March 08, 2007

Should US meddle?

An Unjust Expulsion The Cherokee Nation’s decision to revoke the tribal citizenship of about 2,800 descendants of slaves once owned by the tribe is a moral low point in modern Cherokee history and places the tribe in violation of a 140-year-old federal treaty and several court decisions. The federal government must now step in to protect the rights of the freedmen, who could lose their tribal identities as well as access to medical, housing and other tribal benefits.

This bitter dispute dates to the treaties of 1866, when the Cherokee, Seminole and Creek agreed to admit their former slaves as tribal members in return for recognition as sovereign nations. The tribes fought black membership from the start—even though many of the former slaves were products of mixed black and Indian marriages.

The federal courts repeatedly upheld the treaties. But the federal government fanned the flames when a government commission set out in the 1890s to create an authoritative roll of tribal membership. Instead of placing everyone on a single roll, it made two lists. The so-called blood list contained nonblack Cherokees, listed with their percentage of Indian ancestry. The freedmen’s list included the names of any black members, even those with significant Cherokee ancestry.
Comment:  I'm not sure which is worse: the problem or the proposed solution. If you let the US government decide which tribal government decisions to enforce, you effectively destroy tribal sovereignty.


The Local Crank said...

"If you let the US government decide which tribal government decisions to enforce, you effectively destroy tribal sovereignty."

Absolutely right. And we'll have the anti-Freedmen forces, with their racist rhetoric and fraudulent petition, to thank for it. With "friends" like these, who needs enemies like the "EuroMen"?

Eulala Pegram said...

An email I recently sent to one of our Muscogee (Creek) mail lists. This is bigger than Black/Indian stuff. It affects the question of tribal sovereignty...

It will be interesting to see how the Cherokee vote affects all other tribes' abilities to set guidelines for their tribal membership. No matter how passionate we are about whichever side we are on in this issue, I do know that we MUST be careful about court decisions because it will truly affect our rights to determine who is or can be a member of the Nation. It has always been blood lineage that determine tribal membership, but we should not tolerate anything that affects our ability to determine tribal membership. That is and always should be our sovereign right.
When the Muscogee tribal lands were taken for the fourth (?) time (removal, relocation of other tribes to the western Indian Territory originally given to the SE tribes, civil war, and Dawes Commission), the Blacks who came to Oklahoma with the tribe (In the case of the Creek, by their choice, I believe, with their own Chiefs to speak for them) at allotment time were given the same 160 acres of tribal land that blood members of the SE tribes were given. I believe that this should have ended their reliance upon the Tribes. If their descendants were not Muscogee by blood, it would only cloud the issue of tribal citizenship for future generations to give them membership by declaration or any other means. If a full blood Creek must prove direct lineage to an original allotee, then I think every other member must do the same.
At any rate, we must be clear who is eligible for tribal membership or we are in danger of being put in the untenable position of clouding this issue beyond a common sense defense. No matter where we draw the line, there will be some people left out and we have to be able to live with that to insure that we are a Nation of people with a common, clearly defined heritage and history to pass on to our descendants.
Eulala McDowell Pegram

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
However, the recent Cherokee vote is not as sweeping in meaning as some are trying to allege. Per exemplum, it does nothing to invalidate or otherwise to endanger the Kiowa vote several years ago concerning higher blood quanta, nor those elections held by various and sundry tribes heretofore. Future elections might find a differing atmosphere perhaps but mainly for the Cherokees themselves. They made their upcoming "TRIAL" Of Tears and now they'll have to lay on it...
All Best
Russ Bates