Thursday, February 4, 2021

Answering an Email

 

Answering an Email

 

Recently I received the following email --

Hello Mr. Hawkins.  I just read a blog that you wrote on December 24, 2015 about your journey and decision to join The Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama.  I would like to know if you are active within the tribe and how your life as an at large member of a state recognized tribe has been?  Have you been studying the culture and language more since your acceptance into the tribe?  Have you had to deal with negativity from Cherokee people that are in Federally Recognized tribes.  I do not understand the need for a Federally Recognized tribe to have so much dislike for State Recognized tribes.  I appreciated reading about your thought process and decision to join.  Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.  Take Care and Continue to stay safe during this pandemic.

Sincerely,

xxxxxx

I think some people have gotten the wrong impression from what I have said in the blog entries. I have been critical of some people who insulted me I have only good feelings towards the Federally enrolled Cherokee people, most of whom have treated me with kindness. I have attended maybe 10 or 12 Stomp Dances in the Cherokee Nation; and was there during Cherokee National Holidays in September. In fact, former Principal Chief Chad Smith walked right in front of me. And no, I didn’t show up wearing Plains tribe regalia – for those familiar with “wannabe” jokes 😊.  I was good friends with Michael Johnson, who was written up in the Cherokee Phoenix. I have also been in contact with Doug McClure, author of “Cherokee Proud”. I have not met him, but we have emailed one another. Once Michael Johnson and Doug McClure had a feud online that can be found here –

http://www.ewebtribe.com/NACulture/articles/cherokeechief.htm

Many things online eventually disappear, so I will copy some of it here. 

Date: 03/23/01

I received an email from Michael Johnson, who is mentioned several times in the following article by Mr. McClure. Mr. Johnson has given me permission to post his response to this article. He makes several very good points in his email which really is also an article in itself.

Cherokee Chief Publicly Acknowledges the Existence of Undocumented Cherokees.

Is He Up to the Rest of the Challenge?

by Tony Mack McClure

In what is perhaps a first among recent leadership in the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, Principal Chief Chad Smith of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the largest Cherokee tribe, has publicly acknowledged the existence of undocumented Cherokees, but in the same breath, denied their rights to recognition. In an official news release entitled " Undocumented Cherokees Contribute to Cherokee Nation" appearing on the Cherokee Nation's website, September 2000 Page, dated 22 September 2000, Chief Smith states, "There are people like the Johnsons (referring to an undocumented Cherokee family cited in the news release) with undeniable Cherokee heritage who don't meet enrollment requirements. That doesn't mean they can't claim their ancestry."

[Vance’s note: this was my friend Michael Johnson. It is through Michael that I attended those Stomp Dances.]

Chief Smith further states, " Through anomalies caused by ethnicidal policies of the United States Government, the traditional Cherokee Nation has been fragmented. That's why there is an Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina. We are all one people, separated by geography. The historical Cherokee Nation is currently headquartered in Tahlequah. But just as a person with grandparents who immigrated to the United States from Germany cannot claim German citizenship, people whose Cherokee ancestors emigrated from the Cherokee Nation before the Dawes Rolls were taken cannot claim Cherokee citizenship." Chief Smith thinks the Johnsons praised in the article are "handling their situation well by participating in Cherokee culture without aligning themselves with a group that is seeking recognition."

In reality, un-named sources confirm that Chief Smith may have conveniently "forgotten" to mention that Mr. Johnson has for some time actually been quite "aligned" with just such a group known as the Southern Cherokees. It's an organization that CNO only recently publically accused of being "bogus."

[Vance’s note: People often refer to the Cherokee Nation as “CNO”, meaning the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The “O” in the CNO designation is redundant. There is but one Cherokee Nation with the other two entities being referred to as “Bands” – the Keetoowah Band and the Eastern Band. No others are federally recognized. There are several state recognized groups and several groups recognized by no state or federal government.]

In light of Chief Smith's statements, a number of questions beg for answers. First, if there is no question that a person is of "undeniable Cherokee heritage, " and if there is no question that the fragmentation among Cherokees of today was caused by "ethnicidal policies of the United States Government" what possible logical reason can there be for people who fall among the "undeniable but undocumented Cherokees" NOT to seek recognition as separate groups - either as state recognized tribes or as groups with a common cause who have no official recognition of any kind? Historical federal Cherokee rolls and other documents fully substantiate that the fragmentation extends well beyond the two geographies or federally recognized tribes mentioned by Chief Smith. And that is precisely the reason that the legislative bodies of several states throughout the United States have seen fit to extend official recognition to such groups who have been wrongly disenfranchised either by their own tribes or by the United States Government or both.

Chief Smith's comparison of German citizenship might have been more appropriate , at least insofar as U.S. and Cherokee law is concerned, had the final wording of it stated "cannot claim Cherokee citizenship in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma" instead of simply ending with "cannot claim Cherokee citizenship." But to accept either of these ideas, anyone the statement pertains to and the CNO leadership as well, have to somehow acknowledge that the "ethnicide" which the Chief so adeptly points out and confirms now be found acceptable and simply forgotten. The policies that resulted in the fragmentation and disenfranchisement of some, although acknowledgeably immoral by all concerned as well as a majority of the American people today, must still continue to be used as a viable reason for disavowing people with "undeniable Cherokee heritage?" Something very sinister and culturally unacceptable seems quite obvious here.

A much more logical analogy of denying citizenship rights (mainly because it all occurs on this continent - not in the Black Forest thousands of miles across the Atlantic ocean) would be to imagine a scenario whereby a foreign power invades the United States today and promptly arrests all the Italians in Brooklyn , New York. Those who are fortunate enough to survive the trip are banished under armed guards to their designated new "homeland" in the badlands of South Dakota where they will become wards of the new government. Those who desire to remain in New York, however, will be allowed to do so, but there is a catch. From this day hence, they and any other Italians who live elsewhere on the continent can no longer be recognized as Italians! Such a thought might seem ridiculous, and it would be incomprehensible, save the fact that it actually happened to Cherokees and several other Indian tribes. But now to add insult to injury, and visualize a far more accurate comparative than Chief Smith's German metaphor, carry this illusory scene one step further by imagining that on top of what is likely already unfathomable to any reasonable and compassionate person, the Italians in the badlands now decide to disavow their own! Regardless of blood, they declare that henceforth they and their descendants will be the only Italians on the North American continent! Well, actually, perhaps it will be okay for the others to call themselves Italians so long as they don't seek to be officially recognized as such by anyone.

The word citizenship is important here because the "undeniable Cherokees" who make up the membership of state recognized tribes often have no desire to be members of the CNO (or any other federally recognized tribe) or they simply do not qualify due to the "ethnicide" rules which, by the way, are also endorsed by the CNO's own constitution. While it is true that the Cherokee people who made an election to NOT migrate west during the Removal era agreed to forfeit their "citizenship" in the existing Cherokee Nation, they absolutely did NOT and could not have forfeited their Cherokee blood. And historians, even the white ones, as well as leaders on both sides, have long attested to the fact that the entire removal treaty was fraudulent in the the first place. How is it then, that the portion of it that concerns the matter at hand is not also considered fraudulent?

The truth is that most disenfranchised Cherokees simply desire and usually emphatically insist upon only the rightful recognition of their blood. Whether or not they elect to seek recognition should have no bearing whatsoever on how they are viewed by Cherokee leadership and the very fact that they do seek recognition is, more than anything else, simply an end product of the insulting disavowment. Of course, there are exceptions, as there are to all situations, but by and large, the vast majority of the undocumented Cherokees who seek recognition have no interest in obtaining or sharing the paltry benefits; they do not desire to move onto reservation or trust lands or to compete with members of the federal tribes for any reason. They are simply fed up with the constant and unjustifiable insults of being called "wanabees" simply because it does not fit someone else's personal agenda and official recognition offers the only relief. The leaders of the CNO and Eastern Band long ago made a verifiable pact to NOT recognize these people in any way. In fact, they did everything in their power to prevent even the United Keetoowah Band (currently the only other federally recognized Cherokee tribe) from gaining federal recognition and they have continuously attempted to discredit any others of their blood who attempt to organize and seek recognition in any form by publicly referring to them as "wanabees."

In the official newspaper of the Eastern Band of Cherokees, its editor recently referred to members of the three state recognized tribes in Alabama as "twenty dollar Indians." This ridiculous comment was meant (in vain ) to suggest to readers that one could simply pay a twenty dollar fee and become an Indian in Alabama, when in fact the fee they refer to is actually one that all members gladly pay as annual tribal dues or taxes to supplement tribal administration costs because they do not have the luxury of receiving federal funds as some do for such purposes. A recent news release from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma similarly referred to all non-federally recognized groups as "bogus."

In this most recent CNO news release, the subject of the article, Michael Johnson, is quoted as saying, " There's a ton of husksters out there preying on people. They offer spirituality, promises of recognition, the possibility of wealth through casinos, whatever. I don't want to align myself with people for political or money motivated goals." His statement confirms that the propaganda and disavowment policies of the CNO and Eastern Band have worked to at least some degree. Mr. Johnson's statement seems to confirm that he believes all groups who are not federally recognized have only devious motivations. How sad! The fact that such people have the drive to organize and seek recognition of their blood that is denied elsewhere makes all people with "undeniable ( but non federally recognized ) Cherokee heritage" stereo typically motivated by only money or politics? How narrow!

Certainly, there are groups out there that include some individuals who really are bogus and guilty of such atrocities, but they are to be found within the federal tribes just as they are in others and the federal Cherokee tribes are certainly no exception. If you doubt this, pick up any of the Indian newspapers and read of the hoaxes, embezzlements, sale of spirituality and all the same other daily crimes common among all people. No respectable person would argue that this should be condoned or supported. This is not just a problem among the Cherokees, but with all tribes. Nevertheless, there are far more whose only motivation is to express pride of heritage, take part in organized events to that end, to learn and help perpetuate the memories and culture of those gone before and, above all, to enjoy the respect due them by virtue of their blood birthrights. What right does anyone have, especially Cherokee leadership, to condemn all for the selfish and unacceptable acts of a few?

Hopefully, Mr. Johnson will follow the lead of tens of thousands of others who have investigated a little further and learned that the vast majority of these with "undeniable Cherokee heritage" are just that, and as admirable and honestly motivated as they come. Denying himself affiliation with other tribes or groups simply because the federal tribes insist on wrongfully disavowing them or considering them controversial should not be the factors that determine his participation. Only two things should enter into that decision - personal choice, which he and everyone else is certainly entitled to, and what is morally and ethically right. By his own admissions, he has obviously judged all others who seek recognition on the basis of propaganda extolled by the leadership of the federal Cherokee tribes. One cannot help but wonder if his attitude would be the same if he had instead always heard CNO and Eastern Band leadership embrace the members of at least some of the creditable "other" groups as their "undocumented brothers and sisters?"

Hopefully, Chief Chad Smith's admirable admission that such Cherokees actually exist can be interpreted as a good sign of a better understanding and tolerance among all Cherokee people in the future. Everyone seeking recognition and many of those who possess it in only state form are NOT the enemy of federally recognized tribes. In fact, it's quite the opposite. With an ever so slight and much deserved change in attitude by their federally recognized counterparts, the vast majority of these reputable people would be first in line to stand beside them in ANY conflict, down to the last man. Rarely in my 59 years on earth have I heard any of these people utter an unkind word about their federally recognized brothers and sisters. And in the extremely rare cases that I can recall, it was always only a logical, human, defensive response to comments of disrespect or disavowment said or published about them. While there have apparently been no official polls on the subject, I'd also be willing to bet my personal reputation that most of the individual tribal members in all the federal Cherokee tribes collectively would not agree with this continuing disavowment policy of their leadership if they simply knew all the historical facts. Most do not. I also have too many personal friends and family within the Nations to ever be convinced otherwise. Disavowment is a political policy - not a people policy. Most of the Cherokee people I have ever known are far too noble, resilient and fair minded to disavow their own regardless of politics. Perhaps such a poll would be a good project for some university sociology class.

The bottom line is that the time for unification is long past and the numbers of the disenfranchised are many. How can such an easily acquired dream......simple unity and respect for each other.....possibly be so wrong when nothing more than mere, but sincere words are necessary to accomplish the task? Chief Smith has both the power and the expertise to easily make commendable and unprecedented history . . . symbolically comparable to a Palestine and Jerusalem accord right here on Turtle Island, . . . and right now. He has taken an honorable first step and all affected should recognize it, because he will, no doubt, be criticized even for that by a few diehards who have been brainwashed into actually believing that all but themselves are wanabees.

Is he now up to the rest of the challenge? Two things are certain - it is the only "right" thing to do and there can be little doubt about the attitude of the Great Spirit in the matter. Ultimately, it is only to that power that all concerned must eventually answer.

Response to "Cherokee Chief Makes anAnnouncement"from Michael Johnson

Friday, March 23, 2001 10:40 PM

… My name is Michael Johnson, and I see I am mentioned in an article by Tony Mack McClure on the internet.

I wish to make a few things clear for the record.

I was a very active member of some number of groups in my past. I have been a member of a number of professional, genealogical and fraternal clubs, including the "Southern Cherokee Nation" within the experience of my life. I also have some groups I have redirected my efforts away from for whatever reason, including the "Southern Cherokee Nation". I see no shame in that whatsoever.

I filled a spot on their council at one session, under appointment of Gary Ridge (another person of Cherokee heritage) and voted on resolutions. Nothing sinister about it. We even stomp danced and had a big dinner.

The "Southern Cherokee Nation" is a 503(c) non-profit under the United Dideist Society, a religious/fraternal/educational foundation.

Gary Ridge, their elected Chief, has proposed and asserts that the "Southern Cherokee Nation" is already federally recognized. He once had plans to go to court with it, I don't know where that effort is at this time, because...I am not involved, and haven't been since a good while before the article was written.(grin)

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I have an "indian rap sheet". Let me add to the public knowledge:

*-I have been to and participated in and with meetings of the Texas Gulf Coast Cherokees and regard them as a group with high integrity. I like em...they are good folks. Not a member, Just a visitor.

*-I stomp dance and play stickball. I do it where ever I run into it at, but frequently at the Shaky Hollow Ceremony Grounds in Conroe, Texas. I got whopped one time by a girl there and got a perma-crick in my back and now I play about 40 yards from the pole. Let the bucks break their legs, I am too old to heal fast anymore.

*-I have been to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and even though I can't "join up" they recognize me as a Cherokee. That was good enough for me, although others may want more or desire other things.

Everyone has their goals in life, and I have mine. I just don't think the 'card' matters to me anymore. I think that card is another way of driving our folks apart and we have had enough of that. Maybe the Cherokees feel that way too, some of them. Maybe we don't need 'groups' to get back home. Maybe the path is the "individual's" path.

I also found out from the Cherokees in Oklahoma that I have no real clan, because my traceable Cherokee roots come to me by my grandfather.

So, depending on who you talk to I am a longhair(twister) or I have no clan. That is the disappointing thing, as I have two daughters and they need to have a clan to reconnect my line to the people in a complete manner. It is more distressing to me to know my daughters have no clan as opposed to the stress that the lack of any card will bring.

I know I am not the only person of Cherokee blood out there that has had to be disappointed when they are not enrolled or cannot determine their clan. It was disappointing, but I have learned to deal with it and move on to what I can have....reunion.

I take some exception to your broad and sweeping comment that infers I think everyone in or leading a (non federally recognized) Cherokee group is a con artist, a huckster or whatever. We all know there ARE hucksters, con artists and spirituality hawkers out there. They are waiting to pick people's pockets.....they exist. That is what I meant in my statements. Certainly I did not mean to infer that ALL non-recognized Cherokees are such. Certainly I DID mean to imply that one must be pretty careful when getting involved with any group and should carefully assess the group in light of their personal goals.

My claim to Cherokee Blood flows on both sides of my family, who are from Robbinsville, North Carolina and Turtletown, Tennessee. The side I can trace is an amazing tale of folks who weren't removed as Cherokees when the Removal occurred, but remained only to be decimated by the civil war and the Reconstruction period. In the 1880's my folks moved out to Oklahoma and they literally became citizens of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory. They literally emigrated back to the United States in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1906 and petitioned the US Congress(and received) their United States Citizenship. I am still looking into the reason they left the nation.

So, in my case, Mr. Smith called it on the nose. My folks left the US and became Cherokee citizens....then left the nation and became US citizens....literally and traceably. Got everything on paper, stacks of it. It is undeniable I am of Cherokee blood, it is deniable that I can emigrate back to the Cherokee Nation. "Undocumented" in that sense means not able to obtain Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizenship, as I have a closet full of documents regarding my Cherokee blood.

I am an "expatriate Cherokee".

For a historical view of how it really was in terms of "citizenship" as to the states and the US and the Cherokee, try reading an actual account of it in a newspaper of the day at http://www.turtletown.org/html/banner.htm . It was a shocker for me.

When my folks became US citizens after leaving the nation, they gave the same oath as every new citizen. They renounced their citizenship in the Cherokee Nation and for whatever reason severed my right to claim that citizenship via their bloodline. I have no right to succession. I can trace my roots and prove all day I am Cherokee by blood, if not by nationality. How many of us Cherokee fit into that boat? How many ancestors refused to sign documents for the government and gave up our rights? How many of us are Cherokee by blood and not by nationality?

Isn't this the real problem?

I think what Mr. Smith is expressing is that despite political and legal problems that prevent us from being citizens of the same nation, we are of the same people. We can participate in our heritage and do it with the traditional Cherokees. We don't have to risk the hucksters, the con artists, the spirituality hawkers. The door is open, we can go to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. We are recognized for who we are(Cherokees outside the nation's LEGAL framework) and welcomed.

I think that Mr. Smith has taken a good and logical first step in good faith. We are now "undocumented cherokees".... They are waiting for we undocumented folks to take the next step. They stuck out their hand first and are waiting for us to shake it, problem is that hands are shaken one at a time, not in crowds.

Some folks might think that a group can be accepted as Cherokee because they simply assert that they are Cherokee. I don't believe that. I don't believe in "Cherokee Groups", I believe in Cherokee people. How can you trace a 'group' for their Cherokee blood? How can you determine a group is entitled to the Cherokee Legacy? How can you determine a 'group' is anything but an assemblage of people?

I offer up to you that for the Cherokee Nations to recognize a group, they must recognize that every person in that group is indeed a Cherokee. This is a task we cannot expect the Cherokee nations to undertake. It is our torch to bear, as it were. The solutions that will ensure acceptance must come from us, and be convincing to them. That is reality.

In order for people as a group to be recognized, they need to have a way of determining that they ARE all Cherokee to the satisfaction of the nation's people. A 'higher standard' than usually performed by makeshift tribes and groups(this is where the hucksters live) is required. I could point to some groups that are state recognized and use them as a model to build such a standard. So can you. Their level of proof is as comprehensive as any, in some cases. They just lack requirements to link to the Dawes, Baker or Keetoowah rolls, which are legal requirements to be beneficiaries to a recognized and enforced treaty. Some accept links to any Cherokee roll taken. This is logical when determining Cherokee blood versus national citizenship.

There are legal 'standings' that determine just who can join which tribe. This is generally due to their status as federal corporations and their "corporate charter"(constitution), their status as persons descended from people enumerated at some event (Dawes rolls, Baker rolls, UKB rolls) to satisfy a treaty or agreement with the US Government. If our Cherokee ancestors; expatriated, refused to enroll, hid for fear of social retribution, just minded their own business in them thar hills or whatever else, then they are not party to the required treaties.

They are Cherokee and probably are citizens of one of the several states. Citizenship is an extremely strange quirk of law, in that where most US citizens can claim to be states citizens unless they are citizens of the United States(I know it sounds weird, but it is true).

They may be also party to other treaties that are currently not in force due to lack of participation.

All Indians, by amendment and law are citizens of their Indian nation AND citizens of the United States OR citizens of the United States. This is a legal reality.

Remember, the card is a right to benefits and services of the Department of War and is not legally related to your right to be Cherokee. It is a legal right extended from a particular treaty to select groups of combatants at the conclusion of hostilities of war or polity.

Your right to be Cherokee is in your blood, not in a card or any particular citizenship. You own it, no group does ... not even the federally recognized tribes and nations. Your right to be Cherokee only extends to you, not a group or club. It is an individual right, not a collective right.....and it is not convertible.

I would ask all the Cherokees out there...Who do you want to be recognized BY: The US government's BIA or the real live traditional Cherokee people? What will the card give you that you do not already have....and what is your motivation to obtain one? Is it better validation than actual recognition by your own people?

If your answer is that your goals transcend the need for a card, go home and visit your folks. They are waiting, the door is open and they want you to come. It's worth a drive to go find out isn't it?

The above article, received in email on 03/23/01 was written in response to Cherokee Chief Publicly Acknowledges the Existence of Undocumented Cherokees  by Tony Mack McClure

My Response

I’d like to respond to that email I received. As a child growing up in southwestern Oklahoma, Dad had taken us to local pow-wows. I have had other experiences with local tribal events (and some not local) and made friends through the years.

Hello Mr. Hawkins.  I just read a blog that you wrote on December 24, 2015 about your journey and decision to join The Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama.

Now before I ever joined that organization, I knew about Mike Johnson and Tony McClure’s comments above. I had been searching my ancestry many years. As I said, I knew Mike Johnson and had emailed Tony McClure. Mike, sadly, passed away several years ago. I kept researching genealogy and have even had a Cherokee Nation genealogist tell me one of my ancestors was the same “John Brown” as the man called “John Brown Jr.” on the Reservation rolls of 1818. Those on the Reservation rolls left the tribe and their descendants are not eligible for tribal membership. I also knew at that time the Cherokee Nation didn’t approve of the Alabama Echota Cherokee Tribe. It is recognized as a Native American Tribe in the state of Alabama alone. I wrote a letter to people I thought represented the Cherokee Nation asking them why they disapproved of the Echota Cherokee of Alabama. They NEVER answered my question and straight away started insulting me. I have since found out they NEVER represented the Cherokee Nation, and several enrolled Cherokee apologized to me for the behavior of that group.

 I would like to know if you are active within the tribe and how your life as an at large member of a state recognized tribe has been? 

I had hoped to become active. But there were no opportunities, as I live in southwestern Oklahoma and they were all hundreds of miles away. I also have ancestors who were Catawba, and they have always been kind to me.

Have you been studying the culture and language more since your acceptance into the tribe? 

Frankly, I learned more from the Cherokee Nation than from the Echota Cherokee of Alabama. As I said, I attended several stomps. Frankly, I think I could have taught the Echota a few things. They wanted everyone to have a clan, and since my Cherokee blood is on Dad’s side, I can’t be in one. Clan membership comes down the maternal side, not the paternal. The Echota still wanted to assign me a clan.

Have you had to deal with negativity from Cherokee people that are in Federally Recognized tribes.

Yes, I have. But NEVER from people who have met me, face to face – only from people online. Well, there was one guy I met. Never say never – there are always exceptions. That reminds me -- never say “always”, either. Once I was in an Indian bar in Lawton, Oklahoma, with a Caucasian friend. A very large and drunk man came over to me and said, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU!?” in a loud obnoxious voice. I took it to mean he could tell I was of mixed race, so I really wasn’t too offended.  I ignored his question, & said, “Sit down! Help us finish this pitcher.” It worked, lucky for us, ‘cause he was pretty big. It was time for me to be “little brother” to his “big brother”. We left after a while. That only happened once. But you were asking about Cherokee people. No Cherokee who has met me in person has disrespected me – NONE. Like I said, they do that online, but NEVER face to face, Many Native people I know might be wearing old blue jeans, a cowboy hat and boots,  and say “howdy” instead of hello.

I do not understand the need for a Federally Recognized tribe to have so much dislike for State Recognized tribes.

I have a theory about this. People in Alabama or Georgia who have a little Native blood have never been around fullbloods, or native culture. They come out here as White as milk and expect to automatically be accepted on equal basis. You must respond to sceptics and that response had better be made in humility to have any chance of being accepted. For instance, as a child I recall at pow-wow’s if asked of his heritage --dad would say, “Oh, I have a little Indian blood, not much”. And that was it – and he has brown skin – everyone knew he was mixed race. They are big brother, we are little brother. Learn what that means.

Below is a picture of Mom (1915-2002) and Dad (1915-1992). Mama wass German, Scots-Irish and English. Dad was also Scots-Irish and English, with no German blood. He also had Catawba and Cherokee ancestry. He always said he had some French ancestry, but didn't know where it came from. I know of no French surnames. My autosomal DNA test said I am mostly Caucasian, but I do have both Native American and sub-Sahara African DNA as well.

 

I appreciated reading about your thought process and decision to join.  Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.  Take Care and Continue to stay safe during this pandemic.

Michael Johnson passed away many years ago, and I haven't heard from Tony McClure in many years. They both make valid points. I can't decide which is right. As far as I am concerned, they both are. I understand the desire “to belong”. That’s why I joined the group. But I also quit paying membership fees. I don’t see why a 70 year old man must pay them to be who I am, already – My Social Security check isn’t that big, anyhow. 😊 I need it to pay my bills. I know who we are, and I hope my relatives read my blog entries and learn our heritage, and that’s about it.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

280th Field Artillery

 

Howdy! I'm not online much anymore. Just thought I'd report in. I have said I created my last blog entry -- I know. I also have said similar things in the past. I knew when I said it --  it would probably be a lie. Well my nephew found something about my dad's (his grandpa) WW2 unit online. I had to transcribe it, and have to post it somewhere in case any cousins are interested in it. Since most of them are Trump supporters, I'd like for them to know Dad was a VERY STRONG supporter of FDR. I remember dad saying "Roosevelt's policies saved our lives". I remember him also saying He only voted for a Republican once in his life (Nixon in 1972), and him saying that was the worst mistake he ever made in his life. I also remember his being so sad after Reagan was elected. I remember dad saying Reagan was doing away with all the programs Roosevelt set up. He said Roosevelt made it impossible for us to have another "Great Depression", but since Regan destroyed those programs, another "Great Depression was certain to come". Dad was born in 1915 and went through the Dust Bowl and WW2, and died in 1992. THAT'S one reason why I am a Democrat and they will never make me into a Republican. I will ALWAYS consider Trump a NAZI just as the man who killed my uncle (dad's brother), the one that died 8 years before I as born. He's buried in the American Cemetery, in Normandy, France. Dad also said when thinking about his brother, "No one wanted to be buried overseas".

When the war started, dad was in the 13th Field Artillery, stationed at Schodield Barracks, in the middle of the island of Oahu, in the Territory of Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941. I still don’t know much about what he did between Dec 1941 and the creation of the 280th Field Artillery in May 1943. I know he stayed in Hawaii, but little else. I also know he was in a hospital in London, England by the end of the war, and his discharge from a hospital in San Antonio, Tx. Here is the account my nephew found online from this location. Dad’s name appears on page 34 of the report found on the link below, as being a member of Battery A. Dad always said his best friend was a man named “Thompson” who was from San Antonio. If you look, a few names after dad’s name in Battery A is a man from Texas named Thompson. He was from a town near Austin, Tx.  That had to have been him. Dad is the man from Snyder, found in southern Kiowa County, Oklahoma, a few names above the Texan named Thompson on page 34 in “A Battery” at the link below.

https://www.genealogycenter.info/military/wwii/search_280fieldartillery.php

An Informal History of the 280th Field Artillery Battalion; May 1943 to May 1945 by 1st Lieutenant Stanley H. Levin

Headquarters 280th Field Artillery Battlion; WWW/gwb; APO 339 U. S. Army; 10 May 1945

Subject: Commendations

To: The officers and men of the 280th Field Artillery Battalion. (I'll transcribe this later)

Headquarters 280th Field Artillery Battalion

The 280th Field Artillery Battalion was activated on 10 May 1943 at Camp Cook, California under commander of Willis W. Whelchel. The Cadre was obtained from the 63rd Field Artillery Battalion stationed at Oahu, Territory of Hawaii and the filler personnel were mainly men from reception centers along the west coast. Officers came from other units and Officer Candidate Schools.

Basic Training began 7 June and continued until the middle of September. During this period we were introduced to the weapons that were to be our constant standbys in combat to come; the 105 howitzer, the machine gun, the carbine, and the pistol. To some of us, this metamorphosis from civilian to soldier was difficult, to others, perhaps more adaptable, the change was an easy one. By the end of October though, we soldiers to be, were becoming real soldiers. Battalion firing problems in the field at Camp Cook and Hunter Ligget Military Reservation brought to light the fact that military lore was becoming second nature to us.

Our training continued, spiced with the Army Ground Force Tests, day and night infiltration courses, the 25 mile hike and the rugged physical tests.

In February 1944 the Battalion moved to Fort Sill Oklahoma for a three month stay at school troops firing for the Field Artillery School. We acquired quite a bit of practical experience through the daily firing and participation in practical problems.

The Battalions next training ground was Camp Polk, Louisiana where we worked with other Field Artillery Battalions under Group Headquarters. This was the final phase of our training before going overseas.

On the seventh of September, 1944 the 280th embarked from Boston on the USS West Point bound for England. Our stay there was very short, less that 24 hours, to be exact. After disembarking at Liverpool, we entrained for South Hampton, and on reaching our destination embarked for France.

NORMANDY—BELGIUM

On the evening of 18 September 1944 our ship was off shore Utah Beach, Normandy, France. We disembarked by LCT onto the beach and huddled there for three hours awaiting transportation to our bivouac area. It was a dark and stormy night, one that we all will remember, and when trucks appeared with headlights glowing brightly they were like a friendly haven in a wilderness. The battalion remained in a bivouac area three miles north of Valognes for two weeks and then moved to another area one mile east of Benoistville. During our nine weeks stay we found the French people friendly and cooperative. Our area took on the appearance of a housing development, wooden floors and sides for pup tents and stoves and all of the comforts of home for the interiors.

On 15 December 1944 the battalion displaced from Benoistville, destination Belgium, arriving at Ulbeek, Belgium, after a three day march. We remained here only six days enjoying the hospitality of the townspeople and getting first hand information of the terror influencing force of the buzz-bomb.

Hurtgen Forest

The 23rd of December found the battalion in position at the edge of the Hurtgen Forest, firing its first rounds in combat as part of the ninth army. The position was four miles west of the town of Germeter. Our mission was the reinforcing of the fires of the 8th infantry division artillery and in a larger sense assist in the holding of the left flank of the counterattack of the German breakthrough in the Ardennes. The battalion area was well dotted with log covered dugouts, whose primary purpose was of course, was protection against shell bursts but served to good effect against the snow and cold. Observation posts were established both in the towns of Germeter and Hurtgen overlooking German held Schmidt.

During the month of January the battalion remained in the same position and continued its mission. For a short period in the latter part of January the battalion took over a second mission, that of reinforcing the fires of the 78th Infantry Division during its attack on Schmidt.

Although this was a static position the period was well spent. We became accustomed to combat, we learned how to make ourselves comfortable under inclement conditions. Some of us had the opportunity to live with the doughboys and our appreciation of their worth increased a thousandfold. We prepared ourselves well for the big push to come.

Roer to the Rhine

On the 6th of February 1945the battalion went into position in the town of Wurm, Germany on the west side of the Roer River with the mission of general support of the 84th Infantry Division. It looked as though the big drive through Germany was about to start. Due to the destruction of the Roer Dams the crossing of the river was delayed for two and one-half weeks. Finally on 24 February after the initial attack and the forced crossing of the Roer, our Battalion displaced across the river to Korrenzig, the first Artillery Battalion of the ninth Army to make the crossing. During the drive to the Rhine we were for the most part in general support, and as a result made its reconnaissance and went into positions as an isolated unit. There were many times when reaching our Battalion area it was necessary for us to clear it of enemy stragglers before going into position.  The division was divided into Combat Teams of Infantry and Artillery and Tanks, which were given more or less parallel routes to the Rhine. We as general support Battalion would be used by either of these Combat teams as needed. Thus for the most part the Battalion was out on its own. By the fifth of March we were on the west bank of the Rhine in the vicinity of the town of Asberg. The drive to the Rhine was completed; we had experienced another phase of warfare, the combat team, and had come through with flying colors. The battalion had captured its first prisoners, a prelude to the mass surrenders to come.

Rhine to the Elbe

The Battalion remained in Asberg from the 5th to the 11th of March and then displaced south to Uerdingen as a unit of the 411th Field Artillery Group, 102nd Infantry Division.  We remained there until 21st March firing at targets of opportunity cross the river. On the 21st March the Battalion displaced north to Lohmule and was attached to the 79th Infantry Division. Another river crossing was in the offing. On the 27th March the Battalion crossed the Rhine, turned south, and went into position in Vier Linden and then Holten and fired on targets in a portion of what was later called the Ruhr Pocket.

The Battalion was then attached to the 84th Infantry Division and on the 2nd of April started on the drive to the Elbe as a member of one of the combat teams of the 84th. During this operation the Battalion did its part in the taking of Hannover and again at times found it necessary to clear its own position areas of enemy personnel. Over 200 German prisoners were taken as a result. Our third river crossing, that of the Wesser, was successfully completed. We finally reached the Elbe and went into position in the vicinity of Beuster on the 20th of April.

Crossing the Elbe

The Battalion left Buester on 29 April and went up to the little town of Beckede to cross the Elbe with the 82nd Airborne Division operating under the XVIII Airborne Corps and the British Second Army. The crossing wasn’t bad. It was the fourth time since the 23rd of February that we had been part of a river crossing operation. There was plenty of air cover, British Spitfires were overhead almost every hour of the day. After we had crossed the rivers things went fast and furious. We changed positions a couple of times a day, and by the time we reached each position the infantry was usually so far in front of that we couldn’t even register.

It was on the 2nd of May that we saw the beginnings of the big surrender. We had one of those long slow marches that day, and about the time we were starting to think about supper and a place to sleep we turned around the corner of the woods and there on the road was a German surrender column. As far as the eye could see down the road there was a mass of German soldiers riding on trucks, trailers, horse drawn vehicles, bicycles, civilian cars, and walking. There were panzer troops, Luftwaffe, paratroopers. Wehrmacht, and Volkstrum. They were of all ages, sizes and shapes. The sides of the road were littered with rubble of all types, cast off uniforms, tanks, half tacks, weapons of all descriptions from 150 mm howitzers to machine pistols. Our column crawled past this spectacle for five miles and when we turned off this road they were still coming endlessly. That evening we went into position in the town of Glaisin and there captured 307 Hungarian and 277 German officers and men, quite a haul. The following day some of us went over to what proved to be the Russian-American boundary and met some Russian soldiers. They were doing the same as American GI’s, riding around on German motorcycles and cars, looking for lugers and waving greetings at us. Russian soldiers would come up to our jeeps pat the hood and say, “good – good.” There was a group that filled a large sprinkling can with liberated wine and were passing it around drinking from the spigot. It was a day of jubilation.

The battalion remained in Glaisin through VE day 9 May.

Campaigns

1.       Northern France; 7 September 1944 -- 22 December 1944

2.       Ardennes; 23 December 1944 – 6 February 1945

3.       Rhineland; 6 February 1945 – 27 March 1945

4.       Central Europe; 27 March 1945 – 9 May 1945 

       Here is a map from the link above showing the location of Dad's unit during the war.



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Friday, October 30, 2020

The Last Blog Entry -- Melungeons were mixed-Catawban, NOT mixed-Portuguese!

 

I've said a million times (or more) the Melungeons DID NOT descend from a group of Portuguese Adventurers! NO! NO! NO! I can't believe ANYONE believes this. As I have always said there might have been an original "Melungeon" who also had some original Portuguese ancestry. BUT -- the English, Scots-Irish and African-American contribution to our blood pool with the Saponi/Catawban or Tuscaroran element is so much greater, it dwarfs any possible Portuguese contribution down to essentially ZERO.

The fact that I have said that so often and people STILL don't realize this is what I am saying really bothers me. People trying to tell me my ancestors were Portuguese is ninety-five  percent of the reason I wrote half of my blog entries! I don't know how else to say this! In fact it is pointless to keep harping on this topic. 

Also I am in my late sixties, and I don't want to spend my remaining years on this topic, or on these topics.

The same is true with the topic or reality of just who the Melungeons really are. I have spent YEARS studying this topic. I am just tired of arguing simple concepts with anyone, or being called a "Wannabe" or something else when I was raised around known Native Americans who accepted me as being of non-federally-recognized Native American-mixed heritage, while someone born and raised in some other states is challenging my heritage. Dad took me to pow-wow's as a child and I still remember him telling people "I have  little American Indian blood, not much, though". I have never claimed otherwise. I was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, a town filled with Natives. :) I also have taken DNA tests and have a result saying I am tri-racial (Including both Native and African American), but mostly Caucasian. Well, I am tired of trying to prove the same thing year after year.

I used to contact the late-Jerri Chasteen (former Cherokee Nation Registrar). She came to accept me. I was hopeful that would be the end of it. But then she passed away and a new generation came up, and they now questioned my heritage. I am just tired of having to do this, to every person I meet. That's another reason I am just old & tired, and ready to quit blogging.

So this is, and I mean it this time -- my last blog entry. I have proven my case time and again, and am done trying. :) Best wishes yall -- and adios. I'm gone.


I.             The Government Acknowledges the Catawba, but Are Ignorant of the Bands Associated With Them

The government acknowledged the Catawban people early on. Then they became aware of Catawban people who lived “off the reservation” that had been forgotten and assimilated. They were perplexed. What were they to do with US? Will Allen Dromgoole gave them a reason to reject us. There was an early small effort to discredit her, but it was too little, too late. The damage was done, and couldn't be rectified. This writing is an effort to record these efforts. But it also is too little too late. EVERYONE is saying we are a bunch of fakes -- and I really hate so much that we are not believed. 

1840 Treaty

By 1840 what was to become known as “The Five Civilized Tribes” had already been removed to Oklahoma, then known as “Indian Territory”. Almost all the Indians of the southeastern states had been removed – all except the Catawba and Associated Bands, as well as a few of the Cherokees, and part of the Seminoles, and a few others. While the Catawba proper were all in South Carolina, other bands that had always been associated with them were in both of the Carolinas and nearby Virginia. These had been totally assimilated into White Culture. They had married Whites, and Blacks, and still lived in small villages and farms in the east. They had mostly forgotten their original languages, and many did not live in South Carolina

The state of South Carolina wanted to be rid of all her Indians, just like neighboring states. The other Indians had been removed by the federal government, but the federal government did nothing to remove the Catawba, not to mention the bands associated with them. But only the Catawba had a land base. The three smaller bands had no land base. The descendants of the Saponi lived on the Virginia/North Carolina border, the Cheraw between the Catawba and the Atlantic Coast, on the border between North and South Carolina, and the Pedee on the same North & South Carolina border, between the Cheraw and the Atlantic Coast -- these still lived on, but all three had lost any resemblance to a tribe or nation, and had been assimilated into European culture and ways.

The state of South Carolina decided if the federal government wanted to leave their Indian population alone, they would find another way to rid themselves of their Indians. Remember this is South Carolina before the Civil war, and the Southeastern states were all in favor of “States Rights”. They felt they, as a state, had a right to sign a treaty with the Indians. That treaty has become known as “The Treaty of Nation’s Ford”. I have a copy of it here --

http://vancehawkins.blogspot.com/2018/10/catawba-saponi-melungeon-ch-13-sun.html

It was a simple treaty with only three articles. First, the Indians agreed to sell their lands in South Carolina to the State of South Carolina. Second, the Catawba would remove to lands in Haywood County, North Carolina, which the state of South Carolina would purchase for them.  Third, the Catawba would be payed $2,000 annually for a period of ten years. These payments would begin once the Indians had been removed to North Carolina.

There were problems with this. First, South Carolina never told North Carolina about their deal to remove her Indigenous peoples there. North Carolina didn't want them. Second, they never bought the land in Haywood County for them to live on. Third, the land they were supposed to move on was actually the same lands of the North Carolina Cherokee. The Cherokee and Catawba were sometimes on friendly terms, but they had also been at war numerous times as well, and they really didn’t trust each other.

So since the government of South Carolina never bought the land for them to move onto, the people had no where to go once they left their homes. Since they weren’t moved into new homes, the state of South Carolina was under no obligation to pay the Catawba $2,000 per year for ten years.

The descendants of the Saponi, Cheraw, and Pedee people were watching all this very closely. All three, had at one time or another, lived with the Catawba. But remember, none of us had a land base, and we had been without a tribal land base since before the Revolutionary War. We were wondering; "Can we, too, get a land base out of the deal the Catawba signed up for?" We had always considered ourselves to be ONE nation.

Indian Appropriation Act of 1848

I have tried to find this online but with no luck. It was mentioned by a few writers, but I know nothing more about what it contained.

All I know is some Catawban peoples, including some members of the Associated Tribes, travelled to Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory, in an effort to finally have a land base. Some of these people were adopted by the Choctaw. The vast majority were left stranded, and had to make due, as best they could.

Brown writes in “The Catawba Indians”, p. 323 “On July 29, 1848 the 73rd Congress appropriated $5,000 to defray the expense of the move [to Indian Territory].”

Per Brown, Chief James Kegg wrote a letter to President James Polk at that time and said there were 42 Catawba families who wanted to use that appropriation to move west. He said (p 324) “We humbly beg his Excellency the President . . .to remove us west of the Miss[issippi] under the act of the late Congress” [per the Indian Appropriation Act of 1848 that I just mentioned].  Still on page 324, Brown writes, “Whether the President ever saw the letter is problematical.”

 October, 1872

    Mention is made of some 84 Catawba Indians living in Georgia, who were  thought to be Cherokee, who wanted to go to Indian territory. A congressional document dated Feb. 23,1897 mentions them. It can be found here --  I transcribed the entire document.

  http://vancehawkins.blogspot.com/2018/10/catawba-saponi-melungeon-ch-14.html  

Imbedded in this document is the following; 

    No action appears to have been taken by the government or any of the Indians on the question of their removal to the Choctaw or any other Indian Country until 1872 when Hon. J. C. Harper, of the House of Representatives from Georgia, brought to the attention of this office the question of the removal of certain Indians in North Carolina and Georgia. Presuming they were Cherokee, this office requested him on the 13th of June, 1872, to furnish a list of the names and ages of said Indians. In reporting the names, Mr. Joseph McDowell, of Fairmount, Georgia, under date of October 1872 (Misc. M., 229), stated that the Indians referred to, and asking relief of the government, were Catawba Indians, and 84 in number, viz:

Those italicized desired permission of the president to settle in the Indian Territory, all of whom Mr. McDowell states were good and loyal people, and that if any Indian deserved assistance from the government these Indians did: that their grandfathers on both sides the government in the War for Independence, and that their names were on the muster rolls in the War Department.
    William Guy, of Granville County, Georgia, and Simon Jeffers, of Belleville Virginia, Catawba Indians, served five years in the Army and were honorably discharged, and these 84 persons were their descendants.
    This is of great importance since these Indians NEVER lived on the Catawba Reservation, but has lived where other mixed-Saponi live to this day (2020) on the Virginia/North Carolina border. They descended from Revolutionary War Veterans, and they were requesting to be removed to Indian Territory, the present state of Oklahoma, and they wanted to be treated as Native Americans, and be given lands here in Oklahoma as a Native American tribe.
    Apparently James Kegg made a second statement of importance some years later.
    On the 21st of November, 1887, James Kegg, of Whittier North Carolina, in addressing the Secretary of the Interior (No. 31383), made the following statement, viz.:

Many years ago, his people, the Catawba Indians, leased the land they owned in South Carolina and became a wondering tribe, without homes for their wives and children. They made application he states, to the Cherokees of North Carolina, for homes upon their land and made over to them all their leased lands in South Carolina in consideration of their adoption into their tribe; that about 500 were so adopted and have been identified as such; that some 300 of them were removed west under the Cherokee Treaty of New Echota, made December 29th, 1835, leaving a few living among the Cherokees as Cherokee citizens and a small portion remaining in South Carolina “upon a section of land which they owned and was not leased out for a term of years, upon which they now reside.” Those Catawbas remaining in South Carolina, Mr. Kegg states, had no interest whatever in the lands which were leased out by those who became Cherokees by adoption, and he wished to ascertain whether or not the United States gave its consent to the Catawbas to lease out their lands to the State of South Carolina or to her citizens, and if so, upon what terms and the length of term said leases ran.

Now I want to see and understand the 1835 Treaty of New Echota of December 29th, 1835. I looked at it, and saw no references to the Catawba in it. But there was one small mention of "mixed-blood Catawbas". I believe it was referring to Cherokees who had taken Catawba husbands and/or wives. I'll look into that and respond if it proves of interest.

Four Short Newspaper Articles referring to the Catawba, one from "The Vinita Chieftain", and the other three from "The Fort Smith Elevator". I have three of those four small articles below. The fourth is listed a few paragraphs further down. Vinita is a small town in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

The Vinita Chieftain, March 1st, 1888

“The Western Catawba Indian Association, with headquarters in Fort Smith, proposes to petition congress to set aside for the use of all persons of Indian blood, not members of any tribe, a portion of the Indian Territory.”

Fort Smith is on the Cherokee Nation/Choctaw Nation/Arkansas border.

August 16, 1889, The Fort Smith Elevator, Western Catawba Indian Association

    The Catawba Indian Association met at Rocky Ridge on the 10th. The meeting was called to order by the President. After the reading of the minutes and the calling of the roll of the officers, transacting other business that came before the order, a call for new members was made and 90 was added to the new list, after which the meeting adjourned to meet at Ault’s’ Mill, three miles south of Fort Smith, the second day of the fair, the 16th day of October, where the delegates and all persons interested will please attend without further notice, as matters of interest will be considered.

J. Bain, President

G. W. Williamson, Secretary

“October 25th, 1889 p. 3 col. 5, From Fort Smith Historical Society publication.

The librarian at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith wrote me the following;

Hello Mr. Hawkins,
Attached is a copy of the article you requested. The article mentioned another meeting held on October 16th and I found it in the October 25th edition but the film was so dark I could not get a good print to scan. The text of the article follows. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

“Attention Catawba’s!”

The Western Catawba’s Indian Association met at Ault’s Mill October 16, 1889, at which meeting a number of new members were added to the Association, thus making it nearly 4,000 strong. They appointed an executive committee which is empowered to transact all business and place the matter before congress. The Association adjourned to convene again at a called meeting of the president.”

 James Bain, President., Geo. E. Williams, Scary,

Western Catawba Indian Association 

            The government hadn’t made up its mind up, by this time, as to how to deal with the Western Catawba Indian Association or how to treat us. This indecision was about to come to an end. A woman named Will Allen Dromgoole had written an article about some people she was just learning about. Her writing made it easier to turn down the cries of the western Catawba settlers in Indian Territory. I found it online, but I forgot to properly site the source and give that source proper credit. I will find it again and will properly cite and credit the source.


III.    The Government Changes Its Opinion About the Bands Associated with the Catawba

1891 – Will Allen Dromgoole

Her story proved to be the doom of those Catawban peoples who were trying to organize in Indian Territory. It made the government distrust the motives of the mixed-blood families who moved here to Oklahoma. Early in 1897, the government rejected the Catawban bid to become federally recognized in what was to become my home state of Oklahoma. The people gave up the effort as a result. Today, in the year 2020,  this effort  is just a half forgotten memory. In 1888 and 1889 we see articles in Vinita, IT and Ft. Smith, Ark, where some of our ancestors were trying to organize, creating a “Western Catawba Indian Association” with the hopes of turning it into a tribal entity which we hadn’t had in a very long time. It failed.

Ms. Dromgoole's writings are also a principle reason “the Melungeon” peoples of southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee also never became state recognized in the states that have state recognition. For these reasons this must become known.

In an attempt to discover just who the Melungeons were, she went up to some Tennessee politicians. Here is what she wrote; I pounced on him the moment his speech was completed. “Seantor,” I said, “what is a Malungeon?” “A dirty Indian sneak,” said he. “Go over yonder and ask Senator _____; they live in his district.” I went at once. “Senator, what is a Malungeon?” I asked again. “A Portuguese n-word,” was the reply. “Representative T____ can tell you all about them, they live in his county."  

She found him, and asked him; “Please tell me what is a Malungeon?” “A Malungeon,: said he, “isn’t a n-word, and he isn’t an Indian, and he isn’t a white man. God only knows what he is . . .”   She then continues in her own words, I merely mention all this to show how the Malungeons to-day are regarded, and to show I tracked them to Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County, where within four miles of one of the prettiest county towns in Tennessee, may be found all that remains of that outcast race whose descent is a riddle the historian has never solved. In appearance they bear a striking resemblance to the Cherokees, and they are believed by the people round about to be a kind of half-breed Indian. 

So she based her opinion on what a Melungeon was on what a few politicians in Eastern Tennessee told her, rather than what the Melungeons themselves said. Here is another paragraph of her writing that is of interest.

There are no churches on the Ridge, but the one I visited in Black Water Swamp was beyond question and inauguration of the colored element. At this church I saw white women with negro babies at their breasts – Malungeon women with white or with black husbands, and some, indeed, having the three separate races represented in their children; showing thereby the gross immorality that is practiced among them. I saw an old Negro whose wife was a white woman, and who had been several times arrested, and released on his plea of “Portygee” blood, which he declared had colored his skin, not African.

In the above paragraph it is assumed as a fact that a marriage between a Black man and a White woman was immoral. Also it mentioned he had been arrested several times and that he claimed he was Portuguese, and his Portuguese blood had darkened is skin. AND it says “he was released” because of his plea of Portuguese rather than African ancestry! If you were this man or one like him, wouldn’t YOU claim Portuguese ancestry, too? THIS is the origin of Portuguese ancestry, not ACTUAL Portuguese ancestry. But claims of Portuguese ancestry would circulate, and there are thousands of descendants of Melungeon families to this day who claim some Portuguese ancestry when in fact, it is African. Also notice when Will Allen Drumgoole saw the Melungeons first hand, she replied “In appearance, they bear a striking resemblance to the Cherokees.”  Could this be the confusing origin of believing themselves of Cherokee ancestry rather than Catawban? I suspect it was.

Still in the 1890s descendants of these same people who’d migrated into the Indian Territory were trying to form the Western Catawba Indian Association in an effort to recieve lands in Oklahoma and Federal Recognition as a Native American tribe.'

She also wrote the following of the Melungeons;

Breakfast consisted of corn bread, wild honey, and bitter coffee. . . . Yet the master of the house, who claims to be an Indian, and who, without doubt, possesses Indian blood, draws a pension of twenty-nine dollars per month. He can neither read nor write, is a lazy fellow, fond of apple brandy and bitter coffee . . .  and boasts largely of his Cherokee grandfather and his government pension.

And;

Near the schoolhouse is a Malungeon grave-yard. The Malungeons are very careful for their dead. They build a kind of floorless house above each separate grave, many of the homes of the dead being far better than the dwellings of the living. The grave-yard presents the appearance of a diminutive town, or settlement, and is kept with great nicety and care. They mourn their dead for years, and every friend and acquaintance is expected to join in the funeral arrangements. They follow the body to the grave, sometimes familes, afoot, in single file. Their burial ceremonies are exceedingly interesting and peculiar.

Having been born in Eastern Oklahoma, and I have seen some Indian Cemeteries there. I have a Muscogeean friend who lives in Northeastern Oklahoma, and asked him to read this story. I wanted his opinion of this custom of burial ceremonies and practices of these Melungeon families. This is his reply; "That does remind me of native cemetery tradition indeed..."


IV.             The Last Hope 

There is one last short article mentioning the Western Catawba.

The Fort Smith Elevator” (newspaper), date probably early Jan 1895.

All Catawba Indians by blood or otherwise are requested to meet at the County Court House in Fort Smith Arkansas on Thursday, Jan 24th, 1895 at 10 o’clock a. m. for the purpose of perfecting the census roll of the Western Catawba Indian Association and the transaction of other matters that may come before the meeting. All Catawba Indians are expected to be present or by proxy as business of importance will come before the meeting.

This is the last article I found in the Fort Smith Elevator speaking of the "Western Catawba Indian Association". I must assume these Western Catawba sent a letter to the Senate asking to be recognized.  In 1897 the government sent their reply.

Department of the Interior, Washington, Feb. 1, 1897. The Catawba Tribe of Indians, 54th Congress, 2nd session, Doc. 144, February 23rd, 1897

On Feb. 23,1897 the federal government released its reply to the Western Catawba’s request for federal recognition and lands in Oklahoma. This document came out only after Ms. Dromgoole said we were mixed-Portuguese. Did her writings have any effect of the government's decision to reject us? The document starts out by saying;

February 23rd, 1897 – ordered to be printed as Senate Document for use of committee on Indian Affairs. Mr. Pettigrew presented the following memorial on behalf of the individuals formerly comprising and belonging to the Catawba Tribe of Indians.

Notice it says these individuals FORMERLY comprised and belonged to the Catawba Tribe of Indians. This is recognition by the United States government of Catawban ancestry – NOT Portuguese.

The heart and conclusion of the document states the following;

I have to say that it is the policy of the government to abolish the tribal relationship of the Indians as fast as possible, and to settle each Indian upon a separate tract of land that he can call his own, to the end that he may become self-supporting and independent of government bounty. It would not be in keeping with this policy, I think, to gather up people who happen to have more or less Indian blood in their veins and are living among the Whites, separate and apart from Indian communities, and incorporate them into a tribe and place them upon an Indian Reservation.

I strongly suspect Will Allen Dromgoole's comments were a factor in this rejection. Why would they allow a lost colony of Portuguese Adventurers ANY Indian land? This wasn't true, of course. But they clamed that it was.

1901 – Cole family claims Catawban ancestry

There was a newspaper article in Nashville, Th that spoke of a Cole Family out of Magoffin County, Kentucky that was Catawban. Here are a few excerpts from it.

A correspondent writing from Salyersville, Ky says: It is not generally known there are Indians scattered all over the mountains of Kentucky, but in nearly every county in the eastern section may be found families named Cole, Perkens, Sizemore. Mullins or Sizemore, many in some way related to “Old Billie” Cole, a Catawba Chief, who came here from North Carolina and settled in Floyd County nearly a century ago.

That would mean these Catawban families settled in Eastern Kentucky about 1800. This whole article can be found imbedded in this blog entry. 

http://vancehawkins.blogspot.com/2020/10/some-eastern-bands-of-catawban-peoples.html

1903 – Jarvis Lewis article claiming Melungeons were of Native American ancestry.

Mr. Jarvis Lewis was a man who had lived around the Melungeons all his life. His parents had lived near them, as well. His whole writing can be found in the same previously mentioned blog entry --

http://vancehawkins.blogspot.com/2020/10/some-eastern-bands-of-catawban-peoples.html 

Here is a little of what he says about them. As transcribed by William Grohse, historian of Hancock County, Tennessee; from the Hancock County Times; Sneedville, Tennessee, 17 April 1903

Much has been said and written about the inhabitants of Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater in Hancock County, Tenn. [some of this "fake news" was Ms. Dromgoole's writings.] They have been derisively dubbed with the name “Melungeons” by the local white people who have lived here with them. It is not a traditional name or tribe of Indians. Some have said these people were here when the white people first explored this country. Others say they are a lost tribe of the Indians having no date of their existence here, traditionally or otherwise. All of this however, is erroneous and cannot be sustained. These people, not any of them were here at the time the first white hunting party came from Virginia and North Carolina in the year 1761. . .

The white emigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of the river and called it Fort Blackmore and here yet many of these friendly “Indians” live in the mountains of Stony Creek [writers note: my ancestors lived ON Stony Creek at this time, too.], but they have married among the whites until the race has almost become extinct. A few of the half-bloods may be found – none darker – but they still retain the name of Collins and Gibson [author's note: I am a Gibson], &c. From here they came to Newman’s ridge and Blackwater and many of them are here yet; but the amalgamations of the whites and Indians has about washed the red tawny from their appearance, the white faces predominating, so now you scarcely find one of the original Indians; a few half-bloods and quarter-bloods-balance white or past the third generation.

The old pure blood were finer featured, straight and erect in form, more so than the whites and when mixed with whites made beautiful women and the men very fair looking men. These Indians came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater. Some of them went into the War of 1812-1814 whose names are here given; James Collins, John Bolin and Mike Bolin and some others not remembered; those were quite full blooded. These were like the white people; there were good and bad among them, but the great majority were upright, good citizens and accumulated good property and many of them are among our best property owners and as good as Hancock county, Tenn. affords. Their word is their bond and most of them that ever came to Hancock county, Tennessee, then Hawkins County and Claiborne, are well remembered by some of the present generation here and now and they have left records to show these facts.

They all came here simultaneously with the whites from the State of Virginia, between the years 1795 and 1812 and about this there is no mistake, except in the dates these Indians came here from Stoney Creek. [Stony Creek is in southwestern Virginia. Stony Creek was near the location of Fort Blackmore, and it was founded at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, so they were at this location by the mid/early-1770s.].

This is of interest for many reasons. One. He wrote this as a counter to what Will Allen Dromgoole had written about them being descended from a band of Portuguese Adventurers. He says they arrived with the first white men and built Fort Blackmore with them. Documents say one of the two Blackmore brothers was assignee of my direct ancestor. This is from a different line, not the Gibson line. I have three known lines from that region. That it calls him "assignee" means he got the land from my ancestor. Fort Blackmore was built in the early 1770s. He then says some came from 1795-1812. Remember the record of the Cole family that said they arrived nearly a century previously? That article was written in 1901, so a hundred years previously would have been about 1801. This is the same time frame as the Melungeons. They originally KNEW they were Catawban, as was the case with the Cole family. They are called "the friendly Indians" by Jarvis Lewis. During the Revolutionary War, the Catawba’s were friendly to the Whites and the Cherokee were mostly hostile to the settlers. But Will Allen Dromgoole used the term "Cherokee", not "Indian" to describe them. Later generations have remembered that. Since her writings became famous, and the Cole's, Guy's, and Jefferies' writing saying that they were Catawban was soon forgotten. The former was recalled, and the latter was tossed aside.

Dr. Richard Carlson and Forest Hazel both wrote of Saponi families that came to Indian Territory only to be rejected. Dr. Carlson wrote his PhD thesis on the topic from Michigan State University. Forrest Hazel wrote of the Guy and Jeffries families I mentioned above, who were veterans of the Revolutionary War. These also claimed Catawban ancestry, and wanted to come to Oklahoma, so they could have a national land base. There were over 200 descendants of the Sizemore family alone who were rejected from the Cherokee Guion-Miller Rolls, yet their male y-chromosome DNA test came back Native American. They weren't rejected because they were not Native, but rather because they were not Cherokee. The Guy and Jeffries families are the 84 'Indians' descended from Revolutionary War veterans, that I mentioned earlier. Mr. Hazel refers to them as Saponi Indians in his research. The government article I mentioned above says they are Catawba. The Saponi ARE Catawban! In colonial Virginia they were referred to as Yesah. The colonial South Carolinians referred to us as "Esaw". After teh Yamassee War abt 1710-1715 both these terms fell out of favor, as war and several small pox epidemics left just a few survivors. But the band called "Catawba" was still intact, and this term came to be used to describe all the people. After They are ALL the same people. The Saponi ARE Catawban. So are the Cheraw and Pedee.  Dr. Carlson said the following in his PhD dissertation; “. . .In 1896, J. W. Perkins and John Baldwin again petitioned the Federal Government as well as the Cherokee Nation for permission to move as a body to Indian Territory, but the attempt failed.” Perkins is one of the surnames listed in the 1948 Smithsonian document as belonging to the Melungeons, falsely called "Portuguese" by Ms. Dromgoole. Melungeon families are NOT primarily Portuguese.  I also have added Ms. Dromgoole's complete 1891 article to the end of blog entry below.

Vance Hawkins: Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States; 1948

Conclusion

I hope I have dispelled the misleading accounts of the Melungeons being primarily “Portuguese”. Sure there might have been a single Portuguese amongst the mix. But the European component was far more often of English, Scots-Irish, or of French Huguenot descent. There was also an African and  a Catawban component as well. The word "malungeon" is of French origin and means "we mix" when you conjugate the French verb, to mix, which is malunger (sp?). Many thousands of French Huguenots settled in the region.

In the government’s denial of Federal Recognition of the Western Catawba Indian Association in Oklahoma, they stated their reasons very clearly;

I have to say that it is the policy of the government to abolish the tribal relationship of the Indians as fast as possible, and to settle each Indian upon a separate tract of land that he can call his own, to the end that he may become self-supporting and independent of government bounty. It would not be in keeping with this policy, I think, to gather up people who happen to have more or less Indian blood in their veins and are living among the Whites, separate and apart from Indian communities, and incorporate them into a tribe and place them upon an Indian Reservation.

We were TOO mixed, TOO assimilated, to still be considered Native American. We were considered to be TOO advanced for us to be considered Natives. They HAD to see us as savages, as blood thirsty and war like – and that was not who we were. We looked too much like them.

I have enjoyed writing and studying history and genealogy. Genealogical research makes no since if you don't learn about history as well. You need to marry names & dates & locations with historical events. We walked the earth. We have a collective memory of having Native American heritage -- we faked nothing. I have already written and shown our proof. If you want to see it, it is all written in previous blog entries.

I appreciate others who want to learn of history. I hope my research is beneficial.  I hope others will research their own families. I have always strove to be factual --this is important to me. I have travelled blind allies, but I have backed out of those blind allies, and started fresh, as well.

Family photos (and a couple of maps) are at the bottom of this blog entry. 

Vance Hawkins: What Happened to the Catawba and Associated Bands in “Indian Territory”?

There is no outward proof that much of Oklahoma was once part of a great, shallow inland sea. But there IS a gypsum mine a few miles west of town. Gypsum is formed in shallow seas. I can therefore infer we were part of an inland sea through using both inductive and deductive reasoning. If you can think this through logically; then you can also come to the conclusion that we were CATAWBAN, and NOT Portuguese. This is probably as close to finding the truth as I will ever get. Read all the blog entries -- it's already there.

I really think I am swimming upstream, and my swimming muscles are growing weaker. Unfortunately, I'm no salmon. I don't expect anyone will remember that we were here.

I am done with researching. I wish yall the best.  I am old & tired. Adios. :) 

vh

ps -- I promised to leave a link to the online source of Dromgoole's writing that I quoted above. Here it is 

“The Malungeons” by Will Allen Dromgoole (1891 article) – Melungeon Heritage Association

I also saved it to a previous blog entry and left the link to is you will find a few paragraphs above. 

ADDENDUM

One researcher never lets me get a word in edgewise. She has said Are you aware a SHIPLOAD of Portuguese sailors came with de Soto, borrowing women from each town -- they didn't skip Catawbas. The CHEROKEE CATAWBA Trading Path from VA crossed over the Flat River through Orange Co., to Yadkin/Saponi. The Catawba, like other Carolina tribes were mixed with Spanish, Portuguese, African and even Genoans in the 1500s. There are dozens of court cases on the Portuguese Melungeons from Carolinas to Texas. Tax men, sheriffs, neighbors and even Bushyhead of the Cherokee testify they were PORTUGUESE.

This is proof of NOTHING at all! What if De Soto brought Portuguese along with him? What if they stole and raped Native women? What if some were Eastern Siouan? Does this have anything at all to do with the "Melungeons"? NO! A good genealogist KNOWS you MUST map i.] surnames,ii.] Dates and iii.] Locations! To say a Portuguese person lived in the 16nth century within 200 miles of a family living in the 19th century is NOT proof that 19th century family descended from that 16nth century person. You need to prove the Portuguese a.) came with De Soto; and b.) kidnapped and raped local women. Then you must try to track each succeeding generation up to the present. So if Portuguese came with De Soto, give their names. Do any Portuguese surnames match the surnames of the 19th century Melungeon families? Englishmen also probably did this in the 17th century. And we have English surnames as we would expect.  Does that make these Englishmen also "Melungeons"? Why aren't these people at all concerned about this? I am mixed English and Scots-Irish. I could say my ancestors were Swedes because I heard some Vikings were Swedish and the Vikings also invaded England, Scotland, and Ireland in the 8th and 9th centuries. There are documents stating the African and Native peoples mixed into the 19th century! So what? Even Dromgoole stated this. She doesn't state any first hand knowledge of Portuguese immigrants arriving in America taking Native wives -- NONE. Those court cases are very interesting. Even Dromgoole says Black/mixed Melungeons claimed their skin was "Blackened" by Portuguese ancestry, and for this reason they claimed Portuguese ancestry. They were just scared of being thought of as "Black" in a very racist land in the early 19th century. There is ONE Portuguese surname -- Chavis. NO OTHER. If these Portuguese men had fathered half-Portuguese native sons, why are there not a dozen or more Portuguese surnames? She has NO PROOF, only speculation. If the Portuguese were a major component of the Melungeon makeup -- there'd be many more Portuguese surnames, and that's just not the case.

There is the case with the DNA markers. The Iberian Peninsula has been invaded numerous times. The Carthaginians, who were Phoenicians. Then the Romans came. The entire Mediterranean region was Roman. Next came the Western Goth's, who were Germanic possibly mixed with Slavic peoples. And lastly the Moroccans, aka Moors. Islamic people ranged from Turkey to India in the north and east, to the Somalians and Nigerians in the in the south and West. Since the Anglo-Saxons were Germanic, and the Slaves were African, well don't you see the same mixtures in both populations. Even the Turkic peoples came from Central Asia, and some Native American markers also go back to Central Asia. So African/Anglo/Native markers could be mistaken for Iberian. They have NOT proven their case that we were Portuguese. They HAVE however. muddied the waters, and that's just sad.