Black Freedmen Struggle for Recognition as Tribal CitizensBreaking News
tags: African American history, Native American history, Cherokee Freedmen
As the U.S. faces a reckoning over its history of racism, some Native American tribal nations that once owned slaves also are grappling with their own mistreatment of Black people.
When Native American tribes were forced from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern United States to what is now Oklahoma in the 1800s — known as the Trail of Tears — thousands of Black slaves owned by tribal members also were removed and forced to provide manual labor along the way. Once in Oklahoma, slaves often toiled on plantation-style farms or were servants in tribal members’ homes.
Nearly 200 years later, many of the thousands of descendants of those Black slaves, known as Freedmen, are still fighting to be recognized by the tribes that once owned their ancestors. The fight has continued since the killing of George Floyd last year by a Minneapolis police officer spurred a reexamination of the vestiges of slavery in the U.S.
CHEROKEE NATION FREEDMEN
The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations were referred to historically as the Five Civilized Tribes, or Five Tribes, by European settlers because they often assimilated into the settlers’ culture, adopting their style of dress and religion, and even owning slaves. Each tribe also has a unique history with Freedmen, whose rights were ultimately spelled out in separate treaties with the U.S.
Today, the Cherokee Nation is the only tribe that fully recognizes the Freedmen as full citizens, a decision that came in 2017 following years of legal wrangling.
“I think that we are a better tribe for having not only embraced the federal court decision but embraced the concept of equality,” said Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., a longtime supporter of citizenship rights for the Freedmen.
The Cherokee Nation, among the largest Native American tribes, has about 5,800 Freedmen citizens who have traced an ancestor on the tribe’s original Freedmen rolls in the late 19th century.
comments powered by Disqus
- With Students Back on Campus, Faculty Push Back Against COVID Policies They Consider Inadequate
- How Hong Kong's Elite Have Embraced a Shifting Narrative on Tiananmen Square
- Discovery of Human Footprints Pushes Back Date of Earliest Humans in Americas
- Ghana, WEB DuBois Museum Foundation to Partner on Museum, Research Center
- George Holliday Dies at 61, Taped LAPD Beating of Rodney King
- The Curious Task of Preserving Darwin's Beans and Butterflies
- Local Professor Building History of San Diego's Japanese Americans
- Art History Prof. Recognizes Lost Masterpiece in Local Church
- Rebel is Right: Reassessing the Cultural Revolution
- US COVID Death Count Surpasses Estimates of 1918 Influenza