Cherokee freedmen controversy - Wikipedia
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Heirs of his estate later forced these two sons into slavery. His sisters inherited his twin sons as property, and they unsuccessfully petitioned the Council to grant emancipation and citizenship to the twins. African Americans who aided slaves were to be punished with lashes on the back. Cherokee society barred those of African descent from holding public office, bearing arms, voting, and owning property. It was illegal for anyone within the limits of the Cherokee Nation to teach blacks to read or write.
This law was amended so that the punishment for non-Cherokee citizens teaching blacks was a request for removal from the Cherokee Nation by authorities. On December 2,the Cherokee National Council passed "An Act in regard to Free Negroes"; it banned all free blacks from the limits of the Cherokee Nation by Januaryexcept those freed by Cherokee slaveowners. Inan estimated number of African slaves escaped from several plantations in Cherokee territory. Most of the slaves were captured in Seminole territory by a joint group of Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole slaveowners.
Principal Chief John Ross originally adopted a policy of neutrality in regard to the Civil War and relations with the two opposing forces. In JulyRoss and Creek chief Opothleyahola attempted to unite the Five Civilized Tribes in an agreement to remain neutral, but failed at establishing an inter-tribal alliance.
Ross and the Cherokee council later agreed to side with the Confederacy on August 12, After Ross' capture by Union forces on July 15, and his parole, he sided with the Union and repudiated the Confederate treaty. He remained in Union territory until the end of the war. A wealthy planter and slaveholder, Watie served as an officer in the Confederate Army and was the last Brigadier General to surrender to the Union. That all negro and other slaves within the lands of the Cherokee Nation be and they are hereby emancipated from slavery, and any person or persons who may have been held in slavery hereby declared to be forever free.
The acts became effective on June 25, and any Cherokee citizen who held slaves was to be fined no less than one thousand dollars or more than five thousand dollars. Officials who failed to enforce the act were to be removed and deemed ineligible to hold any office in the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee became the sole nation of the Five Civilized Tribes to abolish slavery during the war.
But despite the actions of the National Council, few slaves were freed.
Those Cherokee loyal to the Confederacy held more slaves than did pro-Union Cherokee. In Septembereach side was represented along with delegations from the other Five Civilized Nations and other nations to negotiate with the Southern Treaty Commission at Fort Smith, Arkansas.
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Reese, Smith Christie, and White Catcher. The US officials ignored the factional divisions and addressed the Cherokee as one entity, stating that their rights, annuities, and land claims from past treaties were voided due to the Cherokee joining the Confederacy.
On the September 9th meeting, Cooley insisted on several conditions for a treaty agreement that the Cherokee must comply with. Some of the conditions included the abolishment of slavery, full citizenship for the Cherokee Freedmen, and rights to annuities and land.
The Pro-Union Cherokee delegation, whose government abolished slavery before the Civil War ended, were willing to adopt Freedmen into the tribe as members and to allocate land for their use.
While negotiations took place, the US Department of the Interior tasked the newly established Freedmen's Bureauheaded by Brevet Major General John Sanbornto observe the treatment of Freedmen in Indian Territory and regulate relations as a free labor system was established. The Pro-Union Cherokee rejected four of those stipulations while agreeing with the rest. While the Southern Cherokee treaty had some support, the treaty offered by Ross' faction was ultimately selected.
The Pro-Union faction was the sole Cherokee group that the U. Issues such as the status of Cherokee Freedmen and the voiding of the Confederate treaty were previously agreed upon, and both sides compromised on issues such as amnesty for Cherokee who had fought for the Confederacy.
The treaty granted Cherokee citizenship to the Freedmen and their descendants article 9. The treaty also set aside a large tract of land for Freedmen to settle, with acres for each head of household article 4and granted them voting rights and self-determination within the constraints of the greater Cherokee Nation article 5 and article The Cherokee Nation having, voluntarily, in February, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, by an act of the national council, forever abolished slavery, hereby covenant and agree that never hereafter shall either slavery or involuntary servitude exist in their nation otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, in accordance with laws applicable to all the members of said tribe alike.
They further agree that all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as all free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months, and their descendants, shall have all the rights of native Cherokees: Provided, That owners of slaves so emancipated in the Cherokee Nation shall never receive any compensation or pay for the slaves so emancipated.
The constitutional amendments removed all language excluding people of African descent and reiterated the treaty's language concerning the Freedmen.
The constitution also reiterated the treaty's six-month deadline for Freedmen to return to the Cherokee Nation in order to be counted as citizens.
All native born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the Nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July,and their descendants, who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be, citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
As citizens of the Cherokee Nation, Freedmen were allowed to vote in local and national elections. Bythe inclusion of Freedmen in political office was established with the first Cherokee Freedman elected to the Cherokee National Council.
During the s, several segregated Freedmen schools were established, with seven primary schools in operation by It was not until that a high school, Cherokee Colored High School, was established near Tahlequah.
The Cherokee Nation typically did not fund these schools at a level comparable to those for Cherokee children. Like the resistance of whites to acceptance of freedmen as citizens in the South, many Cherokee resisted inclusion of the Freedmen as citizens.
This issue became part of the continuing divisions and internal factionalism within the tribe that persisted after the war. In addition, there were tribal members who resented sharing already scarce resources with their former slaves. There were also economic issues, related to the forced granting of some lands to Freedmen, and later allotment of lands and distribution of monies related to land sales.
Tribal records and rolls[ edit ] census[ edit ] Inthe Cherokee compiled a census to distribute per capita funds related to the Cherokee Outleta tract of land west of the Cherokee Nation that was sold by the Cherokee in the s. The census did not include a single Freedmen and also excluded the Delaware and Shawnee, who had been adopted into the Cherokee after being allocated land at their reservation between and Yet there were Freedmen who had never left the Nation who were also denied citizenship.
Principal Chief Dennis Wolf Bushyhead — opposed the exclusion of Cherokee Freedmen from distribution of assets and believed that the Freedmen's omission from the census was a violation of the treaty.
Cherokee freedmen controversy
But his veto to pass an act that added a "by blood" requirement for the distribution of assets was overridden by the Cherokee National Council in Special Agent John W.
Wallace was commissioned to investigate and create a roll, now known as the Wallace Rollto aid in the per-capita distribution of federal money. The Wallace Roll, completed from to with several people working on it  included 3, Freedmen. Inby passing "An act to refer to the U. Court of Claims to hear suits by the Freedmen against the Cherokee Nation for recovery of proceeds denied them. The Freedmen won the claims court case that followed, Whitmire v. It related to treaty obligations of the Cherokee Nation to the United States.
The Claims Court ruled that payments of annuities and other benefits could not be restricted to "particular class of Cherokee citizens, such as those by blood. It commissioned the Kern-Clifton rollcompleted inas a record of the 5, Freedmen who were to receive a portion of the land sale funds as settlement.
The payment process took a decade. It was a measure to promote assimilation of Native Americans in the Indian Territory by requiring the extinguishing of tribal government and land claims; communal lands were to be allotted to individual households of citizens registered as tribal members, in order to encourage subsistence farming according to the European-American model.
This resulted in massive losses of land for the tribes. As a part of the act and subsequent bills, the Dawes Commission was formed in and took a census of the citizens in Indian Territory from to The rolls were completed on March and additional citizens were enrolled under an Act of Congress on August 1, Although Freedmen frequently had Cherokee ancestry and sometimes living Cherokee parents, the Dawes commissioners generally listed all Freedmen or people of visible African features exclusively on the Freedmen Roll, rather than recording an individual's percentage of Cherokee ancestry.
It was not an orderly process. The Dawes Rolls of listed 41, citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and 4, persons listed separately as Freedmen. Intermarried whites, mostly men, were also listed separately. The genealogist Angela Y. It authorized the Dawes Commission to allot funds without the consent of tribal governments, and allowed the federal government to extract taxes from white citizens living in the Indian territories.
American Indians have considered both the Dawes and Curtis acts as restrictions on tribal sovereignty. The government distributed allotments of land, and there have been many claims of unfair treatment and errors in the registration process. As the Cherokee Nation's government was officially dissolved, and Oklahoma became a statethe Cherokee Freedmen and other Cherokee were granted U.
Numerous activists have criticized inconsistencies in the information collected in the Dawes Rolls. Several tribes have used these as a basis for proving descent in order to qualify for membership.
In previous censuses, persons of mixed African-Native American ancestry were classified as Native American. Cherokee by blood, intermarried White, and Freedmen. The registrars generally did not consult with individuals as to how they identified. Overall the Dawes Rolls is incomplete and inaccurate. Issues of citizenship in reorganized tribes was critical to being part of the nation. In testimony as a member of the Cherokee Freedmen's Association, before the Indian Claims Commission on November 14,Gladys Lannagan discussed specific problems in the records for her family, I was born in and my father died August 5, But he didn't get my name on the [Dawes] roll.
I have two brothers on the roll—one on the roll by blood and one other by Cherokee Freedman children's allottees. She said that one of her paternal grandparents was Cherokee and the other African American. Thus such individuals lost their "blood" claim to Cherokee citizenship despite having satisfied the criterion of having a close Cherokee ancestor.
It held that the Kern-Clifton Roll was valid for only that distribution, and was superseded by the Dawes Rolls in terms of establishing the Cherokee tribal list of membership. With passage of the Indian Claims Commission Act ofCongress established a commission to hear cases of Indian claims. Numerous descendants of the 1, Freedmen who had been recorded on the Kern-Clifton Roll but not on the Dawes roll, organized to try to correct the exclusion of their ancestors from Cherokee tribal rolls.
They also sought payments from which they had been excluded. Loss of membership[ edit ] On October 22,the former Five Civilized Tribes had the right to vote for their tribal leaders restored by Congress via the Principal Chiefs Act.
Inthe Department of the Interior stated that one of the three fundamental conditions for the electoral process was that voter qualification of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole must be broad enough to include the Freedmen citizens of their respective nations.
Keelerand participated in the first Cherokee elections since the s as well as subsequent elections. In the s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs began to provide several federal services and benefits, such as free healthcare, to members of federally recognized tribes.
Numerous descendants of Cherokee listed as Cherokee by blood on the Dawes Commission Rolls enrolled as new members of the Cherokee Nation.
As members of the Cherokee Nation, federal services were also provided to the Cherokee Freedmen. However, certain benefits were limited or unattainable. Swimmerthen-Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, stated that the Freedmen citizenry should be entitled to certain health benefits like other enrolled Indians  A new Cherokee Nation constitution, approved by the commissioner of Indian Affairs on September 5,was ratified by voters on June 26, Article III, Section 1 of the new constitution defined citizens as those proven by reference to the final Dawes Commission Rolls, including the adopted Delaware and Shawnee.
Although they were Dawes enrollees, received funds resulting from tribal land sales via the U. Supreme Court ruling in Whitmire v.
Cherokee Nation and United Statesand voted in previous Cherokee Nation elections, the Cherokee Freedmen descendants were turned away from the polls and told that they did not have the right to vote. According to Principal Chief Swimmer in a interview, both the voter registration committee and the tribal membership committee had introduced new rules in the period between and that declared that according to the Cherokee Constitution ofan individual must have a " Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood " CDIB card from the U.
Wheeler and Cowen alleged that the election was a violation of federal and tribal law and that the Cherokee Freedmen were unjustly removed from voting because they were allies of Wheeler.
All cases and subsequent appeals were defeated. Mankillerwas elected in Principal Chief Mankiller signed and approved the legislation. This completed the disfranchisement of the Cherokee Freedmen descendants. The organization filed a petition with the Indian Claims Commission in over their exclusion from citizenship, but the petition was denied in The Indian Claims Commission stated that their claims to tribal citizenship were individual in nature and outside the U.
The Cherokee Freedmen's Association was faced with two issues regarding their case. On one hand, the Dawes Rolls, a federally mandated tally, was accepted as defining who were legally and politically Cherokee and most of the CFA members were not of Dawes Rolls descent.
The tribe was not interested in allotments. The tribe had since been under advisement by Cherokee Chief Joel B. Mayes, and once again rebuffed the Commission. The Kickapoo refused to anger the Great Spirit by ceding their land. Okanokasie, Keshokame and five headmen were authorized to represent the tribe. A white man named John T. Hill acted as tribal advisor.
Their allotments were 80 acres 0. Land patents to the individual allotments land were to be held in a tax-free trust for the benefit of the allottees, for a period of twenty-five years. Joseph Whipple, testified that he was chosen by the Kickapoo as interpreter because of his fluency with the tribal language. He also attested that he was neither able to read nor write, and that what he conveyed to the Kickapoo was a translation of what had been read to him by Sayre.
Congress ratified the agreement March With the assistance of advocate Charles C. Painter of the Indian Rights Associationthe Kickapoo presented their case to the House Committee on Indian Affairs Painter alleged the Commission had used, "trickery, coercion, threats and cunning," and had also, "over-reached and defrauded" the Kickapoo.
During the Civil War, the tribe aligned with the Confederacy. Inthe Tonkawa Massacre decimated the tribe. Wood, the total Tonkawa reservation population was counted at Of this number, 14 were school children. They were described as a group who dressed in the white society's attire and attempted to speak only English.
Many in the populace were identified as retired Government scouts and their wives. The agent stipulated these people should be cared for, in recognition of their government service. The only problem reported was alcohol and mescal bean addiction. The report called the Tonkawa "ready and anxious" to accept allotments. Sixty-nine allotments of land were agreed to, plus a like allotment for any future tribal member born after the agreement was signed, but alive by the date of Congressional ratification.
Peter Dupee, adopted member of the Tonkawa tribe, acted as interpreter. Congress ratified the agreement on February 3, Congress failed to act on their claim. When cattlemen began leasing grazing land on the Outlet, the Cherokees levied taxes on the cattlemen. Some of the cattlemen ignored the levies, and began building fences made of Outlet timber. Inthe Interior Department forced removal of the fences. The cattlemen formed the Cherokee Strip Livestock Association to work with the tribes.
Mayes Tribal chief Joel B. Before and after the war, Mayes ran a farm, oversaw his fruit orchards, and raised livestock. Mayes was responsible for renegotiation of the grazing lease on the Outlet. Empowered by the Cherokee National Council, Mayes appointed a nine-member committee: Gray as Chairman, William P.
Boudinot acted as clerk, and Captain H. Benge acted as interpreter. In the Oklahoma Territory, judges ruled that the Cherokees had no legal ownership of the Outlet. Cherokee delegates submitted documentation as proof of Outlet ownership. The Commission re-opened negotiations with the Cherokees in November The Cherokees requested the boundary of the Outlet be moved from the 96th to the th Meridian, and that the government estimate the acreage involved in the negotiations.
A main point of contention in the negotiations was the question of intruders, outside workers residing on Cherokee land, and the history of the United States failing to handle the problem. Both Jerome and Sayre ridiculed the Cherokee proposal. The Commission threatened that Congress could remove the tribe from Trade and Intercourse acts.
Boudinot continued to debate with the Commission over details, and said the tribe had a copy of the Indian Office's instructions to the Commission. The Cherokees ceded 8, Many continued to live on the plains, only brought to conformity by the Red River War campaign. Day, the total reservation population was counted as Kiowa 1, Comanche 1, and Apache Jerome stalled on the details of money.
Other tribal members preferred to defer the negotiations until the Treaty of Medicine Lodge expired. At the next day's session, Parker continued to press Jerome for financial details, as Jerome avoided discussing the money. Parker once again asked how much per acre.
To that, Sayre replied, " Lone Wolf added that many wanted to defer until the expiration of the Medicine Lodge treaty. Parker proposed one elected representative from each tribe meet with an attorney of his choosing, with two months to prepare a tribal proposal. Day spoke on October 5, telling the assemblage that the commissioners were their friends, and they could either accept the Commission's offer, or be forced into allotment by the Dawes Act. Jerome pointed to Parker's wealth erroneously as an example of what allotment would bring to the average tribal member.
Kiowa chief Tohauson spoke on October 6, saying that neither he nor many in his tribe would sign the agreement. Hitchcock[ edit ] Lone Wolf Once the Commission laid claim to a sufficient number of signatures for passage, Lone Wolf and other Kiowa alleged fraud.
In Octobera petition of a majority of Kiowa males was presented to Congress questioning the validity of the agreement. Upon the onset of the allotment process, Lone Wolf filed a complaint with the Supreme Court in the District of Columbia, seeking an injunction against the Department of Interior.
Cherokee Commission - Wikipedia
Former Congressman William Springer acted as the tribal attorney. The Indian Rights Association also became involved.
The complaint alleged that the agreement was unconstitutional on the grounds that it conflicted with the Treaty of Medicine Lodge requirement of signatures of three-fourths of all tribal adult males. Hitchcock decision, the Court ruled against Lone Wolf, stating that the Congress acted in good faith, and the judiciary branch of government should not question its motives.
The Court ruled that Congress was within its plenary powers to abrogate treaties when it acts in the best interests of the tribes. Proceeds of the sale of the Nebraska reservation were used to relocate the tribe to Indian Territory, on land purchased from the Cherokee.
Surplus funds remaining after the purchase and relocation were to be credited to the Pawnee at the United States Treasury. The Pawnee ownedacres Wood, the total Pawnee reservation population was counted atof which were male and were female. Of the total population, were considered of mixed blood. The number under the age of 24 who were considered literate was reported at And of the Pawnee were reported as being able to use the English language. Ofacres 1, The report contains a section on the Pawnee participation in the Ghost Dancewhich promised to bring a new messiah to force intruders off their land, and return the buffalo.
The named prophet on the reservation was Frank White, whom the agent had arrested. The agent refers to having avoided a Wounded Knee disaster. By the date mentioned in the agent's report, two-thirds of the Pawnee had become participants. Many within the tribe had given up reservation labors in favor of serving the new messiah with the dancing.
When the government objected, the Pawnee practiced their religion covertly. White's arrest was a government attempt to quash the religion. Clarkeof the Piegan tribe, to facilitate the allotments. Harry Coons acted as monitor on behalf of the Pawnee. Jerome began the sessions by referring to the dictates of the Dawes Act. Jerome told the Pawnee they had no option but to capitulate, and that leasing to cattlemen was forbidden.
The Pawnee were concerned about being deprived of their livelihood, and about future generations of Pawnee not being beneficiaries of the agreement.
Jerome threatened them with cutting off food rations, and told them their only protection from white intruders on their land was to cede the land to the government. Sun Chief offered to split the difference between the government's offer and the Pawnee demand. When the tribal representatives expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of government clothing allotments, Warren Sayre offered to give the tribe half of the clothing allowance in cash.
Brave Chief wanted assurances that the government would support the tribe's right to conduct the Ghost Dances. Sayre confirmed it vocally but refused to put it in writing. On November 23, Agreement with the Pawnee was voted upon and signed. From theacres 1, The allotments were to be selected by the individual tribal members within four months of Congressional ratification of the agreement. Weeks served as interpreter.
Congress ratified the document on March 3, The population on the Osage the reservation numbered 1, The Osage were described as being a religious people who were honest and having pride in their heritage.
The Kaw on the reservation were counted at The Kaw populace was described as a generous people who gave away their own possessions to others.
Neither tribe was interested in negotiating. Section 8 of the Dawes act excluded the Osage, so they could not be compelled to accept allotments. The Osage had their own government with a written constitution. The Kaw refused to entertain the idea of allotments unless the Commission was able to secure an agreement with the Ponca. Wood, and the population was counted asliving onacres Clark had already made allotments to many Otoe. Inthe Ponca were forcibly removed to Indian Territory. Wood, the total Ponca reservation population was counted at Two hundred of the Ponca were reported as being able to use the English language.
The commissioners read the Dawes Act. White Eagle suggested the white homesteaders ". On April 12, Sayre presented the government's proposal. The Commission threatened that Congress could cut off Ponca annual appropriations.