Descendants Of Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes
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Problems facing the Freedmen descendents in upholding treaty rights:
1)Unawareness of the general public as well as Freedmen descendents. Many politicians as well as Black leaders don’t know there are Black Indians with treaty rights. Legislation has been passed in some instances setting blood quantums for programs which automatically excludes Freedmen descendents. Certain politicians want to limit the number of people recognized as Indians to keep down domestic spending. They won't do anything to assist in enforcing the treaties unless pushed.
2)Case law on the books upholds tribal sovereignty in many matters. Tribes demands to determine their own memberships is diametrically opposed to Freedmen descendents treaty rights. Some nations have forgotten that the Federal government stated that because it was a sovereign nation, it had the right to break treaties with the Indian nations.
3)Opposition to Freedmen rights by tribal leaders. If the 5 tribes had continued to enroll Freedmen and demanded that Freedmen descendents be treated the same as other tribal members, Congress and the BIA most likely would have not enacted certain laws and policies which are discriminatory to Black Indians. Indian unfamiliarity with Blacks (after Jim Crow laws passed, Blacks had to live in separate neighborhoods and attend separate schools from other tribal members), fears that Black Indians wont be interested in Indian culture and heritage, and fears that Congress wont appropriate enough money to account for the Freedmen descendent tribal members. Some Indians are unaware that Blacks with Indian blood rarely got on the Dawes blood rolls. Also, some tribal leaders overestimate the potential number of Freedmen descendant tribal members who would be eligible to enroll in the tribes. For example, at the time of the Dawes enrollment, the Cherokee Freedmen constituted less than 12% of the enrolled Cherokee citizens. The small number of potential Cherokee Freedmen tribal members would not be in a position to control tribal elections or set tribal policies. Likewise, the percentage of enrolled Seminole Freedmen is currently about 14% of the Seminole nation. Some tribal leaders do not recognize the dangers in not living up to their treaty obligations since each of the 5 nations bases its relationships with the United states on its treaty of 1866.
4)Lack of Unity and Apathy among the Freedmen descendents – Freedmen descendents have not been united in pushing for their treaty rights; only the Seminole Freedmen have been organized over a span of years. Some Freedmen descendents are not interested in their Indian heritage or joining their ancestors tribes.
5)Lack of participation by Black Indians who are enrolled in the tribes. Some Black Indians who have gotten CDIB cards and tribal memberships do not assist their relatives in tribal enrollments. Some do not push to assist those who can only trace their descendency from the Freedmen rolls in obtaining CDIB cards or tribal memberships.
6)”One drop of blood” attitudes among non-Indian Blacks, Whites and non-Black Indians . There is Resistance in many quarters to Black people claiming any other ancestry than Black, although it is considered acceptable for enrolled non-African Indians to have White ancestry.
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