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African-Native American Research Forum Archive

Re: Creek Freedmen Descendants
In Response To: Creek Freedmen Descendants ()

Norma says: “Also, although the 1866 treaty to me is still in tact, (no blood requirement) there seems to be a division between the descendants because of the blood requirement. It's like one person is better than the other. And, I wonder if an ancestor if found on the by blood roll would help other relatives listed on the freedmen roll.”
Norma this is one of the most perplexing questions I’ve found over the years. In my discussions with relatives in Oklahoma it is clear some of the people who had been declared freedmen have in recent years received citizenship in the Chickasaw Nation. Additionally there are many (black Indians) who have been on the roll the beginning and their descendants have been receiving the privileges of citizenship.

What has been difficult to understand is the lack of communication with those descendants on the freedmen roll and those who have claims to the blood roll. My relatives have witness many families receive substantial benefits in housing, medical care and so on, but once these individuals receive these benefits, they have not been willing to discuss how they became accepted by the tribe, and of course there are no press releases from the tribes inviting other similar persons the ability to follow suit.

Because there is no communication and neither freedmen descendant group has attempted to make alliances with these individuals, the mystery continues.

I have had some discussions with individuals who are black and Chickasaw (generally elders) and they seem content with the benefits they receive and have no interest in rocking the boat or being politically active in support of the freedmen. The only conclusion I’ve drawn is, no one has tried to approach them nor attempted to discuss the issues of the freedmen as citizens.

For the freedmen I have talk with, they are not all that fired up to become a citizen of the tribe only to see what “benefits” they can get or as we have seen over the past year or so, form their own “tribe.”

What I conclude from this is that for the most part, the freedmen descendants are not well organized, have no clear mission, and leadership is based on personality of the individual rather than consensus.

This is not to knock on all that has happened to date, but at this critical point, without a clear mission, political structure and a well informed, committed, and active membership the efforts by the present groups have little chance of succeeding.

Verdie Triplett recently posted a message about how the Democratic Convention declined to pass a resolution that supported the freedmen of all five tribes. They based their decision on the fact the tribes supported them financially over the years. On the other hand, black folk in Oklahoma have supported the party with their votes and money obviously trumped votes (interesting dilemma.)

What has been the response of the freedmen? Bickering among groups and individuals about who did what first and who is more legitimate (Verdie groups has been the exception.)

Politicians understand two things, money and votes! These organizations have not realized this dynamic and continue to fight a battle among themselves and the tribes, what a waste of opportunity and people power.

As long as this type of actions continues, folks like Chad Smith and the Democratic Party in Oklahoma will continue to give all freedmen descendants the cold shoulder.

I realize a lot of ill feelings have occurred over the years, but when one group thinks it will lead folks by referring to them as “ignorant and unwilling” and the other is concerned with reactionary methods of leadership with a silent membership in both groups, you get what you have. One group thinking it is better suited to lead than the other while the tribes and their deep pockets and political apparatus continue to keep you at bay.

Another good example is what Kalyn Free is doing with her fundraising group. Has anyone stopped to assess how the tribes are getting tribal people in political office in Oklahoma? Do you think this is a minor matter when you begin to seek allies that will support the freedmen cause? Sometimes it is best to look at what other groups are doing right and duplicate the process or adapt it too your program.

While genealogy classes are being offer by one group, how much time is being put in too educating and communicating freedmen descendants on their history? Which group is reaching out to the luste cate in the tribes? What are these two organizations publishing online and off that will attract the eyes of tribal people and freedmen descendants for support. Other than Verdie, who is making regular contact with elected officials so they become informed on this subject?

I’m not trying criticize, but I think the questions need to be addressed and some self reflection needs to take place on where things are going and at the very least, the present day “leaders” need a wake up call or some more comprehensive advice.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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