Passing — how my Great-Grandmother became white

Twelfth Census of the United States – INDIAN POPULATION Etner Slaton: white father/Cherokee mom = RACE: Indian (✔)

But she, like most Oklahomans, looks quite white. But hey, we all know you can’t change historical records…

Unless maybe you get married, especially about the same time that a territory becomes a state —

If your family tree goes back in Oklahoma a few generations you are almost surely some mix of Native American. (Dad’s maternal side isn’t wishy-washy. There’s no escaping the Native American there.) My Great Uncle Nail was the Choctaw Chief, married to one of the Seven Elders (matriarchal to the core) when the Trail of Tears was set in motion at the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.)

“…the feelings that actuate me on the subject of our removal … We as Choctaws rather chose to suffer and be free, than live under the degrading influence of laws, which our voice could not be heard in their formation … Much as the state of Mississippi has wronged us, I cannot find in my heart any other sentiment than an ardent wish for her prosperity and happiness.”

Around 15,000 Choctaws left the old Choctaw Nation for the Indian Territory – much of the state of Oklahoma today. The Choctaw word Oklahoma means “red people”.

Late twentieth-century estimates are that between 5,000–6,000 Choctaws remained in Mississippi in 1831 after the first removal. For the next ten years they were objects of increasing legal conflict, harassment, and intimidation. The Choctaw describe their situation in 1849:

“we have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died.”

But I didn’t mean to go into the Indian Removal Act.

I just found the records interesting.

“Our people don’t claim to have come over on the Mayflower or anything like that, but we met ’em at the dock when they landed.”

—Will Rogers

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