By Becky Johnson
A campaign to shut down the bear zoos in Cherokee has largely targeted Chief Michell Hicks. Hicks says he supports the bear zoos, however, and disagrees with claims driven by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that the bears’ conditions are inhumane.
While Hicks agreed to meet with Barker and PETA reps last week, he warned them not to protest outside the bear zoos again without permission from tribal officials or they would be kicked off the Cherokee reservation, an option in the tribe’s corner given its status as a sovereign entity.
While Hicks has made his stance clear, the elected tribal council members—not the chief—hold the power to pass new laws and ordinances. Out of the 12 tribal council members, five responded to requests for comment. All five said that tribal council has no plans to shut down the bear zoos or to impose tougher standards.
For more on the subject, see Parachuting into "Barbaric" Cherokee Land and Barker Calls for Tourist Boycott.