African-Native American Genealogy Forum
Re: Explanations of Cherokee Dawes Roll Sections
In Response To: Explanations of Cherokee Dawes Roll Sections ()
Not meaning to add fuel to the firey question of blood vs. citizenship, because I think I have made it clear where I stand on the issue, I would like to point out that the blood question, for those persons listed as Freedmen, but who actually do have Cherokee Indian blood, ie the descendants of Perry Ross among others, is about personal identity as well as citizenship. 100 years ago, their ancestors were placed on the Freedmen Roll as if they were not of Indian descent. Today, those with Cherokee Indian blood ancestry, lumped in with all Freedmen, must fight for their place at the table.
If the Cherokee Nation were really trying to make an ALL INDIAN tribe, they would have put forth a constitutional amendment that required proof of blood, rather than pointing to a specific section of the Dawes Roll. That would exclude all others without blood, namely the intermarried whites, adopted whites and non-Indian Freedmen. That's not what they did. They specifically excluded the Freedmen section of the Dawes Roll. It is that roll which has one unifying component, everyone on it is of African descent.
The Cherokee Nation cannot justify its actions through a claim of making the Cherokee Nation an all Indian tribe when they have left in adopted whites and intentionally excluded Cherokee Indians who have negro ancestry. There are many ways to see this battle for the rights of the Freedmen. Every angle must be explored and if valid, utilized to defend their rights. Perhaps the real injustice is that there are multiple rolls at all.
If Congress had not commanded it, the Dawes Commission would not have made separate rolls. If Congress had not seen blood quantum as a way to rob the Indians of their lands, none of these questions would be possible today. The origin of the conflict is traced directly to the doorstep of Congress. Thus, it is up to Congress to correct the situation by protecting a class of Cherokee citizens it has allowed to be cheated based on their slave ancestry. If the BIA does not take action, then it is incumbant upon Congress to mandate action to protect the integrety of the Treaty and the honor of the U.S. to fulfill its promise to the whole Cherokee people that the Freedmen would be equal to Native Cherokees.
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