Blackfoot Indians

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    i agree that there has been a liitle heat,

    but that this site has been most open and polite! i do not intend on stepping on toes, but rather try and bring a new dimension to the conversation.

    Additionally, I wholeheartedly agree with several Saponi groups moving about during the early to mid 1700s. one map i recall from Tanner (1989) shows two seperate Saponi concentrations – one on the roanoke river, another on the yadkin for example.

    On the subject of Nottoway:

    here is a good example of massive tribal

    infusion. ‘Saponi’ and nottoway living in same vicinity post Fort Christianna. The nottoway are an interesting bunch with relationship to this area of interest. Not only are they in the vicinity of the area of va/nc we’re discussing but new research has gone so far as to show them as possibly being sioun speakers – not iroquoian at all. Additionally, there are good records of their land sales and in some cases descendants. If they blend into the woodwork with the saponi (as in hollister?) or dispearse as the saponi, then we have alot of other groups to discuss.

    for instance the Southern James south of present day hopewell, used to include the weyanoke, warroskoyack, and Quiyoughcahonnocks. the latter disappear fairly early in the 1600’s as their lands are settled by english. they take refuge with the Weyanokes and Nansemond or Pochicks. census counts only include pochicks (non christian nansemonds), nansemonds, and weyanokes in the mid to late 1600’s. We know the Nansemonds who are not missionized move towards ft. Christianna and eventually settle within (remnants) whats now the “saponi” community in NC – halifax and warren. others disperse to indian groups in region (saponi / nottoway or meherrin or where?) Weyanokes bounce around getting lands from govenors and holding up in forts in contemporary surry, isle of wight, sussex, southhampton counties. they buy land from all sorts of people (tuscarora, nottoways) trying to settle somewhere.

    the border dispute in NC/VA has themliving in the blackwater swamp in 1710 and reported to be low in numbers.

    they supposedly enventually move in with

    nottoways. Land records show a variety of weyanoke names amongst nottoways all through 18century and as late as 1808. people claiming nottoway descent linger in area for a good while – the last dies (according to some) in c.1958! others claim linneage still from groups who relocated up north – one is wampanoag.

    So if we have saponis and nottoways together , then we probably have weyanokes (which include some generations ago quiyoughcahonnacks and warroskoyacks) with them. Of course by this time english is lingua franca – and survival based on common origin is important. hence, the melting pot is continued further for these “saponi” groups. Im sure all can see the complexity in these dealings – a close look at material reveals a whole lot of people in southside virginia who descend from a variety of VA/NC indians.

    once again, with all this in mind – the blackfoot marker would reflect “who” exactly? i wont press that issue – but i believe there are alot of people who are blanketted “saponi” etc. during this time who are from different backgrounds (as noted by all on forum) and would not exactly relate to an english translations of a single township.

    One saponi i know remembers his greatgrandfather well – he died 20 odd years ago. to the day of his death, he was unhappy with the tribe’s descision in the 60s to ID themselves as “Saponi”; the tribe felt that saponi reflected the majority of its member’s interests and descent. he died standing by his choice to be counted as Tuscarora.


    I think we do well to keep in mind that there are two different considerations here. There’s scholarly objectivity, then there’s issues of family identity and tradition. I think edstp put it very eloquently. He remains faithful to what he was taught and looks for evidence that will support it. That’s certainly not a scientific method, but you’re not supposed to be using scientific methods to have faith in what your mother told you. It sort of gets into the same territory as matters of faith.

    Good to see you here, Forest and thanks for the kind words. Have you ever looked at my “Other Blackfoot” article? I’d be interested in your feedback, maybe not here in public if you think it’s full of balogney, hahaha. There’s also the piece I wrote on how all this has unfolded for me, . That’s completely subjective about all the coincidences that keep flying at me. Got another one yesterday.

    I heard from a gentleman in Bloomington who knows you. He’s got Richardsons and Dempsey’s from Guilford County who migrated out to Vernon County, WI, where my family also settled. I don’t see any logical way I could look at all this evidence and think it’s just coincidence. Just with this one scenario, where we go looking to find other people in that vicinity with Indian roots, not expecting to find much of anything that would reveal anything, But here it is, I’ve run into five people now, one a cousin, and they all have pedigrees, on their Indian sides, that hail from this Piedmont. But then, you know more about the Vernon County Indian settlement than I do.

    I know about bias in any inquiry. You go to do a test and you have a theory and you try to test it. But your bias of what you want to see will skew your perception of the data. I know how all that works. And I know that for a good while I did NOT WANT to be Saponi descended. It would just be too weird and unbelievable that I’d have the same kind of descent my husband has realized he has. I was trying really hard to interpret the data in other ways, but there just got to be too much of it pointing in this direction till I gave in.

    Bottom line, this is getting into the realm of religion. Maybe you all, (I mean, ya huc) will think I’m nuts, but I really think a big reason we’re finding out so much now is because our Ancestors want us to. I think that’s why I keep stumbling onto all this evidence. “Somebody’s” throwing it into my path.

    I know now when some uncanny coincidence in this regard comes along my role is to suspend all judgment and just let it take me where it will. I met somebody a few months ago that I had every reason to dislike and distrust, but the uncanny coincidence thing was going on, the angel dust was in the air, and I just let it go where it wanted to go and all my initial judgments based on evidence turned out to be completely false.


    I’m throwing my hat into the ring kinda of late, so I hope I’m not stirring up any trouble here. Although I don’t have any elaborate documentation to add, I would like to say this on behalf of oral tradition. It is a powerful thing. Why do we feel that we are so far advanced and removed from our predecessors just because we have more gadgets and technology. That the backs on which we stand had to have been ignorant and full of fairytales simply because we can’t prove something by our standards. Just because something appears to be unseemly does not mean it is impossible. What am I getting at? As a person who is Black in America and can trace my ethinic roots to the England, Ghana, the Choctaw and the Southeast Blackfoot, it is so frustrating hearing repeatedly that you ancestors, in this case my great great grandmother who was born in NC and somehow ended up a slave in MS, must have been making up their Blackfoot heritage story, obviously trying to pass of their odd features and straight hair as something else simply because they were in contact with Blacks. All Black people do not feel that it is some mark of honor to have another ethinictiy thrown in the pot so we can escape our Blackness. And I am not one to divide on racial issues, so please don’t confuse what I am saying. What I am getting at is that there is an overwhelming number of people who identify themselves as Black who share this common thread of Blackfoot ancestry. All of us can not be deluded by some grand scheme to “fit” into another group and I am sure that our relatives knew who they were. It is an insult to dismiss it in the catagory of ‘Black Irish’, etc. There is truth in what our grandparents told us and we owe it to them to search it out. Why else would they have bother to pass down the story? The point was to keep it alive. Perhaps all they told us was all they knew and they were too busy trying to make a better live for their children to go further into detail. Maybe it was too difficult for them to discuss. What we consider interesting facts was the hardship and pain of their lives. So we need to show a little more respect and give them a little more credit.


    Let me add something to Nicole’s point. We were talking about it the other day. I asked her when her great grandmother would have been born and she said the 1880’s. I was asking because it seems that if someone were to seriously research this we might be able to establish something. First A) there would need to be some thorough research on when the word “Blackfoot” became a common household word among rural people of color in the upper south. Then B) we would need to survey a good sampling of people from this population with these reports in their family and find out the earliest date that this identification is known to have been reported in a family. If B predates A, then we should discount the theory that this identification is on a par with “melungeon” or “Black Irish” or “Black Dutch” in terms of vagueness.

    I have the impression from the sampling of people I’ve come across in my own experience, that most of the Blackfoot identified people who migrated away from the South are now classified as white. Here in the south, more tend to be classified as black, but that’s the case with a great many Indian descended people in the south.

    I personally have not encountered any Black Indians with the Blackfoot identification who didn’t fit into the patterns of migration and surnames common to Yésah descended people.

    Have either of you taken note of names/locations of Blackfoot identified people you’ve come across?

    Does anyone know enough about Regular Montana Blackfoot history to know if that tribe was well known in the East in the late 19th century?

    So far, the people I’ve come across who’ve researched this particular question have agreed with my theories. That’s how I came to write the article. I’d posted my ideas on a Melungeon board and two men who’d been doing a lot of research on this issue thought what I said concurred with what they’d seen themselves in the historical record. Since the article’s been online I heard from an older gentleman in Kentucky who spent a good part of his lifetime trying to uncover what this term meant and basically followed the same line of thought I did, linking the Tutelo version of the term first to the Sihisappa Sioux, then realizing the Sissipaha in NC would likely also mean “Blackfoot.” He was a very dedicated researcher, nowadays Horatio Hale’s dictionary is available online, but he had to badger the Smithsonian, or the National Archives, whoever it is who had that document, for years before he was able to obtain it.

    Then of course, there’s the Ohio Saponi, who, like the Missouri Saponi, feel the term Blackfoot is synonymous with the Yésah people in general. Serious inquiry needs to be made to determine how culturally intact these communities have remained BEFORE anyone discounts what they state. Without doing that, we should take what they say at face value. It should also be determined if there was any communication between these communities over the years. I have the feeling there was little, which means you have two sizeable populations with the same explanation of the same term, independently of one another.


    This topic is deffinately developing alot of interest. I think both methods of research help when all the material is laid on the table. i also think one needs the other in some ways.

    I agree very much about saponi outside the old cultural area. much more research and investigation needs to be developed there, but maybe not on their part. Maybe they know more about their beginings than we – certainly they are very tenacious in continuing their asserttions.

    i am not very familiar with these groups or their removal history. Only the root.

    On discussing a few other points from nicole:

    “must have been making up their Blackfoot heritage story”

    “All Black people do not feel that it is some mark of honor to have another ethinictiy thrown in the pot so we can escape our Blackness.”

    “there is an overwhelming number of people who identify themselves as Black who share this common thread of Blackfoot ancestry. All of us can not be deluded by some grand scheme to “fit” into another group and I am sure that our relatives knew who they were. It is an insult to dismiss it in the catagory of ‘Black Irish’, etc.”

    “So we need to show a little more respect and give them a little more credit.”

    i dont feel that insult or disrespect is an issue here, certainly not in my mind. I do believe these stories are passed down through generations of people who had some very rough social situations. i do not feel that in any way the “blackfoot” marker is an avenue for any of these people to escape their “blackness”, or grand schemed into a single group.

    that is actually the phenonema: so many unassociated people of european, african, and indian descent originally from the south claiming “blackfoot”.

    the task here is not to doubt the validity of the claim, but rather to see how it fits into the fabric of our cultural landscape. i think the method linda considered bears more thought. when did these terms arise and how well are they documented? who are these people originally? and what new data can we uncover from linking oral history with dates, migrations, and documentation from removed groups?

    On the familarity with Blackfoot proper in the east in later 1800’s and 1900’s:

    Harper’s weekly was a vey popular publication during this time, as was Wild bill’s rodeo and indian show. The magazine featured a wide variety of tantalizing stories of the old west and added to the development of the contemporary stereotypes we see today.

    Frederick Remington gained widespread fame during this time for being a cover illustrator and story illustrator for the publication. His reference work on indian affairs was enhanced immeasurably by his living with the Blackfoot and drawing from their subjects. he used the material throughout his career and documented them very well. Between wild bill’s indian shows (blackfoot included) and Edward curtis’s collections for his publishers – the blackfoot would have had widespread popularity at that time. not as much as the “Sioux” or cheyenne but deffinately strong in many eastern cities and rural areas alike.


    Well, too bad about the wild west shows. I didn’t now they featured Blackfoot performers. But we still haven’t determined when all that began. I’ll guess I’d say the 1880’s, after all the Indian wars had been fought. How does that sound? So we’d have to be able to prove that a sizeable sample of blackfoot identified people were calling themselves that prior to 1880. How about all that documentation in the National Archives of people who applied to the Dawes roll in 1913 but were rejected? Has anyone who’s familiar with these files seen any mention of Blackfoot? If some were claiming their great grandmother told them that in 1913, then we’d have pre-dated the stereotype.

    But Nicole didn’t tell you the other part. Her great grandmother insisted they were S’poni Blackfoot.


    I have looked through the Guion Miller Roll Applications at some length (ca. 1908) The rejected applicants that I examined, hundreds from NC/Va/Mich/Indiana/ and so on never mentioned Blackfoot. But then, why would they? The purpose was to get on the Cherokee Roll, so, except for a number of Alabama Creeks who applied due to a misunderstanding, the applicants all claimed to be Cherokee. These applications also tended to come from geographic clusters, frequently where some local lawyer heard about the enrollment process and charged folks a fee to fill out their paper work, which supposedly would bring a big financial payback from the Federal Govt. Many familiar names applied: Revels, Richardson, Shoecraft, Roberts, Pompey, Bass, Pettiford, etc, but other modern Indian groups such as the Meherrin or Person Co. Indians had no one to apply, even tho many of their people claimed to be Cherokee at the time. Not every community heard about it.

    vance hawkins

    howdy yall.

    many were rejected from Dawes (1906-1909) simply because they did no meet the criteria. That criteria was i.] You or your direct ancestors (not uncles and aunts) were listed on the 1880 and 1896 census of the Cherokee Nation (to be on htose censuses you or your ancestors had to be living in the 14 counties of N. E. Oklahoma that make up the old Cherokee Nation ii.] YOU also had to make your current home in one of those 14 counties. Some folks got around that, but very few, for one reason or another. They were the exception rather than the rule. Many Cherokee were and are not eligible for that reason alone, for tribal membership.



    I had a feeling you’d say that about the Dawson rolls. Somebody had told me how remarkably accurate much of the information on the applications were, so I was hoping maybe a few had thrown that in.

    Are there any strategies that you two can think of that might help to ascertain the origins of this identification? Do you know of anyone who has seriously studied it? I’ve looked at it via the commonly available historical records, plus the personal reports of people I’ve come across, but I’m not a genealogist.


    Hello lets back up somewhat, this issue of Blackfoot being a popular ID, well I can tell you that I personally don’t think so! I live in the heart of Blackfoot country , infact about 8 miles from the most sacred of Blackfoot sites, the Belly Buttes. These are named after the Belly River that flows near by. So if that’s true about the term being very popular, then based on that all of the folks of African American descent up here would use those terms, but none do! Infact during our land grab years, many Oklahoma freemen from the tribes there moved here and none of those people have any terms for themselves that indicate otherwise. As well I have met many tribal people up here that are commonly called Cree/ metis but are Iroquois and from several other groups, but none of these groups say that they are Blackfoot,meaning Blackfoot from here or anywhere else. As for Mr. Remington I don’t know how long he was around here but if you ananlyze his paintings it’s clear that he really didin’t pay much attention to detail. I will try and help with this Blackfoot id business by contacting family members that are from my Great Great Grandfathers brothers and sisters families to see if any of them have a simalar oral tradition. Certainly when I speak with my Great grandmothers sisters families they say yes in confirmation to this. These are folks that I know nothing about so it will be very interesting to see what they all have to say! Lastly some ways back on this topic was mention of many tribes that have all but disapeared, a friend once told me that these groups that people are calling extinct probably have descendants in any of the three racial communites that make up colonial Usa. when I find the info that we are looking for I’ll post it here.


    on commom ID –

    I dont really think it is that common.the name may be, but the identification of one’s self is not.

    however, i am only talking about people in and out of indian circles. hence, people who either are not interested in indians or are not of indian descent have not pleaded much in the case of the blackfoot id. Additionally, i dont think the id travels far out of the south.

    most people refelecting this material (again i say most – and this is only my experience) either are from the south geographically , culturally, or on a familial line – 2-4 generations removed, with some kinship still there. Maybe the id is only common in some circles in the mid atlantic region (note taken on exceptions) But, still i feel that that the name is common in terms of “known indians”.

    Anybody ever hear of the 70’s to 80’s rock band called Blackfoot? Hear the song “Train, Train”? Saw them in richmond va once. Interesting thought to consider what goes into a name.

    anyway – on Remington

    the time spent amongst the blackfoot was scattered and the time lived with them was short. by no means was he a blackfoot nut.

    only lived with them for one winter in wintercamp and visited during other more mobile seasons.

    additionally, the paintings are not what he spent time on during this period – instead sketches and drawings. these would be the reproducable materials for harper’s weekly. however, he did spend alot of time depicting a wide subject matter – lots of cowboys and lots of indians.

    im not sure to the reference from edstp62 on lack of detail. Remington was a gestural painter and used a broad brushstroke. his subjects are very impressionistic in an American sort of way; as with other impressionists he worked on the ideas of the subjects and his impressions of them. His work is pretty crude, but he does record some intersting material and is as a good a “cowboy artist” as youll find. for this conversation though, i believe the labelling of Remingtons drawings in harper’s as Blackfoot indians was my point.


    We have Blackfoot marrying into Cherokee and residing in Texas and Kansas. The ‘Blackfoot’ identification is not that uncommon around here. My gggrandfather born in 1838 used that term. Also, I wonder if anyone here knows anything about the ‘Whitefoot’ Indians as I came across this name recently but no further explanation or resource was provided by the person using it.

    Lastly, I’d like to say that I used to think that maybe our ancestors did not know what they were talking about but following much family research, I’ve come to realize they were very knowledgeable. It is a very Indian behavior to humbly accept at face-value what our elders tell us and this oftentimes conflicts with scientific technique.


    Good to see you, trois, it’s been awhile. Maybe you should recap for some of the newcomers why you don’t think your family’s “Blackfoot” identification relates to the Montana people.


    Sure thing Linda. My maternal ggrandmother and paternal grandfather were 3/4’s and fullblood Blackfoot respectively. I still don’t have any info on my maternal gggrandmother yet but I’m sure she was also of this Black Indian/Irish/Jewish mix, i.e. Melungeons. Grandmother married a Cherokee from Arkansas. All the family identifies as Cherokee/Blackfoot and they migrated from the Virginia/N.Carolina area to KY, MS, KS, TX etc. The town in Kansas our first ancestors migrated to from the Texas Exodus in 1879 was either Chetopa, KS in Cherokee Co. I spoke with the “African American” Historical Society and the curator, Fanny Bassett, says that the majority of the so-called Black people were actually Black Indians from out of Texas and that they had originally come from the southeastern region of the U.S. such as KY, MS. I have noticed in records that many people in TX prior to that mass exodus of 1879 were born in the Virginias/Carolinas, which would also be consistent with the migration patterns of Indians in exodus from out of East Tennessee etc. resting for a while in KY and MS. That’s why I know there is no Montana connection for at least my particular family. It’s a translation of a term into English much the same way “jibaro” in Puertorrican Spanish means “hillbilly” in Ozarkian. They are not the same group of hillbillies and are of different ethnic origins, nonetheless, they are both mountain peoples. The more I research my heritage, the more mixed bag I find such that I’m not feeling very true to myself in just claiming I am Creek/Cherokee(my paternal grandmother a member). I don’t mention the Blackfoot because of the ostracism people receive in the MidWest when they claim they are Blackfoot. What I continually witness is near fullblood or White Indians rejecting Black Indian claims (and sometimes White people with this same identification) like they are stupid for having the thought. There literally thousands and out here and most of the Black people look like African/Indian mix. For some, ignorance is bliss. For others, it’s tragedy because we need our G-dgiven heritage.


    Buck the lack of detail I was refering to was that Remington painted warriors in battle astride womens saddles.troislangues thank you for your post, your familes times are not that much different from my own peoples.Good to hear from you.

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