L’homme sauvage, quand il a dîné, est en paix avec toute la nature, et l’ami de tous ses semblables. S’agit-il quelquefois de disputer son repas? Il n’en vient jamais aux coups sans avoir auparavant comparé la difficulté de vaincre avec celle de trouver ailleurs sa subsistance et comme l’orgueil ne se mêle pas du combat, il se termine par quelques coups de poing. Le vainqueur mange, le vaincu va chercher fortune, et tout est pacifié, mais chez l’homme en société, ce sont bien d’autres affaires; il s’agit premièrement de pourvoir au nécessaire, et puis au superflu; ensuite viennent les délices, et puis les immenses richesses, et puis des sujets, et puis des esclaves… Rousseau (Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, 1754)
Les travaux des historiens et des anthropologues, ont montré que dans les sociétés indiennes, avant la conquête par les Européens, l’esclavage était une pratique courante. Les captifs de guerre entre tribus indiennes pouvaient d’abord être soumis à la torture, ou tués, pour venger les guerriers morts. D’autres sont adoptés, prenant alors la place d’un mort dans une famille, mais ils sont en fait au service de la famille. Enfin, la dernière catégorie de prisonniers entre dans la catégorie inférieure d’esclaves. Cela se voit au vocabulaire : ils sont assimilés aux animaux, en particulier aux chiens. Ces esclaves effectuent des tâches dégradantes. Les chefs locaux, pour montrer leur puissance, cherchent ainsi à avoir le plus possible d’esclaves. Il faut signaler enfin que les Cherokees de la côte Est des États-Unis achèteront même des Noirs aux XVIIIe siècle, et revendront les esclaves fugitifs aux colons américains du Sud. Chassés par les Américains de leur territoire en 1838, ils partiront avec leurs esclaves noirs s’installer dans l’Oklahoma et pendant la guerre de Sécession entre le Nord et le Sud (1861-1865), ils soutiendront la cause sudiste contre l’abolition. Philippe Jacquin
Comme d’habitude (on va dire que je me répète), l’intéressant dans les scandales, c’est ce qu’ils permettent de découvrir sur ce qui passait jusque là pour la normalité …
Qui aurait cru que nos gentils indiens, éternelles victimes du prétendu génocide américain, avaient eux aussi des esclaves?
Et qu’ils pouvaient même, eux aussi, passer des lois de purification raciale, comme la tribu cherokee d’Oklahoma qui vient de voter l’expulsion des descendants d’esclaves (noirs donc) qui vivent encore en son sein ?
Ainsi (re)découvre-t-on, au delà de l’esclavage « interne » (comme les guerres de collecte de prisonniers pour les sacrifices humains) que pratiquaient au nord comme au sud du continent américain et bien avant l’arrivée des Blancs la plupart des tribus amérindiennes …
Que nombre de tribus indiennes du Sud américain, notamment les « Cinq tribus civilisées » : Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole) avaient poussé la « civilisation », au-delà des maisons à l’européenne et des plantations, jusqu’à… la possession d’esclaves noirs (révoltes et « underground railroad » compris!).
Et qu’après leur affranchissement, nombre de ces derniers étaient restés dans les réserves, certains s’intermariant avec leurs anciens maitres.
Comme ces jusqu’ici obscurs Freedmen (qui sait même aujourd’hui, au-delà des marques de jeans ou de 4/4, les racines cherokee de Jimmy Hendrix ou Johnny Depp?), mélange de descendants d’esclaves et de ces mariages intercommunautaires d’une tribu cherokee d’Oklahoma (250 000 sur un total évalué à 5-7 millions de descendants répartis entre Oklahoma et Caroline du Nord, mais aussi Géorgie, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri et Tennessee) …
Qui venaient en décembre dernier de récupérer, par les voies de la justice (et à coup de tests ADN!), le droit de vote que la tribu leur avait interdit en 1983 et qui se voient aujourd’hui menacés, avantages et subventions (santé, logement, bourses) obligent et via un changement constitutionnel voté il y a à peine une semaine, d’expulsion de ladite tribu.
Sauf qu’on voit mal (comme oublie de le rappeler l’article rapide de Libération – mais Le Monde et Le Figaro ne prennent même pas la peine d’en parler), ce qu’ au-delà des surenchères électorales, les Cherokees gagneraient à cette expulsion qui leur ferait risquer, comme pour les Seminoles il y a quatre ans, leur statut hautement rémunérateur de « Nation ».
Les Noirs exclus par les Cherokees
Le 5 mars 2007
Les Cherokees ont décidé d’exclure de leur nation les descendants des anciens esclaves noirs. Selon des résultats rendus publics dimanche, 77 % on voté en ce sens. Les Cherokees, deuxième nation indienne des Etats-Unis après les Navajos, bénéficient, comme toutes les tribus indiennes officiellement reconnues par le gouvernement des Etats-Unis, d’avantages et de subventions et les critiques ne voient dans ce scrutin qu’une façon d’écarter de ces avantages ceux qui ne sont pas de pur sang indien. Avant la guerre d Sécession, les Cherokees, comme d’autres tribus indiennes du sud des Etats-Unis, avaient des esclaves noirs. Ceux-ci ont été libérés à la fin de la guerre mais nombre d’entre eux sont alors restés dans les tribus où ils étaient, et certains se sont mariés à des Indiens. Ce sont leurs descendants que les Cherokees veulent exclure. Le résultat du scrutin n’est toutefois pas encore officiel, car il doit être validé par la commission électorale de la nation cherokee. On ne s’attend toutefois pas à un changement du résultat.
“Every other Indian tribe is based on blood, and they are not accused of being racists,” said John A. Ketcher, a former deputy tribal chief, in a full-page “Vote Yes” ad in the Cherokee newspaper.
Putting to a Vote the Question ‘Who Is Cherokee?’
March 3, 2007
TAHLEQUAH, Okla., March 1 — The casinos here are crowded by midmorning; busloads of tourists stroll the streets, and construction crews are everywhere. But peace of mind eludes the prospering Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
The Cherokees, so proud that they survived the racism and greed that forced them to leave the East and settle in Oklahoma, are embroiled in a debate that is dredging up some of the most painful chapters of their history. The fundamental question they are asking is: Who is Cherokee? And it is raising ugly accusations of racism, from both inside and outside the tribe.
At issue is a group barely known outside of Indian country, the Freedmen. These are the descendants of black slaves owned by Cherokees, free blacks who were married to Cherokees and the children of mixed-race families known as black Cherokees, all of whom joined the Cherokee migration to Oklahoma in 1838.
The Freedmen became full citizens of the Cherokee Nation after emancipation, as part of the Treaty of 1866 with the United States. But in 1983, by tribal decree, the Freedmen were denied the right to vote in tribal elections on the ground they were not “Cherokee by blood.”
They sued, and in December won their challenge. But that has prompted a bigger fight. On Saturday, the Cherokee Nation is holding a special election — believed to be the first of its kind — to decide, in essence, whether to kick the Freedmen out of the tribe.
Officially, the election will ask voters whether to amend the Cherokee Nation Constitution. Overriding the 1866 treaty, it would limit citizenship to those who can trace their heritage to “Cherokee by blood” rolls, part of a census known as the Dawes Rolls of 1906. The Freedmen would automatically be denied citizenship because the Dawes Rolls, a census commissioned by Congress to distribute land to tribal members, put the Freedmen on a separate roll that made no mention of Indian blood.
Proponents of the amendment say it is about drawing a line, a blood line. The Cherokee Nation, the second-largest tribe in the country after the Navajo, is also one of the fastest growing, with 270,000 members and 1,000 new citizens enrolled every month. Members are entitled to federal benefits and tribal services, including medical and housing aid and scholarships.
“Every other Indian tribe is based on blood, and they are not accused of being racists,” said John A. Ketcher, a former deputy tribal chief, in a full-page “Vote Yes” ad in the Cherokee newspaper.
Many tribal leaders are campaigning for the amendment, citing the right of a sovereign nation to determine its citizenship.
Voters say they have been bombarded with advertisements attacking “non-Indians” as thieves who would create long lines in Cherokee health clinics and social service centers.
Freedmen supporters chalk up the claims to bigotry. They say the Cherokee Nation knows all too well that many Freedmen (who number about 25,000) have Cherokee blood.
When the Dawes Rolls were created, those with any African blood were put on the Freedmen roll, even if they were half Cherokee. Those with mixed-white and Cherokee ancestry, even if they were seven-eighths white and one-eighth Cherokee, were put on the Cherokee by blood roll. More than 75 percent of those enrolled in the Cherokee Nation have less than one-quarter Cherokee blood, the vast majority of them of European ancestry.
Marilyn Vann said she could not believe that one election could determine whether she was allowed to claim Cherokee blood.
« There are Freedmen who can prove they have a full-blooded Cherokee grandfather who won’t be members,” said Ms. Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes. “And there are blond people who are 1/1000th Cherokee who are members.”
Mike Miller, the Cherokee Nation spokesman, agreed.
“We are aware that there are those who can prove Indian blood who are not Cherokee citizens, because they are not on the Dawes ‘by blood’ Rolls,” Mr. Miller said. “But I don’t know of a single tribe that determines citizenship through a bunch of sources.”
This is the second time in recent years that an Indian nation has tried to remove its Freedmen. The Seminole Freedmen won a similar legal battle in 2003.
The Seminoles were formed when refugees from several tribes joined with runaway slaves. But after the Seminoles denied their Freedmen voting rights and financial benefits, effectively abrogating the Treaty of 1866, the federal government refused to recognize the Seminoles as a sovereign nation.
The Cherokees are also risking their tribal sovereignty, said Jon Velie, a lawyer for the Seminole and Cherokee Freedmen.
“There is this racial schism in Indian Country that is growing and getting worse,” Mr. Velie said. “Even having the debate is the problem. You then become a lesser person because people get to decide whether you’re in or not.”
Taylor Keen, a Cherokee tribal council member who supports Freedmen citizenship, suggested that proponents of the amendment were pandering to racism, trying to score political points for when they run for tribal office in June.
“This is a sad chapter in Cherokee history,” Mr. Keen said. “But this is not my Cherokee Nation. My Cherokee Nation is one that honors all parts of her past.”
Voir enfin sur les révoltes d’esclaves sur territoire indien:
CHEROKEE SLAVE REVOLT OF 1842
Art T. Burton
Black slavery in America usually evokes images of the antebellum South, but few realize that members of the Five Civilized Tribes–the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles–in Indian Territory, today’s Oklahoma, also had slaves. Like their counterparts in the South, Indian slaveholders feared slave revolts. Those fears came true in 1842 when slaves in the Cherokee Nation made a daring dash for freedom.
In the 1830s and 1840s, initially at the insistence of President Andrew Jackson, the United States government forcibly removed the Five Civilized Tribes from their homes in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Their removal opened the lands to white settlers and planters.
When they moved, all of the tribes took with them established systems of slavery. Mixed-blood Indians, the offspring of white traders and frontiersmen who married Indian women, were the principal slaveholders in the tribes, largely because their fathers had taught them the economics of slavery. Those mixed-blood Indians remained tribal members and became important middlemen between white settlers and Indian communities.
Many Cherokees depended on black slaves as a bridge to white society. Full-blood Indian slave owners relied on the blacks as English interpreters and translators.
By 1860, the Cherokees had 4,600 slaves; the Choctaws, 2,344; the Creeks, 1,532; the Chickasaws, 975; and the Seminoles, 500. Some Indian slave owners were as harsh and cruel as any white slave master. Indians were often hired to catch runaway slaves; in fact, slave-catching was a lucrative way of life for some Indians, especially the Chickasaws.
Seminoles attitudes toward slavery were different than those of other tribes. Never practicing chattel slavery, they took in fugitive slaves and claimed them as their own ‘property’ to protect the blacks from slave-catchers. In return, the blacks, who lived in separate villages in the Seminole country, gave livestock and crop tributes to the Indians. The blacks and Seminoles also formed a military alliance, with the blacks serving the Indians as warriors and strategists. In some instances, the blacks would intermarry into the Seminole community.
All of the tribes except the Seminoles had slave codes. Even after their removal to Indian Territory, the Seminoles allowed their slaves to carry weapons and own horses and other property. Until a treaty in 1845 provided for their relocation to the western area of the Creek Nation, the Seminoles lived in the Cherokee country around Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. Before that, Cherokee and Creek slaveholders complained about the influence of Seminole slaves on their own slave populations.
The blacks locked their masters and overseers in their houses and cabins while they slept. Then they burglarized a store, stealing guns, horses, mules, ammunition, food, and supplies. At daylight the group, which included men, women, and children, headed toward Mexico, where slavery was illegal.
The Cherokee slaves at the Arkansas River port of Webbers Falls, not far from Fort Gibson, would have had ample opportunity to observe the Seminole slaves. Most of the Cherokee slaves farmed cotton and other crops, but some worked at the landing where steamboats docked and where Joseph Vann operated a public ferry. The Seminoles disembarked at Webbers Falls after their journey from Florida, and the Cherokee slaves may have been impressed with the blacks dressed in Seminole fashion and carrying rifles and knives. The black Seminoles settled in the Illinois River bottoms near Webbers Falls, allowing the Cherokee slaves to socialize with them regularly.
About 4:00 a.m., November 15, 1842, more than twenty-five slaves, most from Vann’s plantation at Webbers Falls, rendezvoused at a prearranged location near the port town. The blacks locked their masters and overseers in their houses and cabins while they slept. Then they burglarized the store of a man named Bigelow, stealing guns, horses, mules, ammunition, food, and supplies. At daylight the group, which included men, women, and children, headed toward Mexico, where slavery was illegal and many runaway slaves sought refuge. When the fugitive slaves entered the Creek Nation southwest of Webbers Falls, slaves from the plantations of wealthy Creeks named Bruner and Marshall joined them, increasing the number of runaway to more than thirty-five.
When the Cherokees discovered that their slaves had departed, about forty of them took guns and dogs and went in pursuit of the fugitives. Each slave reportedly had a horse or mule to ride, and they had taken some of Vann’s blooded racehorses, so they were highly mobile. The Cherokees followed the slaves into the Creek Nation. There a group of Creek Indians organized a search party and joined the Cherokees.
Within a few days of the escape, the Indians caught up with the blacks about ten miles beyond the Canadian River in the Choctaw Nation. The slaves found a depression in the prairie which provided a complete entrenchment for them and their horses, and they decided it would make an excellent place to fight. A pitched battle followed, with both sides suffering casualties. The blacks held the position for two days, but the Indians killed two of them and captured twelve others.
The fight convinced the Cherokees and Creeks to go home and get reinforcements before continuing the chase. The remaining fugitives kept moving toward the Red River.
During their flight, the fugitives met James Edwards, a white man, and Billy Wilson, a Delaware Indian, about fifteen miles from the battle site. Edwards and Wilson were fugitive slave hunters, whom blacks in the South called patrollers or « patty rollers. » They had with them eight blacks–one man, two women, and five children–who had escaped in the Choctaw Nation. They had belonged to a white man named Thompson, who had married a Choctaw woman, making him a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. The fugitives had been headed west to join one of the Plains Indian tribes when a man named Chisholm spotted them and turned them over to Edwards, Wilson, and a Cherokee man for transport back to Choctaw authorities.
Edwards and Wilson made good progress until they met the fugitive Cherokee and Creek slaves, who killed them. The Choctaw blacks gladly joined the Cherokee band as they continued on their journey toward Mexico.
The slave outbreak was reported to the Cherokee National Council at the capital in Tahlequah on November 17, 1842. Immediately the council passed a resolution, which Chief John Ross approved, authorizing Cherokee Militia Captain John Drew to raise a company of one hundred men to pursue, arrest, and deliver the blacks to Fort Gibson. The resolution also relieved the Cherokee Nation of any liability if the slaves resisted arrest and were killed. The Cherokee national treasury would compensate Drew’s militia, and Drew was authorized to purchase ammunition and supplies, provided that the expedition was not unnecessarily protracted and did not incur needless expenses.
Ross told Indian Agent Pierce M. Butler about the expedition and asked him to inform the commander at Fort Gibson and the Creek and Choctaw chiefs. The commander at Fort Gibson loaned Drew twenty-five pounds of gunpowder for the militia.
On November 21, Drew left Webbers Falls with eighty-seven well armed men in his command. By November 26 they had arrived at the site of the battle between the slaves and the Creeks and Cherokees.
Picking up the runaways’ trail, Drew’s command came upon the bodies of slave hunters Edwards and Wilson, who apparently had been dead about four days. The militia found the trail again and two days later found the fugitives about seven miles north of the Red River, some 280 miles from Fort Gibson.
The slaves offered no resistance; starving, they surrendered immediately. Drew captured thirty-one slaves–the entire group except two who were away hunting. Drew’s men returned the slaves to the Cherokee Nation with no problem, arriving at Webbers Falls by December 7.
Drew reported to the Cherokee National Council on December 8. After an investigation, council members ordered five slaves to be held at Fort Gibson pending trial for the murders of Wilson and Edwards, then told Drew to deliver the remaining slaves to their owners. The Choctaw male slave was also turned over to Fort Gibson authorities. Drew kept the two Choctaw slave women and five children in custody until the Cherokees could ascertain their disposition from the Choctaw Nation. Joseph Vann took most of his black rebels out of the Cherokee Nation and put them to work on his steamboat, which worked the Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers.
The Cherokees thought the influence of « foreign » free blacks had caused the slave insurrection. On December 2 they passed « An Act in Regard to Free Negroes » directing that all free blacks, except those whom Cherokees had freed, leave the Cherokee Nation by January 1, 1843, or as soon after as possible. Those who lingered or refused would be expelled. The act targeted the free black Seminoles living in the Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee attitudes against free black Seminoles continued. In 1849, tired of harassment from slave-catchers, some of the free black Seminoles under black Chief John Horse fled Indian Territory. They joined Seminole Chief Wild Cat and his followers and successfully reached Mexico.
By 1851, nearly 300 blacks had tried to escape from Indian Territory, most headed for Mexico or Kansas. In the northern Cherokee Nation, in what would later become Washington County, Oklahoma, an « underground railroad » trail led into Kansas. None of the escapes, however, equaled the scope or violence of the Cherokee slave revolt of 1842.