The Debate on Daylight Saving- It’s History and It’s Future

As November sweeps in with its crisp, cool air and vibrant autumn hues, there’s one unmistakable change that affects us all: the end of Daylight Saving Time.

This yearly transition signifies more than just adjusting the clocks; it ushers in the season where darkness descends earlier each day.

The History of Daylight Saving

The concept of Daylight Saving Time can be most commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who first proposed the idea in a whimsical essay published in 1784. In this essay, titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” Franklin suggested that adjusting the clocks to maximize daylight could save on candle usage. However, his idea was never put into practice during his lifetime.

Daylight Saving Time has its roots in train schedules, but it was put into practice in Europe and the United States to save fuel and power during World War I, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The US kept Daylight Saving Time permanent during most of World War II. The idea was put in place to conserve fuel and keep things standard. As the war came to a close in 1945, Gallup asked respondents how we should tell time. Only 17% wanted to keep what was then called “War Time” all year.

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, we tried permanent Daylight-Saving Time again in the winter of 1973-1974. The idea again was to conserve fuel. It was a popular move at the time when President Richard Nixon signed the law in January 1974. But by the end of the month, Florida’s governor had called for the law’s repeal after eight schoolchildren were hit by cars in the dark. Schools across the country delayed start times until the sun came up. By summer, public approval had plummeted, and in early October Congress voted to switch back to standard time.

19 states have actually passed measures pledging to switch to permanent Daylight Time if Congress changes the rules to allow for such an action.

Those states are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

As of Sept. 2023, 9 states were actively considering legislation that would also end Daylight Saving, but by switching the state to year-round standard time, according to the NCSL.

Those states are:

Maine
Massachusetts
Minnesota
New York
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vermont

But these pieces of legislation are all marked ‘pending.

California voters also authorized a resolution in 2018, but lawmakers haven’t taken any action on the legislation.

Hawaii and most of Arizona (excluding the Navajo Nation) remain on Standard Time while the rest of the country makes the shift. It means that for much of the year, the time difference between New York and Phoenix is three hours — but from November to March, Phoenix residents are just two hours behind.

Other U.S. territories including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands remain on Standard Time year-round.

“For most people, an extra hour of daylight in the evening after work or after school is much more usable than the hour of daylight in the morning.”

The Debate on Daylight saving

A raft of bills on the Federal and State levels are taking aim at the biannual time changes — and yet nothing is changing, at least for now.

In March 2022, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act. The intent behind the bill was to make Daylight Saving Time permanent starting in spring of 2023.

The debate over the bill mainly concerns the effects on human health, traffic accidents, and whether it is better to have more sunlight in the morning or the evening.

Numerous polls have found that a very high number of Americans believe that a standard time should be fixed and permanent—as many as 75% favor no longer changing clocks twice per year—however there is no consensus on whether the desired fixed time should be daylight saving time or standard time. One of the most common arguments among researchers of varying backgrounds is that the change itself causes most of the negative effects, more so than either standard time or daylight saving time. Researchers have observed numerous ill effects of the annual transitions, including reduced worker productivity, increased heart attacks and strokes, increased medical errors, and increased traffic incidents.

Opponents of the Sunshine Protection Act argue permanent standard time would be more beneficial to health and human welfare. Numerous health specialists, safety experts, and research societies consider permanent Standard Time better for health, safety, schools, and the economy. This happens partly because Standard Time aligns with the natural circadian cycle, whereas Daylight Saving Time is an hour ahead. The closer harmony between Standard Time and biology contributes to safer morning commutes, improved student welfare, practicability of certain religious practices, increased exposure to healthy morning sunlight, and higher productivity and wages. However, advocates of permanent Daylight Saving Time argue it has its own benefits including decreased crime, less frequent traffic incidents, and decreased prevalence of seasonal depression. Research is unclear about which time setting conserves more energy.

Fun facts about Daylight Saving Time:

  • William Willett (1856-1915), an early-rising Englishman, was the first to propose to the English parliament a type of Daylight Saving Time. Rather than setting the clocks an hour all at once, he suggested setting the clocks forward in 20-minute increments over 4 Sundays in April and back in 20-minute increments over 4 Sundays in September. His proposal was rejected.
  • Contrary to common belief, farmers did not lobby for daylight saving time and even fought against it in 1919. However, they lost against urban retail outlets, such as fast food and tourist companies, who were in favor of the time change.
  • Germany was not the first to implement daylight saving time. The first was Nova Scotia and Winnipeg in Canada on April 23, 1916, one week before Germany.
  • Daylight saving was chosen to start at 2:00 a.m. because it is when the fewest trains were running, and it prevents the date from switching to yesterday. Additionally, 2:00 a.m. is before most shift workers leave for work, and it causes minimal disruption to bars, which close at 1:59 a.m.

Whether you love it or loathe it, the practice of changing our clocks twice a year has had a significant impact on our lives, and its future remains a topic of debate in many countries. As we continue to grapple with the question of whether DST is a boon or a bane, one thing is clear: time will keep marching on, regardless of the hands on our clocks.

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An Ode to Honey Bees

An Ode to Bees on National Honey bee Day

Close to 3/4 of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, and a big chunk of that is the humble honey bee. It’s difficult to fully grasp the vast and delicate balance that our ecosystem rests upon and the part that bees play in that. And for as much as we appreciate a drizzle of honey in our tea, many of us may overlook the larger implications surrounding honey bees and their dwindling populations. Let this blog serve as an opportunity for a newfound (or renewed) appreciation.

National Honey Bee Day, held every third Saturday of August, shines a light on these tireless pollinators and the equally tireless beekeepers tending to them. Beginning as a National Honey Bee Day in 2009, the essence of this day has spread and its purpose is twofold: to savor the sweet nectar that is honey and to stand in solidarity with efforts that sustain honey bee populations.

This year, we would like to help spotlight the amazing flight of the honey bee and capture the moments that accentuate its beauty and significance to us all. 

Some Quick Fun Facts About Honey Bees:

  • The amount of distance that bees travel in an effort to make enough honey for one jar is about 100,000 air miles
  • When the temperature in the hive drops below anywhere 50 degrees in Winter, bees shiver themselves warm with the help of their flight muscles. In this way, they can heat their home back up to over 85 degrees
  • Bees communicate with each other using a special “waggle dance.” Through specific movements, they can convey information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, water sources, or to new nest-site locations
  • Bees can fly at a speed of up to 15 miles per hour and their wings beat about 200 times per second

Our connection to honey bees goes far beyond the jar of honey you have in your pantry. Their pollinating abilities play a critical role in our agricultural systems. Without their intervention, many foods that enrich our diet wouldn’t even make it to our plates in the first place. Global and national reports such as the annual Loss & Management Survey show that the decline in honey bee populations is alarming. This makes World Honey Bee Day more than just a day of acknowledgment—it’s a call to foster environments that support honey bees.

The rich agricultural landscape of Yolo County and its surroundings is a testament to the hard work of local farmers and, of course, our buzzing friends. However, the region’s dependency on pollinators like honey bees brings to light the urgent need for sustainable practices to bolster their populations. Pesticide use, habitat destruction, and other factors challenge their survival here.

 While it’s pivotal for us to urge policymakers to devise bee-friendly policies, it’s equally essential for us to integrate practices into our daily lives that amplify their well-being right here at home.That’s why we prioritize sourcing from local, organic, and sustainable producers . This conscious choice aids in promoting bee-friendly agricultural practices so that we can preserve and uplift bee habitats.

 While the blooming flowers of 2023 after a wet Winter have brought a prosperous season for our pollinators, it’s imperative that we maintain our momentum in supporting and celebrating them, not just today but every day. So, next time you spot a bee (or beekeeper for that matter), make sure you say something sweet as honey to them to show your appreciation.

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Maui Wildfire Relief Efforts

Support Relief Efforts in Maui

Like many around the world, we have been devastated by the loss of life and land caused by a recent wildfire in Maui. When these tragedies occur, it is natural to want to lend support to relief efforts that are helping victims. However, with so many different organizations to choose from, it can be difficult to know where you should best focus your attention. Below is a list of vetted local organizations in Maui that are providing grassroots support for the victims of this wildfire.

Ama OluKai Foundation  

The sustainable footwear company OluKai, a certified B-corp, has a decade-long history of supporting the Hawaiian community through its Ama OluKai Foundation.  The Foundation is set up to take direct donations and is matching funds up to $200,000 to directly support victims of the Maui wildfire.

https://olukai.com/products/maui-fire-relief-fund

Hawai’i Community Foundation  

The Hawaii Community Foundation has been the leader in Hawaiian philanthropic efforts for over 100 years. They immediately set up the Maui Strong Fund to solicit donations for fire relief which has raised more than $27M from over 100,000 donors in more than 40 countries. They are continuing to raise fee-free donations that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery.

https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong

Hawai’i Food Bank  

Hawaiʻi Foodbank is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency that provides food assistance to the state of Hawaiʻi. Online donations will be quickly utilized to help provide support and food assistance to those in need through their partnership with the Maui Food Bank. 

https://hawaiifoodbank.org/maui-relief/#

Regenerative Education Center

REC is a sustainable Nonprofit farm on the south side of Lahaina that teaches regenerative agriculture. Although the farm was heavily damaged by the fires, they are offering generators, solar power, plumbing, food and the shade of their mango trees as an off-the-grid shelter option for displaced residents.

https://www.recenters.org/

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Rawgust Recipes: Raw Foods for Summer Scorchers

Rawgust

This is not a hardcore raw food blog. You don’t need any fancy equipment to make these recipes. And you certainly won’t be making raw spinach and apple “tortillas” for raw “burritos”. This is not that kind of raw food blog, no offense. 

This is the kind of raw food blog that celebrates the bounty of summer produce while acknowledging summer’s reality: it’s really hot and running the AC is expensive. So let’s skip the oven, all heat sources really, and go straight to raw preparations of our favorite fruits and vegetables!

What is raw food? 

For some, eating primarily raw foods – uncooked and unprocessed – is a dietary and lifestyle choice. There are many definitions of what a raw food diet is, with most providing a temperature food should not be heated above. We’re not going to get too technical here. For our purposes, raw means we won’t be using heat (stove, oven) to prepare these veggie-forward dishes. 

I am not a raw foodie. A lot of my diet comes from cooked foods. In fact, my body has a much easier time digesting cooked vegetables than raw ones. But I can’t go through life only eating cooked veggies, so here are some of my favorite raw foods I’ve been eating on repeat! Find all of the ingredients for the recipes below at your Davis Food Co-op. 

 

Kelp Noodle Salad

I love this kelp noodle salad by itself, stuffed into spring rolls, or as a way to give second life to leftover proteins.

  • 1 package Kelp Noodles
  • 1 lemon, cut in half, divided 
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tamari 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Water to thin
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ small red onion sliced
  • 2-3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • ½ small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 small daikon radish, grated
  • Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • Optional: lime wedges for serving

Rinse kelp noodles in cool water. Transfer to a mixing bowl or storage container and fill with water until covered. Squeeze juice from half a lemon over noodles. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes to tenderize noodles. 

In a large bowl, whisk together juice from the other half of the lemon, tahini, maple syrup, tamari, and sesame oil. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time if needed to thin to dressing consistency. Add veggies, cilantro, and sunflower seeds to the mixing bowl. 

Drain kelp noodles and transfer to a cutting board. Chop several times to make noodles smaller (2-3 inches). Add noodles to the veggies. Toss together and serve with lime wedges.

Crunchy Topper

I usually have a sweet and savory version of this in my pantry, although I toast everything in the oven at home. For this iteration, no toasting necessary. Use this sweet crunchy topper over yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, fruit, mixed into nut butter (then use on a PB&J), or over ice cream!

  • ½ cup raw walnuts or pecans

  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds

  • 5-8 pitted dates, depending on how sweet you like things

  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut 

  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats 

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Big pinch salt

  • Optional: 1 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder

  • Optional: 1 tablespoon cacao nibs

  • Optional: 3 tablespoons roughly chopped dried fruit such as cherries, mangos, or blueberries

Add walnuts/pecans and pumpkin/sunflower seeds to a food processor. Pulse a few times to roughly chop. Add dates and pulse a few more times to loosely combine. Add seeds, coconut, oats, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse a few more times until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in any optional flavorings. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Customizable Tomato Salad

I make this for dinner about 3 times a week in the summer. It comes in handy when I realize my dinner plate isn’t very colorful or when I have 6 cherry tomatoes and other odds and ends left from the week or when the tomato plants in the backyard just won’t quit.

  • Tomatoes (whatever you have on hand), cut into wedges (large tomatoes) or halved (cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 summer vegetable (cucumber, zucchini, or corn) OR 1 summer fruit (watermelon, peaches or cantaloupe)
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Chopped fresh herbs (basil, mint or parsley) 
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Optional: feta cheese

Start with whatever tomatoes you have on hand. Little ones can be halved and large ones can be cut into wedges. 

Decide what your secondary ingredient is. Slice cucumber, cut zucchini into small cubes or cut kernels from the ear of corn. You can also choose a fruit as your secondary ingredient, which I do when I buy a large melon and need something to do with any leftovers. Cube whichever fruit you choose. Add to a bowl with tomatoes, red onion, and herbs. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add a little feta if you have it on hand, otherwise, serve at room temperature.

Caesar’s Zucchini

Caesar Dressing

  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, like avocado
  • 2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the dressing, add cheese, egg yolk, mustard, lemon stuff, garlic, vinegar, Worcestershire/tamari, oil, tarragon, chives, and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into long strips roughly the width of a pencil. Place in a large bowl and toss with the salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour half of the dressing over the zucchini and toss to coat. Add more dressing as desired. Let sit for 3 minutes, but not much longer as the zucchini will continue to release liquid. Serve zucchini pieces alongside a main dish or heaped on toasted bread.

Apple Horseradish Sandwich Spread

I like this on a whole wheat slice stacked sky high with a rainbow of veggies, plenty of pickles, and cheddar cheese.

  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 1-3 tablespoons water
  • Half a lemon
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped 
  • 1-4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • Generous pinches of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender, starting with the lesser amounts of water and horseradish, unless you know you love horseradish. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Spread on a sandwich!

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Forage For Your Own Food and Medicine

Foraging has been around since the existence of humankind. What began as a universal necessity later became an indicator of socioeconomic status, as those with fewer financial resources resorted to foraging to put food on the table.

The way we obtain food nowadays is very different. In industrialized countries like the United States, most people get their food from grocery stores or food delivery services.

 

Over the last decade, interest in foraging has grown as people seek new, nutritious, and flavorful ingredients, as sustainability advocates explore ways of breaking their dependence on industrial agriculture, and as Indigenous communities and other groups work to revive traditional practices.

Foraging definition:

• “To wander in search of food or provisions.”
• “To search for a particular food or foods, often in the wild.”

Foraging can be done during any season, but you will find different plants/herbs to harvest during the different seasons. It can be a rewarding practice and can be done almost anywhere, including urban areas. *
*Note that in urban areas, there could be a higher risk for pollutants and contaminants, so be cautious when foraging in those areas, ensuring that the items are well washed before consuming.
My favorite time to forage will always be during the summer. The weather makes it more enjoyable to be out in the elements looking for the plants and herbs. 

I was able to get my first experience of true foraging a few years ago during the Kid’s Lakota Summer camps I participated in as a mentor, in South Dakota. Strawberries, blackberries, wild peas, sage, mint, chokecherries, and turnip (Thíŋpsiŋla in Lakota) were just some of the many abundant plants we were able to locate and harvest.

If you are new to foraging and want to explore it, here are some tips to help you get started below:

Proper Identification:

Learn to accurately identify your plants/herbs and wild mushrooms. Never rely on one single characteristic like bloom or leaf for identification. Use three or more points of ID. Consider color, leaf, bloom, stem, fruit, bark/branches, fragrance, location, life cycle of the plant, soil conditions, and/or spore print (for mushrooms).

Think about potential contaminants:

Don’t eat anything that may have been treated or from near sources of pollution. Try to find foods as far from human activity as possible when out and about in the countryside or the wilds. Washing foods can help reduce pollutants.

Ethical/Sustainable Foraging:

If you are allowed to forage, never take more than you need. Wherever possible, leave root systems in place, taking only small, sustainable amounts so the plants can continue to grow and wildlife can still have sufficient amounts for that season. Try to only forage from abundant wild food sources.

Foraging Tours and Classes in California:

Want to save the hassel of learning on your own? Take a class/tour and learn from experts!

Tools to help Forage
  • Gloves: These help with prickly plants like stinging nettle, rosebushes, and wild berry bushes. Gloves also prevent you from any allergic reaction in the chance you touch something poisonous or something you may not know you are allergic to.
  • Clippers/Pruners: Having a hand tool like this one can help save a lot of time from hand picking certain items and can even allow you to collect things in bunches rather than one at a time.
  • A Digging TrowelA portable digging towel or shovel is also good to have if you’ll be harvesting mushrooms or plants from the ground, helping you loosen the roots of foraged finds.
  • Basket(s)/Bag(s): Having a designated basket or bag to keep your harvested items in allows you to get more than what you would be able to collect if you didn’t have anything on you. Or it would save time from you going back and forth to your car or whatever way of transportation you took to get to that location.
  • Plant Identification App: There are many apps out there nowadays that can help you identify plants if you are uncertain about them. While this can be a helpful tool, it should NOT be something you solely rely on due to possibilities of it being inaccurate. This is especially true when there are safe plants that look very similar to ones that are toxic/poisonous.

 

Finally, remember the golden rule of foraging: “Don’t eat what you don’t know.”

If you aren’t 100% sure that a food is safe to eat, leave it alone.

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Juneteenth Celebrations in Davis this Month

 On January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed enslaved Black people in Confederate states, at least it did on paper. About 500,000 of 3.9 million enslaved people were able to liberate themselves by escaping behind Union lines between 1863 and the end of the war in 1865. The rest – the vast majority – remained enslaved. The Emancipation Proclamation also authorized Black men to join the Union army. These men would be crucial to the Union’s war effort, especially as Northern forces swept through Confederate territory liberating enslaved populations. After the Proclamation was issued, slave owners in Mississippi and Louisiana marched more than 150,000 enslaved Black people west to Texas, beyond the reach of Union forces at the time. Texas remained under Confederate control until the spring of 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. On June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, Major General Gordon Granger announced, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This is the day we celebrate as Juneteenth (“June” plus “nineteenth”), the day freedom came to those enslaved folks still living under Confederate control in Texas, at least symbolically. Granger’s announcement also asks the newly freed people to “remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages,” which exemplifies how ending slavery and upholding white supremacy can completely coexist, almost in the very same sentence.

Between 1916 and 1970, half of the southern Black population, nearly 6 million people, migrated north and west to escape segregation, widespread lynching, and a lack of social and economic opportunities in the Jim Crow South. This movement northward is known as the Great Migration. Black Texans took Juneteenth with them. Starting in the 1920s, Black communities celebrated in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in the west. In Hayes Turner’s words, Juneteenth is “a potent life-giving event … a joyful retort to messages of overt racism … a public counter-demonstration to displays of Confederate glorification and a counter-memory to the valorization of the Lost Cause.” You can learn more about the history of Juneteenth in this blog we wrote.

There are Juneteenth celebrations all over the country today. In 2021, President Biden made Juneteenth National Independence Day an official federal holiday. Find Juneteenth events happening in and around Davis below. 

Juneteenth Celebrations

Support the Black community by buying Black at the Co-op. Look for the “Black Owned” shelf tag on products from departments across the store. See all of our inclusive trade brand partners here.

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Pride Events in Davis this Month

June is Pride Month!

Pride Month wouldn’t exist without queer and transgender people of color. More specifically, it wouldn’t exist without queer and trans people of color fighting back against police brutality. If this is news to you, read about the history of Pride and queer political activism in this blog we wrote last year. If you’re somewhat familiar with the history of Pride, you might know that the riots at the Stonewall Inn, which occurred from June 28th to July 3rd, 1969, are the impetus for the Pride events we know today. With these deep roots in political action, Pride has grown and spread all over the globe. Scroll through this blog to see Pride events happening in and around Davis! 

Shop queer-owned brands by looking for the shelf talker on our shelves. You can see all of our inclusive trade brands here.

It is imperitive the Co-op be a safe and inclusive space for shoppers, Owners and staff. You can read about our decision to include pronouns on nametags to that end here

Pride Month Happenings

The Co-op will be at Davis Pride on 6/4 from 10-2 in Central Park! Come say hi and get one of these *limited edition* pride stickers. Happy Pride Month!

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The Indigenous Impact in the Civil War

Memorial Day, a solemn day of remembrance in the United States, holds deep historical significance as a time to honor those who have sacrificed their lives in military service. The first national observance of Memorial Day occurred on May 30, 1868. Then known as “Decoration Day”, the holiday was proclaimed by Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic to honor the Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War.
While the origins of this commemoration lie in the aftermath of the American Civil War, it is essential to recognize the often-overlooked contributions and impact of Indigenous peoples during this pivotal period.
This blog post explores and sheds light on the “Five Civilized Tribes” and events that took place throughout the Civil War.

 

Approximately 20,000 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies. Tribes included: the Delaware, Muscogee Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Kickapoo, Seneca, Osage, Shawnee, Choctaw, Lumbee, Chickasaw, Iroquois, Powhatan, Pequot, Ojibwa, Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi, Catawba, and Pamunkey.

The Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Catawba, and Creek tribes were the only tribes to fight on the Confederate side.

By the 1830s, Andrew Jackson had removed many Native Americans from their lands in the southern United States. Most tribes were relocated into the Midwest in what was labeled “Indian Territory,” as they were promised by the government to be given land and to be considered nations of their own.

For Native Americans, fighting alongside the white man was seen as an opportunity to gain recognition and support from the prevailing government. They believed that participating in the war effort would restore Native lands and rights. 

The term “Five Civilized Tribes” was applied by European Americans in the colonial and early federal period in the history of the United States to the five major Indigenous Tribes in the Southeast—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminoles.
Americans of European descent classified them as “civilized” because they had adopted attributes of the Anglo-American culture. Examples of such colonial attributes adopted by these five tribes included Christianity, centralized governments, literacy, market participation, written constitutions, intermarriage with white Americans, and chattel slavery practices, including purchase of enslaved African Americans. For a period, the Five Civilized Tribes tended to maintain stable political relations with the European Americans, before the United States promoted Indian removal of these tribes from the Southeast.
The Seminole Nation

The Seminole in the American Civil War were found in both the Trans-Mississippi and Western Theaters. The Seminole Nation in the Trans-Mississippi Theater had split alliances.

However, the majority of the tribe in the Western territories joined the Union Army under the leadership of Sonuk Miikko (commonly known as Billy Bowlegs). Sonuk formally enlisted in the Union Army as a captain in May 1862 and was assigned command of Company A of the First Indian Home Guards.  

Others, such as John Jumper (pictured left), supported the Confederacy. When the Civil War broke out, Chief Jumper reluctantly agreed to sign an alliance with the Confederate States of America. He also enlisted in the Confederate Army, first serving as a major in the First Battalion Seminole Mounted Rifles, and as lieutenant colonel of the First Regiment Seminole Volunteers. He led these troops in the battles of Round Mountain, Chusto-Talasah, Middle Boggy, and Second Cabin Creek

After the War ended, the Seminole Indians became reclusive and their history was obscured. 

The Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation was divided, with one side led by Principal Chief John Ross and the other by Stand Watie. 

John Ross was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866. Fearing that joining the Confederacy would void the earlier Cherokee treaties with the United States, Ross tried to persuade his people to remain neutral in the conflict, but eventually most chose sides. At a general assembly on August 21, 1861, Ross ended his speech by announcing that in the interests of tribal and inter-Indian unity it was time to agree on an alliance with the Confederate States of America.

Stand Watie was the only Native American to rise to a Confederate brigadier-general’s rank during the war. Watie took part in what is considered to be the greatest (and most famous) Confederate victory in Indian Territory, the Second Battle of Cabin Creek, which took place in what is now Mayes County, Oklahoma on September 19, 1864. The Confederate Army put Watie in command of the Indian Division of Indian Territory in February 1865. By then, however, the Confederates were no longer able to fight in the territory effectively. On June 23, 1865, at Doaksville in the Choctaw Nation (now Oklahoma), Watie signed a cease-fire agreement with Union representatives for his command. He was the last Confederate general in the field to surrender.

The Cherokee Nation was considered the most negatively affected of all Native American tribes during the Civil War, its population declining from 21,000 to 1,500 by 1865. Despite the Federal government’s promise to pardon all Cherokee involved with the Confederacy, the entire Nation was considered disloyal, and those rights were revoked.

 

 

Chickasaw Nation

The Chickasaw Nation was the first of the Five Civilized Tribes to become allies of the Confederate States of America. In addition, they resented the United States government, which had forced them off their lands and failed to protect them against the Plains tribes in the West. In 1861, as tensions rose related to the sectional conflict, the US Army abandoned Fort Washita, leaving the Chickasaw Nation defenseless against the Plains tribes. Confederate officials recruited the American Indian tribes with suggestions of an Indian state if they were victorious in the Civil War.

Because the Chickasaw sided with the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, they had to forfeit some of their land afterward. 

Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw in the American Civil War participated in two major arenas—the Trans-Mississippi and Western Theaters. The Trans-Mississippi had the Choctaw Nation. The Western had the Mississippi Choctaw. The Choctaw Nation had been mostly removed west prior to the War, but the Mississippi Choctaw had remained in the east. Both the Choctaw Nation and the Mississippi Choctaw would ultimately side with the Confederate States of America.

There are several possibilities why they sided with the Confederacy:

1. They believed the United States was on the verge of collapse.

2. They were neglected by the United States.

3. A majority of Mississippi Choctaw soldiers were conscripted into service.

4. Some Choctaw may have been enticed to side with the Confederacy as a possible solution to their land grant problems.

5. Financial incentives including fifty dollar bounty to those who enrolled with the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. 

The Choctaws continued their support for the Confederacy until its collapse.

Muscogee Creek Nation

 

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Opothleyahola, a Muscogee Creek Indian Chief, was among the minority of Creek in Indian Territory who supported the Union. Because of rising conflict within the tribe, he led his followers to Kansas as a refuge. They engaged in three battles against the opposition along the way. Their journey became known as the Trail of Blood on Ice, because the people suffered harsh conditions.

Because many Muscogee Creek people did support the Confederacy during the Civil War, the US government required a new treaty with the nation in 1866 to define peace after the war.

At the end of the war, it was General Ely S. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, who drafted the articles of surrender that General Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox Court House.

Ely S Parker was born in 1828 in Genesee City, New York, as a Seneca, although much of his life was spent straddling two cultures. Parker acquired knowledge of his grandfather’s Iroquoian religion, while he was educated at the local Baptist school. Raised and educated in two cultures, he was a trained attorney and a self-taught engineer. While a captain of engineers with the Rochester regiment of the New York State Militia, he was also a “sachem,” one of the honored positions in his tribe and active in Tonawanda affairs.

Despite being barred from practicing law and receiving an initial rejection from military service because of his race, Parker rose to General Ulysses S. Grant’s staff. In 1863, with Grant’s support, he was commissioned as a staff officer for Brig. Gen. John E. Smith. 

The involvement of Native American tribes, including the Five Civilized Tribes, in the Civil War was a complex and nuanced aspect of this historic conflict. The divisions within tribes, such as the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole Nations, reflect the challenges faced by Indigenous communities during this turbulent period. While their impact on the overall war effort was limited, the consequences of their involvement had lasting effects on their communities and their relationships with the U.S. government. Understanding the role of Native American tribes, including the Five Civilized Tribes, in the Civil War provides valuable insights into the broader complexities of this significant chapter in American history.

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