Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

Native Americans owned slaves

I never knew Native Americans owned slaves. It certainly was never covered in school. I also never knew of the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes”. Everyday I learn something new.

Soon after the Civil War, the federal government ordered the Five Civilized Tribes — the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations — to recognize Freedmen, Black people once enslaved by tribal citizens, with citizenship and rights. Though only the Cherokee Nation currently does, on Friday, leaders of the Choctaw and Muscogee nations announced they began considering a process to change their constitutions to grant citizenship to Freedmen descendants.

Chicago Tribune

Some Native American tribes also sided with the Confederacy because they did not want to lose their right to own slaves.

The decision to side with the Confederacy during the Civil War proved to be detrimental for Native Americans. Even just one year into the war, it had become increasingly clear to the Native tribes that they had chosen the wrong side. In 1862, the Union launched a massive attack into Indian Territory.

At the time of this attack, the Confederate aligned tribes were under the leadership of the Cherokee chief, Stand Watie. This Cherokee chief was a proponent of slavery and owned slaves himself. He was also the only Native American to attain the rank of General in the Civil War, Confederacy or Union. Despite this achievement, like most of the Confederacy, Stand Watie did not fair well. When the Union attacked Stand Watie’s men in 1863, they tried to hold their ground but were soon beaten back. Stand Watie ended up being captured by Union troops. The Union took control of all Indian Territory by 1863.

History of Yesterday

This knowledge drop came by way of the Chicago City Council and their want to remove Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous People’s Day. One of the council members is a descendent of mixed Native American and African American heritage and is against the proposal until the tribes officially recognize former slaves as full citizens of their respective nations.

That family history would become the impetus for Moore’s urgent speech during a Monday Board of Commissioners committee hearing regarding a bill to replace (Christopher) Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, long a demand of Native American activists. Moore said while he does not agree with celebrating the divisive explorer, he wants to halt changing the paid holiday in Cook County until the remaining four of the Five Tribes grant Freedmen their full rights.

“If we decide to move forward, then I have no choice,” Moore said during the meeting. “If we decide that it’s more important that Black Freedman lives do not matter, then I will have to urge a ‘no’ vote.”

Chicago Tribune
Image via Wikipedia