Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'M A CARD CARRYING INDIAN by Brenda Whiteside

My Grandmother Anthie, with my uncle and a friend.
I'm a card carrying Choctaw Indian. Thank you, Great Grandma and Grandpa Franklin! 

In 1893, the American government formed the Dawes Commission to come up with a way to exchange Indian tribal lands in the southeastern United States for new land allotments to individuals in Oklahoma. The commission addressed the five civilized tribes, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole. What is known as the Dawes Rolls registered Indians for approximately eight years. More than 250,000 individuals applied for the allotments but in the end a little more than 100,000 were approved.

Part of me thinks this might not have been the best deal for my ancestors. Relocation from tribal land evokes a sadness. In fact, not all of the Indians bought into the deal. Some tried to disappear within their lands and some were forced to enroll and move. The title of "civilized tribes" in itself indicates a people who had finally been worn down after years of oppression by the white men who came to America.

My sister, my son and me - card carrying Indians
But I have no knowledge that the registration and relocation caused my great grandparents or their daughter, my grandmother Anthie Lois Franklin, any hardships. What it does for me today is priceless.

A few years ago, in Minnesota, my husband and I both lost our jobs. He chose to retire and luckily has the Veteran's Administration for excellent medical care. My great grandparents registered as Mississippi Choctaw. I am in fact both Choctaw and Chickasaw but they had to pick one tribe to register under. My card states I am 1/64 Choctaw. In Arizona, that card allows me to seek medical care at the Indian Medical Center in Phoenix. It isn't medical insurance. I can't get reimbursed if I have to seek medical care elsewhere. But I'm lucky that I can receive medical care in Arizona.

I'm sad I never met these grandparents. My great grandparents died long before I was born and Grandmother Anthie died when my mother was three years old. Although I never knew them, they left me a gift and a proud history.

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Margo Hoornstra said...

Brenda, What a great heritage! Even though they are no longer with you, your forebears continue to take care of you.

Brenda Whiteside said...

So true, Margo.

Ashantay said...

I'm happy you have health care options and such a wonderful ancestry! I wish your ancestors had been allowed to live on their tribal land. I think this country would have been the better for it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for commenting, Ashantay. One of these days I'll have time to research their life more.

Jannine Gallant said...

That's great, Brenda. I bet they look at your blonde hair and roll their eyes, though! LOL

Brenda Whiteside said...

At times, Jannine, I look a bit out of place. But much of the time there are a few pale folk. A friend of mine goes there and she is a blonde haired, blue eyed lady with more Indian blood than I have.

Alicia Dean said...

I am 1/16 Cherokee. I don't have access to any of the benefits because my forebears failed to get on the rolls. So, I'm part Indian, just not a card carrying one. :-) Nice story about your heritage. I would love to look up mine some day. Thanks for sharing!

Brenda Whiteside said...

My daughter in law is part Cherokee. She going to try to trace on the Dawes Rolls and see if her ancestors registered. Glad you enjoyed, Alicia.