Choctaw Nation Re-admits Cooper Family Descendants to Citizenship after 115 Years

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john cooper

Probably William Huston Cooper or his father Capt. John Cooper, an educated Choctaw chief who fought with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Both were posthumously enrolled after their deaths, re-confirmed in 1896, and then thrown off the rolls by the U.S. government. The same fate overtook hundreds of “Thompson Choctaws” on the government’s secret enemy list.

Nancy J. Cooper et al. v. The Choctaw Nation (1896) is one of the classic cases in American Indian law. Like the more numerous “Thompson Choctaws,” the Cooper Choctaws were victims of the Dawes Commission, the Federal government’s attempt to deal a death blow to tribal sovereignty at the close of the nineteenth century. Imagine my surprise recently when I opened an email from my cousin Pamela Hynson in Okemah, Okla. to find that the tribal enrollment board of the Choctaw Nation had redetermined the issue and granted citizenship again to the plaintiffs after 115 years.  “They’re welcoming everybody home,” said Pam, who attributed the landmark reversal to a 50-year-old class action suit, emerging genealogy technology on the Internet and the dogged persistence of her brother, Johnny Hynson, age 65.

Now I’ll have to decide what I should do, as I have never claimed Federal recognition, despite being descended from chiefs and other famous Native American historical figures. Like many in our extended Cooper family I am descended from Malea Labon Cooper, the half-Portuguese, half-Choctaw daughter of a Choctaw chief who married William Cooper, Daniel Boone’s scout.

“Johnny started talking to one of the ladies at tribal headquarters in Durant last September,” she told us. “He went back time and time again with documentation and the names of relatives who could bear testimony, some of whom he hadn’t spoken with in 50 years.” At last, in a decision pointedly side-stepping the role of the Federal government, the Nation re-admitted the whole family. Descendants of William Buford Brown and others named in the case Nancy Cooper v. The Choctaw Nation were granted their Choctaw tribal membership cards and benefits again, after a miscarriage of justice that had lasted 115 years.

Two Days Too Late

A blog post on DNA Consultants from June 22, 2011 tells how the Cooper family was too poor and two days too late to be considered “real Indians.” J. W. Howell mentions the case in a textbook studied today in law schools. John Cooper, our ancestor, was a Choctaw chief who owned a plantation near Linden, Tennessee.

The family was seated at the dinner table one evening when a vigilante mob broke in. They were told at gunpoint to leave, their possessions forfeit. The men swam their horses across the Mississippi River at Memphis and left the women encamped under the willows on the other side while they went back to try to recover some of their cattle. John and Nancy’s old mother, who was in her eighties, died before they returned, empty-handed.

The party proceeded to Indian Territory. In 1896, the family encouraged Nancy, blind, unmarried and no longer able to care for herself, to enroll with the Choctaw Nation. They and a large group of kinsmen won roll numbers. Yet in a vicious blow, they were all stricken from the rolls by an adverse decision of the Choctaw-Chickasaw citizenship court a couple of years later. More than a hundred of them joined in a class action suit.

That appeal continued through children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for over a hundred years. “Part of the victory,” explained Pam, “is thanks to technology:  they just got to sort through all the records.”

For more information, and to register your potential claim, contact Pamela Hynson through Panther’s Lodge by leaving a comment giving your email address. She is coordinating efforts to apply for membership on behalf of additional relatives through group applications. We will pass your email on to her.

Choctaw Indians Disenfranchised by Dawes Commission Case #1418, All Relatives of the Author of This Blog Post

Nancy Cooper

Capt. John Cooper

Nancy A. Cooper Brown

Rebecca Cooper Brown

Jane Cooper Campbell

Polly Cooper Bowen

Polly Ann Brown Peck

William Houston Bowen

George W. Bowen

Offalter, Arminda Jane Campbell William Nighton Brown

Caswell M. Brown (aka Dan Casual Marion Brown)

Arty M. Sanders –Arminda Mincey Nichols Sanders

Jesse W. Sanders

John N. Sanders

James B. Nichols – James Bruton Nichols

Orin M. Nichols – Orin Mayberry Nichols

Long, T. T. – husband of  Nancy J. Bowen

William B. Brown – William Bluford Brown

George G. Brown – Grant George Ulsis Brown

Mary R. Martin

Samuel H. Cooper – Samuel Houston, or Huston, Cooper

Nancy Cooper

Rebecca Cooper Brown

James Bruton Nichols

George Washington Martin

William Knighten Brown.

Orin Mayberry Nicholsy

James Henry Martin

Caswell Marion Brown

Polly Ann Brown Peck

George G. Brown

Nancy Alice Brown

Bettie Brown

Becky Brown

Mary Brown

Mamie Brown

Alice Brown

Alice Brown

George Brown

Susie Brown

Maudie Brown – Mandie Brown

Willie Brown

Florence Peck

Oscar Peck

Benjamin Grant Peck

Andrew Peck

Willie Emma Brown

Arty Mincy Sanders

John Newton Sanders

Jessie Wilson Sanders

Joseph Monroe Sanders

Elijah McFadden Sanders

Mary Sanders

Monroe Sanders

Amanda Menirva Sanders

Joseph Ostin Sanders

William Newton Sanders

Thomas Wilson Sanders

Minnie Rachel Sanders

Nancy Ellen Sanders

James Sanders

John N. Sanders

Joseph M. Sanders

Ozey May Sanders

William Ercell Sanders

Mincy Reynolds Sanders

John William Nichols – s/o James Burton Nichols

Dell May Nichols – Della May Scott, d/o James Burton Nichols

Nancy Velmon Nichols – Nancy Velma Nichols d/o James Burton

 

James Willis Nichols – s/o Orin Mayberry Nichols

Maggie May Nichols = d/o Orin Mayberry Nichols

Myrtle Nichols – Mettie Myrtle Nichols, d/o Orin Mayberry Nichols

Lorrie Alta Nichols – Lonie Alta Nichols, d/o Orin Mayberry Nichols

Polly Cooper Bowen

Jane Cooper Campbell

William Houston Bowen

George Washington Bowen

Rosa Isabel Bowen Higgins

Nancy Barthena Bowen

Jessie Anderson Bowen, Jr.

Elizabeth Jane Bowen

James Spencer Bowen

Eliza Jane Bowen

Leona May Bowen

Rosa Evelin Bowen

Jessie Anderson Bowen

William Quitman Bowen

Nancy J. Brown Long – Nancy J. Bowen Long

Mandie Long

William Long

George Long

Sidney Long

Pearley Long

Unknown Long

James Salathol Campbell – Dr. James Solathiel Campbell

Leona Isabel Campbell

Lucinda Lonella Campbell

Walter Scotto Campbell

Amanda Jane Campbell Ofolter

Charlie J. Campbell

John F. Campbell

Amanda M. Campbell

Mary Rebecca Cooper Martin

Caldonia Martin

James Henry Martin

Rosa Clemy Martin

Nancy Cooper

Samuel H. Cooper

William Houston Cooper

John Cooper, Jr. – John Willis Cooper

Dora Ann Cooper – Dona Ann Cooper Worsham

William Bluford Brown – husband of Rebecca Cooper Brown

Andrew Jackson Peck

Nancy Caroline Nichols

Rebecca Cooper Brown

Susie Brown

William Ercell Sanders

Mincy Reynolds Sanders

Martha Jane Sanders

Louisa Higgins

John Ray Sanders

Nancy Jane Boen

Sallie Sanders

Bettie Brown

Becky Brown

Nancy J. Long

Rosa Boen

Earl Long

Sarah Boen

Nancy Jane Brown

Sarah Brown

Julia Ann Boen

Amanda Brown

Lizzie Sanders

Amanda M. Nichols

Mary Boen (Bowen)

Robert Lawrence Martin

Rebecca E. Brown

Rebecca C. Brown – Rebecca Catherine Cooper Brown

 

 

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