MP Maxine Waters warns tribes to stop discriminating against Freedmen descendants
The Choctaw and Muscogee Nations of Oklahoma have announced in recent weeks that they considering the changes to their constitutions which would allow the descendants of freedmen, blacks formerly enslaved by the five tribes, to become full tribal citizens.
To descendants like Rhonda Grayson, this is a hypocritical announcement that rings hollow, given that the five tribes that enslaved people of African descent, the Cherokee, Muscogee (formerly Muscogee Creek), Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole , already agreed to recognize Freedmen and their descendants as members when they signed treaties in 1866 with the US government. These specific treaties followed the tribes’ participation in the Confederate rebellion and required the tribes to abandon their lands and recognize their formerly enslaved members as full tribal citizens.
Descendants of freedmen call for federal intervention in tribal discrimination
Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band Chief Rhonda Grayson is a descendant of America Cohee, an original member of MCN (Muscogee Nation), and her great-grandmother’s role number is # 4661. While the tribe recently changed its name from Muscogee Creek to simply Muscogee, descendants of the Freedmen often refer to both names.
“We continued the DOI [U.S. Dept. of the Interior] for months and successfully arranged a meeting with the team of Deb Haaland, US Secretary of the Interior, on May 13, 2021, ”said Rhonda Grayson. The Black Wall Street Times.
Therefore, the Housing, Community Development and Insurance Subcommittee recently announced that it will meet for an in-person hearing titled “NHASDA Reauthorization: Responding to Historic Divestment and the Plight of Freedoms in Amerindian communities ”. The hearing will take place on July 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET and marks the first official congressional hearing on the Freedmen in decades.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) chairs the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, which is responsible for re-authorizing funding for Indigenous communities.
“This is an issue that will be at the heart of the reauthorization, and I will be in charge of the reauthorization. We cannot afford to discriminate against anyone, ”Representative Waters said in a virtual meeting with Freedmen executives and Tulsa lawyer Damario Solomon-Simmons.
Creek Citizen Eli Grayson Calls BS
Regarding the Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) tribes announcing that they “will consider” looking into the matter, historian and Muscogee citizen Eli Grayson says that is “bullshit”.
“It’s just good public relations,” said Muscogee citizen Eli Grayson. “They have no intention of going all the way. There’s a lot of money at stake in Washington DC right now, and you have the Congressional Black Caucus at the center of it all. “
Eli Grayson says Muscogee Nation does not intend to give Freedmen tribal citizenship even if they go against theirs Treaty of 1866 after the Civil War.
“Whether they had citizenship was determined by the Civil War, and then the treaty followed in 1866,” Eli Grayson said. “Now why, 155 years later, do they say to the freedmen, ‘I don’t want you in the tribe? It’s already settled.
Descendant of Choctaw Freedmen
Ean McCants is a Choctaw Freedman whose family hails from Sandtown, a neighborhood in Oklahoma City created by Chickasaw Freedmen. Many Choctaw freedmen are also Freedmen Chickasaw because their nations were adjacent.
“Whether or not we are recognized by the Choctaw Nation, we will always remain Choctaw,” said McCants. “Our history, our culture has always been in that of the Choctaw Nation. It did not exist anywhere else.
McCants has blood ties to his tribal ancestry and his African ancestors have lived in the Chickasaw Nation since the 1700s. His ancestors also signed one of the Choctaw Nation Removal Treaties. On the role Chickasaw Freedmen, her grandmother’s role number is 915.
“When the Choctaw Nation was not recognized by the US government, or did not function as a sovereign government, the people of the Choctaw Nation still viewed themselves as Choctaw, even though the government did not view them as such,” he said. McCants said. mentionned. “I don’t understand why they think it would be different for us when we have the same information on the story. ”
Unique to the freed from Indian territory is the fact that no other group of blacks in this country has been emancipated by treaties with the indigenous nations. Additionally, as Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of the last group of blacks to experience the end of the Civil War, the Freedmen in Indian Territory were actually the last population of blacks to gain their freedom.
” The fact is that [Indian Territory] was not part of the United States, so when slavery ended in the United States, it did not apply to the Indian country, ”McCants said. “My ancestors of the Chickasaw Nation were not freed from slavery until 1866, when these treaties were signed.”
“Jim Crow discrimination”
In February, the Cherokee Nation removed from its constitution the language that founded citizenship on being the descendants of tribal members “by blood” listed on the federal Dawes Roll.
Yet even indigenous blood and tribal citizenship do not guarantee the benefits of tribal citizens for these families. LeEtta Osborne-Sampson is a representative of the Oklahoma Seminole Nation Council and a descendant of the Freedmen.
“No treaty is based on a blood clause,” said Representative Osborne-Sampson.
“This is a Jim Crow initiative to prevent us from receiving anything from these tribes. It’s almost like your family says you don’t exist here. It is more difficult for a community when the community cannot stay united. Osborne-Sampson added.
By doing this, the indigenous tribes are again breaking their own constitutions and treaties. Nations Illegally Voted Black, Eli Grayson Says freed. The Muscogees rejected Freedmen in 1979 and Choctaw did the same in 1983.
“The only way to change a treaty is to go to Congress and the president and say, ‘Look, we want to change the treaty. We want new deals here, ”Grayson said. “Guess what’s going to happen? The Congressional Black Caucus is going to say “You better get out of here.”
Recently the AP wrote an article titled, “The Foundation of Wealth”: Why Black Wall Street Exploded. It recounts how the Black Freedmen and many other Native American citizens quickly lost land and money to unscrupulous or negligent white guardians forced upon them.
By failing to recognize the freed as tribal citizens, tribal nations discriminate against their own people, in many cases their own cousins.
“You just have to list them according to the treaty,” said Eli Grayson. “It’s that simple.”
The descendants of the freed join the battle for recognition and rights
Meanwhile, Rhonda Grayson shared that the descendants of African Creeks (Muscogee) who served in the House of Kings and the House of Warriors cannot even get a judge to hear their case and make a decision and are denied citizenship in the Muscogee Nation.
In 1867, the Muscogee people adopted a written constitution that established a principal chief and a second chief, a judicial branch and a bicameral legislature consisting of a House of Kings and a House of Warriors, according to the Muscogee Nation’s website.
They are denied funds from the Cares Act and the American Recovery Act and other government funded programs such as housing, education grants, and funds received by Nation Creek.
Speak Treaty of 1866 The freedmen of African Creek (Muscogee) “shall have and enjoy all the rights and privileges of native citizens, including an equal interest in the land and national funds.”
These freedmen should be included in all benefits and programs available to citizens of the Muscogee Nation, but are denied access despite the clear language of the treaty text.
The Freedmen Band pursued the DOI for months and successfully held a meeting with Home Team Secretary Deb Haaland on May 13, 2021. and Chief of Staff Jennifer Van Der Heide Escobar attended the meeting. .
According to Grayson, Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland said, “The federal government hears your plea. ”
He said he was not in a promising area, “but I want to tell you that I will continue to work on this problem. Ministry and administration [work on the issue], and I want to make sure this isn’t the last conversation we have.
Muscogee Creek Freedmen Jeffrey Kennedy is a descendant of Ben Grayson # 5329. The Muscogee Nation is the most documented tribe in the country. They can be traced back five generations from the 1890s.
We have always done great things for our own tribes, ”Kennedy said.
“We served in the Chamber of Kings, we served in the Chamber of Warriors, we were leaders, we were interpreters, we were lawyers. We have done everything for our nation and for them to turn around and suddenly forget what we have done to strengthen our own nation is disheartening. Kennedy added.
Representative Maxine Waters questions suspension of tribal funding
Explaining her frustration with what she calls “dropout tactics,” Rhonda Grayson condemned the Muscogee Nation’s refusal to quickly hear their case.
“There is a summary judgment motion pending before the MCN (Muscogee Nation) court that the MCN refuses to appoint a judge. We had two judges who recused themselves from the case, ”said Rhonda Grayson.
It appears that, although on the surface the tribe has expressed interest in recognizing the descendants of the Freedmen as full members, in the background the court has waited to decide the issue for more than five months despite the that the MCN District Court received the case as early as March. 2020.
“They save time because they know they have to look at history; history will uncover the truth about how our lives are intertwined with MCN, and they know what the outcome will be: history and the 1866 peace treaty are on our side, ”said Rhonda Grayson.
For her part, MP Maxine Waters, who chairs the committee overseeing the re-authorization of funding for Indigenous communities, has no plans to stop fighting for the rights and dignity of the Freedmen.
“To all the tribes, if you want the government to recognize the treaties between you and the government, then you have to recognize the treaty that covers the descendants of slaves. What is right is right. So if you don’t want to recognize this treaty that gives descendants of slaves the right to these services, then maybe the government shouldn’t recognize the treaties that you have that give you those resources in the first place.