African-Native American Genealogy Forum
Re: "Red Over Black"
In Response To: "Red Over Black" ()
Prof. Halliburton, a professor emeritus from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, points out some very poignant points in his book about the nature of slavery particularly in the Cherokee Nation. Also in an interview with journalist Sam Ford in the 1990s, he was able to explain one aspect of the phenomenom of history in Indian Territory. In that interview he stated, that many of the nations prior to removal and after removal were part of the geopolitical structure and culture of the day. The time was the 1830s and they were southerners. They had adopted southern white culture, many had embraced the religion of the white south, southen traditions, including southern black slavery.
After removal to the west, and a constitution was drawn up, the Cherokee constitution had included codes of conduct and exclusion for blacks whether free or enslaved.
Halliburton points out for example that the National council enacted an education system. The education system was for the citizens of the nation, yet, there was an exclusion made for blacks:
"Be it enacted by the National Council,
There were harsher restrictions place on person who were armed. The 19th century was a time period when most able bodied males carried weapons, much needed for hunting game, as well as defense. Africans were not allowed such privileges. Another "reform" enacted by the Cherokee National council in 1841, was the following:
"Be it Further Enacted: That any negro
Therefore the resistance seen even today to treat Black Cherokees differently goes back into the early 19th century. This became a standard.
Of course time brought about many changes, for several decades later and persons such as Ned Irons, Stick Ross and Frank Vann, former slaves from the same Cherokee Nation, rose to become active on the tribal council. Of course the leaders of the nation today, prefer to forget that point even while they drive past Stick Ross Mountain road every day in Tahlequah.
The Principal chiefs and the current council have to pass a plaque in front of the tribal council devoted to one of these leaders--but their convenient amnesia that has affected each leader from Mankiller to Smith, is not one without precedent. The tendency to treat persons of African ancestry differently has been a part of the legal methodology for more than 165 years.
Thanks for pointing out some of the early issues that affected African descendants, whether slave or free, who lived in Indian Territory.
(NOTE---Sam Ford is the D.C. Bureau Chief for ABC7/WJLA TV. He is also a Cherokee Freedman descendant of Phyllis Pettit. His documentary Black Slaves, Red Masters was aired in Washington in 1991.)