White Colonial Surnames Part 1
My Answer (Part 1): This deeply considered issue is at once personal, yet a legitimate Human Rights subject at its core. Certain aspects of the issue tugs at unfurled tangled webs weaved of deception, which concurrently allows reattachment to lost culture, while at the same time allowing some to escape the specter of shed cultural identities dogged by racial discrimination as discussed in the present document. As a matter of fact, my entire individual (and extended) family dealt with this precise controversial topic in the late 1960s and ‘70s. I was very young then, but my approach (since that time) has been drawn from my personal experience, as well as from my perspective as a Genealogist, Historian, Family History Researcher and Tribal Consultant. Therefore my response is naturally a culmination of many combined areas of interests related to Urban Ministries, Tribal Education, plus the additional dynamics of Linguistics. Medical occupation excepted.
First I must say that Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, A Philip Randolph and Roscoe Dunjee (for instance) operated as extremely “Conscious Negroes” in full unquestioned dedication to the Freedom, Sovereignty, Survival and/or Advancement of their collective people, while at the same time carrying what could be deemed as a ‘Colonial “White” Surname Identity, yet they were far closer to historical memories and ties to the Motherland than any other melanated people in the Hemisphere today. We revere these heroes culturally despite the origin of their names or failure to change them to please man‘s temporal (emotional) whims, rather than cerebral (intellectual) desires born of nature, which neither diminishes, nor enhances their incredible (and as yet unrivaled) Black Advocacy.
We are therefore faced with a theoretical hypothesis which contends that “White” Colonial surnames adhered-to by descendants of African Ancestored peoples equates to non-conscious mentality (or designation as working for suspect entities). Such a theory (in my opinion) renders itself vulnerable to challenge as inherently flawed. One could also make the related argument that certain extremely prominent U.S. figureheads bearing surnames of African origin may be operating in far more harmful and damaging capacity than persons with European surnames who are contributing to African advancement.
Would you have ever imagined that the present-day Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma would be named Chad Smith? A descendant of Confederate Indians, he spearheaded the advocacy campaign to exile Ethnic Cherokee Freedmen from that Nation, even though many Black Cherokee Elders continued to speak their native language and live as their people did before Oklahoma became a State. How many people also know that a Black Creek Elder exiled from his Nation, strode into the Creek Council Chambers to dress-down council members in the authentic Muskogee Creek language?
How many more understand the potential damage caused by a U.S. President with an African surname who refuses to recognize the sovereignty of Ethnic Black Indians and Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes, many of whom descends from persons bearing aboriginal surnames such as Folsom, Katubby and more? Is it ironic or immoral?
Aboriginals-Black Indians and Name Changes
Aboriginals in this hemisphere have had to deal with dual names from initial incursion (contact) with Catholic Christians. Inca Ruler, Atahualpa was persuaded by Hernando de Soto (functioning under orders of Pizarro) to accept forced conversion to Christianity before being murdered by order of Lead Conquistador, Pizarro. Atahualpa, was baptized (Christianized) as Juan Santos Atahualpa and subsequently murdered by strangulation on August 29th, 1533. His baptism merely spared him from being burned at the Stake.
Six short years later, Hernando de Soto having served under Pizarro, left Peru in anticipation of an elevation in his political status in the hemisphere, as evidenced by his official appointment as Adelanto (and Governor) of Cuba. The position entailed a voyage of discovery and travel through the Aboriginal Indian Country first from Cuba to Florida, from there on through to the interior of Alabama, Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.
De Soto’s Expedition plundered, looted, kidnapped Rulers and converted Aboriginals to Catholic Christianity, all the while changing their names until he was eventually killed by the Chickasaws. Although De Soto’s trek though the interior of Indian Country wrought so much havoc and destruction, his documented accounts preserved a great deal of data from which we can extrapolate historical knowledge of the aboriginals he encountered, including their names.
De Soto’s narratives identified Indian slaves as Tamenes, which is an Ethiopian name for “burden bearers.” There are still Ethiopians in the modern age with this name. Columbus called the dark aboriginals Indians (meaning, Dravidians). 48 years later, De Soto came along and called the dark people in the Indian Country, Ethiopians. He also documented running into an Indian Canoeist in the Gulf emerging from the rushes who was “big as a Philistine, Black as an Ethiopian.“ What’s more De Soto remarked over the many similarities between Atahualpa and Tuscaloosa, using both names in the same sentence.
Now, Atahualpa was the aboriginal name given to him by his parents, father (Inca Ruler) Huayna Capac and his mother, a Princess of Quito. Juan Santos, the Christianized portion of his name can legitimately be rejected (in this age) in order to restore natural dignity and honor to his aboriginal memory by the Indigenous people of Peru.
The ancient word (in Choctaw) preceding Tuscaloosa was CushTushka (also the name of the most ancient Choctaw Settlement, which means “Cush Warrior“).
There is no mistaking what was being pointed out by the ancient Aboriginal Choctaw.
Tuscaloosa was the name given by his parents. Tuscaloosa told De Soto (according to the narratives) that his “Fathers had always been free,” as he protested and displayed “haughty insult” over being kidnapped, denied free movement and ransomed for safe passage through territories hostile to De Soto‘s European Expedition.
Tuscaloosa is an aboriginal Choctaw language word and name, meaning “Black Warrior.” De Soto maintained that the word also applied to the people living in the ruler’s various Tribal Towns, as well as the entire region and sphere of his influence.
There were a few scattered (but important) Bands of Choctaws in Mississippi after having been removed from their first Alabama settlements. One of the largest groups are the Mississippi Choctaw at Philadelphia. However, there were smaller Ethnic Bands counted by McKennon during the Dawes era that were cheated out of enrollment because they were identified as descending from an African Ancestor. There were so many that Congress refused to officially sanction or recognize McKennon’s enrollees living primarily in Hattiesburg (Forest County), Washington County and other Counties.
Examples: Rufus L. Johnson (a name found in my ancestral family) can also be found on McKennon’s rolls, under the interview of Belle Gilbert:
Belle Gilbert’s father was Rufus L. Johnson, her mother was Martha G. Leflore.
Martha Leflore’s father was Benjamin Leflore. She was also the sister of Campbell Leflore according to her interview.
Now, Benjamin Leflore was the father of Campbell Leflore. Benjamin Leflore and Greenwood Leflore were brothers. Greenwood Leflore represented Choctaws at the making of the Treaty of 1830 (Dancing Rabbit Creek). He was Chief of the Choctaw Nation. The above information proves that Martha Leflore was the niece of the Chief.
Rufus L. Johnson gave further testimony regarding Mary Witt. Her father was Jack Leflore (Indian), but her mother Caroline Leflore was testified to be Indian and White.
Witness Rufus L. Johnson gave additional testimony that Mary Witt’s mother Caroline was a Slave of Benjamin Leflore and that Caroline was a Negro because her mother was a colored woman.. Further Benjamin Leflore, Mary Witt’s Uncle and Jack Leflore were brothers. Therefore Mary Witt was also the niece of the Chief of the Choctaw Nation.
Mary Witt made the following declaration: “I am part colored” and although the Commissioner knew full well that she was the daughter of Jack Leflore, brother of Choctaw Chief Greenwood Leflore and her uncle was Benjamin Leflore, he told Mary Witt that, “I would have to have other clear evidence before I could enroll you.”
The two ladies, Gilbert and Witt (nieces of the Chief of the Choctaw Nation) were subsequently denied enrollment; 1. because of African Ancestry and, 2. because Congress failed to acknowledge McKennon’s rolls due to the large volume of Choctaw Negroes.
We can therefore state that Black Choctaws were exiled, forcefully detached and denied enrollment in the Nation of their ancestry due to Racism at the hands of U.S. Agents.
Meanwhile back at the Choctaw enrollment camp; Charley Wiley (Choctaw Full-Blood) along with his Negro wife and their 5 children, plus his 2 sisters (one of whom had a half-breed Choctaw/half Negro husband) and their children were all enrolled by the Commission.
Joe Joshua (Choctaw Full-Blood) was enrolled, but was unmarried without children at the time. This name surfaced in the family of Mary Elizabeth Joshua Duncan of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Her dad, Edward Joshua was born on the ancient Choctaw reservation at Chunchula, Alabama before removal. One of her brothers was named Joe Joshua. Mary Elizabeth Joshua is the Grandmother of Chief Edgar Molette. Today, the only remnant feature of Tuscaloosa Choctaws (viewed by De Soto) is the Black Warrior River.
The majority and largest contingent of Tuscaloosa’s people were removed to Oklahoma during the 1830s Trail of Tears. The Indian Freedmen of the Choctaw Nation built Tuscaloosa Academy (a Freedmen boarding school) in the Choctaw Nation to honor their great Chief‘s memory (the Band of Angela Molette‘s people).
Who can say whether these names were “White” or simply claimed by Whites?
Here is another example of a what might be perceived as a “White” surname for you, also from McKennon’s Rolls; Mary Campbell. Her mother was documented as half Choctaw, part Negro and part White. She had been a Slave and was described as “yellow.”
The interview stated that she did not know her Father, except that he “belonged to an Indian.” The Commission grilled Mary about whether her father was a Slave of an Indian or not. Mary’s answer was, “his Father was the man he belonged to.”
In the Euro-mindset, “belong” equates to “ownership” (chattel). To the English deficient Aboriginal population having little understanding of the language of the newcomers, the subject of “possession” and “ownership” were difficult abstract concepts and their perception of “belongs to” (which was closer to an Iran males’ idea of ownership of their children, even stronger than his wife‘s claim) was deeply misunderstood by Whites.
I was so insulted by the unexpected derogatory rant that my ears started burning.
For one thing, it’s been a personal policy of mine (from a very young age) never to use that word. Now here was a man using it loudly in a place of culture and refinement in an ill-conceived attempt to drag this Nation down before others.
I took this brother on (mainly because the other visitors stepped back) Black Indians United Legal Defense recognizes the necessity of seizing the right moment to educate our people when they are willing to listen.
The brother questioned me loudly about what he called, “the White last names of the Indians” as if he did not know that they had also been victimized by the ancestors of all the White Folks he sought to entertain. I took him all through Massaoit, the Militarized Pilgrims at Natick, Massachusetts who documented the aboriginals as “Black“ at contact. We talked about King Philips War, Father Eliot, Tuspaquin the Black Sachem and more. I must give the brother credit, even though he was tipsy, he listened, seemed satisfied and left with his friend.
It was cathartic to release knowledge to the brother and to provide new information that this man needed to stop him from being a public fool. However, I also remember feeling that it was high time that our people stopped behaving like mortal enemies simply to entertain White People. I recalled Marvin Gaye’s very mellow, Brother, Brother! What’s Goin’ On! I spoke enough about the massacres to calm this brother down.
After our educational session in the Pequot Museum Gallery, I happened to wander into the theater to see the movie featuring Pequot history…suddenly, it all became too much for me. I was overcome with grief and emotion from the battles for survival depicted on the screen, the senseless killing, slaughter and burning of the elders, women, children and infants combined with those battles still occurring in life right there in the Gallery of the Pequot Museum. All my thoughts about our class action claim (then pending in the U.S. Federal Court of Claims), all my travel, advocacy work, classes, consults, documentation collection, teaching, taking in more information-learning, having others rely upon me, battling, fighting, challenging, being challenged, the monumental responsibility of it all.
I am proud that the Pequots had enough moxie to take on Ronald Reagan and his administration to gain Federal Recognition and made a deal with the State of Connecticut that makes each member independently wealthy, right on my dears! I’ve got nothing but massive respect for every move they made. Especially the call that brought their members back home to the remainder of their lands, standing on faith that their efforts would be rewarded. I want the same thing for all the Tribes and Bands affiliated with Black Indians United Legal Defense and Education Fund and Harvest Institute Freedmen Federation.
The interim of time between 1865 and 1965 saw a great era of cultural change among African Ancestored Americans as they inched ever closer to the anniversary of emancipation. They took stock of their peculiar situation, which surely appeared dreary as they counted lost reconstruction-era social gains, including lands and personal freedom in record numbers that left them yearning to throw off the vestiges of the yoke of oppression, to live free and natural as intended by nature. Part of that expression entailed shaking loose the individual grip imposed by European law for 346 years upon Black life in America from 1619 through 1965. What grew out of this internal national self-assessment was an unhappiness erupting on the heels of reaction to the unabated terror of Ku Klux Klan lynch murders, intimidation, manipulation, and intolerance brought front and center to the American mainstream, in a racially charged clash now known as “the Civil Rights Movement”.
A simultaneous rise in religious and social organizations steeped in Afrocentric Philosophies called for African Ancestored Americans to divest themselves of all things European. They were quite correct in their assessment that the American Educational System was based strictly upon Eurocentric history, perspectives and philosophies with no room for divergent opinions, individual histories or the inclusion of the perspective of pre-existing cultures.
A modern adornment of second name or nickname applications has been employed by Gang-bangers used to identify persons, neighborhoods, areas, districts or regions as a form of set identification, occurring from inception to the present day. As I said, it’s a personal choice.
It also seems that name changes have been the norm since the beginning the time. We can also point to examples of name changes throughout the Bible, even Jesus was known by many names. I pointed out the popularity and successful movements of earlier named heroes, while adhering to what some may consider as “White” surnames. Following will be examples of persons achieving their zenith only after changing their names (which was no doubt an intensely personal action).
Religious and Organization Mandates For Name Changes
A few of the more prominent major religious organizations embracing mandates to throw-off European “White” surnames were Moorish Americans, the Nation of Islam, Hebrew Israelites, Black Panthers and others. In the 1960s very prominent African Ancestored Americans changed their names after converting to Sunni Islam.
*Elijah Robert Poole, was reborn as Elijah Muhammad
*Malcolm Little, was reborn as Malcolm X
*Hulon Mitchell, was reborn as YAHWEH BEN YAHWEH
*Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., was reborn as Muhammad Ali
*Ferdinand Lewis (Lew) Alcindor, Jr., was reborn as Kareem Abdul Jabbar
(List not exhaustive: only a random sample has been provided)
Blacks In Entertainment Changed Their Names
*Lincoln Perry, became Stepin Fetchit
*Eleanora Fagan, became Billie Holliday
*McKinley Morganfield, became Muddy Waters.
*Loretta Mary Aitken, became Moms Mabley
*Delloreese Patricia Early, became Della Reese
*Carol Diahann Johnson, became Diahann Carroll
*Elias Bates, became Bo Diddley
*John Henry Ramistella, became Johnny Rivers
*Richard Penniman, became Little Richard
*Ernest Evans, became Chubby Checker
*Steveland Morris Hardaway, became Stevie Wonder
*Caryn Johnson, became Whoopie Goldberg
*Anna Mae Bullock, became Tina Turner
*La Donna Gaines, became Donna Summer
*Bobby Moore, became Ahmad Rashad
*Cordozar Calvin Broadus, became Snoop Dog
*O’Shea Jackson, became Ice Cube
*Dwayne Douglas Johnson, became The Rock
*Eldridge Woods, became Tiger Woods
(List not exhaustive: only a random sample has been provided).
Angela Molette (Tuscaloosa Ohoyo) Black Warrior Woma