Black Indians United
Between Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes
To The Osage
And Allied Ethnic Tribal Groups In The Indian Territory
The Journey Of Two Finleys: Angela and Regina
By Angela Finley Molette
(Tuscaloosa Ohoyo) Black Warrior Woman
If You’re From One of the 5 Civilized Tribes, You’re From All of Them”(Freedmen Genealogists Colloquialism)
Although truthfully that statement could be expanded further (generally) to explain;
“If you’re an Indian Freedmen from Oklahoma, you’re from the Tribes... All of Them!”
Ethnic Indian Groups In The Osage Domain?
Recent queries to Black Indians United Legal Defense and Education Fund, regarding historical relationships between the Osage signatories of the Ft. Smith Document, Ethnic Black Indians and Freedmen are answered at this time by directing readers to comments provided as excerpts to the comprehensive story of my Father‘s Tribe.
For instance, My Father’s Tribe II: Black Town Temple of Heaven, Reclaiming Each Ñuu Tnoo Huahi Andehui contains information on the Finley’s and Browns of Pawhuska (the Osage Capital), Bartlesville and Wewoka. The book also maintains documentation on the Raysors, Carters and Leatherman’s their life near Donahoe, Taylor Texas and Kingfisher, Oklahoma, correctly casting them as supportive bit players in the life and saga of the most famous Black Indian occupant of the 101 Ranch.
Its a rather unique portion of our Ethno-History that interweaves the Ethnic Indian and Freedmen perspective of our story with extensive interactions between Northwestern Oklahoma Tribes, their treaty mandated boundaries, domain and settlements, including those belonging to Osage, Ponca (Omaha), Miamis, Delawares, Shawnees and Cherokee Freedmen in the Cherokee Outlet. Also central to the story are other Bands of Ethnic Indian Settlers, Freedmen (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole), Bill Pickett (the Bulldogger) and establishment of the 101 Ranch. No version of area history can be considered complete, thoroughly assessed, discussed or told in truth and sincerity without the inclusion of Ethnic Tribal Groups and Black Indians. Plus, it provides an excellent opportunity to revive information on an 1865 Fort Smith Treaty Signatory under Chief White Hair (Pahuska) by the name Shar-ba-no-sha or "Done Brown," a Brave.
Perhaps, it also serves well that I’ve included a discussion on the original legal limits of the Indian Territory (extending as far north as Nebraska), and alignment of the Indian Meridian in Oklahoma with its legal geographical center marked clearly as the lands lying beneath Langston University (belonging to Black People)…in the Congressionally set-aside Indian Territory, (1832).
Shar-ba-no-sha “Done Brown” was very likely the progenitor of the family of Browns in the Osage Nation who were also “Finleys“ kin to a former classmate from Compton, California by the name of Regina Finley.
Historic Indian Territory Relationship With The Osage and Allied Ethnic Tribal Groups Began Here With A Legal-Historical Tie
In addition to the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Nations) the other Tribes participating in writing the Treaty at Fort Smith on September 13, 1865 were; pro-Union factions of the Osage, Senecas, Wyandottes, Euchees, Wichitas, Shawnees and Quapaws.
The original purpose of the Fort Smith document was to convene a Caucus to author an instrument strong enough to cause an immediate cessation of the Civil War in Indian Territory, to restore severed relations with the United States caused by the ratification and adoption of treaties entered with the Confederacy and to enfranchise the Colonies of Free People of Color and former Slaves of Indians within the tribes. They lived in constant danger of captivity, fear of abduction and enslavement by Texas Slave Catchers and other Tribal Nations working in collusion. That goal was immediately achieved.
It is essential to understand that Confederate Factions of the tribes had no interest in ending the Civil War in Indian Territory as losers, nor of treating with the U.S. Government in defeat, but the Pro-Union Factions of the tribes were victorious and harnessed their collective power to end the conflict with finality.
Since the Civil War centered on the question whether or not to continue or extend the barbaric practice of Slavery within new frontiers of a civilized Nation, then the Union as the ideological anti-Slave victor in the Civil War Conflict, set the course of direction for the country.
Therefore, pro-Union factions of the tribes as victors of the Civil War in the Indian Territory seized the opportunity to enter negotiations with the United States in the only period in all of U.S. and Tribal Nation History that would allow them to appropriately enfranchise Tribal Persons having African Ancestry, Ethnic Indians, Free Persons of Color among the Tribes and Freedmen Peoples, in their Indigenous Tribal Designations. In doing so, they sought to hammer out the best deal possible to repair damage caused by the war that decimated their post-Trail of Tears Nations, homesteads, the Indian Territory itself and their previous relationship with the United States Government.
Also important to note is that other Nations also harbored Black Indians but never referred to them as either Negroes, Slaves, Former Slaves, Free Persons of Color or Freedmen, they were simply, ethnically, whatever historical nationality they had been from the most remote age (i.e., Omahas, Tonkawas, Quapaw, Cheyenne, Modoc, Choctaw, etc.)
The distinctive practice of referring to Ethnic Tribal Members as Negroes, Slaves, Former Slaves, Free Persons of Color or Freedmen, even Mulattos seems to have been used exclusively among Indians by “the 5 Civilized Tribes,” because of the large infusion of Southern mixed-blood White-Indians and their penchant for Southern Plantation Lifestyles.
Although they participated in negotiations, the Cherokees were the only nation at the time failing to ratify the document upon completion at Fort Smith, because the signatories needed to clarify their authority to act on behalf of the entire tribal nation (including the Confederate faction in rebellion).
The multi-party instrument included 12 nations as signatories (benefiting many more sub-tribes in the process) and served as the basis of the individual 1866 Treaties (using nearly the exact same language word-for-word), the first of which was enacted and ratified within six months of the Fort Smith Treaty.
Soe Tribal Nations participating in the 1865 Fort Smith Treaty envisioned our ancestors and their descendants as an industrious Ethnic Protectorate that lost status as soon as tribes began to favor the rising tide of White mixed-blood Indians.
White Mixed Bloods offered U.S. political connections, ease of assimilation based upon their common bonds attributable to European Ancestry, elicited economic inducements and beneficial policies aiding all but Indians having African Ancestry, because of their unrelenting racism. White Mixed Bloods (in disposition) were also more flexible and socially accommodating to the influx of hundreds upon thousands of other Whites in the Indian Territory.
Our Freedmen Relationship With The Osage Picks Up Here
The unusual story (involving the Osage Nation) revolves around a genealogical intersection between my family and that of former Walton Jr. High and Compton High School classmate, Regina Finley Bonds whom, as it turns out, was a true relative all along, although we hadn’t really known that as children. We were just two sets of Finley families from Northwestern Oklahoma, living in California’s family friendly Los Angeles suburb, the Hub City of Compton in the formative years of green spaces and fruit tree-lined streets ahead of its brooding and notoriously violent thrust into history as a dangerous Gang Capital.
My classmate and I thought our awareness of one another was more serendipitous than by design. Our Teacher, on the other hand, making the initial connection between us indicated that odds were that there was no way we could be from the same state, close geographical proximity, having the same surname and somewhat similar physical attributes, without being related to each other in some way. In our Teacher’s opinion, it was just too much of a stretch to consider anything else. I remember being caught-up in her excitement.
More amazing than all of that (aside from Oklahoma connections) was the fact that we both lived in Compton and had relatives in Oakland and the Bay area (except Regina Finley knew her Bay area kin), whereas, my grandfather always promised to take us to meet what he described as “the tribe living there,” but could never coordinate our schedules to make a family sojourn to Oakland and the Bay area happen. So, those relatives remained a mystery to me.
After school, I went home to tell my Dad about the Finleys that lived just up the block and Regina told hers. We arranged a meeting for our Fathers’ to get together and talk about their family ties, but without the input and guidance of Elders in their discussion, it came as no big surprise that they couldn’t make any conclusive connections. Despite the set-back, Regina and I remained friends for many years until I moved away after High School.
Happily though, through the efforts of my best friend Patricia Whitaker London (also from Compton and another possible relative through our Whittaker line), she was able to put me back in contact with Regina Finley prior to the scheduled Compton High School Reunion, which I missed at the last minute. I was anguished by a decision to pass upon attending the reunion in lieu of a flight to Washington, D.C., to attend proceedings in the U.S. Court of Claims, as Attorney Percy Squire was set to argue on behalf of Harvest Institute Freedmen Federation of Washington, D.C., Black Indians United Legal Defense and Education Fund, William Warrior of the Seminole Negro Scouts, and Ethnic Indians and Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes.
That entire week was really mentally exhausting. I was in the midst of a weeklong formal discourse on Black Indians at Cornell College, when it became necessary to fly out in between engagements to Washington, D.C., only to take a turn-around flight to complete my presentation there. My original plan was to make my presentation then fly out to California for the reunion.
Cornell was great, but insofar as my High School Reunion and the Freedmen Legal Case were concerned, it was very disappointing on both accounts.
The initial flight was a real eye-opener and not merely because those exiting the plane into D.C., were forced to endure being blasted with air (I assume) in some type of walk-through HAZMAT chamber (I didn’t know if it was vapor-locked air or a chemical wash down). Perhaps it was Homeland Security’s anti-terror security measures? Regardless, I had never seen or heard of that type of contraption being used on the general public.
What-ever it was, paled in comparison to what lay is store for me as I witnessed proceedings in the U.S. Court of Claims for the D.C. Circuit.
Pictured: Struck-by-Crow, Oglala-Historical Opponent of the Osage Nation
That was when I saw with my very own eyes that President Obama (as the newest Presidential heir to our Class Action Claim) hadn’t deviated one iota from the nasty campaign George W. Bush had originally unleashed against Oklahoma’s Indian Freedmen. The only difference seemed to be that the President had upped the ante and dispatched 5 of his best and brightest U.S. Attorneys attached to the Justice Department to do battle with Percy Squire in opposition to the Class Action Claim of the long-suffering Ethnic Indians and Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes having never been accorded due process for de facto loss of the hard-won Treaty Rights inscribed to benefit our people, along with millions of acres in Tribal Lands ceded to Freedmen, before protection of those lands was prematurely removed by Congress, resulting directly in losses of more than 7000 Black Indian Farms.
The worse part was that the Federal Judge made it very clear that he was unfamiliar with our case and deferred often to a person (I presume to be a clerk) to interpret and/or clarify certain case points. The judge messed up and asked discovery questions of Attorney Percy Squire that he was obliged to answer by presenting documents that the judge asked to see, which was so irritating and surprising to the lead U.S. Attorney that he jumped up like he had been bitten to object, stopping the Judge and Squire in mid-sentence. At that point the Federal Judge acknowledged his mistake and incredibly, even asked the U.S. Attorney what he should do now? Of course, the U.S. Attorney said that the Judge should simply dismiss the Freedmen claim.
It was absurd, unbelievable and devastating at the same time. Worst of all, I missed my class reunion for this excruciating miscarriage of justice.
Ultimately, in his bid to do precisely what the U.S. Attorney told him to do, the Federal Judge errantly rendered a summary judgment on our Class Action Claim without ever having provided Freedmen Due Process. We appealed.
Back To Our Story
Thanks to another former classmate, Sabrina Robinson, for providing me with reunion pictures, a CD and Patricia Whitaker London for talking to me on the telephone about reunion attendees I missed to help smooth things over in my mind. Back to connections between Regina Finley and I.
Anyway, many years after our Fathers’ meeting and hundreds of research documents later, I would finally find solid evidence of the kinship and descent Regina Finley and I shared through the Finley family of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations of Oklahoma, and at the same time uncovering information on the inhabitation of an impressive contingent of Finley and Brown surnamed relatives within the Osage Capital of Pawhuska (where Regina had been born).
I must give credit to Callie Finley Warford at this time, for providing the key to unlocking the vast treasure of our ancestral “Finley” past, which actually came from documents she gave to me. Callie had been my Grandfather’s first cousin (“his favorite cousin“ she said to me chuckling softly, apparently in fond remembrance). Callie Finley Warford lived in San Diego, California, but traveled to the central coast town of El Paso de Robles (Paso
Robles) to visit my Dad, Robert Finley, III upon the occasion of his Father‘s passing, Robert Finley, Jr. (II) in Stockton, California.
Callie Finley had a great sense of family pride, patience, and at the same time a no-nonsense manner and authoritarian aura that spoke to her ability to provide leadership. She gave me a handful of information on herself, including evidence of having been I.B.P.O.E. (Elk), Past Daughter Ruler, Past Law Daughter Ruler, Past State President and Past Chaplain of the San Diego District, presiding over the California State Association of Colored Women’s Clubs Inc. on the Seventieth Annual Convention and the Thirty -Ninth National Convention of Girls Clubs of the State of California.
Their motto (at the time) was “Deeds not words” Service “Lifting as we climb.”
In her packet, Callie included a small frayed article featuring an Oakland relative that passed away (a few years before her visit to us). The man in the picture was named Ludie Finley and he was married to Espenella Colbert Finley.
The torn document stated that Ludie was the son of Simon Finley and that his rather large family was based in Oakland. I could only make out a few other names, but the most important thing was that Ludie Finley and his wife Espenella were born in Coal County, Oklahoma.
To my great sorrow, preoccupation with my own grief kept me from really absorbing the wonderful treasure of family history information that she traveled so far up the California coastline (alone) to provide. Callie Finley complained only of diminished eyesight blamed on aging during her brief stay with us. I tried later to reach her for the purpose of discussing and clarifying more family history information, only to learn from another Genealogy Research Aide that I missed her by a year. She died not long after my Grandfather, Robert Finley, Jr. passed away.
I learned a very valuable lessons that year, including never losing an opportunity to sit down and interview Elders. Give them your full undivided attention. Write, record or videotape your visits or question and answer sessions, making certain that your family (and their children) knows who you are and how you are related to the speaker and others. I have a whole passel of regrets about Callie Finley Warford and so many unanswered questions with little opportunity to resolve them.
As a child, Callie Finley had been an original Dawes Commission Freedmen Enrollee and I didn’t know it at the time. Her quiet passing meant that our family was experiencing a loosening of the ties that bind, you, me and all mankind together. Her descendants did not know about us or how to reach us. There is no way that we would have passed upon paying our last respects to my dear grandfather‘s “favorite cousin.”
Callie Finley Warford’s descendants were in San Diego, California, a place my grandfather once lived (on Market Street) and I lived in the city too, once upon a time! While there, I met a large band of Warfords, Woffords and Browns in San Diego running a restaurant, not knowing at the time that these were names derived from the Southeastern Indian Nations of Oklahoma and potential relatives. My husband was amused by this part of the story, because he had been the one to introduce me to the family of Warfords and Browns, through a guy he worked with in San Diego by the name of Andy Brown.
His wife’s name was Sarilla Warford or Wofford. Callie Finley Warford had a niece living in San Diego at the time of her death, surname Smith (I believe). She handled Callie’s funeral services.
In an oddly related incidence years later in Oklahoma, a man by the surname Burdine wandered into our Enid Museum. He was an Ethnic Indian living around Crescent or Dover, Oklahoma and was familiar with Cousin O.J. (Ollie J. Jackson). Although, Callie’s older sister had been named Annie Finley, I recognized Burdine (Birdine) immediately, as the surname belonging to Callie’s mother and younger siblings (Andrew and Birdie). Their father’s name was Andrew J. Burdine (Andy).
The only “Brown” Surname that I have ever come across in my (admittedly) limited research on Osage families, belonged, as I said to an Osage Signatory on the 1865 Treaty at Fort Smith and he was identified as a “Brave” under White Hair (Pahuska) and his name was Shar-ba-no-sha or “Done Brown”. And so began the documentation of the surname Brown in the Osage Nation (as far as I can tell). The Creator does nothing by mistake.
Regina Finley‘s Cousin Wrote All That He Knew
About Charity Brown Finley
“Wewoka, Oklahoma where our great-grandfather lived and our grandfather (Theodus Finley) buried Charity Finley (either his mother or stepmother) who was full blooded Indian (I’m not for sure which type, but think its Choctaw).
Our Great-Grandfather’s name is Aaron Finley; he was a preacher and interpreter for the Choctaw Indians. I was told by Uncle Dick and Uncle Oohley the best place to investigate ancestry is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. An excellent source of information would be Uncle Oohley (March Finley) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma."
Cuz…Bill Finley (William Finley).
Bartlesville, in the Northeastern Portion of the State serves as a routine end-destination insofar as business, shopping and recreation for Osage citizens are concerned in that part of the State. In fact, Claremore in the Cherokee Nation was also named after an Osage Chief.
Note: Not knowing if Regina Finley’s “Uncle Dick” was in reference to a first name or surname, it made me remember that the Coal County Clerk told me (years ago) that “someone named Dick”(surname) rented out my grandfather’s allotted lands to her own Father (lands belonging to Freedmen Robert Finley, Jr.). The Coal County Clerk confessed feelings of embarrassment by the admission, but she pressed on in her cathartic mea culpa by saying that she realize the truth after becoming gainfully employed as an adult, in the position of the County Clerk. She reviewed the records and was shocked to learned that someone else rented out lands for which they had no recorded legal title.
She wanted to tell it, because as I reviewed the records it would have been a bit of outstanding information I was set to discover that day, only I would not have known it was her father that rented the lands in the deal. I told her that I found records (much earlier) indicating that my grandfather had some relatives by the surname “Dick” but couldn’t recall how they were connected, nor what ever happened to them.
Everything done to my Grandfather’s lands had been achieved without his signature. There was no legal track record proving whether or not the rental was by legal agreement on behalf of my Grandfather or not, or whether “Dick” was simply a local caretaker and Oklahoma contact. But if it is Regina’s Uncle, then it solidifies the fact that he knew my Grandfather for sure. Robert Finley, Jr. was called Jabbo by close friends and relatives.
Finley Freedmen: Chickasaw, Choctaw and Osage Connections
The Mausoleum at the Pawhuska Cemetery in Osage was built in 1925 by Wm. D. Barry/D.C. Edwards. The Finley’s buried there were born in the 1930s and 1940s, although much earlier burials featured numerous “Brown” surnamed individuals, a number of whom were positively identified as relatives of Charity Brown Finley.
Osage Burials Related To Charity Brown Finley
Name Birth Death Location: Notes
Finley, Rosetta Kelly 06/15/1936 00/00/0000 Sec 10 Rw 4 S/S/ Ray Sr
Finley, Ray Frinto Sr. 07/21/1934 02/26/1996 Sec 10 Rw 4 S/St/Rosetta
Finley, Johnnie Mae 10/04/1942 09/14/2001 Sec 10 Rw 5 S/St/Travis/ M/02/02/1960
Finley, Travis L. Sr. 03/19/1940 00/00/0000 Sec 10 Rw 5 S/St/Johnnie Mae
The earliest recorded birth of the 44 Browns (buried in the Pawhuska Cemetery) dates back to 1877, a Spanish-American War Veteran. 1877, is also the same year the Ponca Nation arrived in the vicinity. Listed here in the same burial section are two names positively identified as related to Regina Finley’s ancestor, Charity Brown Finley;
Osage Burials Related To Charity Brown Finley
Name Birth Death Location: Notes
Brown, Sonny 12/01/1932 12/01/1932 Sec 4 Rw 1 prob/B&D/same day
Brown, Mattie M. 12/22/1881 05/15/1964 Sec 4 Rw 8
*Mattie Brown was born 4 years after the arrival of the Ponca Nation and 3 years after the Omahas.
Regina Finley’s family retains evidence that Charity Brown , signed the marriage license of Mattie Brown Finley. Her signature was entered as Charity Brown.
An 1881 birth, means Mattie’s parents (even if it was Charity Brown) were inhabitants in the Osage Territorial era (pre-Statehood) and her 1964 death date means she remained in residence well past the 1920s Osage oil boom. Mattie Brown (the daughter of Charity Brown Finley) had her final rest recorded in Pawhuska, the Osage Capital. It was without a doubt the very definition of Indian Territory.
The Osage and Related Ethnic Tribal Groups:
Kansa, Ponca-Omaha, Tonkawa and Quapaw
*Sold Additional Lands to Kaw, Otoe-Missouria and Pawnee
The Osage originated in the Ohio River valley in present day Kentucky. They migrated west of the Mississippi to historic lands in present day Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma by the mid-17 century.
Although they had been prehistoric owners, an earlier cession of their lands caused the Osage to buy back some of their old domain from the Cherokees in 1870-but that was after the area had already been set-aside and put in Trust for the settlement of Cherokee Freedmen (as overflow lands should the Canadian District prove an insufficient area for their settlement), as well as areas set aside for Friendly Indians (Delawares and Shawnees, cemented by Tribe-to-Tribe Treaties), yet enshrined by the earlier language of the 1866 Cherokee Treaty (Article 4-Canadian District-”and also all the tract of country lying northwest of Grand River“).
All The Tract of Country Lying Northwest Equals The Cherokee Outlet
The Osage purchased land in the eastern end of the Cherokee Outlet, then sold land to the Kaw, Ponca, Tonkawa, Otoe-Missouria and Pawnee Tribes. A few elders of those nations recalled “Black People” and their descendants living there. An elderly Pawnee in an oral recount of the area stated, “There were Black People there and I felt sorry about how they were treated.”
The Osage and Cherokees were originally excepted from the individual allotment process mandated by the Dawes Act, but after “great pressure” from White Mixed-Bloods finally participated in allotment in 1906.
Pawhuska: The Osage Capital (Seat of Government)
“The Osage moved into the Oklahoma land purchased from the Cherokees in 1870, but didn’t move in until 1871-1872. Pawhuska, a city in Osage County, Oklahoma is the county seat and the capital of the Osage Nation. The city has a total area of 9.7 km (or 3.8 miles square, all land. Before 1836, the United States government maintained a sub-agency for the Osage at the Chouteau trading post, which is now near Okay, Oklahoma, in Wagoner County. The Osage Agency was finally settled at Pawhuska.”
Relevant History Notes
“The Osage were also generally at war with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes of the southern plains, the hostilities coming to an end after the territory bands were called together in council, and formed the Treaty of Friendship in 1835. This resulted in an agreement by the southern tribes, that all Indians should have equal hunting rights on the southern prairies as far as the western boundary of the United States, and all American citizens free passage through Indian hunting grounds. This treaty was never broken, although the Osage later served as United States Scouts against the allied plains tribes. Chief Clermont of the Osage signed this treaty. This delegation of the Osage also included the noted leader, Sho-to-ca-be or "Black Dog".
“The Osage signed their first treaty with the United States in 1808, ceding to the Federal Government lands comprising over half the state of Missouri and northern Arkansas, including their old village located on the Little Osage River.
Some years later, after approval of this treaty, the Great Osage and the Little Osage moved west to the valley of the Neosho River in Kansas. Pahuska, descendant of the old Chief Pahuska, established the Great Osage Village near the present town of Shaw in Neosho County, while the Little Osage made their village just west of Chanute, Kansas.
The Osage settled here for nearly half a century. Their camps or villages lying in the eastern part of their reservation. This reservation in Kansas was 50 miles wide, bordering present Oklahoma on the north, and extending west to the 100th meridian from a north-south line, 25 miles west of the Missouri line.”
When the Osage signed the treaty of 1825 at St. Louis, they ceded all their lands to the United States, all of Oklahoma north of the Arkansas and Canadian Rivers, northwestern Arkansas, western Missouri and nearly half of Kansas.
When the Civil War started, members of the Great Osage Band served in the Confederate Army, while many warriors from the Little Osage fought with the Union Army, although provision had been made by treaty for the Little Osage men to fight for the Confederacy.
This division caused great distress among the tribe, and they suffered great property loss when their reservation was overrun by guerilla bands of white soldiers in the Kansas border fighting. When the war was over, the government secured the cession of a large portion of the Osage land in Kansas.”
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