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Column: Civilized Tribes owe reparations to slaves

"We must also remember that some of our own American nations became corrupted by white-style slavery, including especially the Cherokee, Muskogee, Chickasaw, and Chakta republics. Between about 1800 and 1865 these nations allowed powerful wealthy men, usually mixed-bloods, to purchase large numbers of Black and Red-Black captives and to hold the children of these captives as slave labor for generation after generation. This usually violated traditional tribal law, wherein the children of captives had become free citizens in most or all of North America.

In any case, greed motivated some of our wealth-seeking Native people to hold other human beings as captives from birth and to seek more and more unfree laborers. This violated the egalitarian principles of our tribes and also led to many Red-Black mixed-bloods being kept as slaves. Of the Five "Civilized" Tribes, only the Seminoles largely refused to abandon their heritage of equality and freedom. (But that is now a contentious issue).

We are faced with the embarrassing situation that the Chickasaws, Chaktas, Creeks, and Cherokees all face the question of offering apologies and reparations to those whom their rich men exploited."

Get the Story:
Jack Forbes: Reparations, Freedmen, and Treaties (Free Liberal 3/11)

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