My young family (yes, we were once young) loved vacations in Kiamichi territory of Oklahoma. Rustic cabins in Beavers Bend State Park were comfortable and interesting. Apart from confrontations with wildlife, like Racoons, our children delighted in the atmosphere.
Somewhat off to the side was a museum. It was in the Forest Heritage Center Museum where I first learned important history about slavery in America that was never mentioned throughout my public education. In fact, it was one of the great surprises of my life to learn how certain American Indian tribes, the “Civilized Tribes”, owned African slaves.
What was even more intriguing was disposition of those slaves owned by Indians after the Civil War. Those slaves were not freed because Indian territories were as foreign governments to our own government. Indian tribes continued to be treated as separate nations until an act of Congress in 1871. The law effectively incorporated all Indian tribes into the United States as wards of the state to be ruled by the newly created Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). By 1876, federal government ended the practice of slavery by Indians.
Herewith two short video interviews that will say a lot about this subject in a very short period of time.
Indian tribes were divided over the issue of slavery, just as many families were. In some instances, whole tribes supported and fought with either side of the Mason-Dixon line. In other instances, factions of tribes would split their support.
That little museum (much bigger today, as I understand) had a wealth of surprises in store for me on the matter of Native American slavery.
Yes, if Reagan had been alive at the time, his famous line would have resounded across Indian territories.
“Alphabet soup” bureaucracies aren’t anything new. We just have more of them today. Then, as now, alphabet soup bureaucracies are unelected lawmakers, dictators, naturally tyrannical because they are not accountable to the voters.
Learn more about Native American history and the slavery practiced by them via the following references.
- Black Indians: An American Story