Saturday, August 27, 2011

What a Difference A Century Can Make: 1903 - 2011

Source: Eufaula Indian Journal, August 28, 1903, p. 8, column 2

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(click here)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Removal of Freedmen - Official & Ongoing since 1938

The recent actions this week of the Cherokee Nation to remove the Cherokee Freedmen once again, and just prior to a runoff election of a chief who has worked diligently for their removal brings back interesting memories of days of segregation, voting rights and voting prevention by those in power.

However, looking at historical records, it is also clear that such sentiments have interesting origins emanating from the Bureau of Indian Affairs over 70 years ago.

There was a fear that Freedmen-descendants of slaves held by the Five Tribes would eventually outnumber the other members of the tribe--and so to prevent any power to emerge from Freedmen and their descendants, official anti-black policies were established by the BIA, and expressed in written documents.

This sentiment was a national one, was one in which persons with African Ancestry regardless of other mixtures in their lineage--were to be excluded systematically and officially in all aspects of American life. This was warmly embraced in the Five Slaveholding Tribes.

The actions of exclusion in 2011 are merely following a seven-decades old policy that is now perceived to be logical, in spite of its illogical and illegal nature.

Further documents from the BIA:


The most interesting documents reflect the numbers that the BIA had presented as the current population of Freedmen.  Keeping in mind that this document was created in the 1930s, in the years prior to World War II, it appears that until that time, the numbers of Freedmen descendants was still being kept. They had significantly grown since the numbers admitted during the years of the Dawes Commission.

There is a tremendous lesson, in particular the need to learn the history and the facts that reflect the efforts of the descendants of former slaves from Five Tribes which held them in bondage and their efforts to find a place and meaning in a land where history has forgotten them.

 Their stories are important and like all stories, deserve to be told.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Education for Freedmen in the Creek Nation

Recently, I was thrilled to come across some information in the Congressional Record pertaining to education for Freedmen in Indian Territory.

 Of interest to me has been the establishment of schools for Freedmen in the whole of Indian Territory. In the Creek Nation, Evangel Mission, the remains of which are now the home to the Five Tribes Museum, has it's own history and is one of the few school buildings that stand in Oklahoma today that educated former Indian tribal slaves. And many are familiar with the Tullahassee Mission School. A major tribal leader of the Creek nation, Sugar T. George was superintendent of that school for some time.

In the years after the Civil War,  the struggles of the former slaves from all of the Five Slaveholding Tribes was ongoing, and education was a continuing issue. A few images of schools here and there, have appeared in historical journals providing occasional glimpses into the lives of the Freedmen, and at some of the private religiously run boarding schools, but I have never seen a comprehensive list of day schools, sometimes referred to as neighborhood schools, until recently.

The year before statehood was 1906 and the 59th Congress was in session. A detailed report coming from Indian Territory was submitted and among the data was rich information pertaining to the day schools.

Some tribes were more ambitious than others in allocating funds for their children, including the children of their former slaves. Stable schools, day schools, boarding schools and neighborhood schools were created in many of the towns and hamlets in Creek Nation towns, and I came upon one list that was very interesting as it listed the schools by name and the race of the student population was also included.

As a result I was able to extract the names of the schools for African Creeks, and was able to compile a unique list of Freedmen schools in that nation.

Source: 59th Congress, 2nd Session House Document No. 5
List is an extraction from list of Creek Day Schools

Source: 59th Congress, 2nd Session House Document No. 5
List is an extraction from list of Creek Day Schools

This is probably the first and only list created name each of the Freedmen Day schools in the Creek Nation. I should mention however, that private schools such as Flipper Davis College and others private schools funded by religious denominations will not be on this list. This list, however might provide additional information for other researchers who seek to document the history and lives of the Freedmen in greater detail.

I shall in a future blog post include Freedmen school lists from the other tribes.