The Dawes Commision
March 3, 1893 to March 4, 1907
Chickasaw emancipated their slaves under the Treaty of 1866, they
The Dawes Commission was formed March 3, 1893, not for the purpose of enrolling former slaves, as many believe, but as the first step to dissolve the Indian Nations of their land. The original commissioners were Henry L. Dawes, Meredith H. Kidd and Archibald S. McKennon.The Dawes Commission met February 6, 1894 at Tishomingo, with a large number of Chickasaw to explain their mission.
Because the Freedmen were treated as aliens, without rights, in early 1894 a
House bill was introduced into congress to ‘ameliorate’ the condition of the
Freedmen. A commission was formed to investigate and make a roll of all Freedmen
who were entitled to benefits under the treaty of 1866.
Congress authorized a survey of the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes in the
spring of 1895. Also appointed to the commission was Frank C. Armstrong who
replaced Kidd and Alexander B. Montgomery. On June 10, 1896 Congress authorized
the Dawes Commission to hear and determine the applications for all persons,
including freedmen, who might apply for citizenship in the Indian Nations and to
enroll the citizens.
June 7, 1897 Congress gave the United States courts exclusive jurisdiction over
all civil and criminal cases arising in Indian Territory after January 1, 1898.
The laws of Arkansas and the United States were extended to all residents in the
territory, irrespective of race. Congress also clarified the “rolls of
citizenship” to mean the last authenticated rolls approved by the councils, the
courts or the Dawes Commission under the act of 1896. Any name that had been
stricken had the right to appeal to the United States courts.
Congress took final control of affairs in the Indian Territory on June 28, 1898
with the Curtis Act. Passing the Curtis Act abolished the enforcement of the
laws of the Indian tribes. On July 1, 1898 the tribal courts of the Cherokee
and Seminoles were abolished. The Chickasaw and Choctaw were abolished October
1, 1898. All pending cases were transferred to the United States courts. The
Atoka Agreement was included. The Curtis Act applied to the tribes only where
they did not conflict with the provisions of the Atoka Agreement. The Curtis
Act provided for allotment to the Chickasaw, but the Atoka Agreement excluded
August 4th and 5th, 1898
Charles Cohee, President of the Chickasaw Freedmen’s Association, called
a convention of Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen, living in Chickasaw Nation, the
meeting was held at the Dawes Academy-near Berwyn. Convention committee for
payment of fees to the attorneys working in their behalf were (Note my ancestors
are in bold Italic) Joseph Murray, Richmond Prince, William Pickens,
Lee Newberry, Robert Anderson, William Alexander, Newton Burney, Nelson
Eastman, Henry Clay, George Stevenson, Ben Williams and William Mckinney.
The attorneys (Mullen and Belt) would appear on their behalf before the
Dawes Commission and present the Freedmen’s claims for damages at the next
session of Congress.
The Dawes Commission ask the freedmen to select a committee to assist in identifying freedmen eligible for enrollment. The Freedmen convention elected, Cohee, Mack Stevenson, Henry Gaines, Soloman McGilbrey, and Samuel Jones. In making tribal rolls, the Dawes Commission was directed to make a roll of the Freedmen entitled to rights under the treaty of 1866 and their descendants. On September 19, 1898 an enrollment camp was set up at Ardmore.
As the enrollment progress, the Chickasaws were alarmed at the number of Freedmen the Dawes Commission was enrolling, at this rate there would be more Freedmen than Chickasaws and if each received 40 acres they would be deprived of 338,000. On October 8, 1898 there was an estimated 4,500 Chickasaws Freedmen and 4,230 Chickasaws’
The Dawes Rolls were closed March 4, 1907. The Final Rolls were closed in 1914.
Copyright© April 1, 2000 Eleanor L. Denson-Wyatt. All Rights Reserved