Both pieces of legislation define a native artist as a citizen or member of a federally recognized tribe. Although Murv says he has “a good bit of Kentucky Cherokee blood,” it must be documented to meet the legislative guidelines of a “native artist.”
Lots of people say they have American Indian blood. Not all can prove it. The fact that Murv cannot meet the citizenship requirement is not Cara Cowan Watts’ fault.
Murv stated in his letter that he had never said he was a member of any tribe. He is wise in doing so because, according to the above federal law, to identify himself as an “Indian artist” without documentation could put him at risk of facing a federal fine of $250,000.
Likewise, any business who markets his work as by an “Indian artist” could be fined $1 million.
Anyone can write a book or create artwork about Indians. Tony Hillerman is one of my favorite authors, and he writes about Navajo and Hopi people. Tony is not American Indian and he is quick to say so. Therefore, his books are not eligible to be sold at the CN under tribal law.
Murv is a great artist and has awards to show for it. He is published by reputable publishers and is well-known in Oklahoma.
Like Tony Hillerman’s, Murv’s books can be sold in any store where the bookseller is not bound by tribal law and the work is not marketed as by an “Indian artist.”
But also like Hillerman, Murv’s books do not meet the guidelines to be sold at the CN.
The constitution of the Cherokee Nation stipulates the guidelines to be a Cherokee citizen. All it takes is one American Indian ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls. The fraction of blood is irrelevant.
Personally attacking councilors or others will not change the constitution that the Cherokee people passed into law, nor will it change legislation enacted by Congress about American Indian artists.
Perhaps Russell Bates can have a talk with the Cherokee Nation about Jacobs. After all, Russ "knows" who's an Indian without relying on rules or regulations. As the biggest know-it-all in existence, by his own estimate, he could tell the Cherokees whether Jacobs qualifies as a Cherokee. I'm sure the Cherokees would be glad to ignore their own laws and beliefs in favor of Russ's opinion.
For more on the subject, see Hillbilly "Indian" vs. 1/256th Cherokee and Lots of Possible Indians.