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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: Freedmen Roll DOES indicate "Indian blood"

Hello Denise,

Note that the typical "reservation" that one thinks of when as it pertains to Indian tribal groups did not apply to the nations that became the Five "Civilized" Tribes. These were sovereign nations with their own constitutions, and leaders.

Having been removed from the Southeast, they brought with them some of the practices of the states in the South---including black chattel slavery. Many of those later freed people, then designated as "Freedmen" were the descendants of Indian slave masters and African women who were enslaved.

Some who owned slaves were "full blooded" some were not. When the time came for land allotments, many of the Indian citizens who had fathered children with African women lived right there where they had been since the 1830s. In some cases, others had died, but had children with women of their own community and others had intermarried with whites.

In the 1880s, long after slavery had ended (in 1866) when the Choctaws adopted the Freedmen as citizens they also made it a felony to individuals of African descent.

Those still alive were put on the "blood roll" and in some nations, received even more land than their former slaves placed on the Freedmen roll. Even those who had the blood of their fathers were put on the Freedmen roll, with no notation of any blood ties, and thus in the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, the land allotted was far less. (In other nations like the Creek Nation this was not the case.)

And note that many who had fathered children were, notable men in their communities. They were not considered outcasts in any way, no more than were white men who had fathered children with their slaves.

To understand more of what happened in a very complex land known as Indian Territory, I recommend that you read the works of Dr. Daniel Littlefield: "Africans and Creeks", "The Cherokee Freedmen", "The Chickasaw Freedmen," "Africans & Seminoles".

There are other authors as well who have addressed this issue, including Dr. Claudio Saunt, Dr. Tiya Miles, Dr. Celia Naylor, Dr. Kevin Mulroy, to name a few.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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