Choctaw “Newborn” Series, by Jeff Bowen
– This is the third series of transcriptions by Mr. Bowen pertaining to the enrollment of “Newborn” members of the Five Civilized Tribes under the Dawes Act. (Previous series have covered Cherokee and Seminole Newborn.) The Applications for Enrollment of Choctaw Newborn, Act of 1905, National Archive film M-1301, Rolls 50-57, are found under the heading of Applications for Enrollment of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. These applications contain considerably more information than stated on the census cards found in series M-1186. The governing 1905 statute (H.R. 17474) defined Choctaw Newborn as “infant children born prior to September twenty-fifth, nineteen hundred and two, and who were living on said date, to citizens by blood of the Choctaw . . . .” It also authorized the Department of the Interior to enroll and make allotments to such children based on applications received on their behalf no later than May 2, 1905.
– The Choctaw–as well as the Chickasaw allotments–were likely some of the most sought after properties in Indian Territory. There was supposed to be a 25-year restriction on the sale or lease of any Indian lands so as to ensure that the owners wouldn’t be swindled; however, the presence of huge asphalt and coal deposits in both the Choctaw and Chickasaw Districts elicited pressure from private interests to purchase the lands. On April 26, 1906, President Roosevelt signed the Five Tribes Bill removing some of the restrictions from the sale of all inherited land but continuing to prohibit full-blooded Choctaws from selling their land for 25 years.
– Mr. Bowen’s faithful transcriptions of the Choctaw applications provide the names of the applicants and their relatives, as well as the identities of doctors, lawyers, midwives, and others. Applications for Enrollment of Choctaw Newborn, Act of 1905, now spans fifteen volumes. The series is expected to reach twenty volumes when concluded.