Ferris and the Choctaw Nation

Choctaw Village near the Chefuncte
Choctaw Village near the Chefuncte, The women appear to be making dye to color the strips of cane beside them. 1869 by Fran├žois Bernard

Until today, the only demonstrated connection between the Jeffrey Ferris lineage and Native Americans has been the Humboldt County, California, Hoopa Valley Tribe. The Kurok and Yurok of the area have a fair mix of folks with the last name of Ferris now. Alvis, a fifth great grandson of Jeffrey Ferris, and his offspring brought new blood to a small Northern California tribe at a time when it could have just faded away.

While following a set of descendants down the family tree, I discovered that a similar process is underway in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Louis James Ferris [1927-1968] was the seventh great-grandson of Jeffrey Ferris, through his son John. He and Phyllis Joanne Price [1927-1996] had seven children. Five of them ended up settling in the Conehatta, Mississippi area. They either married into the tribe or their children married into the tribe.

The Choctaw were one of the five “civilized” tribes that were forcibly relocated in 1831-1833 from the southeastern U.S. to the west, primarily Oklahoma. Those who managed to remain had to give up their lands and their Native American identity and become citizens. Since the 1930s, the various bands have managed to organize, establish new institutions, and be recognized. The Federal Government recognizes three bands, including that in Mississippi. Several states recognize other bands and still other bands are fighting for some recognition.

And so it appears that we have a second connection to Native Americans and another set of green leaves for the Ferris family tree.

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