Thursday, July 15, 2010
1887 Letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs
We have a remarkable document in which various Chickasaw Freedmen leaders stated that in 1866 the Chickasaw Freedmen would have willingly left the nation but in the twenty years following their “emancipation” they had “become attached themselves to the country” and “not willing to move now unless the Government thought if best.”
This is one statement that clearly demonstrated how the United States government again failed to address the issues of Chickasaw Indians adopting their former slaves according to the Treaty of 1866. This negligence contributed to the subsequent detrimental effects of forty years with Chickasaw Freedmen living in a country that did not respect their rights as humans and did not respect their rights under the Constitution of the United States and refused to adopt them as citizens in the "nation of their birth."
Agent Owens’ response to this quandary is another revealing aspect of this letter that deserves a great deal of scrutiny. Agent Owens recommended “the fourth article of the treaty of 1866 should be carried out as soon as suitable legislation can be had on that subject.” He pointed out that “a fertile country immediately adjacent to the Chickasaw Nation and on the north and west of the Pottawattamie country, on the Canadian River which might be occupied by these people under the Treaty with the Creeks.”
The fact the Chickasaw nation accepted their portion of the $300,000 earmarked in the Treaty of 1866 meant that it should have triggered the very suggestion United States Indian Agent Owens was suggesting demonstrates just how remarkable this document bearing the names of notable Chickasaw Freedmen leaders truly is and how the issue of land and citizenship was shaped almost one hundred and twenty five years ago due to the failure of Congress.