Friday, August 24, 2007

Indianz.Com > News > Editorial: Race and citizenship in Cherokee dispute

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."


Stephanie B. said...

To Angryindian,

Thanks for bringing up the race and citizenship issue regarding the exclusion of Black Cherokees in the membership rolls. Diane Watson is going about it the wrong way by witholding funds until the Cherokees admit their part-black members. That action only excabates the tensions between the black Cherokees and the rest of the tribe. There's more than one way to resolve the problem and punishment isn't the answer.

What are your thoughts on the race/citizenship issue?


Angryindian said...

Personally, I support her measure. She is insisting that the "official" Cherokee political leadership which regards itself as a sovereign state that is also seen conversely as an intrinsic cog within the greater colonial United States, adhere to U.S. Federal law.

If the Cherokee Nation accepts the United States government as its parent and accepts and recognises its legal authority in their affairs, they must also honour the legal rules and prohibitions against institutional racial and ethnic bias. Principal Chief Chad Smith refuses to do this and let's not forget that the public vote was a landslide for ejection of their African members. Anti-African racism has always been a part of Cherokee culture primarily because the Nation was among the first and the most successful at plantation slavery. So successful in fact, they were kicked out of the south by envious Whites into what would become Oklahoma. And they took their slaves with them.

What the Cherokees did with that vote was genocidal. They legally stripped Natives of African descent of their communal recognition in favour of a xenophobic prerogative. As many (Black) Indians have suggested, if membership should only be based on blood-quantum, (a eugenics measure like the one-drop-rule) DNA examinations could settle the question immediately. The (mostly) White Cherokee population scoffs at this and wave their Dawes Rolls cards which only prove that an ancestor was listed by the Indian Agency sometime in the past. Add to this the several other very different government Cherokee registers in existence, the many thousands of White Americans who claim some degree of Cherokee blood and the proliferation of bogus "Cherokee" incorporated tribes and medicine people littering the U.S. , the DNA idea sounds like a good one.

I understand your concern for added strife, but this is an old issue and racist Cherokee are no more comfortable with being called out that your average White American racist. Too bad.


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