Indigenous Peoples Day Takes Twist in Chicago

Indigenous Peoples Day Takes Twist in Chicago

Indigenous Peoples Day Takes Twist in Chicago

Like other liberal cities across the country, Chicago was ready to rename Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples Day.” The city had already yanked down two Christopher Columbus statues last year. So the Cook County commission was ready to vote on the name. It would also make Chicago one of the first cities to rename the holiday.

However, one commissioner — a black man — said Hold up! Not so fast. Turns out that Choctaw Indians owned some of his ancestors.

Commissioner Stanley Moore began researching his ancestry in the late 1980’s, when he was in college. He had always thought that his great-great-grandparents were members of the Choctaw Nation, but then he learned that the truth was a bit different. His great-great-grandmother was the daughter of a Choctaw man and his slave. The great-great-grandmother later married a man whose parents were also slaves of the Choctaws.

Moore said in a phone interview:

“It was an eye-opening experience. To find out that we were actually enslaved to Indians — it’s an awakening.”

What’s more, after the Civil War, the federal government ordered the “Five Civilized Tribes” — the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole — to grant “Freedmen” citizenship and rights. But they refused.

Did you know that? I sure didn’t. I also didn’t know that when the Cherokees embarked on the infamous Trail of Tears, some of the wealthy tribesmen took their black slaves with them. In fact, their chief, John Ross, took his slaves, too.

John Ross/public domain.

Smithsonian museum curator Paul Chaat Smith, a Comanche, said this about the bitter truth of Indians enslaving blacks:

“The Five Civilized Tribes were deeply committed to slavery, established their own racialized black codes, immediately reestablished slavery when they arrived in Indian territory, rebuilt their nations with slave labor, crushed slave rebellions, and enthusiastically sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War.”

But Commissioner Stanley Moore’s experience isn’t unique. Actor Don Cheadle discovered that Chickasaw Indians enslaved his ancestors.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Native American activist Les Begay complained that his people are getting the short stick. But justice could start by naming Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Native Indigenous people are always pushed to the side. We’re always ignored, and we’re always forgotten. So Indigenous Peoples Day is a start. It certainly doesn’t resolve past issues, but it’s a start.”

However, Stanley Moore is not backing down. He’ll vote no unless indigenous people recognize their part in slavery.

Moore said in a statement:

“They are discriminating against us, and if they do not want to recognize the Freedmen and their descendants, they should no longer accept nor receive federal taxpayers’ dollars based upon the census population of the Freedman.”

So the vote on renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day didn’t happen as planned. As for now, the commission will try to work out a compromise. But if that doesn’t occur, they’ll vote on June 23.

In the meantime, Team African American and Team Native American will continue to slug it out to determine which group will win the victimhood sweepstakes in Chicago. This, while the city has endured 264 homicides this year — as of this writing. Over 82% of the victims were black.

But. . . priorities, you know.

Yet there’s a lesson here for people of all races and ethnicities: history is full of quirks and bends. And slavery has existed among all peoples for thousands of years. It still exists today, too — consider the Uighur Muslims in China. Or Yazidi women who were sold by ISIS as chattel. No group is the ultimate oppressor, and no group is the eternal victim, either.


Featured image: Mary Harrsch/flickr/cropped/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

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  • Scott says:

    So here’s a question.. supposedly humans started in africa, or at least that’s the claim. So theoretically, africans came first, then europeans / native americans (not sure which might have been first) but the claims of all these offended / oppressed folks is that “white privilege” led to their ancestors being mistreated / enslaved.

    So my question is, since these groups existed either before, or at the same time as white folks, why didn’t they start working iron, developing ships that could traverse the oceans, invent firearms, etc like whites did (yes, I know that the invention of gunpowder is attributed to the Chinese, but they’re definitely not native american or african).. so are these group really oppressed, or were they just behind european / white civilization in becoming civilized / developing industry and other innovations that allowed europeans to conquer the world? Seems like they had the same opportunities, and could have developed the same technologies, if they’d been so inclined… and as mentioned above, native americans had black slaves just like the whites did. (of course black slavers sold those slaves to the whites, who then moved them around the world due to their ability to travel the world, which the africans obviously lacked.
    Or is the fact that at the time of the trail of tears, both the native americans and the africans were ridiculously far behind white europeans (and many asians) in pretty much ALL forms of technology just another example of racism? And if so, can someone please explain to me how that works…
    It seems that at the point that white europeans first contacted either africans, or native americans, all those groups had been isolated from each other, so none could have had an influence, negative, or positive on any of the others. That being a given, how is it that those white europeans were able to travel the world, to make contact with the other two groups, when neither of those two groups had been able to travel anywhere beyond the shores of their continents. The obvious answer that occurs to me would be declared racist by those groups, so I’d be more than open to whatever explanation they would like to offer… I’ll wait..

    • JAW3 says:

      I saw an atlas map years ago showing the world wide volume of slave trade back then and more slaves went to South America than the north but few survived because they were worked to death.

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  • GWB says:

    We’re always ignored, and we’re always forgotten.
    Bullhockey. In American they’re mythologized. Heck, we name sports teams after them. Or, at least, used to – until the Progs came along and insisted they were needed to be marginalized.

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