General Discussion -  Freedmen Descendants (29 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: ctj201010/4/08 11:27 AM 
To: All  (1 of 3) 


 Historical Background of the 5 nations Indian Freedmen:

    The 5 nations  prior to  European invasions were located in what is now the Southeastern United States. Common Histories  were  Matrilineal societies, with tribal citizenship coming through the mother, through marriage to a tribal member,  and through the adoption of captives  into the tribe. The tribal members fished, had small farms  and hunted  small game . The tribes were forcibly removed during the 1830s to present day Oklahoma, due to the defiance of President Andrew Jackson of orders of the US Supreme Court forbidding the forced removals.  The increasing number of Europeans being adopted into the  5 nations  through marriage to Indian women brought significant changes to the old tribal ways. These "Indians" brought enslaved individuals of African descent into the tribes, and  eventually brought about the enacting of tribal constitutions and tribal acts restricting the rights of people of African descent to  obtain citizenship in the tribes and  to marry other tribal citizens,  even though eventually,  many of the individuals of African descent had Indian fathers who were tribal citizens.   Eventually most  of the tribes also had some restrictions against Free blacks living in the tribe.  The tribe which treated the blacks with the greatest equality prior to the Civil War were the Seminoles.  The vast majority of the slaves were owned by people who were whites adopted into the tribe or their children who were known as "mixed blood" tribal members.  It  must be pointed out that some of the "slaves" were only slaves on paper, since the US government had tried to stop large numbers of Free blacks from moving to the Indian territory with the Indian tribal members.  Also, Free blacks, living in the tribes were often  stolen by whites intruders and carried off to slaveholding states; some were recovered with great difficulty by the Indians, who were often the relatives of the stolen Free black.

     At the time of the Civil War, except for the Chickasaw nation, only a very small minority of  tribal citizens owned slaves. When the Civil war broke out in 1861, each of the 5 nations governments signed treaties with the Confederacy, although only in the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations were the majority of the tribal citizens united behind the Confederacy. During the Civil war,  only the Cherokee nation repudiated the treaty with the Confederacy,  all slaves owned by Cherokee were freed  in 1863, and  the Cherokee nation ended discriminatory statues against people of African descent.  At the end of the Civil War, the Us government took vast amounts of land in order to punish the 5 nations for entering into agreements with the Confederacy.  In 1866,  Each of the 5 nations entered into an agreement with the United States where they agreed to end slavery forever and to treat their former slaves  (and Free blacks) equally.  The Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole nations immediately adopted  the "Freedmen"  in order to give them tribal citizenship, while the Choctaw nation did not adopt the Freedmen as citizens until the 1880s. The Chickasaw nation, at one point adopted the Freedmen as citizens, but then rescinded the adoption.    After the Civil War,  until Oklahoma Statehood, the Freedmen tribal members obtained education, held positions in tribal government, and shared in the tribal resources in the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole nations. During this time, the 5 nations were steadily invaded by whites, especially from the Southern United States who placed extreme pressure on the US government to disband the tribal governments and to confiscate the majority of the  lands and minerals of the 5 nations to give to whites. 

     Eventually, the 5 nations were forced to sell vast amounts of land to the US government for minimal payment.  Prior to the land sale, the US government  empowered the Dawes Commission to set up rolls of tribal citizens so that each tribal citizen would receive a share of the tribal resources in accordance to agreements with the tribe and the US government.  The Dawes commission used the  earlier citizenship rolls of the tribes in order to determine who would be placed on the US government roll as a citizen of the various tribes.  It must be noted that tribal rolls did not list degrees of Indian blood for tribal citizens; there was no concept prior to the turn of the century of "blood quantum" in the 5 nations, only a concept of  tribal citizenship or non-citizenship. The Dawes Commission, when encountering a tribal citizen who they believed to have African descent almost always categorized such an individual as a "Freedmen", with no degree of Indian blood listed on his Dawes application , although the "Freedmen" often listed an Indian Father  on his application for enrollment; and gave testimony of  having an Indian Father or grandfather.  The Final Rolls of the 5 tribes had separate roll numbers for "Freedmen", in no instances were degrees of Indian blood recorded on these final rolls for "freedmen", or contained in the applications for enrollment. However, those with  mixtures of white and Indian ancestry were enrolled by the Dawes commission as "Indians", with varying degrees of Indian blood. Although many black Indians protested their categorization as Freedmen, most were unsuccessful  in persuading the Dawes Commission or  later the Federal courts in being reclassified  by  them as tribal citizens by blood.  Each "Freedmen" received between 40 acres and 160 acres, depending on the tribe, as his share of the tribal assets. (Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen received 40 acres although Choctaw and Chickasaw by blood received 320 acres. In the other 3 nations, all tribal citizens received the same amount of tribal land).  The original intent of  Congress in recording the blood quantums was to determine which tribal citizens would  have land restrictions as to whether or not  the tribal member would be allowed to sell his allotted land and minerals  without permission from the Indian Bureau (now the Department of the Interior).  ("Restricted Indians" have blood quantum's of greater than 1/2 Indian blood). 

     After Oklahoma Statehood, the Freedmen were subject to "Jim Crow" laws as people of African descent, and were forced to join the black non-tribal members ("state Negros") in fighting the Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Clan, lynchings, and grandfather clause (which was enacted to stop non-white voting), which they had not been subjected to as tribal citizens, prior to statehood.  After Oklahoma  Statehood, tribal leaders worked tirelessly to reestablish tribal governments. At first, after Oklahoma Statehood,  the Freedmen tribal citizens received the same tribal payments for minerals, etc.  and educational benefits as other tribal members from the Indian Bureau. However, the US government, through the Department of Interior  began issuing "Certificate Of Indian Blood cards" (CDIB) cards as a prerequisite for participation in Federal Government  programs set up for Indians.  These CDIB cards were based on the blood quantums listed on the final rolls made by the Dawes commission about 1900.   The CDIB card program has resulted in the exclusion of black Indian people from participation in such programs  as Indian Health Service (I H S ) since  degrees of Indian blood were generally   not recorded for Indian people with black ancestry by the Dawes Commission.  Additionally, when the 5 nations reestablished tribal governments, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek nations enacted constitutions which restricted membership to those who had an ancestor on the "blood rolls". Although the Cherokee nation constitution allows the  Freedmen descendants the right to apply for membership in the Cherokee nation, in actuality, Freedmen descendants are not enrolled because the tribal counsel passed a tribal act requiring that the applicant for enrollment receive a CDIB card as part of the enrollment process for tribal membership.  Until recently, the Seminole nation did enroll Seminole Freedmen tribal members, however, a constitutional change was enacted in which  Freedmen tribal members would be removed from the tribe.  The revised constitution was not recognized by the BIA; the tribal council in late 2002 seated Freedmen representatives on the tribal council in an effort to regain federal recognition. 

Edited 10/4/2008 11:29 am ET by ctj2010
  • Edited 10/4/2008 11:31 am ET by ctj2010
 Reply   Options 

From: ctj201010/4/08 11:30 AM 
To: All  (2 of 3) 
 2514.2 in reply to 2514.1 

Please do read the entire article...


Take care...



From: ctj201010/4/08 11:49 AM 
To: All  (3 of 3) 
 2514.3 in reply to 2514.2 

Marilyn Vann  Cherokee freedmen descendant of  survivors
that walked the Cherokee Death March
The Trail of Tears
Courtesy of  wired Magazine

The Cherokee Freedmen are the descendants of African slaves who played an integral role in the Cherokee Culture during the 1700s and1800s. Many of the Cherokee Freedmen are Cherokee by blood descent. However, The Freedmen were listed on the Dawes Commission Rolls during the termination of the Cherokee Nation by the Dawes Commission during the late 1800s and early 1900s in a category that did not classify them as Cherokee by Blood,  which has led to modern controversies as to whether or not the Freedmen can claim they are Cherokee. However, after the civil war  the  council of the Cherokee Nation freed their slaves and  made them Citizen of the Nation by an act of law,  irregardless of blood quantum. And the Cherokee Freedmen were classified by the United States as Indians, and lived along side their bretheren as Cherokee through the good an bad times of the the early years of Oklahoma Statehood.

Story of the  Cherokee Freedmen

Leslie Ross
Cherokee freedmen
G-Grandson of
Stick Ross, Cherokee Councilor, Cherokee Chief  1827 to 1866
Courtesy of wired Magazine

Cherokee Indians in earlier times in their history did enslave prisoners of war of the enemy. And did in these arlier times regard prisoners of war as commodities to be traded for other goods.

The rapid development of dependence by the Cherokee Culture on foreign manufactured goods made slaves very desirable possessions in early Cherokee History upon contact with Europeans and adoption of European Social customs. As a result, intertribal warfare and enslavement came to be viewed in an entirely different way from the traditional culture when Cherokee Society in the Eastern United States began to fully adopt the cultural European attitudes and started owning farms, and slaves became free labor. The Cherokee began to aquire African slaves for their fields. A new Cherokee aristocracy composed of wealthy farmers developed in the Cherokee Nation as a result of the Slave Trading  White Settlers. 1% of traditional Cherokee families owned slaves; 10.8 % of the mixed families and 30.4% of the non-full-blood families did (McLoughlin and Conser 1977:691, 695)

At the end of American Revolution, George Washington encouraged the Cherokees to grow cotton and flax to relieve the economical crisis. His agents sent them looms, spinning wheels, plows and other implements. He appointed Benjamin Hawkins as supervisor of this project, and Hawkins set an example establishing a plantation complete with black slaves on the Flint River.

Laws controlling the activities of slaves actually preceded the Cherokee Nation Constitution of 1827 where black were excluded from participation in the government .

An act passed by the National Committee and Council in 1820 prohibited the purchasing of goods from slaves. The law proscribed masters from allowing their slaves to buy or sell liquor, as well as the marriage of whites and indians to slaves and the freeing of slaves for the sole purpose of marriage and the possession of property by slaves. The legislature did not see fit, however to extend the law to cover marriage with free blacks.

The census of 1835 confirms that a small group in the Cherokee Nation admitted having African ancestry. According to Mcloughlin and Conser (1977:685); National Archives of the United States, "1960 Record Group 75, T496" the Record shows 16,542 Cherokee of which 72% were fullblood leaving 4,632 mixedbloods of which 1.575% were intermarried white, There were1,592 slaves of which .5% were part Cherokee.

Some voices were raised against slavery. The and Indian advocate newspapers addressed the question of international slave trade and came out in solid opposition to its continuation.

The Cherokee enforced the slave code in two ways: first, laws offered incentives to the prosecutor to seek out offenders and bring them to justice by providing that one-half the fines collected accrued to that official, and second, corporal punishment administered by patrollers of the settlement. The slave code was not the same that the whites had: there were no laws dealing with insubordination and rebellion and the majority of punishments were reserved for masters, not slaves ( laws penalized the person who bought goods from slaves or allow them to buy or sell liquor ). White or Indian women cohabitating with an slave were punished suffering fourteen fewer stripes than males commiting the same act.

Because traditional Cherokee culture acted as a leavelning agent, Cherokee planters avoided much of the rigidity and cruelty displayed by the white slaveholding society, but revolts happened, like the one in the Vann family lands in 1842 ( Joseph Vann was the largest Cherokee slaveholder, with 110 slaves in 1835 ). James Vann was good and genereous when sober, but his frequent and immoderate comsumption of alcohol aroused great cruelty. Vann's slaves reacted to the abuse he gave them in kind.

Cherokee planters allowed their slaves to establish the African Benevolent Society, affiliated with the American Colonization Society. The slaves anticipated "making out enough to carry one emigrant to Liberia" but never realized their goal. These organizations gave slaves in the Cherokee Nation an opportunity for an organized social existence apart from the plantation. The Moravians located their mission close to the home of James Vann, who offered them assistance in building an school. The missionaries held their first service for slaves on Vann's plantation. 

After the Treaty of 1866 most freed blacks remained in Indian Territory, and most remained in the nation in which they had lived as slaves. In the decades that followed, the freedmen established lives for themselves and made ecomomic gains for themselves faster than the freedmen in the United States. Although some of the freedmen may have had difficulties as former Union soldiers, still very few left the nations. The Creek freedmen were among the first to stablish schools for blacks.

The so called "Red-Black Cherokees" represent a truly unique Cherokee population, they are the descendants of former slaves of the Cherokees, the freedmen. Other Red-Blacks were the result of mixtures of Cherokees with black and often white ancestry ( tricolor ). This later group is a small segment of the Cherokee population, but unique and important. They have often been forgotten and discriminated against by Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike. Their "indianness" has typically not been accepted to the same degree as that of Indians with white ancestry, even though they might have more Indian Blood.

Seal of the Cherokee
   Nation Pre CNO

March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma  Click Link for the name of (CNO) announced that the Cherokee Freedmen, the descendents of African Americans who were Citizens of the Cherokee Nation and who were adopted into the tribe after the Civil War, by an emancipation and adoption act by the National Council of the Cherokee Nation in 1863, and are eligible for membership in the CNO as Cherokee Citizens, as the Constitution requires because they were classified by the Federal Government as Indians by Treaty in 1866 See pertinent articles to the Cherokee Freedmen . The Cherokee People did not view a person's race as relevant regarding adoption into Cherokee Clan, and historically viewed the Cherokee People as a political rather than racially based Nation. The Cherokee Freedmen, due to intermarriage with the Cherokee,  People many are of Cherokee Blood and ancestry.

There are many exceptionally talented Cherokee artisans of Freedmen descent who currently reside within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The Cherokee Freedmen suffered many of the same hardships as other Indian groups because of their Cherokee Citizenship at the turn of the century and were viewed by the Federal Government as Indians, which led to the freedmen being placed on the Dawes Commission Rolls as Cherokee Citizens during the early 1900's.

Many thin blood racist Cherokee of the Jim Crow era have always opposed  CNO tribal membership of the Freedmen, however, they were by fact of law, the Cherokee Nation granted membership to Indians of Delaware and Shawnee blood based upon previous treaties and agreements with the United States. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Supreme Court  recognized the unique role of the Freedmen in Cherokee history and the mutual hardships and common experience with the Cherokee People during pre-Oklahoma Statehood in rendering their decision, and upheld the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for all Cherokee People regardless of blood.

The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma announced that due to issues raised by the fact of his raceism demonstrated by this letter published on the CNO website next day after the ruling by the court copy parked here and on the issue of the membership of the Freedmen he is currently considering a vote regarding proposed ammendments to the CNO Constitution, and is in the process of selling this idea to the outland voting Cherokee, who are the electorate that keeps the CNO junta in power, by the publication of his words, revamped of course in the hard copy of the Cherokee Newspaper that is sent religiously to the outland voters seemingly to imply they are words of the Cherokee people. This link is to the electronic version of the same piece by the Chief. But will be in vain because as was stated above many of the freedmen have Cherokee blood, so to succeed as an exclusinary the ammendment will have to read as to say BLACK/AFRICAN Cherokee not allowed.

Currently, The CNO Constitution restricts who may or may not serve as an elected official only to those persons who are of Cherokee Blood.

Cherokee traditionalists share the views of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Supreme Court that the Freedman descendants did contributed to, and were part of the Cherokee culture and society in modern times, right up to the time they were disenfranchised by Swimmer in 1983 with a racist set of rules, banned from the CNO, and the traditionalist do not oppose restoring the Freedmen membership in the CNO. As Stated above the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Supreme court negated the swimmer Rules, by the declaration that the law passed by the legislature of the Chief Mankiller era in 1992  attempting to legalize the swimmer rules was unconstitutional. This legislative act was the means by which the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma held the Cherokee Freedmen descendants at bay for years.

Principal Chief Chad Smith has been criticized by the Freedmen and a large number of Cherokee Citizens, the News Media and others for supporting a constitutional ammendment regarding the Freedmen membership in the CNO and lobbying for the matter to be placed before the Cherokee People. Chad Smith was quoted as referring to the Cherokee Supreme Court as "just three people" deciding the issue of the Freedmen and has suggested a referendum considering a constitutional ammendment restricting tribal membership to Cherokee's by blood and putting the matter before the Cherokee People at the general elections scheduled for 2007 for a vote.

And as of  April 21, 2006 an Agenda of the Rules Committee issued for a dicussion of  ammendments to the Cherokee Constitution with a special election which if passes committee an on to the full council and it passe there, this could be the beginning of the end for the Cherokee Freedmen Again.

Oklahoma's Black Indians and their hundreds of thousands of descendents are among those who have left a legacy of records, from the Dawes rolls to the earlier records created after the Treaty of 1866 was signed. In addition, until the middle of the 20th century, there were Black Indians - Freedmen who still lived and practiced the customs of the nations where they had been born. The WPA Slave Narratives contained more than 25 interviews of Black Indians, who spoke of their lives as Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws. Their language, burial customs, and diet were formulated by the native culture into which they had been born, lived and eventually died.

Those seeking more knowledge about the customs practiced by these Black Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes will not find lives centered around pow wows, and Hollywood images of the plains nations. These documented citizens of the Five nations were bilingual, bicultural people, seeking to establish new lives for themselves in their new country and their new state of Oklahoma.

Most of the Freedmen of Indian Territory who were adults when freed, were bilingual, speaking both English and the language of their Indian slave owners. In some cases some of the Indian Territory slaves, learned English after slavery ended, when meeting members of their families from whom they had been sold. Many of the Black Indians moved easily from English to their Indian mother tongue, while others had their native Indian language as their language of choice. There were others who preferred English though still understanding their Indian language. These excerpts reveal the language and culture in which the African Indians lived."

Most of the slaves who of the nations in Indian Territory were not allowed to practice any form of religion, however, most of the ex-slaves became part of a church-based community when they were free.

Only a few of the slaves interviewed had been exposed to religion or Chritianiy before emancipation. With many, religious practice was simply forbidden by their Indian slave masters. However, it is clear that the desire to worship was strong and when freed from bondage stayed with these Black Indians for the remainder of their lives.

However, some Cherokee planters seemed to have had no objection to their slaves receiving religious instruction and even encouraged and aided the work of the missionaries among their slaves. Some permitted children of their slaves to attend the mission schools along with their own children, but that was against the law and the state of Georgia started enforcing its laws in the Cherokee Nation.

In addition, some of the former slaves, also had beliefs in spirits, and charms, and some referred to the various charms they had used or seen used for protection throughout their lives

As told by Sarah Wilson Cherokee Freedwoman

"Before freedom we didn't have no church, but slipped around to the other cabins and had a little singing sometimes. Couldn't have anybody show us the letters either, and you better not let them catch you pick up a book even to look at the pictures, for it was against a Cherokee law to have a Negro read and write or to teach Negro."

Slaves narratives: Lucinda Vann

Lucinda Vann tells an unusual story of plantation life from the perspective of a house slave who was born with privileges. The comfort accorded house slaves is in stark contrast to the lives of the field slaves described in other interviews. Interestingly, Mrs. Vann also speaks of some time that her family spent before and during the war in Mexico. There were some Cherokee slaves that were taken to Mexico, however, she makes vivid references to Seminole leaders John Horse, and Wild Cat. A few years of her life were also quite possibly spent among Seminoles during part of that time, although her memory of the death of Joseph "Rich Joe" Vann is clearly a part of Cherokee history.

Links to other places!

  • Edited 10/4/2008 11:49 am ET by ctj2010

First Discussion>>

Adjust text size:

Welcome, guest! Get more out of Delphi Forums by logging in.

New to Delphi Forums? You can log in with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account or use the New Member Login option and log in with any email address.

Home | Help | Forums | Chat | Blogs | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Delphi Forums LLC All rights reserved.