Friday, January 28, 2011

The Ancestors Speak the Truth of Who They Were

When looking at the saga of issues pouring out of the Cherokee Nation, one sees the manipulation of words----NON Indian--------but never NON-Cherokee.  But beyond all of that--------------who were the Freedmen? 

Who were the Freedmen upon whom their descendants base their claim of an Indian tribal legacy?

Willie Davis, Cherokee Freedman

Sallie Walton, Choctaw Freedman

Thomas Stevenson, Chickasaw Freedman

Sarah Rector, Creek Freedman

Caesar Bruner, Seminole Freedman

They were people from the five slave-holding tribes, who lived peacefully in their various nations, spoke the language of the tribe, ate the same food, and toiled upon the land. Men, women, & children, whose kinsmen now declare that they are an alien non-Indian people who have infiltrated their domain.  But when you read the stories of the ancestors----all becomes clear.  The heinous practices of from Tahlequah to Tishomingo speak to what they are. 

But the words of the ancestors are clear----they speak the truth of who they were.

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The Case of Chaney Richardson

Chaney Richardson was an old lady in  the 1930s, and she told her story in 1937 when interviewed as part of the WPA.  This is part of her story:

Her background:
           "I was born in the old Caney settlement southeast of Tahlequah on the banks of Caney Creek. Off to the north we could see the big old ridge of Sugar Mountain when the sun shine on him first thing in the morning when we all getting up.... 

Her parents:
            My pappy's name was Joe Tucker and my mammy's name was Ruth Tucker. They belonged     to a man named Tucker before I was born and he sold them to Master Charley Rogers and he just let them go on by the same name if they wanted to, because last names didn't mean nothing to a slave anyways. The folks jest called my pappy "Charley Rogers' boy Joe."

Death of her mother:

          When I was about 10 years old that feud got so bad the Indians was always talking about getting their horses  and cattle killed and their slaves harmed. I was too little to know how bad it was until one morning my own mammy went off somewhere down the road to git some stuff to dye cloth and she didn't come back. It was about a week later that two Indian men rid up and ast old master wasn't his gal Ruth gone. He says yes, and they take one of the slaves along with a wagon to show where they seen her.

         They find her in some bushes where she'd been getting bark to set thedyes, and she been 
dead all the time. Somebody done hit her in the head with a club and shot her through and through with a bullet, too. She was so swole up they couldn't lift her up and jest had to make a deep hole right along side of her and roll her in it she was so bad mortified.

Loss of her siblings: 
             I think old Master sell the children or give them out to somebody then, because I never see  my sisters and brother for a long time after the Civil War, and for me, I have to go live with a new mistress that was a Cherokee neighbor.

Death of her father:
           Somebody come along and tell me my own pappy have to go into the war and I think they say he on the Cooper side, and then after while Miss Hannah tell me he git kilt over in Arkansas.
I was so grieved all the time I don't remember much what went on, but I know pretty soon my Cherokee folks had all the stuff they had et up by the soldiers and they was jest a few wagons and mules left.

Hiding of the Cherokee slaves:
       "All the slaves was piled in together and some of the grown ones walking, and they took us way down across the big river and kept us in the bottoms a long time until the War was over. We lived in a kind of a camp, but i was too little to know where they got the grub to feed us with. Most all the Negro men was off somewhere in the War."

In her latter years:
       I've been a good church-goer all my life until I get too feeble, and I still understand and talk Cherokee language and love to hear songs and parts of the Bible in it because it make me think about the time I was a little girl before my mammy and pappy leave me.

Can anyone reading the above passage say thats Chaney Richardson was not Cherokee?

Can even the current chief today truly look a descendant of this woman in the eye---without blinking and DARE say that she was not Cherokee?

She even spoke the language that he himself does not even speak---she spoke Cherokee, yet he and his staff dare declare her to be, NOT Cherokee.

Can the tribe that labels her and her descendants simply as non-Indian truly be believed?

The tribe devotes an ENTIRE page on their website to justify those whom they call NON-Indian. But--- they are careful not to call them Non Cherokee----because the fact is Chaney Richardson IS Cherokee. And if she is----then her descendants are---no matter what.

Chaney spoke the language and lived according to Cherokee customs.  Yet, her descendants are treated in this manner in the nation of their birth: See image below.

Image from Official Website of Cherokee Nation, with 4th link blatant calling Cherokee Freedmen NON-Indians.  (Wisely they are not referred to as Non-Cherokee)

Sadly-----the word Indian is being used as a "blanket" pun intended---to garner support from the world---that Cherokee Indians have been invaded by alien non-Indians.  

But even Tahlequah officials must acknowledge that -----Chaney Richardson was BORN into the Cherokee world, and that she TOILED for the Cherokee world, ----and no word manipulation, no expensive representation from The Podesta Group, no clever "we-are-victims" wording on tribal membership sites will make the slaves of  their ancestors alien invaders.  

They were Cherokee. 
They lived in a Cherokee world.
They spoke the Cherokee language.
They  lived by Cherokee law.

And likewise,

For the Freedmen descendants of all of the slave-holding tribes:

They were Indian people.
They lived in an Indian world.
They spoke the Indian language of their birth.
The lived by Indian law.

But today, in Tahlequah their crime is simply having slaves as ancestors.

Those who label a segment of their population of people whose ancestors were once enslaved IN their nation as NON----------- those individuals who use such terms hide behind a blanket of shame.

But the ancestors speak the truth of who they were.  

No clever maneuvering can change the past----they speak the truth of who they were.  As Chaney Richardson said: 

 "I still understand and talk Cherokee language and love to hear songs and parts of the Bible in it because it make me think about the time I was a little girl before my mammy and pappy leave me."

NO ONE can say that this woman is not Cherokee.

She was----her children were----and her descendants are.  

No race-driven madness can change who she was.  She merely lived life as it was handed to her in her Cherokee world.

Our ancestors lived their lives as it was handed to them, in their corner of Indian Territory.


Greta Koehl said...

It is so heart-breaking to read Chaney's words, and even worse to think that she and her descendants have been disowned.

TRG said...

This made me sad. How can Indians be prejudiced against others when they themselves were subjected to prejudice?

dwight hart said...

Dwight Hart I am the great grandson of Chaney Richardson. I had a uncle that was speaking to every day until she died. He is 78 years old today . He lives in Kansas City Mo.

Sicarii said...

My name is Marcus L. Blackwell Jr. and I too am the great-grandson of Chaney Richardson. The sadness of this story is the unanswered question that her statement raise. 1. Why was she separated from her siblings, at the end of the war? 2. Why was she given over to the ward of an Indian neighbor Hanna Ross. Yet the other children's whereabouts were unknown? Why can't I find out who Charley Rogers was, and how did he come to own Joe and Ruth Tucker? 3. Why was she so comfortable with being a slave? She spoke as if she wasn't treated like your typical slave.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...


You have asked some good questions. It is important to understand---the war was a very devastating thing and even more for those who were the prize---the slaves! Many slave holders were not too anxious to release their slaves. In fact, in Indian Territory, many were not released until 1866 when the Treaty forced the tribes to officially abolish slavery.

Also note that some were taken away during the war to hide them from Union soldiers---especially black soldiers from whom they would be encouraged to seek their own freedom.

If you read her narrative in its entirety--you will see that she did not love being a slave. Her mother was killed and her father died in the war. She was separated from her loved ones and her life did not settle for quite some time.

She was a very small child when her mother was killed in the woods and her first language was the language of the slave owners---Cherokee. She speaks about hearing the Bible in Cherokee because it reminds her of the time when she had both of her parents alive. Those are the words of someone who was deeply scarred emotionally as a person---she longed for the times when she had the unconditional love of her parents close by.

She herself said: "I was so grived all the time, I don't remember what went on."

These are not the words of a person who was content---she was terribly lonely and truly missed those who had loved her.

At the time of this interview she was an elderly woman and missing those who had loved her unconditionally. She was indeed treated like many slaves---and she had suffered so much.

Her story should be told and her name and that of her parents should be said, so that time will not allow them to be forgotten.

This Cherokee woman, this black Cherokee woman deserves to have her story told and one should point out that her story is one emerging from the sad stories of slavery. The African Cherokees, like their brethren held by the other four tribes, have stories to tell---that must be told. Hers is sad as are so many---but their legacy is strong.

May you and your descendants be proud that she told her story and may you find strength that she hid no stories and did not speak of happy times that were not there. She truthfully told her story, and so many like her who were never asked, are represented by her story.

Sicarii said...

As I stated previously I am the direct descendent Chaney Richardson. And the story your referencing is not new to me. I discovered it in the early 70's in a book titled "Red over Black" slavery amongst the Cherokee Indians by Halliburton. Now, let me explain to you that I'm not speculating about her relationship to the Native America tribe called the Cherokee's. My mother's name is Fannie M. Dilwood, her mother's name was Nannie Danials, her mother's name was Mish Lovely, and her mother's name was Chaney Richardson, who's mother's name was Ruth Tucker. I tell you these things to inform you that I am well aware of my family history. Not from articles that I have read in printed media. But, directly from conversations with my grandmother Cleo, who was also born in Indian territory and listed along with her mother Mish Lovely, and grandmother Chaney Richardson on the Dawes Rolls of 1906. So, when I say that she seemed comfortable with the institution of slavery. I'm simply sharing insight of her family values and what she thought about her ties to the Cherokee nation. As late as the latter part of the 1960's she would sometimes still visit with what she knew to be her blood relatives on Indian Reservations in and around Telliquah Oklahoma. You see what I was saying to you about her level of comfort, was not so much that she was at ease with the conditions of slavery. But that she never fully identified with being a slave. Why else would her granddaughter two generations later still engage in tribal ceremonies and events whenever possible? Again, not something I heard. JUST THE FACTS of what I know happened. If you are interested I could shed much more light on the matter of my great - great grandmother Chaney Richardson.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

I think that her identity as a Cherokee born and raised person is clear. She suffered as a child having lost her parents when she was so young. She spoke the language till she died, and with language comes culture. A wonderfully rich history she has and thankfully it was recorded and can never disputed.

Sicarii said...

There's more to this then meets the eye. Let me invite you to re-read the part of her story (Chaney Richardson) where when her mother Ruth goes missing, and master Charlie Roger's becomes powerful angry over the fact that he can't locate her (Ruth Tucker). Then after a few weeks past, her body is discovered, and old master Charlie Roger's searches the woods for her (Chaney Richardson's) attacker's. Then later at the end of the war, even though she expressly tells of her two older sisters and little brother, she is separated from them and given to the ward of Hannah Ross another full blooded cherokee indian. Another point that I believe might have been over looked is, when she (Chaney Richardson) speaks of going daily to the big house with her mother to work, she doesn't include the other children, nor does she mention them being three. I suspect that she (Chaney Richardson) was the child of Charlie Rogers slave master. And that he was instrumental in her placement with Hannah Ross the neighbor for personal reasons. When I was a boy of around six or seven, I remember having dinner many Sunday's with my mother Fannie, my younger brother and sister, at one of Chaney Richardson's nephew's house named Willie Tucker and his wife Effie in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Sicarii said...

Oh, did I mention that from my research I strongly believe that Ruth Tucker was part cherokee indian. You see when the Cherokee tribe was force off the east coast and made to travel the "trail of tears" to Oklahoma, they were allowed by the white man to take along with them their chattel or slaves as they were called. (What must the trip for the slaves have been like? If the Native America cried tears? The poor african slave must have shed barrels of blood). I believe that I have traced Joe and Ruth Tucker back to North Carolina in the early 1800's before being sold to Charlie Rogers. Not as yet confirmed. If I didn't make myself clear, I find the native america equally as disgusting as his white counter part and teacher of human enslavement. And I take no pride in sharing family ties with a people who have demonstrated devilishly demonic type behavior towards my african ancestry.

Sicarii said...

Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts on your site.

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

You are most welcome. It is also a pleasure to meet someone who has a strong sense of their history and who is not clinging to a romantic notion of what their ancestors went through and who they were. Best wishes.

Sicarii said...

I'm not sure if you are aware of President Barack Obama's non-action taken back in early August 2008 when he was still a Senator. What he did, or didn't do, could have made a difference as it relates to the Cherokee Freemen's and their claim against the Cherokee Nation. Below I've posted a snapshot view of his perspective on the matter. I'll also provide a link to the entire article.

AUGUST 7, 2008 · 9:03 PM
The approximately 2,800 Freedmen/Women who were disenrolled from the Cherokee Nation in March of 2007, are still waiting for the outcome of the debate as to whether or not they will be re-instated back into the Cherokee Nation as citizens.
Last month, Senator Barack Obama made the following statements on his position towards the Freedmen/Women – CN issue. His comments in effect were:
“U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama has come out against any congressional interference “at this point” in the ongoing controversy over Cherokee Nation citizenship for descendants of former slaves.
“Tribal sovereignty must mean that the place to resolve intertribal disputes is the tribe itself,” the Illinois lawmaker said in a statement provided Saturday by his Senate office.”
And Sen. Obama, how is this stance any different from past politicians who made statements that where the rights of black Americans of the South were concerned, that we should leave it all up to the states? By leaving outcomes up to the Southern states, many black Americans lost their lives, livihood, property, and enfranchisement. Why should the Cherokee Nation be any different from the racist, segregationist American South where the black Cherokee Freedmen/Women are concerned? Why do you fear calling the Cherokee nation out on its mistreatment of its own citizens?
(The following is a link to the petition to Sen. Barack Obama to reconsider his stand on non Congressional intervention in the disenrollment of 2,800 Black Cherokee Freedmen/Women, requesting that he support the Congressional Bills (HR 2824 and HR 2786 [NAHASDA]) (and the Congressional Black Caucus) backing the Freedmen/Women Treaty rights of 1866, and that he revise his position on the plight of the Black Cherokee Freedmen/Women. [ Now, I don't know about you, but I've never believed that this half white black man ever gave a dam about poor black people, past, present, or future. Why, to tell the truth, I think he's slicker that a can of oil processed at the George W./H. Bush Oil refineries. And, that's some pretty slick S#%t.]

Sicarii said...

Below is a link to the entire article about the Cherokee Freedmen and their battle with the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation. It is titled: Beautiful, Also, are the souls of my Black Sisters;

Sicarii said...

It's been some time since we last spoke, how are you? I was doing some genealogical research and came across this comment attached to a link to your page dated "Jan 28, 2011 – They belonged to a man named Tucker before I was born and he sold ..... house named Willie Tucker and his wife Effie in Tulsa Oklahoma." I am tracing the ancestry of Willie and Effie Tucker as Willie tucker is my 3rd cousin, however, after clicking on the link that brings me to your page, I find no information relating to Willie and Effie Tucker. Can you direct me to what the link refers to? Thanks in advance...

Unknown said...

I too am a descendant of Chaney Richardson. Her Parents Joe and Ruthie Tucker were my great great grandparents.
Chaney's sister Mary was my great grandmother. Her daughter Carrie Groves was my father's mother. So I guess that makes Chaney my great aunt. I came across Chaney's story and read it before I knew we were related.
It moved me to tears. Over a year later as continued to research I found a census record for Joe and Ruthie Tucker listing all four of their children. Chaney, Lewis, Mary and Mandy. Until that point I only found two of the siblings Mary and Lewis. I knew I had saw the Chaney's name some where before, Then it hit me, that sad
story I read some time ago. I went in search of it again
and found it. Chaney's story gives much more details about her mother's death. Mary and Lewis were younger and didn't know anything other than she died and that their dad was killed in the civil war. Mary was raised by a man named Houston Rogers after the parents died. Don't know who raised Lewis and Mandy. I haven't found anything else on Mandy besides the Census record. Of we know Chaney was given or sold to Hannah Ross. I am still researching. Would like to find more info on the slave owner Charley Rogers who last owned Joe and Ruthie Tucker. Found a little info. Not sure if it is the right person.