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MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATION Reservation — As Freedmen descendants seeking reinstatement in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation await a Judge’s decision, several Muscogee citizens are sharing why they support citizenship for their melanin-rich relatives.
At the end of an historic trial at the beginning of April, Justice for Greenwood attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons sought to convince Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Judge Denette Mouser that his two Black Creek plaintiffs should have their citizenship rights restored.
Meanwhile, Muscogee Attorney General Geri Wisner argued tribal sovereignty allows them to define citizenship however they want.
Both sides and hundreds of Black Freedmen now await the judge’s ruling.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with three Muscogee “by-blood” citizens who support restoring citizenship to their melanin-rich relatives.
“Yelling about how the so called United States needs to honor the treaties while simultaneously denying our kinship ties with Black Indigenous and Afro Indigenous relatives that were guaranteed by treaty is hypocritical,” Muscogee citizen Frances Danger told The Black Wall Street Times.
Muscogee citizens support enrollment for Black Creek Freedmen descendants
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is one of the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole) that enslaved people of African descent and at least partially fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
For over a century after the Civil War, both free and formerly enslaved Black members of the tribal nation were promised full citizenship to them and their descendants through the Creek Treaty of 1866.
Yet after the Muscogee Nation passed a new Constitution in 1979 that required citizens to prove “by blood” lineage, Black Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen were kicked out of the tribal nation of the ancestors, despite being connected to the final Dawes Rolls which prove kinship ties. They’ve been fighting to regain their rights ever since.
“I support enrollment for Freedmen,” Danger told The Black Wall Street Times.
Brittany Postoak is a Muscogee citizen and traditional artist who shared Este’s sentiment.
“Freedmen are kin. They have my support,” Postoak tweeted.
“I am forever grateful to the Black Mvskoke who were translators between our Mekkos and the US government to establish us as sovereign Nations. They helped us rebuild time and again. We owe our sovereignty to our Black kin,” Postoak added.
Disenrollment is a “moral failing”
Meanwhile, in defending their decision to deny citizenship to Black Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen plaintiffs Rhonda Grayson and Jeff Kennedy, members of the Muscogee Citizenship Board testified in court that they “don’t go by the treaty.”
Yet in denying their Black kin, they’ve been accused of denying a history in which free and enslaved Black Muscogee Creeks marched and died during the Trail of Tears, served as judges, lawmakers and law enforcement, and lived with the “by-blood” citizens for generations.
“The Freedmen are on the rolls. They walked with our ancestors. To continue their subjugation is not only a treaty violation but a moral failing that dishonors our ancestors,” Danger said.
During the trial, expert witness OU Law Professor Carla Pratt testified that the 1866 Treaty takes precedent over any conflicts in the 1979 MCN Constitution. The Muscogee Nation used parts of the treaty to successfully argue their jurisdiction over their reservation still stands (Supreme Court 2020: McGirt v. Oklahoma), but they’re ignoring other parts of the treaty that promise tribal citizenship. Critics of the blatant discrimination say it puts the entire tribal nation’s sovereignty at risk.
“It’s time for us as a Nation to stop doing the work of the “American” government by buying into a blood-only construct that was put into place as a means of paper genocide,” Danger said.
Muscogee (Creek) OU Law student supports citizenship for Freedmen “brothers and sisters”
Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, on the second day of trial, sought to keep the judge focused on the fact that he’s well aware of the by-blood provision in the 1979 Constitution, but that it should be superseded by the centuries-old Creek Treaty of 1866, which the United States Constitution considers “supreme law of the land.”
Palmer Scott is a Muscogee Citizen and third-year University of Oklahoma Law student who grew up on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reservation. He attended the second day of the historic trial for Black Creeks on April 5.
Speaking with The Black Wall Street Times, he said he’s been passionate about the struggles Black and Native communities face since growing up on his grandmother’s allotment.
“That’s what led me to law school to begin with. It’s been a journey for civil rights to fight for my brothers and sisters that haven’t exactly been availed the same entitlements that I have, including enrollment into our own tribe,” Scott said.
This is my “birthright”
Muscogee Nation Attorney General Geri Wisner told Judge Mouser that since the U.S. government placed anyone who even appeared to be of African descent on the segregated Freedmen Roll, they shouldn’t be considered citizens of the nation.
Yet after being questioned by attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, Muscogee Citizenship Board Director Nathan Wilson testified under oath that both the Freedmen Roll and Creek by-blood Roll were considered part of the Final Rolls by the U.S. government.
Wilson admitted that he would’ve processed Freedmen applications if the Muscogee AG’s office had instructed him to do so.
While some have questioned why Black folks would want to regain citizenship in a tribal nation fighting to keep them out, Muscogee (Creek) Freedmen descendants have called citizenship a “birthright” that would impact their families for generations.
“I’d be so excited for my family and for all the Creek Freedmen out there” if the judge rules in their favor, 70-year-old Freedmen descendant Paulette Trotman told The Black Wall Street Times.
“A lot of us (Black Creeks) live under the poverty line, and we need those rights. Any way we can get those kids educated, get healthcare, get all of that from the Creek Nation, that would be wonderful,” Trotman said.
Muscogee citizen Frances Danger and others are calling on their nation to honor the treaty.
“We must commit to do better and be better than what we’ve been previously. That starts with the recognition, acceptance, and enrollment of our Freedmen, Black Indigenous, and Afro Indigenous relatives.”