Monday, August 26, 2019

Freedmen Descendants Share Common Histories

Six Active Oklahoma "Freedmen" Groups

In the past two decades numerous groups have come and gone among people who descend from Oklahoma's "Freedmen" more correctly described as Freedmen from the Five Civilized Tribes. Such groups did exist among separate tribal groups in the late 1800s when Freedmen were negotiating their status prior to statehood. They did not wish to leave the only place that they knew as home, and where they had lived, and toiled, and whose elders elders died there on that soil.

In the 1800s, 
Cherokee Freedmen had an association formed as well as Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen. Both of those last two groups were,  particularly vulnerable after the Civil War, because the tribes tried to have them removed from their nation. The efforts to act upon their own behalf left small footprints on the historical landscape, that can be researched today. From the proceedings from many of those meetings, stories of resilience of Freedmen are noted.

In recent years, especially in the last two decades, efforts to act on behalf of the Freedmen have arisen, and today in both physical and online communities a few groups have arisen to study preserve and protect the legacy of Indian Territory and Oklahoma "Freedmen".

Here is a list of the groups in which discussion on history, legacy and political status have occurred. You are encouraged to explore them.

-Cherokee Freedmen Descendants (Online Group)
-Choctaw-Chickasaw Freedmen Descendants
(Online Group)
 -Descendant Freedmen Alliance of Kansas City 

-Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes
-Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band
-Young Freedmen Descendants of the Five Tribes, Discussion Group  (Online Group)

 For those interested in earlier discussions about the status of Freemen, the older AfriGeneas African-Native American message board is still active. This contains archived and searchable messages and threads that go back to 1997.

Over the years discussion has occurred within many sectors of the community, and at present there is also discussion about the possibility for another "real-time" meeting/conference in the next year or so. Whether or not such meeting unfolds, it is clear that activity is unfolding among more people who wish to pursue this much under-told story of Freedmen from Indian Territory. The Oklahoma-Freedman diaspora is widespread, but the need to encourage more dialogue and research is strongly encouraged. Hopefully more will become interested in this history and will join some of the groups mentioned above. 

These groups all hold promise for a continuation of the history being preserved. One thing however appears to be missing---the written record. Perhaps a history journal in which stories of Freedmen communities, Freedmen leaders, and the political and social initiatives of Freedmen, could be developed. 

Several years ago, discussion occurred to establish a group focused on history and devoted to production of a periodic journal and or events to present the past to emerging generations. 
Perhaps now,the long discussed, Indian Territory-Oklahoma Freedmen Historical Association may be the group whose time has come: ITOFHA