|My Grandmother Anthie, with my uncle and a friend.|
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|
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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She blogs about prairie life and writing at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/