On February 12th the Raleigh News & Observer published and article by Associated Press writer Adam Geller.
Geller begins with the story of Lucy Allen who needed to find an empty room with a large table so that she could show the contents of two large black suitcases of documents that support her contention that she should be admitted into the Cherokee Nation.
Her story began with the picture of a man she describes as her father. He had told her stories of Indians who she had descended from.
When she had children she realized that the stories had elements that she had not considered.
She knew she had Cherokee in her veins but her records could not provide the proof she needed to satiisfy the Cherokee authorities. (The stipulation at the time of this hearing required proof of a certain percent of Cherokee blood relationship.)
The records show that her ancestor was owned by Captain Joseph Martin, a Cherokee slave holder. One of the slaves bore Captain Martin a son who was named Joe Martin. Joe Martin is Lucy Allen’s great grandfather.
For many people it may come as a shock that Indians like Captain Joseph Martin owned slaves. Captain Martin not only owned 103 slaves, he also is said to have owned a 100,000 acre ranch.
In the case of Lucy Allen the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council rejected her most recent appeal for recognition. This action led to a lawsuit, Lucy Allen vs. Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, which resulted in a 2 to 1 decision in favor of Allen’s position.
Allen was elated and tried to register her and her sons as citizens only to be disappointed yet again.
The tribe, instead of accepting her bid to be recognized, has scheduled a vote on March 7th, 2007 on the issue.
Lucy Allen is not alone at having a claim as a Black Indian. The Black Indian & Intertribal Native American Association has formed the Binay Tribe as one means of recognizing African Americans who were either slaves or freemen who were originally considered parts of the tribes. Some that were parts of the tribes immediately after the Civil War were made parts of the tribes by treaty. Slaves in particular were included in the tribal nations. Some who descended from these individuals have Indian blood relationships and others do not.
The Black Indian Tribal Association notes that Rosa Parks is part white, part Cherokee Creek Indian and part African American.
Rosa is quoted as saying:
“I was determined to achieve the total freedom that our history lessons taught us we were entitled to, no matter what the sacrifice. When I declined to give up my seat, it was not that day, or bus, in particular. I just wanted to be free like everybody else. I did not want to be continually humiliated over something I had no control over: the color of my skin.”
The Black Indian Tribal Association notes a number of famous Black American’s that have their roots in the relationships between Indians and African Americans.
Phylicia Ayers-Allen (later Phylicia Rashad) the mother from the Cosby Show; Debbie Allen the star of the 1980’s movie fame; the famous singer Tina Turner (Annie May Bullock) who picked cotton as a child; each of these is reported to be African American and Cherokee.
The well known wrestler the Rock is reported to be American Samoan and African American. Television diva Oprah Winfree along with recording artists Asanti and Aliyah are said to be part Indian.
The Cherokee Nation Court (the tribe’s highest court); Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal stipulated in the order when it ruled on Lucy’s case.
‘The Cherokee Nation’s registration office will fully implement the orders of the court. Descendants of Freedmen who can show proof of an ancestor on the Freedmen Roll of the Cherokee Nation are eligible to be citizens of the Cherokee Nation.’
Sources for this article:
USA Today Article by Associated Press writer Adam Geller.
Raleigh News & Observer same article reported by USA today.
Black Indian & Intertribal Native American Association website.
Cherokee by Blood.com website of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
CBS News website (re Tina Turner)
Cherokee.org website of the Cherokee Nation