Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Black Slaves found safe haven with Cherokees

WEB Commentary
Contributor Author: Mike Graham, Cherokee Nation member and Native American Army Vet
Bio: Mike Graham Date: May 19, 2008

CBC Demands U.S. Government Commit Another Wounded Knee Against Indians

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has joined with Watson and CBC members stating no federal funding going to any Indian Nation will come out of his house committee without wording blocking Cherokee funding. Oklahoma U.S. Representative Tom Cole calls Barney Frank's statements "legislative blackmail" by threatening to keep an Indian housing bill from a final vote.

Congresswoman Watson of California, (a member of the Congressional Black Caucus that excludes non Black U.S. House members), also supported with tax payers dollars is crying foul play "Civil right's violation" over the Cherokee Nation citizenship vote last March, 2007 to require Cherokee Blood quantum proof to the nations roll books before anyone regardless of race can become a citizen of their Indian nation.

Watson and CBC caucus members are claiming the Cherokees are violating the civil rights of those going by the name of "Freedmen" in saying an 1866 U.S. treaty gave them citizenship whether they had Cherokee heritage or not.

Watson and the CBC has spent the past year enacting new bills and demanding fellow House and Senate members block federal funding going to the Cherokee Nation; to include blocking funds to all Indian nations until the Cherokees reinstate the non-Indian heritage Freedmen as citizens of their Indian Nation.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has joined with Watson and CBC members stating no federal funding going to any Indian Nation will come out of his house committee without wording blocking Cherokee funding. Oklahoma U.S. Representative Tom Cole calls Barney Frank's statements "legislative blackmail" by threatening to keep an Indian housing bill from a final vote.

Former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell stated "Despite my years in politics, I'm still surprised by Congresses inability to learn from past mistakes and tendency to interfere where it should not." The National Congress Of American Indians representing over 350 Indian Nations support the Cherokees citizenship vote and the nations rights under tribal nation sovereignty without reckless federal interferences. Harmful ramifications on both sides do not warrant federal intrust in subverting the will of Native Americans sovereign rights.

CBC and U.S. House members are fully aware that the federal government today is still enforcing its citizenship termination of Uinta Band Indians of Utah with less than 50 percent Ute Indian heritage. The CBC has seen fit to remain silent on this "federal" Indian termination issue. The Ute's Uinta Band of Indians issue goes to the heart of federal hypocrisy in dealing with Native American issues like the Cherokee Nation's citizenship requirements of Indian heritage.

CBC members have launched a massive "Defaming media campaign blitz," against the Cherokees historical history. In reviewing their press reports one would think Cherokees invented slavery. Slavery was world wide and was coming to an end world wide in the 1800's. While Watson and the CBC rails against the citizens of the Cherokee Nation, it should be noted that In "American Heritage of Feb/Mar 1993, vol 441, under the title, 'Selling Poor Steven', beginning on page 90; the official U.S. Census of 1830 is cited, which shows that there were 3,775 free blacks who owned 12,740 black slaves".

Just over one percent of Cherokees practice slavery, 296 out of a population of 22,000 to be exact. Most of this group were of White mixed blood Cherokees who owned land and were in business for profit for themselves under U.S. laws.

Citizens of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma have every right to vote who can or cannot be a citizen of their Indian nation; no other government has any right to dictate to Indian nations their citizenship laws or requirements to include treaties between governments, nor should the federal government involve itself in an Indian nation internal issue conducted under its sovereignty rights of self rule.

This issue is not about "Red against Black" or who was done more wrong under U.S. laws and its flag. It's about the holocaust the federal government committed against the Cherokee sovereign people in taking their vast amounts of land by force and doing so against it's own U.S. law. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma government never owned "slaves nor had laws enacting slavery" nor supported it. The Cherokees as a nation denounced human slavery before the U.S. Government during the U.S. Civil War.

The Cherokee Nation citizenship issue is all about the fact that the federal government broke every treaty it made with the Cherokee people. This issue further covers the fact that the federal government completely abandoned it's 1866 treaty obligations to include federally terminating the Cherokee nation government, decades after it's Civil War had ended. This federal act left Cherokees to live a life of destitute poverty, and again taking an unknown number of Cherokees lives all because the federal government wanted to bring about another state under the name of Oklahoma while racially excluding Indians. Native Americans call it, U.S. Manifest destiny Holocaust.

From the days of first contact between Cherokees and Whites until today, the Freedmen issue only rates a footnote in the vast amount of historical events, issues and injustice inflicted on the Cherokee people. This one citizenship issue of the Cherokee Nation today, does not rate the federal government again enacting its slash, burn, and destroy policies against Native Americans.!

Shannon Prince, who claims Cherokee heritage and a Junior at Dartmouth College reported in Indian Country Today that "As Cherokee people, we have to decide the right way to handle history, the honorable way to exercise sovereignty, and the correct way to bring forth justice and healing."

In her reference to the Cherokee citizenship vote requirements, I would hope Shannon Prince would go to the college library and educate herself about who, what and how slavery was set up in America by the federal government and just who participated in human slavery under U.S. laws. She would learn that Indians were the first people forced into slavery in America and throughout the Americas and that Blacks owned Indian slaves as well.

For Shannon Prince to compare the inhuman, injustice acts of the Trail Of Tears committed against the Cherokee people in that Cherokees today are essentially committing the same equivalence of injustice against so called Freedmen is socially and historically wrong to include, just hog wash. What makes an Indian Nation unique unto itself from other Indian Nations is their tribal blood heritage. No U.S. treaty can make someone Indian, or a citizen of an Indian nation, nor should it try to, nor did the 1866 U.S. treaty grant citizenship to Freedmen. It only states, equal rights and protection as to all Cherokees, that wording would cover a Japanese tourist on Indian land, but would not make them a citizen of any Indian nation!

In Shannon Prince's report, she failed to state that Indians are more noted historically for giving runaway Black slaves safe haven from slave owners and turned down bounties offered for their return. Slavery never was seen as or used as an economic commodity of a tribal nations well being. During the U.S. forced removal of Cherokees, no black person was made to go, nor as a slave. During the Indian forced removal slavery was still legal under U.S. laws, the federal government nor its army would allow for runaway slaves to leave the area without being returned to their slave owners. Whites and Blacks that did have Indian heritage living with an Indian family made the Trail Of Tears journey.

American Indians dealt with all that was forced on them by invading forces beyond their control. They were stripped of their land, religion, heritage, language and their tribal governments. The U.S. Government rode from the East coast to the West coast including Buffalo soldiers committing its Holocaust against Indian men, women and children. Now, people like Shannon Prince want people to believe Indians are the racist; inflicting pain and hurt on others unjustly and violating their civil rights over an abandoned 1866 U.S. Treaty; all because Cherokees voted to reinstate their fair and just citizenship laws under its tribal nations sovereignty rights regardless of one's race associated to Cherokee Indian heritage.

Mike Graham Founder, United Native America
Notes: Historical information relating to this issue:
Mixed-Blood Uintas of Utah web site: Their termination history & federal court case.
http://www.undeclaredutes.net/
Anti Indian Jim Crow Laws
http://www.unitednativeamerica.com/bureau/bwa_6.html

Read other commentaries by Mike Graham.
Visit Mike Graham's website at http://www.unitednativeamerica.com/