Excellent PBS Video: America Reframed . . . By Blood
This is a recent broadcast by PBS News. It was the premier of their America Reframed Series. Investigative reporters dived into the issues behind the efforts of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Seminole Nation of Oklahoma to expel all descendants of Black Freedmen. Unfortunately, because the reporters knew very little about the real history of the Southeastern tribes, they tended to take statements from those interviewed as factual. POOF will discuss below, some of the facts left out.
One of the most important facts brought out by this documentary is that in 1866 and 1867, Bureau of Indian Affairs agents arbitrarily labeled most members of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes with darker skin or some African features as Black Freedmen, whether or not they had actually been slaves prior to the Civil War. Also, many other Cherokee Black Freedmen have proven descent from famous Cherokees, such as Principal Chief John Ross, who regularly bedded down with their young female slaves.
Several Black Freedmen from both the Cherokee and Seminole tribes, took DNA tests, which proved their Native America ancestry, but the tribal governments rejected the DNA tests as a proof that these people were legitimate members, because they had ancestors, who were on the Cherokee or Seminole Freedmen rolls.
Here is the link to the Google citation. You will have to click it to get to the website, where the program can be watched.
Here are some basic facts completely left out of the program:
(1) The Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole people today are the result of five centuries of extensive mixing between many ethnic groups and races. They are not the same genetically as the indigenous peoples, who greet the first European explorers.
(2) The Five Civilized Tribes had no concept of tribal membership being based on skin color or “blood quantum” until such clauses were written into their constitutions by white bureaucrats in Washington, DC.
(3) The Cherokees are now using the Dawes Rolls lists as a criteria for tribal membership, but most Cherokees with African heritage were blocked from signing the Dawes Rolls by white federal bureaucrats, watching from behind the sign-up tables.
(4) Major DNA labs have found it impossible to create DNA test markers for the Cherokees, because the majority of members in Oklahoma are running 0-2 % Native American. What the Cherokees themselves believe are “full blooded Cherokee” physical features have turned out to be a mixture of Caucasian, African, Semitic, Anatolian and Middle Eastern features
(5) It has become quite clear that the impetus for “ethnic purity” in these tribes came from greed associated with the revenues from gambling casinos.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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