Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let the Record Reflect...

Winchester “Daugherty” COLBERT Chickasaw Indian Slaveholder

It is inescapable the history of slavery among the so called Five Civilized Tribes but somehow their historians omit this sordid chapter in the history of the tribe. In an effort to illustrate just how pervasive this institution was throughout these nations, I will be posting some of the known slave holders along with some of the individuals and  families they held in bondage.

It is unfortunate the Five Slave Holding Tribes engaged in this inhumane institution but it is equally unfortunate for them to remove this chapter from their historical landscape as they promote a “traditional” Native American culture.

We begin to see time after time how the “ruling class” or “mixed blood” elites in the nations become the dominant slave holders in each nation. In the case of the Seminole nation it would appear their system was based more on the traditional practice of paying tribute to their leaders.

©2011 Terry Ligon 
This was in stark contrast to the system we see in the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee Nations, where slave holding mixed bloods dominated the institution in order to solidify their control over the economics and politics of their respective nation.

Beginning with Winchester (Daugherty) COLBERT we see how his power and influence was connected to his family’s wealth by owning slaves. This provided a comfortable way of living that was more on the level of southern plantation than the tributary system practiced in the Seminole Nation.

There appears to be another aspect that is consistent with the institution of slavery among the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek nations; the leading men had no problem fathering children with an enslaved woman.

What we discover, just like the system of slavery in the south these men denied the humanity of their enslaved people but had no problem using the women for their pleasure. As usual, race was a barrier to marriage and citizenship but race was not a barrier to sex.

From the information on the Dawes card of his son, Nelson COLBERT, apparently Winchester sold him off to a man by the name of Johnson PERRY; which is not the exception to the rule from what I've seen in the course of my research.

Winchester COLBERT comes from arguably the largest slave owning family of Chickasaw Indians and part of the ruling “mixed blood” elite. Families like the COLBERT’S, LOVE’S AND GAINES’ dominated tribal politics and the Chickasaw economy based directly on slave ownership. Contrary to the stories told by the nation even today, the removal to Indian Territory for these families was not the “Trail of Tears” they like to portray. 

Don Martini "Who Was Who Among the Southern Indians"

Senate Document 166; 50th Congress, 1st Session pg.9

These documents demonstrate clearly the Chickasaw Indians knew the value of owning humans as property and as they complain about “finding themselves oppressed, being ignorant of the language and laws of the United States;” they were engaging in the oppressive institution of slavery!

The claims this tribe in which Winchester COLBERT was a leader, coming from a leading family was nothing less than disingenuous. Let the record reflect Winchester COLBERT took part in negotiating the Treaty of Ft. Smith in 1866; and his signature is a part of that historical document.

Let the record reflect; among the men from the Chickasaw Nation that signed the Treaty of 1866; Winchester COLBERT, Edmund PICKENS, Colbert CARTER and my great great grandfather Robert H. LOVE ALL owned slaves.

Let the record; reflect that slavery was an integral part of the Chickasaw Nation; so much so that one of the major issues in the Treaty of 1866 was the abolishment of slavery.

Let the record reflect; following the “emancipation” of the Chickasaw slaves, the nation did not adopt the people they enslaved as citizens, which that included their own children.

Let the record reflect; for forty years the former slaves of the Chickasaw nation were not citizens in the nation of their birth.

The descendants of those enslaved and the descendants of those who enslaved these men, women and children have an obligation to correct this history but neither can do it without the other. 

Finally let the record reflect; the Chickasaw Nation engaged in the wholesale oppression of people of African and African-Native descent. Despite this, the Chickasaw Nation used their oppression by the United States in their efforts to receive favorable treatment when they were forced to move to Indian Territory. 

Let the record reflect they were incapable of showing the same empathy for the people they enslaved.


  1. The records have spoken clearly. The fact that forces in Ada might try to hide it, the historical record reflects what took place. The question is---has their been any action of reconciliation from the slave holding tribes?

    As the wealth of that nation and the other slave holding tribes grow---has their sense of compassion, acknowledgement and human emotion grown? Or is there still the clinging to the southern traditions that they learned before removal and that made them "civilized" tribes? (This involved of course the practice of enslavement of a people who had never offended them, and a continued disfranchisement of them.)

    The question arises----have they even made the attempt to meet any of their slave descendants on the cultural bridge of reconciliation? Such a gesture would make them stand out among many who hide behind a policy of exclusion.

    One wonders truly how "civilized" are their hearts?

  2. Thank you. I really hate sugar-coated history.