Choctaw script, late arrivals, and net proceeds case

Another major set of records was created as the result of various commissions which were appointed by the U.S. government in response to land claims made by the Indians and frauds being practiced on the Choctaws in Mississippi by its white residents and some eastern land syndicates.

The President appointed these Commissions. They included the Pray, Murray and Vroom Commission of 1837 and the Claiborne, Grave, Tyler, Gaines and Rush Commission of 1842-45.

Choctaw “Script”

Those Indians whose original land claims had been pre-empted or who removed prior to making claims were issued “script,” which were certificates that could be used for land purchases on unoccupied land in the public domain, or redeemed for cash. There are many pieces of land in Mississippi and Alabama that have been purchased with script, usually that were obtained by settlers or land syndicates from Choctaws.

Late Arrivals in Indian Territory and “Net Proceeds Case”

Choctaws in small and large groups continued to travel to Indian Territory throughout the nineteenth century. Most were well received by their brethren previously removed to the territory and did not return to the south.

Under the terms of the treaty, those Choctaws in Indian Territory were eligible to participate in an annuity, which was supposed to be paid them by the United States government to cover the land lost in Mississippi and the costs of removal for those who went to Indian Territory unassisted. The Choctaws remaining in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas were not eligible for this annuity.

The annuity was never paid in full, but resulted in an extensive litigation in a claims case (Choctaw Nation of Indians vs. The United States: U.S. Court of Claims No. 12742, 1882) which came to be called the Net Proceeds Case. The records of this case include extensive testimony about the misdeeds of the U.S. agent William Ward, who breeched his trust to the Choctaws by refusing to register many Choctaws who wished to remain in Mississippi.

These records are also full of testimony about names, relationships, and those Indians who did not remove. They are a genealogical treasure trove. Unfortunately, copies of the testimony are hard to find outside of the U.S. Archives.

A hardbound edition of the testimony was published for public sale in 1886, but it has never been reprinted. The Oklahoma State Historical Commission in Oklahoma City has a copy of it, as well as an index. There are also copies in the U.S. Archives.