Saturday, November 20, 2010

It’s What You Don’t See That Matters

In my previous post I wrote about the Indian Pioneer papers as a source for learning about slavery among Native Americans. My initial purpose for looking at these documents was in pursuit of information on people who claimed to have a parent or ancestor listed as a by blood Choctaw or Chickasaw Indian.
Indian Pioneer Paper Interview Jordan Folsom Jr. 1937
Researching the people who sought a transfer from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen rolls to the rolls of “Citizens by blood” continues to fascinate me. I’ve spent many years looking for documents that were produced to support their position as Choctaw and Chickasaw citizens by blood. Something that continually surfaces as an issue in these cases is the lack of information contained in the Dawes records of freedmen seeking a transfer to the “citizen by blood roll.”

M1186 Front and Rear of Choctaw Freedmen Card# 530 Mose Folsom

M1186 Front and Rear of Choctaw Freedmen Card# 1209 Jordan FOLSOM Sr.

The front of the card for Jordan Folsom clearly indicates who he was and his enslaver. On the rear is information indicating who his parents were and their enslavers. One would conclude this information was derived from the applicant through the process of an oral interview? However, when looking at the documents generated by the Dawes Commission a pattern begins to emerge.
The Dawes Commission systematically failed to produce the verbatim interview and enacted a system that denied a "correct" record on African-Native people from demonstrating their blood ties to their respective tribe.

Senate Report 5013 pt. 2 pg. 1513

The commissioners and the tribes used the matrilineal system that determined clan and utilized it to determine "race." A child with a female ancestor who was enslaved or of African descent was placed on the freedmen roll. Their justification was based on the antebellum practice of determining race by the mother.
Despite the practice, and the high level of "Indian" men fathering children by slaves, it did not negate the fact these people possessed Choctaw and Chickasaw blood.

The 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule gives a glimpse of how much miscegenation occurred on Choctaw and Chickasaw plantations.If you look at the Slave Schedules you will begin to see just how pervasive "intermixing" occurred in Indian Territory. It becomes a matter of "what you don't see that matters," and for the Dawes Commission race mattered.

1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule Towson County
The Dawes Jacket for Jordan Folsom and his "half" brother Mose contains more evidence that "it's what you don't see that matters" when it comes to the preventing legitimate claims of Choctaw and Chickasaw ancestry. Two pages in Jordan Folsom's jacket are significant for illustrating just how the Dawes Commission omitted evidence to prove his claim of being part Choctaw. The first is his oral testimony given in 1899; at the time of his enrollment.

M1301 Jordan Folsom pg. 2
There is no mention of Jordan's father, Henry Folsom in this interview, despite the fact that his name appears on the rear of card # 1209. You have to ask the question why not? The information was noted on the card and it is only logical to think Jordan provided it during the course of his interview? It also clearly states that his father was a Choctaw Indian.

The other document that demonstrates the Dawes Commission had no intention of providing proof that Jordan had a Choctaw Indian father is the "Memoranda" page contained in his jacket.

This form has a place for his mother's citizenship; it does have a line asking about "citizen by blood?" but it was left blank. There isn't any place on the form asking about his father which would have required them to admit Jordan Folsom had a claim of Choctaw blood.

In the Congressional Record, attorney Webster Ballinger points this out with a great deal of clarity:

Senate Report 5013 pt2 pg1513

Ballinger submitted several examples to prove his point on how the Dawes Commission summarized the oral testimony and failed to provide a full record as to people with Native ancestry:

These are just a few examples of “What You Don't See That Matters" when the Dawes Commission chose to classify thousands of men and women as freedmen when they had a claim of Choctaw or Chickasaw blood.

The Dawes Commission and tribal official’s prevention of legitimate claims to Choctaw and Chickasaw ancestry has left a legacy of misinformation that should be addressed by tribal and governmental officials today.

The descendants of Dick Stevenson, Calvin Humdy, Caldonia Newberry, Jennie Davidson, Ed Johnson, Bettie Ligon and others have never had their right to due process based on the record that you see and the one you don’t see.

Senate Report 5013 pt. 2 pg. 1500

Senate Report 5013 pt. 2 pg. 1500

Senate Report 5013 pt. 2 pg. 1500

Senate Report 5013 pt. 2 pg. 1501

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