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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: Caesar COLBERT Choctaw FreedmanCitizenship-Rights?


Thanks for sharing this case.

I found reading the case of Caesar Colbert to be very interesting. I have been working on a number of Choctaw files, former slaves of Peter Pitchlynn, and others, and have found some fascinating parallels.

As we both know there were many cases, in fact, where Choctaw people were denied rights because a parent was said to have been a Freedmen. Interestingly, there was a convenient practice of making a child of a Choctaw, a Freedman if the mother was black. Ironically, if a child's mother was white, and the father was Choctaw, that child from that union could be made a member of the tribe and their descendants members by blood. The convenient reliance on a so called"matrilineal" culture, in Indian Territory, was very selective, especially when there was not evidence of other aspects of matrilineal societies, (such as land inheritance practices, or familial relations where the brother of the mother having more voice over the children than the birth father.) The matrilineal practice was often a convenient practice emmanating from a slave holding culture, determined to keep the children of slave women in a subservient place in the culture.

The cases are surfacing, such as that of your ancestor Bettie, whose father Benjamin Love was not only Chickasaw, (and a leader in the tribe) but who recognized his daughter, and acknowledged her as his daughter, and treated her as his daughter. Other leaders had children with white women, and their children were made citizens and are, to this day, citizens of the tribe.

Cases such as the Colbert case, the Perry and Ligon cases and others, point out that in spite of the basic immersion into the culture and community, from birth, there was continous ostracism towards those later classified as "Freedmen" that was somehow, acceptable.

Should many of the descendants today voice some of the same issues made by Caesar Colbert, it is interesting to see that the same biases abound even when basic questions about non-political issues are approached. It will be through the illustration of the well learned racist practices that were acceptable in 19th and early 20th century culture even in the tribes, that the racism practiced in the 21st century can be understood by their descendants. The very mention of the fact that one is Choctaw and African, can bring about such a venomous reaction from people stems from the same culture and sentiment that Caeser Colbert lived in, even today.

The interviews are very enlightening.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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