Monday, May 12, 2008

Victims? - Blacks need to leave the Slave mentality behind

(When is the CBC and Ms. Coleman going to get ready for that change and open their Caucus to Native Americans - I have to wonder what the purpose of any Caucus is in Congress anyway - you already have two sides - Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Native Americans are way unrepresented in Congress whereas Blacks have their own *Caucus* in Congress)

Are Blacks Being Victimized Twice by the Cherokee? (you have got to be kidding, right?)
By Arica L. Coleman

Ms. Coleman is Assistant Professor of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware.

...“Congressional Black Caucus Attacks Sovereign Status of Indian Nations.” Giago asserted that such activism is an assault upon tribal sovereignty. Nevertheless, positing the CBC’s call for sanctions against the Cherokee nation as an “attack” on tribal sovereignty ignores over two centuries of Black – Cherokee relations, and the current issue which is not tribal sovereignty, but rather human rights. (Blacks ignore Cherokee Human Rights by forcing themselves onto the Cherokee Nation via an outdated 1866 Treaty of which this is the only provision they want enforced - two centuries of Black-Cherokee relations? What she means is, we're going to tie the Cherokee Nation to Blacks for the rest of their days because they had slaves - they're going to make us pay for that or else poof no Cherokee Nation - no where does she mention that the Congressional Black Caucus is willing to stop funding for all Tribes just so they can get membership for the Freedmen into the Cherokee Nation - hmm, that looks and smells like guilt by Association, isn't that what Obama is objecting to in the Rev Wright case and the Underground Weather dude? But hey, I guess it's ok for the Congressional Black Caucus to dish out guilt by association, they just don't want to accept guilt by association)

As a means of "civilizing" American Indians, Southern whites introduced chattel slavery (no, no, no, the Five Civilized Tribes were called Civilized because they were farmers - in the 21st Century that is really funny by the way) to what are now known as The Five Civilized Tribes: Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees. The Cherokees exceeded their Indian counterparts in embracing southern white culture and they profited the most from slave ownership. By 1809 there were 600 enslaved blacks living in the Cherokee nation; the number increased to 1,600 by 1835. When Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act forcing Cherokees on a death march out west--the infamous "Trail of Tears"--they carried their black slaves with them. ("they carried their black slaves with them", so you figure there was a choice here? - apparently now there is a White version and Black version of Cherokee History - too bad no one asks the Cherokees about their history - I've never read in any literature about this - perhaps a few references are in order here - when you look at the 1866 treaty, there was no profit in slave ownership. This is an emotional appeal to lay guilt on the Cherokee Nation when in fact it is U.S. Government Indian Policy that did all this)

...A subsequent treaty, made with the five tribes in July 1866, granted full citizenship rights to newly free slaves (Freedmen) in Indian Country. Article nine of the treaty reads in part:They [Cherokee Government] further agree that all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as all free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months, and their descendants, shall have all the rights of native Cherokees: Provided, That owners of slaves so emancipated in the Cherokee Nation shall never receive any compensation or pay for the slaves so emancipated. (Oh, they love to quote this paragraph, leaving out any subsequent events - she then leaves out the Dawes Commission, the Five Tribes Act and the Curtis Act that made changes to this; she also leaves out that all those who were enrolled on the Dawes were done so because they were living in what at the time was the land given to the Cherokees for removal. This was U.S. Indian Policy, had nothing to do with the Cherokee Nation - yet these folks want to lay blame on the Cherokee Nation for all this - their fight is with the U.S. Government and it's Indian Policy NOT the Cherokee Nation. Apparently not all the claiming Freedmen of today qualified for the Dawes Commission and as such don't qualify for Cherokee Nation Citizenship even if they were Cherokee by Blood - again, when is the Congressional Black Caucus going to open it's membership not only to Indians but also Whites. In case the tribes haven't noticed this will open the door for any self ID'd Indian to join a tribe of their choosing as long as they claim they are Indian and are Black)

Since the signing of the 1866 treaty, the Freedmen’s existence in the Cherokee nation has been tenuous to say the least. Tribal policies on behalf of the Freedmen have been informed by well entrenched southern attitudes toward people of African descent. Hence, the Freedmen’s struggle for equality and the recognition of full citizenship, while in some ways different, mirrors the struggle African Americans have endured as citizens in the United States since after the Civil War. (again she is defining the Cherokee people and yep, spinning to make her case - all these grandiose generalities, it's my understanding some slaves when freed wanted to remain with their owners and many were treated very very well by their owners, many southern folks emancipated their slaves long before the Civil War, but they leave that out as well, many white southerners helped their emancipated slaves as early as the 1700s to become land owners, no mention of that here either - there were many Native Americans taken as slaves as well, nope, didn't see that in here either - just these broad generalizations to lay guilt and blame on the WRONG people - go fight with the U.S. Government about their Indian Policy)

...The justices used the case to broaden the power of Indian tribes ruling that providing a federal forum in which tribal members could sue tribal governments on the basis of civil rights undermined tribal self determination [read; tribal sovereignty]. Ironically, the justice who wrote the majority opinion in this case was celebrated African-American civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshal. (and yes take note even one of their own saw the distinction between forcing tribal membership and letting the tribes govern their internal affairs - do take note of that)

Tribal sovereignty is the bedrock of Indian national identity. The right to chose one’s tribal members is a sacred aspect of tribal sovereignty. As noted by Fergus Bordewich in Killing the White Man’s Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century (1997): “To abrogate tribal decisions, particularly in the delicate area of membership, for whatever ‘good’ reasons, is to destroy cultural identity under the guise of saving it” (87). Unfortunately, federally recognized tribes have used tribal sovereignty as a cover for discrimination against Native women, black Indians and other “mixed bloods.” After Martinez, the number of cases reported to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights against tribal governments dropped considerably due to the growing consensus among tribal members that filing such complaints would provide little recourse. (whoa, the under tone here appears to be disrespect for Tribal Governments - Tribes have a right to define themselves, not Blacks, Black Slaves, Freedmen, Self ID Indians or Whites or the U.S. government through their Indian policy - the Cherokees have always had problems with this, since 3/4 of the U.S. population claims to have a Cherokee Princess in their family - of course they can't find such proof, but they still claim it, shall we admit all those to Citizenship as well? The only person discriminating against mixed-bloods is the Federal Government with their blood quantum regulations, that's not of Indian making - this lady really needs to look at more than one side of this issue - there is apparently some real tunnel vision at work here - and no mention of those Buffalo Soldiers - a Black group that ravaged the Indians for years - oh, but that was condoned military work, sorry guess that makes it ok)

Despite the Freedmen’s uphill battle for full tribal recognition, a minority within the Cherokee nation have expressed outrage over their expulsion. Most notably, David Cornsilk, (ah I should have known, let's just leave it at that) a Cherokee nationalist, has called for his counterparts to exercise true sovereignty by embracing a traditional definition of Cherokee which predates Euro-American contact. As quoted in Scott L. Malcolmson’s One Drop of Blood: The American Misadventure of Race (2000), Cornsilk states: These people [Freedmen] live like Cherokee. . . Many of them even speak Cherokee. There’s a lot of them who, their grandparents spoke the Cherokee language, and they even have passed it down. They might be more Cherokee than most Cherokees. . . . Throughout the history of our tribe, we have always made people who came into our tribe and established a true connection to us—either through marriage or adoption---we made them one of us. And then suddenly to have an entire branch of our family, the freedmen branch of our family, to be cut off, to be simply severed and told, ‘Now you’re no longer one of us,’ for political reasons, for racial reasons, is more than I can tolerate [120]. (ah, so to be Cherokee one needs to be able to speak Cherokee, ah, much better requirement than a requirement of a Cherokee Ancestor, I see - of course this same Cornsilk group i.e. United Cherokee Nation would dis enroll those of us that live outside of the Cherokee Nation - but hey, let's sacrifice those of us that are Cherokee but live outside 14 counties for the non Cherokee Freedmen who live outside the 14 counties but in Oklahoma - yep, that sounds fair - David Cornsilk ran for Chief some years back and lost, so as a result his father, John, started a real hate campaign against the Cherokee Nation which continues to the present day - I also see no mention of the fact that the U.S. rounded up all those pesky Cherokee speakers and sent them off to Boarding Schools where they were forced to speak English and were cut off from their families for months at a time - yep, if you speak Cherokee you certainly are Cherokee - due to this English only policy there is only a handful of Cherokees who actually speak Cherokee - so hey, let's buy into that only Cherokee speakers are Cherokee, now the Cherokee Nation is down to what the UKB? say, I say let the Freedmen join the UKB if they can speak Cherokee, oh, they have a 1/4 blood quantum for membership, however, that does not seem to be a deterrent for the Freedmen - yep, I'd say the UKB is the correct place for them.)

While Giago accuses the CBC of attacking tribal sovereignty, the case of the Freedmen is a human rights issue which places it beyond the domestic sphere and makes it a matter of international concern. It is undeniable that the tribe’s vote to override the 2006 Cherokee Supreme Court decision was racially motivated (nope, although you would have folks believe this, it was merely because, they did not fall within the Cherokee Nations requirements for membership, this has been the majority feeling among the Cherokee people for a very long time, but the CBC, just refuses to let the courts resolve the conflict but all these nonsense amendments to cut funding to the Cherokee Nation and attaching it to ever Indian Bill going through Congress - so just who's Human Rights are being violated here - you going to deny us Medical Care, we can just go to another Indian Clinic, so now what, you're going to cut off Health Care to All Tribes? The Congressional Black Caucus is on a Power Play and nothing more, they finally can oppress another people, the evil in man finally comes out - so we should feel sorry for these poor Black Slaves - Ethnic Cleansing by whom - every Indian in the U.S. is also a U.S. Citizen, so is this the treatment we can expect from our own government?)--a type of ethnic cleansing, as it were. To contend that only those of Cherokee “blood” can be a part of the Cherokee nation, not only distorts historical reality (this is the Cornsilk's historical reality, not the Cherokee people), but is a blatant denial of black-Cherokee kinship ties which occurred despite the enactment of tribal anti-miscegenation laws. Nevertheless, in an attempt to deflect attention from the issue at hand, Giago sensationalizes his account by drawing Barack Obama into the controversy. Given Obama's membership in the CBC, Giago suggests that the Democratic candidate for president, a champion of tribal sovereignty, is guilty of hypocrisy. (wow, this is real California Dreamin' for sure - Giago is indeed right - how do you justify, a Black Candidate who belongs to a Congressional Black Caucus, which will not admit anyone except Blacks and then say the Cherokee Nation can not require that one be of Cherokee descent to be a Cherokee Citizen? Only a hypocrite can do that, plain and clear conduct - to my sad dismay this lady has plugged into a group that has distorted Cherokee History and has one goal in mind, to bring down the Cherokee Nation and if the other Tribes come down in the process, that's ok as well - after all those Black Slaves or self ID'd freedmen are more important that any real Cherokees)

Also, Giago states that the CBC is selective in its support of the Freedmen only because they are black:It should be noted that California is one of the worst states in the Union where tribes are systematically removing and denying citizenship to members. Rep. Watson represents a voting district in that state. What has she done about this problem in her own district? And what about the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus? Are they not concerned that Indian people are often removed from tribes in California without even a democratic vote? Or will they only speak up when Black Americans are involved? (oh, but Giago is indeed right again - and it is true, in California Tribes disenroll right and left but they aren't Black, so the CBC hasn't done a thing)

These statements are at once disingenuous and contradictory. First, the purpose of the CBC is to address the legislative concerns of African Americans and other minorities (hmm, so that's why CBC is a Black only group? if you believe this nonsense I've got a bridge in New York I'll sell you), which includes American Indians. Hence, the CBC has supported numerous legislative measures which benefit federally recognized tribes. (ah, notice another broad generalization here without giving any specifics, I guess we just need to take her word for it? So what exactly has the CBC done for Native America?) Second, Giago’s article is based on the premise that efforts of the CBC on behalf of the Freedmen not only jeopardize the sovereignty of the Cherokee nation, but all recognized tribes within the boundaries of the United States. Are we now to assume that Giago is concerned about tribal sovereignty only when it involves the Cherokee nation? (again she has no grasp of the problems and citizenship in Indian Country) Does Giago mean to suggest that the CBC should be concerned with human rights violations within Indian tribes only when the violations are carried out undemocratically? (hmmm, I thought voting was democratic, caucusing is undemocratic since the people involved the Tribes in Oklahoma weren't even a part of the process, now that's undemocratic?)

American Indians, the most invisible minority within the borders of the U. S., have endured centuries of oppression. They continue to struggle for survival and autonomy. Nevertheless, tribal sovereignty should no longer be allowed to remain a shield for federally recognized tribes which engage in discriminatory practices. There must be some measure of accountability. (what was that she was saying about Giago's claim this all threatens tribal sovereignty, so, any Black who decides they are an Indian, will be allowed under her *Indian* policy to be an *Indian*? Well, looks like Giago is again quite correct)

The racially motivated vote to expel the Freedmen from the Cherokee nation by rejecting the 2006 Cherokee Supreme Court’s ruling, which deemed the act unconstitutional, is a human rights violation which the CBC and Congress should not ignore. Withholding funds from the Cherokee nation will send the clear message to Indian Country that while the protection of tribal sovereignty will continue to be honored by the federal government, engaging in the violation of human rights will not be tolerated, even if it is sanctioned by a democratic vote. (whoa, her true self comes out, Black now trumps a democratic vote - that's a dangerous position for all Americans)