Sunday, February 21, 2010

"An Ancestry of African-Native Americans" article in Smithsonian Magazine

The current online issue of The Smithsonian Magazine has an article titled "An Ancestry of African-Native Americans" by Katy June-Friesen, dated 17 February 2010, with an extensive interview of author and genealogist Angela Walton-Raji talking about her African-Native American ancestors that were slaves of Choctaw Indians in the South and freed in Indian Territory in 1863.

Angela talks about her start in family history research, saying:

"I was inspired to begin the research because it’s part of my family history. I’m originally from western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, right there on the border. My great-grandmother Sallie Walton was born in Indian Territory, in the Choctaw Nation. She died in 1961 – I knew her very well. She was my babysitter until I went to kindergarten. [Her Choctaw heritage] was widely known in terms of family history. And growing up in a city such as Fort Smith, Arkansas … if you’re on the north side of the city, you can look at the Cherokee Nation, and if you’re on the south of the city, the bordering community is the Choctaw Nation.

"I did have in my possession some family papers – a small land allotment record from [Sallie] that she had obtained from the Dawes Commission. I had been doing genealogy for many years but was curious, “Gee, is there more information out there to be found?” I really didn’t know what there was to find. So when I moved to the Washington, D.C., area and had access to the National Archives … I went and started looking and found family records, and I was just amazed."

Read the entire, two-page, article - it is inspiring, and an example of how digging deeper into family papers and government records can bring our ancestors to life, and can help all Americans understand our collective history.

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