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The Red Man and The Blues
by Max Haymes
(converted to web format from the original typescript by Alan White)


The North American Indian and the Afro-American, including the Blues singer, are two of the largest ethnic minorities in the United States. The aim of this study is to point up a far stronger link between the two of them than has been supposed, or even considered in the past. The Blues singer comes from the lowest socio-economic stratum in American black society, in fact from working-class on down; and originates from the southern states. Although there is the probability of connections with the Blues singer and many tribes of Indians across the North American continent, for the purpose of this study I am concentrating on the Indians from the southeast - the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. These are the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes.

Before their removal (1830-40), these tribes occupied the states of Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Texas, and also parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida. This geographical conglomerate(!) spawned the Blues singer sometime in the 1880's. I intend to explore links incorporating sociological, linguistic, historical, anthropological, cultural and philosophical aspects.

Prior to a discussion of the Blues singers' blood-ties and the many references to Indian Territory (Oklahoma from 1907) in the Blues, I will be investigating the Five Civilized Tribes and their interaction with black slaves and freedmen, before removal. I will also delve a little farther back in time to consider some more recent ancestry of these tribes and their possible influence on the genetic make-up of the Blues singer.

Another area to be covered will be the varying attitudes of red man to black and vice-versa, and the white man's duplicity in his attempt to divide and rule, these two ethnic groups, who at one time both outnumbered him!

Once removed to Oklahoma, the Indians finally settled down to a 'civilized' way of life. But not before a period of almost complete lawlessness akin to that connected with the likes of Dodge City. This was partly due to the complete autonomy that the Five Civilized Tribes enjoyed - for a while. While the white man's judiciary system had no power in Indian Territory prior to 1907, avaricious landgrabbers and property speculators poured in to the area to cut themselves a slice of the action. The main villains were not only white men but also half-breeds who found themselves in a position of power in the role of negotiator between the full-blood Indians and the white man. This lawlessness attracted the blacks who migrated to the Territory in an effort to escape the oppression of white man's 'justice' in the South. This migration included early relations of the Blues singer.

Many Blues singers claimed Indian descent without defining which tribe.

This study attempts to prove the majority of links are with one or other of the Five Civilized Tribes with the possibility of some earlier lineage from other tribes as well. These links will be seen to be far more numerous than has been supposed hitherto.


Chapter I: The Five Civilised Tribes - The Red/Black Link From Slavery on Down


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Website Copyright 2001-2010 Alan  White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) Copyright 1990 Max Haymes. All Rights Reserved.
For further information please email: alan.white@earlyblues.com

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