal of first person testimony regarding the affairs in Indian Territory. In some of the records like Senate Document 1139, there occasionally is the discovery of rich genealogical material that may be overlooked if one is not familiar with this unique and voluminous record set.

Senate Document 1139 (62-3) is one of those amazing discoveries that I’m happy to present to anyone who has not had the opportunity to locate and read through the material. Contained in the 1139 are various records of people who never made it onto the Dawes Rolls for various reasons.

For some people who have heard stories of their ancestors who lived in Indian Territory this might become the one record that will connect family members who were lost or unknown.

Over the next few weeks as part of the “Surname Saturday” series I will present this information with the hopes someone will discover a lost ancestor. Hopefully it helps someone and the effort will have been worth the time and energy to reconnect a family member to their past. I should also state this information includes “Citizens by blood” as well as “Freedmen” from all of the Five Slave Holding Tribes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Concept of Race in the Five Slave Holding Tribes part 4

Recently I was reading what can only be described as a pernicious and convoluted “legal concept” called the “origin of citizenship.” This concept apparently was to describe “Indian Territory Freedmen” and their origination of citizenship in the Five Slave Holding Tribes?

This “origination of citizenship” theory is supposedly not a “racist institution” but something that “only” determined the size of land allotments which were determined by the amount of “Indian blood” you possessed and these distinctions were the only criteria that determined the amount of land you and your children would receive. In the Choctaw and Chickasaw nation it meant that there would be a difference between forty acres for someone with freedmen “origins of citizenship” as opposed to three hundred and twenty acres of land for someone on the “by blood” roll of the Choctaw or Chickasaw nation.

The author does not account for the history and laws in both nations that were race based that influenced all decisions that affected the freedmen. The author does not look at the history of racial oppression and subjugation in the tribes that prevented so called freedmen from attaining full rights and privileges as citizens in these two nations. The author does not take into account the fact that when it came time to accurately determine the full lineal descent of people with “mixed race” parents the system was clearly race based because when someone attempted to demonstrate they descended from someone who possessed “Choctaw or Chickasaw blood” this information was systematically ignored and “almost” removed from the record.
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Testimony of Wirt FRANKLIN Senate Report 5013 pt 1 pg 346 part 3
Throughout the Dawes records that enumerated all people who were deemed citizens in their nation with the only exception being the Chickasaw nation because of their racial intolerance, the record shows repeatedly that when someone illustrated their lineal descent to a “citizen by blood” the record is incomplete and inconsistent. This was the basis for so much of the adversarial relationship between the tribe and its African-Native people that it created one of the largest and widest set of records on the construction of race we have today.
Testimony of Wirt FRANKLIN Senate Report 5013 pt 1 pg 347 part 1
Evidently the author was attempting to justify the race based construction that determined people born to women of African descent and men of Native American descent.

The Molsie BUTLER case was one of many but it was exceptional because there was a lengthy documented record that clearly demonstrated the effort the Dawes Commission thwarted many people deserving their rights and citizens “according to the law” but were denied because of race based policies, not some theory of “origin of citizenship” made up out of whole cloth.

Molsie BUTLER M-1186 Choctaw by Blood Denied # D638

The author insidiously attempts to diminish the effects of a race based policy by the tribes and the Dawes Commission by intimating “you see only a couple of real struggles to be placed on the by blood roll and those struggles are definately (sic) rooted in the perception of identity the person held.”

For the author to presume he knows what these people thought of themselves as being based only on the desire to acquire more land, which must also follow the presumption they were only doing so for the land is contrary to the record of how these men and woman thought of themselves and how they were perceived in their communities.

It also speaks to the arrogance that is present in too many people to think that it was somehow more acceptable for everybody else to desire their rights and interest in the land but assign ulterior motives to those with African-Native ancestry when they exercised their rights to their fair share based on the law that should have applied "equal protection" to them all.

Molsie BUTLER M-1301 Choctaw Freedmen Denied D 638 p9

The record also demonstrates quite accurately what was the basis for “citizenship by blood” in the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations or more accurately what was not allowed in the nations was someone who descended from a woman who was “classified” as someone of African descent.

The record contradicts the falsehood that “only legal marriages” were the basis for citizenship in the Indian nations. As we see in the Interview Jacket (M1301-D638) of Molsie BUTLER, her parents consisted of a Choctaw man who was a blood citizen and her mother who was described as “freedmen” (as if that were a term and classification for “race”) and they were legally married by Choctaw “law” yet when Molsie’s father died his children and his wife were unceremoniously placed on the Choctaw Freedmen Roll “against their protest.”

Molsie BUTLER, her mother and children is just another example of the hundreds of cases where African-Native people were denied their rights to land AND citizenship in the nations of their birth and how a race based policy was employed by the tribes and the United States government to deny those rights. It clearly demonstrates that anyone that desires to speak for Freedmen descendants is incapable of such; without a proper knowledge of the records. It is also an inability to interpret the facts or cite any source for theories or statements which seemed designed to limit an open discussion on issues others find relevent.