Monday, December 12, 2011

One Hundred Years Ago Today...

December 12, 1911

Daily Ardmoreite April 14, 1907 p6c5
What was once thought to be the “most important suit filed” in Indian Territory on April 13, 1907; became a memorandum: just a footnote in the records of the United States Supreme Court!

Bettie Ligon et al., v Douglas H. Johnston, Green McCurtain and James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior is commonly known as Equity Case 7071 and the ramifications of this case should have turned Indian Territory upside down.

What happened on this day at the United States Supreme Court defies logic and understanding. The lawsuit involved millions of dollars in land that could have potentially been in the tens or hundreds of millions based on the natural resources like oil, gas, coal and asphalt that was known to be in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations following the Civil War.

The foundation of the claims of citizenship for fifteen hundred to two thousand individuals and their descendants in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations was predicated on one simple truth; we are the product of our ancestors.

In genealogical terms the 1,500 to 2,000 men, women and children who were claimants on Equity Case 7071 were the children of Choctaw and Chickasaw men and therefore should have been placed on the citizenship by blood rolls of their ancestors.

Unfortunately, like most things that involve race, their efforts at obtaining citizenship were thwarted at every turn. The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations allowed the institution of slavery among their citizens prior to the Civil War and based on their antebellum concepts of race.

The Dawes Commission as well as the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations determined that a child was considered to be the race of their mother and if that mother was determined to be black, Negro, or of African descent, then so was the child.

This of course had to include the absurdity of completely ignoring and denying the father who was a Choctaw or Chickasaw citizen by blood. It also was in complete contradiction of the established law on lineal descent that was established at the time. It also worked to prevent the possibility that we see today that none of the descendants of the original complainants involved with Equity Case 7071 are citizens of the Choctaw or Chickasaw Nation.

What we have on this day, one hundred years later a “continuing wrong” that is nothing more than a memo of the United States Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court Memorandum December 12, 1911

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