The Eloquent Protest of the Chickasaw Freedmen
The plight of the Chickasaw Freedmen is of a group of African people disenfranchised in the nation of their birth--the Chickasaw Nation. Many when this piece was written in 1882 had been born free, but the elder Chickasaw Freedmen were born slaves in the Chickasaw nation after removal to Indian Territory. When the Civil War ended it took another treaty to free the slaves in Indian Territory, and in Ft. Smith Arkansas, the Treaty of 1866 was signed between the United States and the Five Civilized Tribes. Among the stipulations was the order to free the Africans held in bondage in the various tribes. The Africans were to be adopted as citizens with full rights in their respective nations.
For the next sixteen years, the plight of the Chickasaw nation's former slaves, was questioned. The nation did not want their presence and asked the United States to remove the Negroes from their nation. The native born Freedmen did not elect to leave the land that was their homeland for several decades. They had bonded with the land.
However, they were unwanted citizens, although as slaves they were an essential commodity to their host nation. There is also no evidence that the Freedmen ever received the 300,000 promised to them. Someday descendants of the Chickasaw Freedmen may wish to research this and petition to claim owed funds, if applicable.
Written in 1882 this piece is one of the most eloquent documents, written by Freedmen leaders King Blue, and Isaac Alexander. They made an appeal in the form of a document called a Memorial of the Chickasaw Freedmen. In this document their plight, and their plead for assistance from the United States is felt by the reader. It is produced on this page in its entirety.
The Memorial of the Chickasaw Freedmen
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America:
The undersigned, your memorialists, respectfully show that they are residents of the Chickasaw nation, and area "persons of African descent" and were born and bred in the said nation.
They have such interests there as inspire them with an earnest desire to remain residents, and to become citizens of the Nation. There they have families, wives, and children, and property; in fact everything that is dear to them is there; and they would consider it a great hardship to be forced to leave their firesides and to seek new homes.
Your memorialists represent not only themselves, but also that class of persons known in the nation as "persons of African descent" of which class there are about three thousand individuals. We and they have ever been loyal to the Government of the United States, and expect ever so to remain.
In order the more plainly to lay before your honorable bodies our cause and our claims, we call attention to the 3rd article of the Treaty between the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and the United States, of April 1866, which reads as follows:
Art. 3 The Choctaws and Chickasaws in consideration of the sum of $300,000 hereby cede to the United States the territory west of the 98th degree west longitude, known as the leased district, provided that the said sum shall be invested and held by the United States at an interest no less than five percent, in trust for the said nations, until the legislatures of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations respectively shall have made such laws, rules and regulations as may be necessary to give all persons of African descent, resident in the said nations at that date of the Treaty of Fort Smith, and their descendants, heretofore held in slavery among said nations, all the rights, privileges and immunities, including the right of suffrage, of citizens of said nations except in the annuities, moneys and public domain claimed by or belonging to said nations respectively; and to give to such persons who were residents as aforesaid, and their descendants, forty acres each of the land of such nations on the same terms as the Choctaws and Chickasaws, to be selected on the survey of the said land, after the Choctaws, and Chickasaws, and Kansas Indians have made their selections as herein provided; and immediately on the enactment of such laws, rules and regulation, the said sum of $300,000 shall be paid to the said Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in the proportion of three-fourths to the former, and one-fourth to the latter----less such sum at the rate on one hundred dollars per capita, as shall be sufficient to pay such persons of African descent before referred to as, within ninety days after the passage of such laws, rules, and regulations, shall elect to remove and actually remove from the said nations respectively. And should the said laws, rules and regulations not be made by the legislatures of the said nations respectively, within two years from the ratification of this treaty, then the said sum of three hundred thousand dollars shall cease to be held in trust for the said Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and be held for the use and benefit of such said persons of African descent as the United States shall remove from the said territory, in such manner as the United States shall deem proper--The United States agreeing within ninety days from the expiration of the said two years, to remove from said nation all such persons of African descent as may be willing to remove; those remaining or returning after having been removed from said nation to have no benefit of said sum of three hundred thousand dollars, or any part thereof, but shall be upon the same footing as other citizens of the United States in the said nations.
Continue to Part 2