An actor named Don Cheadle found out on a PBS series African American Lives that the Chickasaw Indians enslaved his ancestors. Until this point, Cheadle states, he did not know that Native Americans owned enslaved Black people.
Don Cheadle's family goes back to a woman named Mary Kemp, the daughter of John Kemp, a servant of Chickasaw Jackson Kemp.
Chickasaw Jackson Kemp owned 61 enslaved people in the Chickasaw Nation in 1860. At one point, at least 20 of his servants ran away and were listed as fugitives, suggesting that Kemp might not have been kind to them.
Not only did Chickasaw own enslaved people, but when the Civil War broke out, they signed an alliance with the South and fought in some of the last battles of the Civil War. When the war ended on April 9, 1865, the Chocktaw and Chickasaw nations did not abolish slavery.
These two nations governed themselves and did not have to abolish slavery immediately. Instead, it took an entire year in 1866 to allow their men to be Freedmen. In addition, they did not enable the Freedmen to hold US or Chickasaw citizenship.
As a result, the men struggled without having citizenship. Finally, the Chocktaw granted citizenship to their freedmen in 1883, but the Chickasaw never did. It wasn't until The Curtis Act of 1898, an amendment to the US Dawes Act, which resulted in the dissolution of tribal governments, and communal lands in Indian Territory.
The Chickasaw Freedman was left without a nation until Oklahoma joined the union in 1907 and without US citizenship until Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924.
When you look back at our nation's history, you will see it is a more complicated situation. History and education are more important than we realize; this is barely scratching the surface of how complicated the situation really was and what happened.
However, for the sake of a short article, this is a brief overview. Yet as I mentioned of a much deeper and more complicated situation.