Monday, September 15, 2014

Not Choctaw Enough- Skepticism- Part 2

Recently, after someone contacted me as match. I posted in my facebook group that mom had three matches now with Choctaw descendants. The flurry of comments, some skeptical and negative pursued.

First, yes, you can't tell a tribe from DNA. I know this, but in the case of two of the matches, they are both grandchildren of Dawes enrollee's, whose tree only has in common with Mom that they are Choctaw. The other was a Choctaw from either Mississippi or Louisiana. All three are more than 50 percent Choctaw, so matching to them made my day.

Second, to the "oh yeah right", when I said that DNA didn't prove native ancestry, genealogy did. Well, I have a few things to say about that. Yes, genealogy does prove tribal ancestry, which is why it is the only way to enroll. And that is definitely not all I have to say on the subject.

First, as for genealogy and documentation. Something that some of the more "pure" of you want to scoff at. Since in genealogy we work backwards, let's just begin with that. My grandfather was raised by his grandmother, a Dawes enrollee. I spoke with both of her daughters before they died, and also communicate with his cousins. And I have even tracked down and spoke with descendants of my great great grandmother's siblings. No, that's not documentation, but the census and dawes enrollment are. So is the 1885 and 1896 annuity where I found her name, and her parents.

Then there is the 1856 annuity where I found the names on the Trahern side. And the court documents signed by my 4th great grandfather, James N. Trahern. And since those of you who are the most skeptical aren't from the Oklahoma Choctaws, I don't expect you to know much about the whose who of our tribe in Oklahoma, but there is the letter (thanks to Jeff Fortney) I have from Robert M. Jones on behalf of James N. Trahern about the land he got with his mother, Peggy Trahern in the supplement. In the same letter, Robert M. Jones states that James is his cousin and he is living with him.

Then there is the newspaper article that quotes Eliza Ann Flack stating her mother was a half breed and a niece of Pushmataha, and her father was Charles Juzan. Court of claims testimonies that state that from Okalahomma that his brother was Tappenahoma and he was a nephew of Pushmataha. Letters from the National Archives from Pierre Juzan on behalf of Tappenahoma where he (Tappenahoma) refers to Pushmataha as his Uncle, and where Pierre asks to accompany his Uncle. A claim from a descendant of Eliza Ann where she states Eliza's mother is Peggy Trahern.

Do you think it was an accident that Peggy and her sister Delilah were given land in the supplement of the Treaty of Dancing Creek? Or that in April 1831 that James N. Trahern, in the company of his maternal cousin, Joseph P Lancaster (Delilah's son), and George W. Trahern (his paternal cousin) were sent to the Choctaw Academy? There are only two families within the Choctaw nation, who were named Trahern. My family who came to Oklahoma in 1838, and their cousins, who remained in Mississippi until 1890.

Let's move on to the Riddle side of the family, and the documentation there. Aside from the 1856, 1885 and 1896 annuity rolls, there is the court of claim case which names all the heirs of William Riddle. The Choctaw mission records where John Riddle and his brother William Riddle were named as the nephews of Mushulatubbee. Prior to the marriage of some white men named Riddle, many decades later, there was only one Riddle family in the Choctaw nation.

I wouldn't expect those who aren't Oklahoma Choctaws to know that both Susan Riddle's brothers were prominent men in the nation. Or to know that her nephew Tandy Walker and her cousin Joseph Kincade both served as Chief, or that Peggy's son Pierre Juzan also served as Chief. Why would you?

If you descend from Mississippi Choctaws, your history forked from the Oklahoma Choctaws when they went west. While it may be true that the Mississippi Choctaws in their bands and communities held truer to the culture of the Choctaws, that doesn't make them more Choctaw. While it's true that the full bloods in Mississippi experienced hardships that those in Oklahoma did not, there is so much that the Oklahoma Choctaws suffered.

There probably isn't a descendant of a single Oklahoma Choctaw that I know of, who did not have someone die in the family on the way to Oklahoma. Whether it was during removal, or private emigration, every family lost someone. There is a reason my family has the first burials at Skullyville in 1834. When the Choctaws finally arrived to their new homes, small pox and other illness decimated the arrivals. There are families in which almost the entire family died.

So yes, it pisses me off that someone on their high horse, looks at me, an obviously white woman, and scoffs and wants to call me a wannabe and a pretender. My grandfather was not white. He was discriminated against for the color of his skin most of his life. I may not have enough Choctaw in your eyes, but it's still there. I didn't go looking for a glorified identity as a descendant of a native american. I am one. I was raised knowing I was Choctaw since I could talk.

I have friends who are obviously native, and those who like myself, aren't. But I can tell you, we all know our history. And it isn't made up, and it isn't in our heads. It's part of our heritage. Just because we look white, doesn't mean we can't be proud of our native heritage, it's part of our whole. And there is nothing wrong in celebrating that.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Jennifer—my father was one-half native America—one-fourth Choctaw and Chickasaw. I have always known that I was Choctaw since birth but just recently found the Chickasaw side of my heritage. Although I never lived in Oklahoma where my father was raised, he shared his native heritage with me and taught me some Choctaw words. Some people have called me a liar about my heritage until I show them my blood card which my aunt from Oklahoma helped me get. I am proud of my native heritage and no one will ever take that away from me. So you keep on posting for your rights and the rights of other native Americans and I plan on writing a book for mine. Thank you for all your help and research that you have given me and others. Joyce Brown Stewart