Friday, June 18, 2010

Bloodline Trailer.Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band

I just viewed a video trailer called “Bloodlines” for what appears to be an incredible new video produced by the Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band. When they complete their project I’m confident the production will become a tool for educating the public on the history of Indian Territory Freedmen in this country.

If you are familiar with the WPA slave interviews this production uses the techniques of oral interview and oral history tradition but in a visual format. It tells the story about multiple generations of family connections within the Creek (Muscogee) Tribe and people classified as “freedmen.”

Ron Graham, the President of Creek Muscogee Freedmen Band: articulates the citizenship issues by demonstrating the clear distinction between adoption versus emancipation that should have you think how this tribe has been allowed to remove citizens in direct conflict with a treaty and the United States Constitution.

DeMario Simmons an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma clearly explains how a Treaty is considered the law of the land and demanding the United States apply these laws where they affect Indian Territory Freedmen in general but Creek Freedmen specifically Simmons, like so many freedmen descendants states emphatically that they are not attempting to receive benefits they don’t need but are insisting that their rights as citizens be acknowledged based on their ancestors being adopted according to the law.

Gail M. Jackson and Rhonda Grayson eloquently demonstrate that the effects of the Creek nation was essentially “family not wanting you as a member” is what the Creek nation did to freedmen in 1979. Their insights demonstrate clearly how the Five Slave Holding Tribes have been given a pass on adhering to the laws of this country which they were subscribed to when their tribes signed the Treaties of 1866.

The inclusion of Jabar Shumate, Chair of Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus was a pleasant surprise. Over the years we rarely see politicians involved themselves in righting the wrong done to Indian Territory Freedmen. Jabar is one of only six African-Americans in the Oklahoma legislature; as such his voice is evidence on how deep this issue resonates within the state yet difficult to be heard by those in political power. It is my hope he will be joined by other progressive politicians in his state and around this country.

Jefferey Kennedy, another Creek freedmen descendant understands clearly why a lot of the issues revolve around the old axiom, “follow the money.” Kennedy makes one more statement that tells me how this group of men and women understand their identity and how it affects their direction and motivation. “Nobody has the right to define who we are” that is a powerful statement and one descendants from the other four tribes should take to heart.

I was most impressed with the statements of Mary Ann Cunningham. She understands the meaning of speaking truth to power. Mary points out several vital things in her commentary.

“They can accept me or not; I can be a part of that community and I have a right to be acknowledge as a Creek whether I’m a part of them or not.” She points out the prejudice of the Creek Nation that keeps the freedmen out. Her point is clear, “my fore parents were Creeks it was what they contributed to the nation then that is what makes the nation now.”

Overall, I eagerly await the completion of their video project, it will add volumes to the history of the Indian Territory Freedmen that for some reason is not taught in our schools and is not mentioned as part of the Five Slave Holding Tribes, known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. Why?

You can view the trailer at the following link:


  1. It is good to see that histories are being captured in these times---as all families have such stories. Our goal to research, preserve and publish is done by interview those who are among us as well as studying interviews of the past. I am so glad to see that Creek Freedmen stories are being captured and also look forward to seeing the completed project.

  2. As always I am fascinated and educated by your posts Terry. The Indian Territory Freedmen is not a subject you read about every day and in fact, until I started following your blog this White gal didn't have a clue about this important part of America's history. Thanks for posting the link to the trailer..I hope you'll give us a heads up when the full production is finished.