Wednesday, December 26, 2007


By Gary J. Gabehart,

Indians hung out with Indians -- Redbone people hung out with Redbone peoplke. Did Indians and Redbones hang out together? Seems so! "I am convinced that the Glue for the Redbone enclaves in Louisiana, opposed to the Redbones of the Carolina's, was more 'social, economic status' than it was Ethnic.' They simply sought out people of their own ilk, they were the advance party, the Redbone pioneers of Nation builders."

The Indian families I was exposed to, my families, were the Goins (Choctaw); Thomas (Pushshukke), (Chickasaw); and Gabehart's likely (Cherokee) -- these were all family surnames. My family members were not wild Indians in the likeness of Hollywood imaging, they were all assimilated Indians and although they often wore outlander clothing, they dressed like everyone else of the day.

My families worked in Law-enforcement, Civil Service, Farming, Ranching, Oil Fields, Ship building, Automotive, yet many of their families had been divested of their homes and forced West by society-- with of course, the exception of the ones who took off on their own to Mississippi and Louisiana (we are talking early 1800's). Even though they were Indians and were often looked down on by some societies, they were able to avoid the stigma of Redbone, Free People of Color or that of an Indian and make a life for themselves and their families.

Some of my family members were known slavers [Goins and Drakes] in Louisiana and contrary to Frank Sweet, A Legal History of the Color Line, they were not Creole slaveholders (1). Also, the Goins, more so than the Drakes, were of another seldom mentioned race, and I take the liberty of using the term race -- they were North American Indians. Could they have had other blood in their veins as well? It was likely they did.

It is these North American Indians in Louisiana, who mingled with "Redbones," and who were ignored by society of the day that Frank Sweet and just about everyone else seems to miss. We know they were there, we know they were not Black nor White or Creole -- shades of gray, we just don't have an answer even today of who they were.

Albert Rigmaiden, with his 1892 letter to Donald Furman, is the fly in the ointment, as he states that the family names of Redbones were Drake and Goins among many others and they were neither White or Black and were from the Carolina's. Some of the Drakes lived up on Bearhead Creek (not a Creole enclave, but a Redbone redoubt), and the Goins appeared to have migrated to around St. Martin Parish before migrating further West and North.

The Drakes were known to have Indian blood from Virginia and the Goins were known Choctaw and they were living around or with Redbones. Were Redbones Indians? I think Redbones were every race of people who did not fit into society very well, and -- they were ignored then, as they are today.

My close family line, left Mississippi and migrated into Louisiana and later Texas [Stephen, Philip, Jeremiah Goins line]. Another line left Mississippi and migrated to Louisiana and later Oklahoma [James Goins, Martha Patsy Goins]. Still another group [Black River Band] containing more Goins left Mississippi/ Louisiana area and migrated to Oklahoma. All these folks were Choctaw Indians without a doubt, and related. All these folks were migrating Redbones.

Let me tell you how Indians were mixed up between tribes and tell you from a first hand perspective -- about my own family. Remember, Indians hung out with Indians.

Beginning with Jeremiah Goins, Sr. and Sharafina Drake [my third grandparents], we find Jeremiah the Choctaw marrying into a family with Eastern Indian ties. The tribal affiliation of the Drakes are unknown or uncertain, but we can say they were from Virginia stock and according to family lore, there seems to be a Powhatan connection.

Adaline Goins [my second great Aunt], Choctaw daughter of Jemeriah M. Goins, Sr. and Sharafina Drake Goins, married Lewis Mulkey, nephew of Cherokee Chief John Ross. Her children were enrolled in the Cherokee Nation.

Rueben Calvin Goins [my second great Uncle], Choctaw son of Jeremiah M. Goins, Sr. and Sharafina Drake Goins, married Susan "Sookie" Thomas, neice of Cyrus Harris, first Governor of the Chickasaw Nation and also the niece of Nelson Chigley, Chickasaw Senator. Her children were enrolled in the Chickasaw Nation.

Ransom Goins' [son of Jeremiah Goins] daughter Nancy Azenia Goins [my Great Grandmother], a Choctaw, married Charley Thomas a Chickasaw Indian. Their children were all registered as Chickasaw Indians and Nancy became Chickasaw by marriage.

These family Indian connections in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma lead me to believe that there is more Indian blood among Redbones than might be thought. Certainly the view of the white guy in Louisiana was Indians and Africans were classed as being alike [during the 1800's]. In fact, Indians were often purchased at Natchitoches as slave labor as a cheaper alternative to African slaves.

Of course, if you were living West of the Mississippi in the 1800's -- Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, it would be quite logical to find "mixed Indian blood" families as well as an Anglo mix, but more importantly, Indians sought out people of their own likeness -- Indians hung out with Indians.

Gary J Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)