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.
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
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
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
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
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
Essay Index Page
Website © Copyright 2001-2010 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) © Copyright 1990 Max Haymes. All Rights Reserved.
For further information please email: