Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Truth is Not Absolute"

Martin wrote:

"To shun one part of a person's being leaves one not whole. I experienced this (sensation) my whole life. Meeting and getting to know my Chickasaw family has taken me to heights I never imagined. Yet I now want to expand beyond the Native enslavement and seek the peace of union in the duality. I know Terry that peace comes rarely. And these so called true Bloods, with their false sense of Nation are "whack" But as you keep toughing through the muck and mire of Freedman despair, you and I and so many more seek the truth. It boils down to the sense of belonging. When nobody loves you back is the problem. Enlighten me brother!"

These comments come from a private conversation I’m having and with the author's permission I am making part of it public. Martin in my opinion is like a lot of us who have become aware of our ancestry and its connection to the Native American cultures of the Five Slave Holding Tribes.
Chickasaw Council House-Ada, Oklahoma

As we discover our ancestors and their history a sense of empowerment and enlightenment seems to be part of the experience that many of us have as we learn more about ourselves through the knowledge of our history.

The idea that Native Americans have been a friend to blacks in this country gives way to the reality that among the five tribes known as Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muskogee) and Seminole; that notion has little to do with the reality of enslaving humans as chattel.

Our amazement becomes more profound when we discover that there exists in our own families the “blood lineage” connected to Native Americans. Even that connection comes with some bittersweet acknowledgement that some of us were reluctantly accepted in the body of the tribe while others with similar familial attachments have been shunned for dubious reasons.
The Great Grandmother of Martin Beasley-Hattie TAYLOR-BROWN

Hattie TAYLOR-BROWN & Grandson Tigger WILLIAMS Chickasaw by blood

I wanted to say to Martin and by extension to others who have taken the time to read my posts, that my greatest joy in discovering this history of my family is not my connection to Native Americans. My joy is the knowledge of so many ancestors and additional family ties that gives me a better sense of myself.

The idea that I am somehow validated by being connected to Native Americans is ridiculous! That idea would invoke some sense of low self esteem. Which I'm glad to say is NOT an issue with Martin, he is entitled to his connections to the tribe while he has a good sense of who he is as an "African-Native American."

Truth, it is said, is not absolute, and clearly the truth about blacks and Native Americans is not an absolute history. Some did develop loving relationships with blacks during the antebellum period up to and including statehood.

Perhaps there is another truth that should be considered; it is not the Native Americans we need to reconnect with! We need to connect to the rest of the family that has been lost duie to circumstances that WE did not cause.

What about the collateral lines of family that have been dispersed all over the country and all over the globe?  They are dispersed because our parents and grandparents chose to leave Indian Territory and Oklahoma because of the racist attitudes of the tribes and also the state leaders who enacted state Senate Bill number 1--- Jim Crow.

In many cases the Native Americans were given status as whites, so they did not suffer the same fate under that Senate Bill.

Jesse McGEE Chickasaw by blood ~ Uncle of Hattie TAYLOR-BROWN

John TAYLOR Chickasaw Freedman ~ Father of Hattie TAYLOR-BROWN

Martha TAYLOR-CHRISTIAN Choctaw Freedwoman sister of Hattie TAYLOR-BROWN
& daughter of John TAYLOR (Great grandmother of Terry Ligon)

Frankly, the tribes will have to come to grips with their history and their legacy of slavery.

This also means the descendants of the former slaves have a responsibility to research, educate and publish the history of their ancestors without the myth and fabrications that would see this history cleansed of the "truth."

I’ve seen glimpses of it recently when the keynote speaker of the 5 Tribes Story Conference made a remarkable and correct statement with respect to the relationship of “African descendant” people and “Native” people; “meet them halfway on the bridge they have built.”

Over the years the “freedmen” and their descendants have been building bridges back to the tribes of their ancestors; perhaps it is time for the tribes and their leaders to meet them halfway?

Until and if that happens, we need to build some bridges among ourselves!

Clearly there are issues of identity on both sides but until we recognize who we are in totality it is not healthy to think we will be transformed into something else whether there is Native American blood coursing through our veins or not!

Having this knowledge of self is gratifying enough for some of us. Others will choose to identify themselves as “Native American” to achieve some peace?

Some will require serious reflection about what it is to be African American and African Native American or just human. That is the lesson I’ve learned in my research.

As I began to locate one ancestor after the other, I recognized through their struggles for justice, citizenship and equality they wanted to be considered human.

Our ancestor's knew a "human" could be Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole AND "BLACK."

They recognized their worth was MORE than just chattel slaves and they fought tooth and nail demonstrating their desire to be recognized as HUMANS.

It was the inhumane treatment they received at the hands of the tribes, tribal citizens, the U.S. government and state of Oklahoma that tried in every way imaginable to take their humanity away from them.

We don’t need to play into that game by marginalizing ourselves today and become something less!

As we "build a bridge" to the son’s and daughter’s of those who tried to take the humanity from our ancestors, we would disparage ourselves and our ancestor's legacy by defining ourselves according to someone's inconsistant standards of "identity."

Senate Document 82 (40th Congress, 2nd Session)

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