Most Native American Tribes Don’t Recognize Their Black Former Slaves as Citizens

LeEtta Osborne-Sampson

LeEtta Osborne-Sampson, a Seminole Freedman who has a tribal identification card and serves on the tribe’s governing council, was told the Seminole Nation doesn’t recognize Freedmen for health services when she went to an Indian Health Services clinic to get a coronavirus vaccine.

Because black lives don’t matter to Indians!

It’s time for these Red Privilege scum to pay the ultimate price!


As the U.S. faces a reckoning over its history of racism, some Native American tribal nations that once owned slaves also are grappling with their own mistreatment of Black people.

When Native American tribes were forced from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern United States to what is now Oklahoma in the 1800s — known as the Trail of Tears — thousands of Black slaves owned by tribal members also were removed and forced to provide manual labor along the way. Once in Oklahoma, slaves often toiled on plantation-style farms or were servants in tribal members’ homes.

Nearly 200 years later, many of the thousands of descendants of those Black slaves, known as Freedmen, are still fighting to be recognized by the tribes that once owned their ancestors. The fight has continued since the killing of George Floyd last year by a Minneapolis police officer spurred a reexamination of the vestiges of slavery in the U.S.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations were referred to historically as the Five Civilized Tribes, or Five Tribes, by European settlers because they often assimilated into the settlers’ culture, adopting their style of dress and religion, and even owning slaves. Each tribe also has a unique history with Freedmen, whose rights were ultimately spelled out in separate treaties with the U.S.

Today, the Cherokee Nation is the only tribe that fully recognizes the Freedmen as full citizens, a decision that came in 2017 following years of legal wrangling.


We never heard John Oliver do a “current year” on this story!

“I think that we are a better tribe for having not only embraced the federal court decision but embraced the concept of equality,” said Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., a longtime supporter of citizenship rights for the Freedmen.

The Cherokee Nation, among the largest Native American tribes, has about 5,800 Freedmen citizens who have traced an ancestor on the tribe’s original Freedmen rolls in the late 19th century.

When the federal government sought to break up tribal reservations into individual allotments after the Civil War, they created two separate tribal rolls — one for members with American Indian blood and one for Freedmen. In many cases, tribal citizens who appeared Black were placed on the Freedmen rolls, even if they had blood ties to the tribe.

Of the Five Tribes, only the Chickasaw Nation never agreed to adopt the Freedmen as citizens, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The Muscogee (Creek) and Choctaw nations have cited tribal sovereignty as reasons for their opposition to citizenship for Freedmen. When Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California last year attempted to force the tribes to reconcile the Freedmen issue by inserting language into a housing bill, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton said the U.S. government is responsible for the Freedmen’s plight, not the Choctaw Nation.

There is no more fundamental element of tribal self-governance than the authority of a Tribe like the Choctaw Nation to determine our own citizenship,” Batton wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ultimately, it might be a decision for the federal courts to make. Osborne-Sampson said she and other Freedmen are consulting with an attorney on how to proceed.

This is quite the thorn in the narrative, no?

Here’s a long article in The Smithsonian Magazine about Indians owning slaves.

These people are apparently proud of having been slaves to Indians? I guess? They’re clearly a little bit mixed, because not even Pocahontas can resist Mandingo.

Imagine the outrage if a white person dared to suggest that Americans have a right to not consider black people American citizens.

These Native Americans owned slaves, and to this day don’t view the descendants of those slaves as citizens of their tribe.

Shouldn’t whites be able to do that too?