Tuesday, January 8, 2019

1896 Roll and Chickasaw Freedmen

When the 1896 Roll was compiled, prior to the official Dawes enrollment process, there were many Chickasaw Freedmen who had begun to be interviewed.  Many were aware of their status as Freedmen, and were wishing to make sure that their status as having the blood of their fathers be acknowledged. Many appeared and went into great detail about their family background. They knew that they were "Negro" as stated in many of the records, but they also went into significant detail about their Chickasaw heritage, hoping that their possession of " Indian blood" would be recognized.

However, their possession of African blood was evident and was a point that the Chickasaw Nation chose to point out was the basis of their exclusion. In the case of Aaron Simon, who was applying as a Chickasaw citizen, the attorneys for the Chickasaw Nation replied and pointed out clearly that there was no place for people from the "Negro race" among their citizens by blood, even if the applicant contained the coveted "Indian blood." The response is seen clearly in this official statement by Chickasaw Nation attorneys that follows.

The first reason to reject all freedmen states clearly: "The laws of the Chickasaw Nation forbid the inter-marriage between a Chickasaw Indian by blood with any negro."

The letter points out that the nation refused to adopt the Freedmen according to the treaty, and that they were vehemently against this and because they refused to do so, once again, the Freedmen with Indian blood were not to be considered as Chickasaws by blood. In case after case, the applications made by Freedmen unfolded, until they were suddenly as a policy brought to an end. The result was that Freedmen applications were to simply be "summarized" as the concept of family units consisting of Indians and Freedmen was not to be tolerated within their nation. The applications of Freedmen seeking admission by blood contains useful data for historical as well as genealogical research. Hopefully many will start to look at these records.

These records are part of National Archives record group M1650