Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tribal Membership a Tribal issue not a Congress issue

Published June 20, 2008 09:37 am -

Freedmen a tribal issue

Editor, Daily Press:

My take on the Freedmen issue is this:

First, the Cherokee Nation has a sovereign right to determine its citizens, just like the United States, France, China, or anywhere you go. Am I against the Freedmen citizenship? No, I’m not. But I am for tribal sovereignty.

The Cherokee Nation has treaties and trade agreements with France and Great Britain, dating back to the 1700s. If those two foreign nations can recognize the Cherokee people as a separate, individual nation, then why can’t our own federal government do the same? Why does our federal government think it has a just responsibility to put its nose in something that doesn’t regard it?

The U.S. has bigger fish to fry – like trying to find ways to lower gasoline prices, dealing with the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and taking care of the many bigger problems here at home in the states – than to worry about something as minor as the Freedmen issue. The Freedmen vote was the Cherokee people exercising their sovereignty; they had spoken as to who is Cherokee, and who isn’t.

The new cliché says it all: “The Cherokees should decide who’s Cherokee, not Congress.” Just like our government, they decide who’s American and who’s not, but nobody will ever hear of Native Americans trying to sue the federal government because they allowed, or disallowed, a Hispanic, Cuban, French, German, or anyone else American citizenship, because that’s the government’s sole right as an individual nation.

Same goes for Native American tribes. If a person isn’t Native American, then he or she doesn’t belong in a Native American tribe. It’s that simple.

Anthony D. Gritts, Keetoowah Band of Cherokee member