Saturday, July 3, 2010
Surname Saturday...House Miscellaneous Document 46 (42-2)
In January of 1872; almost six years following their emancipation; approximately three hundred Choctaw and Chickasaw freedmen petitioned the United States Congress to forfeit the $300,000 negotiated in the Treaty of 1866 and pay it to the “freedmen of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation.”
This is probably one of the first actions by a group of freedmen indicating they were willing to forgo citizenship in either nation because the tribes failed to adopt them as citizens according to the treaty.
Many people fantasize about the relationship between Native Americans and “African-Americans” as if it was based on some mutual admiration. The truth about the relationship of the former slaves of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations was a bit more complex and adversarial to say the least.
“Your petitioners claim that the Choctaw Nation, in refusing to ratify the third article of the treaty of 1866, forfeited all right and claim to the $300,000, as specified therein, and ask that said $300,000 may be paid to the freedmen of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation.”
The two petitions to Congress provide a window into the history of Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen that has to be explored for other ramifications. Naturally people will ask the question on if the Chickasaw legislature passed an act to adopt their former slaves why Congress didn’t ratify it.
What about the people involved in this action? Who were they? Is it possible to identify them and their family today? This may be the greatest contribution the document provides family historians as well as genealogist. There are four pages of names of the head of household printed in this document, they represent over three hundred individuals and we can determine if some of them survived to be included in the Dawes enrollment process a quarter century later.