Saturday, November 26, 2011

Death of Bettie Ligon ~ November 21, 1911

Bettie Ligon died today from lumbar pneumonia. Bettie Ligon was the lead litigant on Equity Case 7071 involving approximately 2,000 so called Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen who were seeking full “rights and privileges” as citizens in the respective nation of their and their parents birth. 

The litigants in this lawsuit were seeking recognition from the two nations and the United States government as citizens based on being progeny of a parent who was considered a Chickasaw and/or Choctaw “by blood” on the Dawes Rolls.

Bettie Ligon's  death comes almost a year after the decision by the United States Supreme Court of December 12, 1911. The decision by the court was rendered without any oral arguments on the merits of Equity Case 7071. 

 The defendants attorneys did not appear before the court and written briefs were not provided as stipulated, yet these 2,000 “Black Indians” and their descendants today are not considered Chickasaw nor Choctaw and are not citizens of their respective nations as stipulated in ALL legislation applicable to them.

The dismissal in this lawsuit begs the question of why didn’t the brief’s for such an important case worth millions of dollars failed to be filed for a hearing before the Supreme Court?

From the initial filing on April 13, 1907 until almost six years later; Bettie Ligon et al., was deemed one of the most important cases in Indian Territory history, yet, when given the opportunity to argue their case before the highest court in the country, attorneys failed their fiduciary responsibility to file the required papers to stand before the justices of the Supreme Court.

For this case never to be argued before the Supreme Court meant a great deal for the state of Oklahoma, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and ultimately for the descendants of the more than fifteen hundred men, women and children involved.

The state of Oklahoma was being rushed by its politician's and corporate leaders so the natural resources of the state could be exploited.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation's were to benefit from a great deal of the wealth that was to be thrown their way based on allowing companies like Standard Oil and the multitude of railroads to intersect the territory, all providing funds to the leading men and families in the respective nations.

Yet the publisher's of the Daily Ardmoreite, a paper that was not sympathetic to the plight of blacks or Indian Territory freedmen understood clearly the importance of this challenge to the tribes and the country.

The addition of this many African-Native people could in their eyes go against everything they understood about race and how the descendants of former slaves and slave owners should be viewed when it came to sharing in the land and possible revenues from the natural resources located in their respective nations.

The difference was large enough to make a difference and quite possibly interfere with the interest of the coal, asphalt, railroad, oil and gas corporations that were licking their lips to establish their business in the territory.

Fifteen hundred people could be  the difference between giving up sixty thousand acres of land as opposed to four hundred and eighty thousand acres of land; this would affect the profits of oil production by requiring royalties to the owners of that land. That much land wealth would have created a class of substantially wealthy blacks that could have challenged the status quo in the new state of Oklahoma?

The latter number would have posed a possible threat to the development and exploitation of what we now know was and is a huge amount of wealth based on those same natural resources in the land.


  1. Is this case ever resolved....

    1. That's the $500,000,000 question? The case wound it's way to the United States Supreme Court and the litigants attorney FAILED to file a brief so the case could be argued before the justices. At least how I see and I don't play a lawyer on the internet. It always struck me that any attorney worth his/her salt would chomp at the bit to argue a case before the Supreme Court and this one didn't file a brief? This case was proclaimed to be the biggest case of it's time and this guy failed to file a brief to argue it...I can't say with full confidence it was "resolved."


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