As one of the latest recipients of the “Ancestor Approved” award initiated by Leslie Ann Ballou of Ancestors Live Here I have to thank Lisa Wallen Logsdon and Angela Walton-Raji for nominating me for this honor and it is greatly appreciated.
The rules of this award specify to list ten things I've learned about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me. As the recipient I am to pass the award along to ten other genealogy bloggers that I feel are also deserving of it!
o I am totally surprised to the reaction of the Black and Red Journal blog. You have to understand I was very reluctant to construct a blog and had too have my arm twisted for at least a month or two before I finally gave in and began to write on subjects and opinions I’ve harbored for years but rarely wrote about.
o Over the past twenty years or so since I’ve been researching the genealogy and history about Freedmen of Indian Territory, I’m constantly surprised to encounter people who have absolutely no history of their ancestors who are connected to this very unique history.
o My father asked insisted I take possession of the family’s photo collection about a hundred years ago and share them with my siblings. Since he knew I was into photography I suspected that was his main reason for choosing making me responsible for the collection. In the collection (2 large cardboard boxes that once was the home to T.P.) I discovered a framed photo of what I thought was a “white” woman. Surprisingly I learned this woman was not “white” but my father’s “Indian grandmother.” If that weren’t enough, I was surprised again when I opened the back of the frame so I could make a copy negative of the image and discovered another photograph that my father had no idea was there. This image was later deduced to be his great grandmother, a 2 fer!!!
o Having a certain amount of knowledge concerning the Freedmen of Indian Territory reminds me of how much I don’t know of their history. There are thousands upon thousands of records available and for me too just get a handle on the records pertaining to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen is indeed a humbling experience.
o Recently one of my niece’s wrote me about how she was glad and fortunate that I was the family historian. I was very appreciative of the compliment but realized the weight of so many people who will benefit from the research I do and just the other day we discovered she was pregnant for the first time (she’ll be forty this year) she also told me, I will have another name to add to my descendant chart. It is humbling to know people think of me in such a way! That’s a blessing!
o Back in 1989, I had very little knowledge of my family’s genealogical history. When I received the collection of photos it took me on a journey that has forced me to become knowledgeable about the subject of Indian Territory Freedmen in general and Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen specifically. This was a subject I never learn or read about in any school I attended and I LOVED history courses.
o When I “discovered” my great grandmother Bettie LIGON was named in a history book and she was the lead litigant in a lawsuit that wound its way to the Supreme Court of the United States, I became more interested in legal, political and the construction of race in this country on a level I never thought about before.
o With all of the information I’ve been able to digest and become knowledgeable about the one thing that continues to impress me is the caliber of people I have met on this journey. From my local genealogy society and the people I have met on the internet and later in person, my enlightenment comes from the interpersonal relationships that have been developed over the years that have taught me more than just what is in the libraries and archives. It is people that we learn so much from and about that I find enjoyable.
o It has been my opinion that most people of “African” descent have a difficult time with genealogy because of the stigma of slavery. In turn, this stigma seems to have presented some interesting issues on self identity as blacks learn about their family history. The issue of identity really affects people who have a connection to “Native American” history in general and those whose ancestors were enslaved among the Five Slave Holding Tribes in particular in “peculiar” ways. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around these issues because they seem too and rightfully so; affect different people in different ways. It is interesting to see people take on an identity that is contrary to culture and customs they grew up with to embrace this new found history.
o Another aspect of research and discovery is what I have learned about myself. The various skills and education I’ve received have all been brought together to have me engaging in activities I would not have thought to do previously. The main two have been my engaging in public speaking on the history and genealogy of Indian Territory Freedmen and the other is writing about them. I’ve have been forced out of my comfort zone and too my surprise I haven’t died from either experience.
Being new to blogging I will have to take my time and view what genealogical blogs are out there and have not received the award already. Once I can adequately locate them (suggestions accepted) I will fulfill my requirement for accepting this “Ancestor Approved” award.