African-Native American Research Forum Archive
The Challenges Facing Descendants
The discussions regarding the history of the Freedmen are quite fascinating indeed.
The needs of various persons are quite varied. Some persons are seeking enrollment in a tribe. Others wish to celebrate their Native cultural attachment. Others hope to re-visit past injustices towards the African citizens of Indian Territory. Meanwhile others wish only to connect with others who are "admitted" citizens and there are yet others who are just curious as to who the Black Indians are. In addition there are others who wish to enjoy superficial images of what they might perceive Indians or African Indians to be.
The opportunity is great while the challenge is just as great and the danger standing nearby. With so little academic scholarship being pursued on this subject it is clear that real concrete facts are limited to less than 10 academic texts to have ever been written on the Freedmen of Indian Territory in the past 100 years.
Hopefully those who are among us express the willingness to share with others your area of focus. We will occasionally disagree with our perspectives. If there is no disagreement then there is no life for change does not emerge from those things that remain static.
However as long as differences of opinion can be shared respectfully without profanity or hurtful language then a meaningful dialogue can occur. Such posts will not be approved for view if their content is viewed to be of such a nature.
Hopefully we will not flee when an opinion is different from ours. Our Freedmean ancestors
In their honor dialogue goes on.
The challenge is evident. For us to learn from each other we must share with each other.
For example of those who live within two cultures SHARE those customs and practices that distinguish your lives from those who live outside of the culture.
ALL persons are encouraged to share recent texts articles issues books and new sources of information.
Is there a place of historical interest that you are aware of in Indian Territory that Freedmen descendants should visit while in Oklahoma?
Interestingly very few persons know enough of their own respective history to learn who the Freedmen leaders were of the nation from which they descend. READ the texts that do exist!!
The history is there---much of it still on unread pages in various archival sites.
If you are an enrolled citizen share with those who seek enrollment the family story of how your family obtained citizenship. It is probably most interesting. Hopefully those who do not share your status will NOT be excluded from learning what you have to share and say. The fact is exclusion had been a major issue with Freedmen and Freedmen descendants for now---more than a century. Exclusion--wishing only to talk with those only of "official" status is another manifestation of the same practice that our Freedman ancestors endured.
The danger that exists is the possiblitiy of losing oneself in the superficial manifestations of clothing or cermonies. This can be costly and in some cases purely inaccurate. Note that the Five "Civilized" Tribes were thus called because of the fact that many original practices customs religious and otherwise had disappeared among the greater population---not just the mixed bloods.
We have much to share on the Freedmen history culture political status--present and past. Only by doing so shall we keep the memory of the Indian Territory Freedmen alive.
[10 Aug 1999]