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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Peculiarities of Cherokee Racism

The recent message in the thread "Vote" by David Cornsilk has pointed out the uniqueness of those referred to as "Freedmen" of the Cherokee Nation as well as the other slave holding tribes. Their labor, their lives on the same landscape, their language, their culture is what have made those whose ancestors were slaves of Indians in this country, unique---because they were the products of their culture and circumstance.

Yet today---after 100 years of Oklahoma statehood, there are those who now seek to exercise a new and peculiar form of racist behavior. As all attempts to HIDE a past involvement in American slavery have now failed because the nation has now discovered by mere headlines alone that Cherokees and four other nations enjoyed privileges on the backs of Afrcan slaves.

The new effort is now to wave a blanket of NON-INDIAN now hurled at Freedmen descendants to justify their mistreatment today. This new weapon is a thin and poorly disguised effort to support continued dsicrimination of people with African blood. The idea is simple---don't say Non-Cherokee---just say NON-INDIAN. BUT---Indian blood is not the point-----as Indian blood was NEVER checked on the auction block amd many with Indian blood were fathered by Cheorkees, and yet still remained enslaved, and carried the stigma of slavery with them---Cherokee blood or not.

Their crime--their African blood. This is part of the American experience. In American society it is widely assumed that the presence of black blood erases any presence and value of anything else. This is part of the remains of American Slavery. Black suffering, black discrimination, black exclusion is a long standing American custom, and political practice. Sociologists call it the hypo-descent theory. Others call it the One-drop rule. This practice keeps the scruitiny on the African blood being the blood to purge at all cost. This is being practiced today over and over and one only has to read the lastes spin from tribal officials to justify what they are doing.

This is also why learning one's history is important. A reading of the slave narratives will indeed reveal how families were split apart and mothers sold from children, very much like life down in Dixie. If they were black---they were chattel. Period.

The issue today is one still where it is the blackness of the Freedmen descendants that is despised, NOT the love of those with Cherokee blood. Those with Indian blood who might lose privileges are merely considered "casualties" of a war--as long as the black is removed, which is the current goal of this war. There are those blacks who will slip in nevertheless---those whose ancestor appeared on the blood roll. The irony is the roll that is being relied on, is a flawed roll---a well known FLAWED roll. The few blacks whose ancestors appear on the blood roll will be tolerated but never embraced. But in these peculiar times---even THEY will be used---their faces will suddenly appear on the band new DIVERSITY link of the tribal website---to give the impression that the current nation is such a wondefully tolerant society.

The peculiar part is that the new effort to purge the black, is to make the real victims of Cherokee racism, suddenly become the offenders, by labeling them as NON-INDIAN invaders. This is an interesting and peculiar approach in an effort to disguise the fact that these NON-INDIAN invaders were the victims, and are still the victims. In this new spin of "NON" attacking the "AUTHENTIC" it is a peculiar effort to make the offender, become the victim.

What helps the issue is part of the peculiar structure of slavery----those enslaved were visibly different---they had black ancestry, alongside their historical circumstance. But a quick look at the history reveals the fact that in Indian Territory--these were persons who were historically, culturally, linguistically and experientally part of the nations were they lived, toiled, birthed the next generations, and died. BUT---they are visibly different and the difference is from an ethnic group considered "ok to hate" by the political system---and therefore--as the nature of their peculiar situation----they are blasted as being the NON-INDIAN invaders.

Add to the fact that they are also not just phycially different--their PARTICULAR difference is their AFRCIAN ancestry. This has brought out some strong Deep South anti-black racism heard in the days of the Civil Rights. This is seen in recent articles and letters from Cherokee sectors with cries to "protect their daughters", an old adage of the Deep South, promoting the old rape hysteria of white purity.

Others will cry out that these black Cheorkee people will "suck you dry", and those more prominent in the nation more recently spit out the latest spin-----the fallacy that the slaves and their descendants are NON-INDIAN invaders. It is a clever move---making the issue become a generic INDIAN issue and not a specifically CHEROKEE issue. There will be sympathy from non-Cheorkees, who don't know Cherokee history. Since the anti-black Cherokees know that they cannot say NON-CHEROKEE---they will say NON-INDIAN, which brings in sympathies from other Indian sectors. And of course this is repeated in 4 more tribes in Oklahoma.

The black blood is despised so intently that strangers will take the opportunities to attack in interesting places. This was witnessed in the recent Indigenous studies conference in May of this year, when one of the Cherokee self appointed "race police" traveled to Norman Oklahoma and lost no opportunity to verbally assaul a complete stranger (who happned to be black) and who mentioned that she had been told that some of her ancestors were Cherokee.

This brings about a new and different set of events, and this saga continues as legal challenges are unfolding this week in the courts. All eyes from the political to the academic to the households of thousands who have ties to the nation, are watching as the next chapter of the peculiarities of racism continue to unfold.

-Angela-


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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