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African-Native American Research Forum Archive

Re: Free-Colored v. Slaves in Indian Territory

Norma said:
David and Gary, I realize also that the 1866 treaty does NOT mention blood degree but the Dawes rolls do. By NOT recognizing that some freedmen were mixed blood (Black/Indian) and allowing Whites with NO Indian blood degree at all to be on the by blood rolls is in my opinion making the DAWES rolls unreliable to base citizenship on TODAY.

David replies:
Actually Norma, it is the use of blood degrees that is totally unreliable for citizenship. The Dawes Roll is a very accurate snapshot of the people living at that time who were citizens. Does it include everyone who has Indian blood? No. Should it? NO. It only includes those persons who were bonefide citizens of the tribes at the time it was compiled. The fact that we are now bickering over blood and its erroneously perceived relationship to citizenship is the error, not the Dawes Roll.

Norma said:
Regardless of the laws of the nations back in the day, I see documentation often showing the mixed blood of freedmen by way of marriage or the slave owner. I would think that it would make more sense to acknowledge the 1866 treaty to represent everybody AND if not RACISM!!!

David replies:
You are right! The Cherokee Treaty of 1866 covers the citizenship of the Delawares, Shawnees and Freedmen, none of whom have Cherokee blood. Yet the Dels and Shaws get to stay and the Freedmen must go, at least according to the racists among us. The whites who appear on the "By blood" section of the Cherokee Dawes Roll have what were known as "by blood" rights they were either granted or had purchased. It is not an indictment of the Dawes Rolls that they appear on the "by blood section" but is more an indictment of attempt by Smith and company to tie blood and citizenship together. Clearly the term "by blood" as it was used and understood by the Cherokees in 1902 was one of a legal right to citizenship rather than the actual presence of Cherokee Indian blood.

In conclusion Norma, we must be cautious not to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Dawes Roll is a list of citizens, blood having NOTHING to do with it. If we toss out the Dawes Rolls what do we have left? Most of the previous tribal rolls are extremely flawed, incomplete and sadly, at times the product of graft. I find instances all the time where the Cherokee census takers would purposely leave people off the roll because of family, clan or community conflict.

The Cherokee citizenship courts are filled with lawsuits by bonefide Cherokee citizens, some by blood, some Freedmen who sued because the census taker intentionally left them off or listed them as something they were not. But anyone who has studied the Dawes Rolls must be left in absolute awe of the completeness of the listing of citizens even if they inadvertantly or intentionally put some down on the wrong list. And they did all of that without the cross referencing power of our computers.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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