We refuse to forget A true story of Black Creeks, American identity, and power

Caleb Gayle

Book - 2022

"A landmark work of Black and Native American history that reconfigures our understanding of identity, race, and belonging and the inspiring ways marginalized people have pushed to redefine their world In this paradigm-shattering work of American history, Caleb Gayle tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full members. Thanks to the leadership of a chief named Cow Tom--a Black former slave--a tr...eaty with the U.S. government recognized Creek citizenship for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when Creek leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their tribal history back generations. Why did this happen? What led to this reversal? How was the U.S. government involved? And how can marginalized people today defend themselves? These are some of the questions that award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial and ethnic identity. By delving deep into the historical record and interviewing Black Creeks suing the Creek Nation to have their citizenship reinstated, he lays bare the racism, ambition, and greed at the heart of this story. The result is an eye-opening account that challenges our preconceptions of identity as it shines new light on the long shadows of marginalization and white supremacy that continue to hamper progress for Black Americans"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2022.
Language
English
Physical Description
xvii, 254 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780593329580
0593329589
Main Author
Caleb Gayle (author)
  • Introduction: I Got Indian in Me
  • Who We've Been. Collateral Damage ; Enough Family. Let's Create a Nation ; Benjamin Hawkins: Agent of Civilization ; Cow Tom Builds a Home ; The Moral Man ; The Gift He Gave ; ...And Oklahoma Became the South ; The Invasion of Dawes, Curtis, and Bixby Too ; His Holy Ground ; Living the Dream, Surviving the Nightmares ; You'll Know Him by His Fruit ; Johnnie Mae Stopped Getting Mail
  • Who We Can Become. Becoming a Simmons ; Radical Memories ; Reparations and the Black Creek ; American Collateral ; Empowerment, Not Dilution.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

New York Times best-selling authors Abrams and Fisher join forces with Gray, the young Black lawyer who served as Martin Luther King's defense attorney when King was tried for his part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to tell the story of the trial in Alabama v. King (150,000-copy first printing). Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bissinger chronicles The Mosquito Bowl, a football game played in the Pacific theater on Christmas Eve 1944 between the 4th and 29th Marine regiments to prove which had the better players (400,000-copy first printing). In The Spy Who Knew Too Much, New York Times best-selling, Edgar Award-winning Blum recounts efforts by Tennent "Pete" Bagley—a rising CIA star accused of being a mole—to redeem his reputation by solving the disappearance of former CIA officer John Paisley and to reconcile with his daughter, who married his accuser's son (50,000-copy first printing). Associate professor of musicology at the University of Michigan, Clague reveals how The Star-Spangled Banner became the national anthem in O Say Can You Hear? Multiply honored for his many history books, Dolin returns with Rebels at Sea to chronicle the contributions of the freelance sailors—too often called profiteers or pirates—who scurried about on private vessels to help win the Revolutionary War. With The Earth Is All That Lasts, Gardner, the award-winning author of Rough Riders and To Hell on a Fast Horse, offers a dual biography of the significant Indigenous leaders Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull (50,000-copy first printing). With We Refuse To Forget, New America and PEN America fellow Gayle investigates the Creek Nation, which both enslaved Black people and accepted them as full citizens, electing the Black Creek citizen Cow Tom as chief in the mid 1800s but stripping Black Creeks of their citizenship in the 1970s. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Hoffman's Give Me Liberty profiles Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who founded the Christian Liberation Movement in 1987 to challenge Fidel Castro's Communist regime (50,000-copy first printing). Forensic anthropologist Kimmerle's We Carry Their Bones the true story of the Dozier Boys School, first brought to light in Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Nickel Boys (75,000-copy first printing). Kissinger's Leadership plumbs modern statecraft, putting forth Charles de Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer, Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon, Lee Kuan Yew, and Anwar Sadat as game-changing leaders who helped create a new world order. From a prominent family that included the tutor to China's last emperor, Li profiles her aunts Jun and Hong—separated after the Chinese Civil War, with one becoming a committed Communist and the other a committed capitalist—in Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden.New York Times best-selling author Mazzeo (Irena's Children) reveals that three Sisters in Resistance—a German spy, an American socialite, and Mussolini's daughter—risked their lives to hand over the secret diaries of Italy's jailed former foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, to the Allies; the diaries later figured importantly in the Nuremberg Trials (45,000-copy first printing). A Junior Research Fellowship in English at University College, Oxford, whose PhD dissertation examined how gay cruising manifests in New York poetry, Parlett explains that New York's Fire Island has figured importantly in art, literature, culture, and queer liberation over the past century (75,000-copy first printing). Author of the New York Times best-selling Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and a former CIA officer, Reynolds argues in Need To Know for the importance of U.S. intelligence during World War II in securing victory. As he reveals in Getting Out of Saigon, White was directed by Chase Manhattan Bank to close its Saigon branch in 1975 and went beyond orders by evacuating not just senior Vietnamese employees but the entire staff and their families (75,000-copy first printing). Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The history of Indigenous Americans is fraught with broken treaties and outright lies from the United States government. Award-winning journalist Gayle follows the Creek Indians from the Southeast along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, where they are also known as the self-governed Muscogee Nation. Unlike whites who brought enslaved Africans to America, the Creeks allowed enslaved people to earn their freedom and become full tribal members. Two Creek leaders of African descent, Cow Tom and Legus Perryman, were prominent in negotiations with the United States government. But when the Dawes Rolls of 1893–1913 (lists of people accepted by the United States government as Creeks) introduced race as an artificial basis of tribal membership, descendants of Cow Tom and Legus Perryman began to lose their status as enrolled tribal members; lawsuits regarding this status are pending to this day. In addition to exploring the nuances of Creek history, Gayle probes his own background as the son of Jamaican immigrants who moved from New York to Oklahoma. VERDICT Illuminating a little-known aspect of American history, this book will especially appeal to those interested in the history of Indigenous and Black Americans.—Laurie Unger Skinner Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gayle, a journalism professor at Northeastern University, debuts with an illuminating look at racial dynamics within Creek Nation. In the decades before the Creeks were forcibly relocated from the southeastern U.S. to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears, "Blacks could become formally adopted and identified as fully Creeks... when they put down roots in the Creek Nation." In 1866, a Black Creek leader named Cow Tom negotiated a treaty with the U.S. government that "gave certain Black people citizenship rights within the Nation." But the 1887 Dawes Act, which instituted a policy of determining Native American identity based on "a highly dubious measurement of how much ‘Indian blood' one has," posed a significant challenge to Black Creeks, and the Nation's 1979 constitution disenfranchised them. Gayle brilliantly untangles the interwoven threads of colonialism, racism, and capitalism by documenting the lives of Cow Tom's descendants, including businessman and civil rights activist Jake Simmons Jr. and attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who is currently waging a legal battle to reinstate tribal citizenship for Black Creeks. Sharp character sketches, incisive history lessons, and Gayle's autobiographical reflections as a Jamaican American transplant to Oklahoma make this a powerful portrait of how "white supremacy divides marginalized groups and pits them against each other." (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A landmark work of Black and Native American history that reconfigures our understanding of identity, race, and belonging and the inspiring ways marginalized people have pushed to redefine their world. In this paradigm-shattering work of American history, Caleb Gayle tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full members. Thanks to the leadership of a chief named Cow Tom--a Black former slave--a treaty with theU.S. government recognized Creek citizenship for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when Creek leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their tribal history back generations. Why did this happen? What led to this reversal? How was the U.S. government involved? And how can marginalized people today defend themselves? These are some of the questions that award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial andethnic identity. By delving deep into the historical record and interviewing Black Creeks suing the Creek Nation to have their citizenship reinstated, he lays bare the racism, ambition, and greed at the heart of this story. The result is an eye-opening account that challenges our preconceptions of identity as it shines new light on the long shadows of marginalization and white supremacy that continue to hamper progress for Black Americans"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An award-winning journalist, in this paradigm-shifting, thought-provoking examination of racial and ethnic identity in American history, tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full members.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“An important part of American history told with a clear-eyed and forceful brilliance.” —National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson “We Refuse to Forget reminds readers, on damn near every page, that we are collectively experiencing a brilliance we've seldom seen or imagined…We Refuse to Forget is a new standard in book-making.” —Kiese Laymon, author of the bestselling Heavy: An American Memoir  A landmark work of untold American history that reshapes our understanding of identity, race, and belongingIn We Refuse to Forget, award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle tells the extraordinary story of the Creek Nation, a Native tribe that two centuries ago both owned slaves and accepted Black people as full citizens. Thanks to the efforts of Creek leaders like Cow Tom, a Black Creek citizen who rose to become chief, the U.S. government recognized Creek citizenship in 1866 for its Black members. Yet this equality was shredded in the 1970s when tribal leaders revoked the citizenship of Black Creeks, even those who could trace their history back generations—even to Cow Tom himself. Why did this happen? How was the U.S. government involved? And what are Cow Tom’s descendants and other Black Creeks doing to regain their citizenship? These are some of the questions that Gayle explores in this provocative examination of racial and ethnic identity. By delving into the history and interviewing Black Creeks who are fighting to have their citizenship reinstated, he lays bare the racism and greed at the heart of this story. We Refuse to Forget is an eye-opening account that challenges our preconceptions of identity as it shines new light on the long shadows of white supremacy and marginalization that continue to hamper progress for Black Americans.