Black People : Cherokee Nation Votes to Expel Blacks

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by NeterHeru, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. NeterHeru

    NeterHeru Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Cherokee Nation To Vote on Expelling Slaves' Descendants

    By Ellen Knickmeyer
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, March 3, 2007; A01

    VINITA, Okla. -- J.D. Baldridge, 73, has official government documents showing him to be a descendant of a full-blood Cherokee. He has memories of a youth spent among Cherokee neighbors and kin, at tribal stomp dances and hog fries. He holds on to a fair amount of Cherokee vocabulary. " Salali," Baldridge says, his face creasing into a smile at the word. "Squirrel stew. Oh, that was good."

    What Baldridge, a retired Oklahoma county sheriff, also has is at least one black ancestor, a former slave of a Cherokee family. That could get Baldridge cast out of the tribe, along with thousands of others.

    The 250,000-member Cherokee Nation will vote in a special election today whether to override a 141-year-old treaty and change the tribal constitution to bar "freedmen," the descendants of former tribal slaves, from being members of the sovereign nation.

    "It's a basic, inherent right to determine our own citizenry. We paid very dearly for those rights," Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith said in an interview last month in Oklahoma City.

    But the Cherokee freedmen see the vote as less about self-determination than about discrimination and historical blinders. They see in the referendum hints of racism and a desire by some Cherokees to deny the tribe's slave-owning past.

    "They know these people exist. And they're trying to push them aside, as though they were never with them," said Andra Shelton, one of Baldridge's family members. Shelton, 59, can recall her mother gossiping in fluent Cherokee when Cherokee friends and relatives visited.

    People on both sides of the issue say the fight is also about tribal politics -- the freedmen at times have been at odds with the tribal leadership -- and about money.

    Advocates of expelling the freedmen call it a matter of safeguarding tribal resources, which include a $350 million annual budget from federal and tribal revenue, and Cherokees' share of a gambling industry that, for U.S. tribes overall, takes in $22 billion a year. The grass-roots campaign for expulsion has given heavy play to warnings that keeping freedmen in the Cherokee Nation could encourage thousands more to sign up for a slice of the tribal pie.

    "Don't get taken advantage of by these people. They will suck you dry," Darren Buzzard, an advocate of expelling the freedmen, wrote last summer in a widely circulated e-mail denounced by freedmen. "Don't let black freedmen back you into a corner. PROTECT CHEROKEE CULTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN. FOR OUR DAUGHTER . . . FIGHT AGAINST THE INFILTRATION."

    The issue is a remnant of the "peculiar institution" of Southern slavery and a discordant note set against the ringing statements of racial solidarity often voiced by people of color.

    "It's oppressed people that's oppressing people," said Verdie Triplett, 53, an outspoken freedman of the Choctaw tribe, which, like the Cherokee, once owned black slaves.

    Cherokees, along with Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles, were long known as the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted many of the ways of their white neighbors in the South, including the holding of black slaves.

    Many of the Cherokees' slaves accompanied the tribe when it was expelled from its traditional lands in North Carolina and Georgia and forced to migrate in 1838 and 1839 to Indian Territory, in what is now Oklahoma. Thousands of Cherokees died during the trip, which became known as the "Trail of Tears." It is not known how many of their slaves also perished.

    The tribe fought for the Confederacy. In defeat, it signed a federal treaty in 1866 committing that its slaves, who had been freed by tribal decree during the war, would be absorbed as citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

    By the late 1880s, Washington started opening up tribal lands in Oklahoma to white settlers, breaking previous pledges to the tribes. As a step toward ending tribal ownership of Indian Territory, Congress initiated a new census of the "Five Civilized Tribes" -- a census known as the Dawes Commission. It is that head count that the Cherokee Nation would use to determine the eligibility of freedmen.

    Past censuses of the tribes had noted both the Indian and the African ancestry of freedmen, counting those of mixed heritage as Native Americans. The Dawes Commission took a different approach.

    Setting up tents in fields and at crossroads, the census takers eyeballed and interviewed those who came before them, separating them into different categories. If someone seemed to be Indian or white with Indian blood, the commission listed that person as whole or part Indian, historians say. People who the officials thought looked black were listed as freedmen, and no Indian lineage was noted, according to freedmen and historians.

    "In cases of mixed freedmen and Indian parents," Kent Carter wrote in his book "The Dawes Commission," applicants were "not given credit for having any Indian blood."

    Baldridge's ancestors are recorded as freedmen in the Dawes rolls. Roy Baldridge, J.D.'s son, said that for the Dawes Commission, "if you had a drop of black blood, you were black."

    "That's false," said Smith, the Cherokee chief. "I think there was not a fixed policy that if you were dark, you were put on the freedmen roll."

    Still, whether people were listed as Indians or freedmen, they were, under the 1866 treaty, considered citizens of the Cherokee Nation. Today's vote could revoke that designation for freedmen.

    The census recorded about 20,000 freedmen for the five tribes, said Angela Y. Walton-Raji, a genealogist whose research has been seminal for freedmen tracing their roots.

    Descendants of those freed tribal slaves would number in the hundreds of thousands today, Walton-Raji said.

    But segregation and the civil rights movement separated native members of the tribes from freedmen. Today, no more than a few thousand descendants of the slaves are officially members of the five tribes, leaving their prospects of defeating the Cherokee referendum slim. By late last month, about 2,800 had re-registered in time to vote.

    "A lot of Cherokees don't know who the freedmen are," Smith said. Did he, growing up? "No."

    The Cherokee Nation expelled many descendants of slaves in 1983 by requiring them to show a degree of Indian blood through the Dawes rolls. A tribal court reinstated them in March 2006. That spurred today's special election, which received a go-ahead Feb. 21 when a federal judge in Washington denied the freedmen's request for an injunction to halt the balloting.

    Seated around a kitchen table recently at a family home in Vinita, one of Oklahoma's first settlements founded in part by Cherokee freedmen, the Baldridges spoke with bitterness about the dispute.

    "It should have been a nonissue," Roy Baldridge, 51, said of the controversy in the Cherokee Nation. Stacks of photocopied U.S. government tribal censuses, genealogies and family photos lay spread out on the table. A portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. hung in the next room.

    "It makes me sad that a few have brought this out and we're in this situation," he said.

    And the fight over heritage is moving beyond the Cherokee Nation. The other tribes that owned slaves, and black descendants in those tribes, are watching the vote.

    In 2000, the Seminole Nation expelled freedmen but was compelled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and federal courts to take them back. The Creek Nation has battled its freedmen in court.

    Over the winter, Choctaw and Chickasaw freedmen formed their own association.

    At his home in Fort Coffee, a hamlet founded by Choctaw freedmen, Triplett said he is not trying to immerse himself in his Indian heritage. "Oh, no!" he said. "I'm black!"

    But a few days later he stood at Fort Coffee's Choctaw cemetery, where because of renovation a chain-link fence separates the Indian and freedman sides of the graveyard. Triplett pointed out ancestors.

    Leaving, he shouted a warning to the Choctaw side: "Guess who's coming to dinner!"

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/02/AR2007030201647.html?referrer=email
     
  2. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    interesting article....

    Like many of us Africans born in the Diaspora, I also have indigenous Native American bloodlines in my ancestry, which includes an African-Cherokee mixed great-grandmother I lived with when I was a child. So I found this story most interesting.

    The Native American and African mixture was so great that many tribes literally disappeared into the Black population because of the so-called “one-drop” rule. The relationships between Native Americans and Africans is still a story yet to be fully revealed. I believe whites made it a concerted effort to destroy any common bonds between our two groups, and also hoped our knowledge of this common history would not last or be meaningful (the old divide and conquer approach).

    I found an interesting note at a forum concerning the main instigator of this divisive petition, Darren Buzzard. It's part of a forum and probably needs more of a proper context to be fully understood, but I think its obvious that this person is a dubious character.

    Here is what I found below:
    Diane Hammons has another shot

    November 2 2006 at 10:09 PM Wet hen

    I just read the protest of the freedmen. I was amazed that Darren Buzzard, the guy who was accused of raping a 14 year old girl in Delaware County and who wrote a hate-filled letter against the freedmen saying "protect your daughters" is now accused of committing fraud in the gathering of signatures for the recently filed petition to expel the freedmen.

    I have also read the Cherokee Nation legislative act which says that any crime committed in the collection of signatures is punishable by a $500 fine and/or one year in prison. I don't think Darren Buzzard go punished for his dalliance with the minor, so maybe this will get him sent to prison. Diane Hammons has another chance to do the right thing and show she is independent in the enforcement of law. Anyone want to lay bets on what happens next?

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/237458/message/1162526964/Diane+Hammons+has+another+shot
     
  3. Mad Skillz

    Mad Skillz Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Where are all those Black people who are quick to say "I got indian in my family". :D

    Oh well ... there goes that casino money.
     
  4. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    We need to know this history, not just mention it...

    LOL…I could use some of that Casino ownership money right about now…LOL
    But as you see some of our Native brothers ain’t going for it… LOL

    The right to open Casinos was about the only good a few Native American nations eventually got out of the reservation deal… I guess you can call that “turning a rotten lemon into a glass of lemonade” but as we know most Native Americans are still impoverished and are suffering a horribly destroyed life on most reservations in the U.S.

    I don’t think it’s wrong for Africans in the Diaspora to admit their Native heritage; it’s an important history of two oppressed people of color who were severely oppressed by white Europeans and Americans. We joined together and revolted against these oppressors every chance we got and many Africans found refuge on Indian land when they escaped. But all you hear about is the Underground Railroad and especially the participation of “good white folks" during Black history month! I wonder why?:?: :thinking:

    Even when Native Americans owned African people as slaves, many times this type of slavery was no different than a sharecropping agreement, whereas you gave a portion of your crop to your so-called slave owner every harvest; otherwise you had the same privileges as every other indigenous Native in the village. Many times these so-called slaves even became the tribal nation’s chief! The white’s complained about this because they couldn’t tell the difference between a free Black man and woman as compared to a so-called enslaved Black men and woman on Indian land. This was problematic. So this is why I said, it was an imperative for whites that our two people were eventually completely divided.

    I come to respect the Freedman movement because these sister and brothers have historically and culturally lived as both Diasporic African people and indigenous people. Many of their mothers and fathers (ancestors) who lived amongst the Amerindians spoke the Native language as their first language.


    Peace
     
  5. PurpleMoons

    PurpleMoons Administrator STAFF

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    Hey...I got indian in my family! :lol: As a matter of fact, my grandma was 100% redbone. Unfortunately I never got to meet her to learn about her customs personally. Although it bothers me a little, fortunately for me I grew up embracing my Black culture.

    I feel bad for the freedmens whom spent their lives growing up on the reservations. Speaking their language, practicing their culture, and loving their Native American people.

    If they only want pure bloods to receive these grants, shouldn't that make many of the self-proclaimed, whiteskinned Indians ineligible too? After all, wasn't the pure Natives a redish skin tone?

    I find it truly amazing how almost every other ethnic group holds this type of prejudice for my people. Yet, they have no problem basking in the opportunities my Ancestors open up for them and us, here in the Americas. They want our music, style, soulful spirit, and won't hesitate to accept our support, but "God forbid" if they might have to pay us something for our ancestors pain and labor.

    IMO, if this rule/law is passed amongst the Natives, reparations should be sort from them as well. And the freedmen Indians should also protest that those Natives with White Ancestory be ineligible for trible resources as well.

    I wonder what that number count would look like?;)
     
  6. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I notice that the Freedmen are very old people WANTING membership with PRIVILEDGES. I hardly or NOT AT ALL SAW a YOUNG PERSON fighting for IT.

    Having feel that they have given their PROPER DUES it was appropiate time for retirement at the expense of the ORGANIZED cherokee NATION.

    However, it was the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FAULT with handling this MATTER.

    I think the FREEDMEN finally realize OUR ENSLAVED AFRICAN ANCESTORS were RIGHT.

    There is NO WAY to RETIRE PEACEFULLY in the NATION.

    I talked to a BLACK FARMER who was in the FIELD past his PRIME in his TRACTOR and I asked him why DONT you RETIRE from the FIELD here.

    He looked at me LIKE I WAS A FOOL.

    He said he did what HIS DADDY did before HIM and his DADDY before HIM. They worked until they LEFT the NATION and ULTIMATELY the EARTH.

    I dont THINK our PEOPLE can FOLLOW RUTHLESS WHITE like these CASINO INDIANS and expect SAFE FUN FILLED RETIREMENT.

    I rather FOLLOW this FARMER than those CASINO INDIANS.

    My generation is SAID to NOT have SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.

    I dont think CASINO is apart of NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE.

    With all that MONEY they STILL CANNOT BUY the STATE their RESERVATION is ON nor can they BUY BACK their ORIGINAL ANCESTRAL LANDS of the COASTAL SOUTH, NORTH CAROLINA SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, FLORIDA,ETC.

    If you LOOK AT LAS VEGAS with its LONG HISTORY of CASINOS, you will SEE that it still CANNOT BUY the state of NEVADA at ALL. Nor does it WANT TOO.

    They are just like the JAPANESE and ARABS with HIGH BANK NOTES. They cannot make a DENT in the OPERATIONS of this COUNTRY. They can BUY THINGS but STILL SOMEBODY REIGNS SUPREME.

    Despite that I think its RIGHT for the CHEROKEE NATION to EXERCISE JUDGEMENT.

    But it seems that JUDGEMENT is BASED ON FEAR.

    They say this issue had the HIGHEST TURNOUT from CHEROKEE NATION MEMBERS.

    I can see all the FEAR written all over their FACE.

    I think this SUMS UP that FEAR...

    http://www.afrigeneas.com/forume/index.cgi?noframes;read=12662
    Another CASE of DONT BITE the HAND that FEEDS YOU.

    That's the NATION at WORK.

    Oh well.
     
  7. African_Prince

    African_Prince Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I haven't read this but I don't blame them. They've been robbed of their land, can they have anything to themselves? What makes it a Native American reservation if non-Native Americans are included? I don't blame them at all.
     
  8. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother, these Freemen were enslaved for centuries by these Cherokees and are deserving and were allowed certain legal rights and financial claims by law since The Curtis Act of 1898!


    Peace
     
  9. spicybrown

    spicybrown Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Two words: bootlicking loathers.
     
  10. darkreign

    darkreign Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    maybe you should read, then re-post because you are un-informed about your history. many blacks died on the "trail of tears" also.
     
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