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CHEROKEE SLAVE REVOLT OF 1842: American Indians as Slave Owners
CHEROKEE SLAVE REVOLT OF 1842 ^ | 1996 | Art T. Burton

Posted on 03/28/2002 1:47:43 PM PST by rface

By 1860, the Cherokees had 4,600 slaves; the Choctaws, 2,344; the Creeks, 1,532; the Chickasaws, 975; and the Seminoles, 500. Some Indian slave owners were as harsh and cruel as any white slave master. Indians were often hired to catch runaway slaves; in fact, slave-catching was a lucrative way of life for some Indians, especially the Chickasaws.

Black slavery in America usually evokes images of the antebellum South, but few realize that members of the Five Civilized Tribes--the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles--in Indian Territory, today's Oklahoma, also had slaves. Like their counterparts in the South, Indian slaveholders feared slave revolts. Those fears came true in 1842 when slaves in the Cherokee Nation made a daring dash for freedom.

In the 1830s and 1840s, initially at the insistence of President Andrew Jackson, the United States government forcibly removed the Five Civilized Tribes from their homes in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Their removal opened the lands to white settlers and planters.

When they moved, all of the tribes took with them established systems of slavery. Mixed-blood Indians, the offspring of white traders and frontiersmen who married Indian women, were the principal slaveholders in the tribes, largely because their fathers had taught them the economics of slavery. Those mixed-blood Indians remained tribal members and became important middlemen between white settlers and Indian communities.

Many Cherokees depended on black slaves as a bridge to white to white society. Full-blood Indian slave owners relied on the blacks as English interpreters and translators.

By 1860, the Cherokees had 4,600 slaves; the Choctaws, 2,344; the Creeks, 1,532; the Chickasaws, 975; and the Seminoles, 500. Some Indian slave owners were as harsh and cruel as any white slave master. Indians were often hired to catch runaway slaves; in fact, slave-catching was a lucrative way of life for some Indians, especially the Chickasaws.

Seminoles attitudes toward slavery were different than those of other tribes. Never practicing chattel slavery, they took in fugitive slaves and claimed them as their own 'property' to protect the blacks from slave-catchers. In return, the blacks, who lived in separate villages in the Seminole country, gave livestock and crop tributes to the Indians. The blacks and Seminoles also formed a military alliance, with the blacks serving the Indians as warriors and strategists. In some instances, the blacks would intermarry into the Seminole community.

All of the tribes except the Seminoles had slave codes. Even after their removal to Indian Territory, the Seminoles allowed their slaves to carry weapons and own horses and other property. Until a treaty in 1845 provided for their relocation to the western area of the Creek Nation, the Seminoles lived in the Cherokee country around Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. Before that, Cherokee and Creek slaveholders complained about the influence of Seminole slaves on their own slave populations.

The blacks locked their masters and overseers in their houses and cabins while they slept. Then they burglarized a store, stealing guns, horses, mules, ammunition, food, and supplies. At daylight the group, which included men, women, and children, headed toward Mexico, where slavery was illegal.

The Cherokee slaves at the Arkansas River port of Webbers Falls, not far from Fort Gibson, would have had ample opportunity to observe the Seminole slaves. Most of the Cherokee slaves farmed cotton and other crops, but some worked at the landing where steamboats docked and where Joseph Vann operated a public ferry. The Seminoles disembarked at Webbers Falls after their journey from Florida, and the Cherokee slaves may have been impressed with the blacks dressed in Seminole fashion and carrying rifles and knives. The black Seminoles settled in the Illinois River bottoms near Webbers Falls, allowing the Cherokee slaves to socialize with them regularly.

About 4:00 a.m., November 15, 1842, more than twenty-five slaves, most from Vann's plantation at Webbers Falls, rendezvoused at a prearranged location near the port town. The blacks locked their masters and overseers in their houses and cabins while they slept. Then they burglarized the store of a man named Bigelow, stealing guns, horses, mules, ammunition, food, and supplies. At daylight the group, which included men, women, and children, headed toward Mexico, where slavery was illegal and many runaway slaves sought refuge. When the fugitive slaves entered the Creek Nation southwest of Webbers Falls, slaves from the plantations of wealthy Creeks named Bruner and Marshall joined them, increasing the number of runaway to more than thirty-five.

When the Cherokees discovered that their slaves had departed, about forty of them took guns and dogs and went in pursuit of the fugitives. Each slave reportedly had a horse or mule to ride, and they had taken some of Vann's blooded racehorses, so they were highly mobile. The Cherokees followed the slaves into the Creek Nation. There a group of Creek Indians organized a search party and joined the Cherokees.

Within a few days of the escape, the Indians caught up with the blacks about ten miles beyond the Canadian River in the Choctaw Nation. The slaves found a depression in the prairie which provided a complete entrenchment for them and their horses, and they decided it would make an excellent place to fight. A pitched battle followed, with both sides suffering casualties. The blacks held the position for two days, but the Indians killed two of them and captured twelve others.

The fight convinced the Cherokees and Creeks to go home and get reinforcements before continuing the chase. The remaining fugitives kept moving toward the Red River.

During their flight, the fugitives met James Edwards, a white man, and Billy Wilson, a Delaware Indian, about fifteen miles from the battle site. Edwards and Wilson were fugitive slave hunters, whom blacks in the South called patrollers or "patty rollers." They had with them eight blacks--one man, two women, and five children--who had escaped in the Choctaw Nation. They had belonged to a white man named Thompson, who had married a Choctaw woman, making him a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. The fugitives had been headed west to join one of the Plains Indian tribes when a man named Chisholm spotted them and turned them over to Edwards, Wilson, and a Cherokee man for transport back to Choctaw authorities.

Edwards and Wilson made good progress until they met the fugitive Cherokee and Creek slaves, who killed them. The Choctaw blacks gladly joined the Cherokee band as they continued on their journey toward Mexico.

The slave outbreak was reported to the Cherokee National Council at the capital in Tahlequah on November 17, 1842. Immediately the council passed a resolution, which Chief John Ross approved, authorizing Cherokee Militia Captain John Drew to raise a company of one hundred men to pursue, arrest, and deliver the blacks to Fort Gibson. The resolution also relieved the Cherokee Nation of any liability if the slaves resisted arrest and were killed. The Cherokee national treasury would compensate Drew's militia, and Drew was authorized to purchase ammunition and supplies, provided that the expedition was not unnecessarily protracted and did not incur needless expenses.

Ross told Indian Agent Pierce M. Butler about the expedition and asked him to inform the commander at Fort Gibson and the Creek and Choctaw chiefs. The commander at Fort Gibson loaned Drew twenty-five pounds of gunpowder for the militia.

On November 21, Drew left Webbers Falls with eighty-seven well armed men in his command. By November 26 they had arrived at the site of the battle between the slaves and the Creeks and Cherokees.

Picking up the runaways' trail, Drew's command came upon the bodies of slave hunters Edwards and Wilson, who apparently had been dead about four days. The militia found the trail again and two days later found the fugitives about seven miles north of the Red River, some 280 miles from Fort Gibson.

The slaves offered no resistance; starving, they surrendered immediately. Drew captured thirty-one slaves--the entire group except two who were away hunting. Drew's men returned the slaves to the Cherokee Nation with no problem, arriving at Webbers Falls by December 7.

Drew reported to the Cherokee National Council on December 8. After an investigation, council members ordered five slaves to be held at Fort Gibson pending trial for the murders of Wilson and Edwards, then told Drew to deliver the remaining slaves to their owners. The Choctaw male slave was also turned over to Fort Gibson authorities. Drew kept the two Choctaw slave women and five children in custody until the Cherokees could ascertain their disposition from the Choctaw Nation. Joseph Vann took most of his black rebels out of the Cherokee Nation and put them to work on his steamboat, which worked the Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio rivers.

The Cherokees thought the influence of "foreign" free blacks had caused the slave insurrection. On December 2 they passed "An Act in Regard to Free Negroes" directing that all free blacks, except those whom Cherokees had freed, leave the Cherokee Nation by January 1, 1843, or as soon after as possible. Those who lingered or refused would be expelled. The act targeted the free black Seminoles living in the Cherokee Nation.

Cherokee attitudes against free black Seminoles continued. In 1849, tired of harassment from slave-catchers, some of the free black Seminoles under black Chief John Horse fled Indian Territory. They joined Seminole Chief Wild Cat and his followers and successfully reached Mexico.

By 1851, nearly 300 blacks had tried to escape from Indian Territory, most headed for Mexico or Kansas. In the northern Cherokee Nation, in what would later become Washington County, Oklahoma, an "underground railroad" trail led into Kansas. None of the escapes, however, equaled the scope or violence of the Cherokee slave revolt of 1842.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: americanindians; indian; reparations; slavery; slaveryreparations
I haven't checked into it, but I wonder if any of these tribes...Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws or Seminoles have any Casinos that the "Reparations for Slavery" lawsuit lawyers would be interested in?

Ashland, Missouri

1 posted on 03/28/2002 1:47:44 PM PST by rface
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To: rface; blam
courtesy ping
2 posted on 03/28/2002 1:52:58 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: WhiskeyPapa
I thought you'd enjoy. Also, do you agree with me that since Thomas Jefferson, George Washington (both Southerners) along with many other founding fathers owned slaves we should take their faces off of our currency, desecrate their graves and remove their names from the many schools named after them?
3 posted on 03/28/2002 1:53:59 PM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: rface
Those five tribes were called "The five civilized tribes"?
I can imagine what a Hopi would think of that!
4 posted on 03/28/2002 1:59:15 PM PST by AzJP
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To: rface
I sense an interesting story, but it reads as if the paragraphs were inserted at random.
5 posted on 03/28/2002 2:00:23 PM PST by ElkGroveDan
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To: rface; shuckmaster; Colt .45; aomagrat; Libertarianize the GOP; one2many; Free the USA...
Ping!
6 posted on 03/28/2002 2:01:52 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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bump for later
7 posted on 03/28/2002 2:02:31 PM PST by toenail
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To: rface
Oooo! I just LOVE a good political dilemma for the PC jackasses, especially one they can't sweep under the rug. With any luck, this issue'll be one of them.
8 posted on 03/28/2002 2:06:37 PM PST by Map Kernow
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To: stainlessbanner
DIXIE'S CENSORED SUBJECT BLACK SLAVEOWNERS
9 posted on 03/28/2002 2:06:40 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: rface
Some Indian slave owners were as harsh and cruel as any white slave master.

Well with the import of slaves forbidden it seems to me it wouldn't make sense to maltreat a slave anymore than a horse or ox that you needed tro work the land

I remember reading that when the swamps were being drained in LA ( a very life threatening job ) they would not use slaves but hired HIBERNIANS since another boatload was coming over next week and slaves could only be replaced through reproduction
10 posted on 03/28/2002 2:12:06 PM PST by uncbob
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To: rface
I guess the blacks looking for reparations ought to sue the Indian tribes that have casinos!
11 posted on 03/28/2002 2:12:27 PM PST by CatoRenasci
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To: rface
Guess that's why most of the Cherokees joined the Confederacy during the Civil War.
12 posted on 03/28/2002 2:14:45 PM PST by LWalk18
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To: rface
Cool, I'm part Chocktaw...like maybe 1/7th.
13 posted on 03/28/2002 2:16:33 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: rface
Very interesting. Nobody, of course, wants to know all of the inconvenient details about slavery.

Here in Florida, during the British period (slavery was forbidden under Spanish rule), a Scots doctor brought in a large shipment of Minorcan, Greek and Italian slaves. They were technically indentured servants, but he forgot to let them go, as well as forgetting to pay them...In any case, he hired the cruelest slave drivers he could find: blacks from Georgia.

And they were indeed cruel, punishing infractions with beatings and stonings, including one occasion when the slaves were forced to stone to death a boy who had committed the infraction of arriving late at the fields because he was going to the school run by the two priests who had accompanied the group.

The slaves finally escaped by rebelling and seeking the protection of the British Governor at St. Augustine, who ordered that they be freed.

Of course, at the same time, Florida had its own free black population, left over from the Spanish period, as well as many Indians, including, if I'm not mistaken, people who were probably Cherokees.

Reparations - from whom, to whom?

14 posted on 03/28/2002 2:17:15 PM PST by livius
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To: Dead Dog
Choctaw that is, my appologies to the full blooded type that can spell.
15 posted on 03/28/2002 2:18:00 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: Map Kernow
This reminds me of an old Star Trek episode, the one with NOMAD. I can see smoke bellowing from the ears of the PC'ers as they try to resolve this one in their minds.
16 posted on 03/28/2002 2:22:55 PM PST by fhayek
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To: rface
Indians, I don't recall which tribe, used to come down into what is now New Mexico and trade slaves (other tribes) for horses and goods with the Spanish.
17 posted on 03/28/2002 2:23:02 PM PST by breakem
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: lexel
Didn't quite get whay you are saying.
20 posted on 03/28/2002 2:28:05 PM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: lexel
The Indians can bill each other.

I got this info from BookTV C-SPAN 2 on the weekends. An author wrote a book about the spread of small pox in the Americas. One of the routes of the pox was from the western plains down into the southwest via this slave trade. Interesting stuff.

21 posted on 03/28/2002 2:31:44 PM PST by breakem
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To: Dead Dog
Cool, I'm part Chocktaw...like maybe 1/7th.

How exactly could you be 1/7th anything? That would make for an interesting family tree...

22 posted on 03/28/2002 2:37:08 PM PST by Vast Buffalo Wing Conspiracy
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To: rface
...I wonder if any of these tribes...have any Casinos that the "Reparations for Slavery" lawsuit lawyers would be interested in?

I hadn't even gotten through the first paragraph when I thought of that.

Man, what some folks will do to avoid having to work for a living!

23 posted on 03/28/2002 2:37:45 PM PST by FormerLib
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To: rface; blam
Black Seminole slaves would later become excellent scouts for the U.S. calvary and buffalo soldiers in their hunt for renegade Comanche tribes (Parker et al) in the 1870s. The issues of american history during the period are far from black & white so to speak.
24 posted on 03/28/2002 2:44:19 PM PST by Ranger
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To: Vast Buffalo Wing Conspiracy
Never really thought about it that hard. What ever a pure blooded g-grandmother would be.
25 posted on 03/28/2002 2:47:21 PM PST by Dead Dog
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To: Ranger
"The issues of american history during the period are far from black & white so to speak."

An anthropologist's nightmare to be sure. These 'mixings' must have ocurred a million times in human history.

26 posted on 03/28/2002 2:55:14 PM PST by blam
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To: rface
What a shockeroo! I thought the Indians (nativehyphenamericans if you prefer) were gentle souls that were the original stewards of the environment and lived as one in harmony with the beasts of the forest. They held slaves???? Oh no. Some evil right wing historian once told me that they also made cruel war on one another, burned large tracts of woodland in order to drive game to cliffs (jumps) in order to visciously slaughter it, and had no concept of private property. I didn't believe him of course because my liberal friends corrected my views quickly.
27 posted on 03/28/2002 2:56:34 PM PST by RushLake
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To: rface
The Poarch Indians of the Creek Nation have just opened a casino on their burial gorunds in Wetumpka, Alabama. Now note that the Poarch band have a reservation in southwest Alabama, near Mobile, but own a few dozen acres in downtown Wetumpka, as this was their ancient burial grounds deeded to them before the Trail of Tears and never taken since.

Interesting that they chose this "sacred ground" for a bingo hall and slot machines, but there it is. The State of Alabama fought it tooth and nail, but the Feds backed it up via treaties. Anyway, the Poarch are making money hand-over-fist, and the sleepy town of Wetumpka is a rush hour nightmare on weekends.

28 posted on 03/28/2002 3:08:44 PM PST by Alas Babylon!
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To: Alas Babylon!
Is slavery still legal in indian nations?

If not , why?

29 posted on 03/28/2002 3:20:29 PM PST by THEUPMAN
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To: livius
Yes - Florida has a very "colorful" history. My little town was actually settled by some Russians. There are some legendary black cowboys and ranchers. Seminoles, Spanish, Mexican, British, Floridian....they were all here. I doubt we can ever sort our reparations. I don't think there is anyone that deserves it today.
30 posted on 03/28/2002 6:34:49 PM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
I thought you'd enjoy. Also, do you agree with me that since Thomas Jefferson, George Washington (both Southerners) along with many other founding fathers owned slaves we should take their faces off of our currency, desecrate their graves and remove their names from the many schools named after them?

I don't see why.

It's silly to judge historical people by modern day standards.

On the other hand, by 1860 slavery was being called an abomination. The slave holders threw down Old Glory because they didn't like having their sin rubbed in their noses.

Walt

31 posted on 03/28/2002 6:58:38 PM PST by WhiskeyPapa
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To: WhiskeyPapa
It's silly to judge historical people by modern day standards.

Really, aren't you the one who posted something about Jim Crowe laws in Georgia and laws from 1806?

32 posted on 03/29/2002 7:20:51 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: rface
bump
33 posted on 03/29/2002 7:27:36 AM PST by VOA
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To: rface
This is a very interesting article. One of the most contentious problems after the 13th Amendment was what to do with the freed slaves of the Indians. Congress finally made them members of the tribes for whom they had been slaves.

Another long-forgotten problem (since I'm on the subject) was the big boost in representation the South got by losing the war. Slaves had been counted at 3/5th their numbers for purposes of apportioning Representatives. After freedom they had to be counted in full--the result was the South got a lot more members in the HOR.

34 posted on 03/29/2002 7:44:55 AM PST by Seti 1
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
It's silly to judge historical people by modern day standards.

Really, aren't you the one who posted something about Jim Crowe laws in Georgia and laws from 1806?

That's different. :)

I asked, and I'll ask again, which do you think is worse, segregation or being forbidden to read? In that sense, I will ask you to apply modern day values.

People of the day in 1806 were obviously not seriously up in arms over it being forbidden for blacks to be taught to read.

By 1860, there was a small body of opinion who DID take exception to slavery and the slave holders took the bitterest exception to THAT.

Walt

35 posted on 03/29/2002 10:12:53 AM PST by WhiskeyPapa
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To: rface
Good post;

check this out.

36 posted on 03/29/2002 1:43:14 PM PST by one2many
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To: WhiskeyPapa
"That's different." :)

No, it's not. :)

Obviously slavery is a terrible thing. However, don't act as though the evil southerners were holding the poor slaves down while the saints in the rest of the country wanted them free. The north and south were simply arguing over economics for the most part...

37 posted on 03/30/2002 9:06:13 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
Obviously slavery is a terrible thing. However, don't act as though the evil southerners were holding the poor slaves down while the saints in the rest of the country wanted them free. The north and south were simply arguing over economics for the most part...

Well, the only economics that mattered was maintaining slavery.

And no one, to my knowledge, in this forum has EVER said that the norhereners were saints. Racism was just as rampant up there as in the south and as few wanted blacks to move into their areas and take jobs and what not, so that is a straw man argument. What the northerners WERE adamant about was maintaining the union, which is what they did.

Walt

38 posted on 04/01/2002 5:26:59 AM PST by WhiskeyPapa
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To: WhiskeyPapa
they maintained the Union and used the south as their slaves. Only unlike before they could use the whites as slaves too. Good thing those days are gone and now the South is the region that holds the cards...
39 posted on 04/01/2002 7:02:18 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: rface
This is to everyone........PAY THE INDIANS FOR STEALING THEIR WHOLE COUNTRY & THEN TELL ME HOW MUCH MONEY IS LEFT FOR DESCENDENTS OF X-SLAVES!!!!!!! Show me just one living WHITE-BLACK or INDIAN SLAVE HOLDER & the Gov't can take the money out of his pocket! And that money is to go only to an actual SLAVE.
Less than 5% of White Southerners (1860) were slave holders, & of those the largest percentage never owned more than 1 to 5 Slaves. In fact, of the FREED SLAVES who remained in the south, there was a far bigger percentage of them who OWNED SLAVES. New Orleans in 1860 had around 3,000 Freed Slaves. Of those 29% were themselves SLAVE HOLDERS!! A black widow & her son in south Louisiana owned 152 slaves in 1860! Could go on but I think I GOT MY POINT STATED.
Considering all the races of people....world wide who has had relatives at some time in history, held as SLAVES it looks like we can all rise up to sue someone for their wrong doing! WWWWRRRROOOONNNNGGGG!!!!!
40 posted on 07/10/2003 8:15:13 AM PDT by tvanc7236
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To: tvanc7236
well, you dug up an old one. (Posted on 03/28/2002) - but I am glad you dug this out of the archives.....I am glad that I had a reason to re-read this post.
41 posted on 07/10/2003 8:06:13 PM PDT by rface ( Ashland, Missouri - Missouri's Democrat Gov. Holden is a POS)
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Comment #42 Removed by Moderator

To: rface

Interesting.


43 posted on 05/25/2004 9:44:41 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: rface

Good Point...What I am interested in is taking a look at the names that relate to these numbers the Cherokees had 4,600 slaves; the Choctaws, 2,344; the Creeks, 1,532; the Chickasaws, 975; and the Seminoles, 500.

Do you know if these numbers are recorded anywhere?


44 posted on 10/21/2004 8:42:03 AM PDT by Black Indian
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To: Black Indian

I wouldn't know how to check that


45 posted on 10/22/2004 8:25:47 AM PDT by rface (Ashland, Missouri - Monthly Donor / Bad Speller)
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To: WhiskeyPapa

Yes,there name should be removed.They sat back and allowed and approved this evil act.If it was reversed how would you feel?


46 posted on 05/27/2012 8:38:55 AM PDT by gee426
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To: Black Indian

If you ever find out-please post it!


47 posted on 05/27/2012 8:39:23 AM PDT by gee426
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