Friday, August 24, 2007
Indianz.Com > News > Editorial: Race and citizenship in Cherokee dispute: "'The controversy enveloping the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Cherokee freedmen recently has taken some interesting and unexpected turns. Americans, through the prism of this situation, are growing comfortable discussing Indian issues in dangerous terms of race and exclusion. The Cherokee leadership is entering a public relations fray potentially more volatile than a classic legal battle. The nation, amid salacious charges of ethnic cleansing, is steadfastly repeating its intention regarding a March vote to amend its enrollment policy, essentially denying freedmen without Indian ancestry citizenship within the nation. Time will tell if tribal sovereignty will trump race-baiting disguised as civil rights advocacy. The nation's congressional adversary, Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., in June introduced a rather paternalistic bill to sever federal relations with the Cherokees of Oklahoma until it ''restores full tribal citizenship to the Cherokee freedmen disenfranchised in the March 3 Cherokee Nation vote and fulfills all its treaty obligations with the Government of the United States.'' H.R. 2824 would cut federal funding to the Cherokees and restrict the nation's authority to operate its gaming facilities."