As I went through the Dawes cards and identified about twenty individuals and then their subsidiary genealogical lines, I wondered what their census information was and how they identified themselves to the census enumerators. Certainly this could not tell me about their culture but it might give me insight into how they view themselves (identity) and determine the people that made up their “community.”
Tams BIXBY acknowledge there were children of “mixed” black and Indian parents on a Dawes card that identified them as Choctaw Indian. I have questions about what happens a few years later when the first Oklahoma federal census is taken and how “Indian-Negroes” identified themselves?
What was the community like in which they lived? Was it mixed freedmen, white and Indian? Did they reside in a strictly Native community practicing their “traditional” customs and culture or did they begin to identify themselves as black, colored, or mulato? There were Indian Census Schedules that were used to identify Native Americans, would I find them enumerated on one of these schedules?
If you will recall, Tams BIXBY gave two examples of “mixed Indian Negroes” placed on the blood citizenship rolls. In my first blog on the subject I discussed Beulah MARSTON and his children.
Nancy seems to make a conscious choice of marrying a freedman and her some of her children seem to have made a similar decision when you look at additional records.
You will note the Dawes allotment card for Nancy indicates her husband and the father of her children was a “colored man.” Utilizing the notes on Nancy’s card I am able to locate “New Born” cards for another child of Nancy’s, as well as two children of her eldest daughter Sarah. These cards are important because they provide information on the names of the children but also information on their father’s.
In terms of identity, it is interesting that in the 1900 census Nancy and everyone in her family were enumerated as being black. However, Nancy and her daughter enrolled their children in the Choctaw tribe as Choctaw by blood as a minor or new born in 1904, ’05 and ‘06.
Clearly they understood the importance of enrolling and documenting their children as Choctaw by blood. I would assume they did so in their efforts to secure more land the children would be entitled?
Without personally knowing any descendants of the SHIELDS it is difficult to say if they have maintained their Choctaw identity or become black as a result of their marriages to other blacks. Ten years later the 1910 census provides us with additional clues as to how they were perceived or identified themselves.
In the 1910 census we see the older children grown with families of their own. Despite the fact there are “Indian Population Schedules” for the 1900 and 1910 census, none of the SHIELDS family is enumerated on them. The assumption here would be they are not looked at as being Indians but now mulato.
What relationship they had to other tribal members is not known but now they lived in the state of Oklahoma and racial categories were an integral part of the life that being black brought about issues that you think the SHIELDS’ would avoid if possible?
I thought this would be the end of this little research on identity, culture and community but this family got a lot more interesting the more I followed the extended family and ancestors of Nancy ISHCOMER-SHIELDS.
I will post that in the second part of this fascinating research exercise on the ISHCOMER & SHIELDS family!!!