Actor Danny Glover and Rep. Watson Highlight CBC Panel on Cherokee Freedmen
Congressman Diane E. Watson - Representing California's 33rd Congressional District (she voted for the Bailout Bill by the way)
September 27, 2008
Actor Danny Glover and Congresswoman Diane Watson Highlight Congressional Black Caucus Panel on Cherokee Freedmen Washington, DC- 'It is past time for Congress to act,' said Diane Watson, addressing the Congressional Black Caucus's (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference yesterday in Washington, D.C. 'The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that Cherokee officials cannot discriminate against the Freedmen in violation of the Treaty of 1866 and 13th Amendment (Supreme Court has ruled the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to Indian Tribes, so I guess this will end up in the Supreme Court if they continue this train of thought),' Watson said. 'Congress must step in to enforce the treaty rights of the Freedmen.' And Congress did step in today, passing a bill authorizing housing funds to Indian tribes but exempting the Cherokee Nation from participation if it denies funds to the Freedmen. 'We are happy that Congress provided some enforcement to the treaty rights of the Freedmen to participate in the housing package, but it is only a small step towards equality and unfortunately only impacts about 10% of the Cherokee Freedmen,' said Freedmen's lead counsel Jon Velie, also a panelist at the CBC conference. (oh, give me a break - the rest of us have to follow the rules, but these folks believe they can just come in and change the Cherokee Nation *at will* - half of these *Freedmen* don't even have an ancestor on the Dawes Roll much less any Cherokee Ancestor - it is still the feeling of this writer that they really need to join the Black Indian Tribe - and oh, my there are CHEROKEE that won't benefit from that Housing Bill! You want us to feel sorry for the Freedmen???)
Mr. Velie explained that despite the D.C. Court of Appeals direction that tribal officials could not violate the treaty, Cherokee officials have ceased processing Freedmen citizenship applications, freezing enrollment at 2,800. '23,000 or 90% Cherokee Freedmen are denied their treaty guaranteed citizenship rights and therefore cannot participate in the housing package. (NO, wrong again - 90% of these Freedmen don't have an ancestor on the Dawes Roll much less a Cherokee Ancestor - they just want citizenship because they *live* in Oklahoma - apparently the public isn't aware that there are a lot of people of all races that can't prove or didn't have an Ancestor on the Dawes Roll, so guess what, they don't meet the citizenship requirments of the Cherokee Nation - so you ask, there are two other bands of Cherokee - how come these Freedmen aren't trying to *break-in* those groups - well, they have a blood quantum requirement and the Cherokee Nation doesn't, so it's easier to try and bully us around!!) The bill does nothing to ensure the rights of these people. While the bill accurately details the horrible state many Indian people are encountering and the need for housing to prevent homelessness and protect families, the vast majority of poor and needy Cherokee Freedmen will be left to fend for themselves as the housing and financial crisis hits their communities.' Danny Glover, actor and activist, praised the long relationship between Indian and African American people, citing the tradition of Indian people taking in escaped slaves during the early days of America. He referenced that his character in the movie Lonesome Dove was a buffalo soldier (Buffalo Soldiers from what I understand were responsible for the establishment of many *Indian Schools - read earlier posts on the horrors of these schools, Buffalo Soldiers did Indians no favors!) based on a Seminole Freedmen. Mr. Glover stated he participated on the panel out of deep respect for and in memory of his Choctaw grandmother. He expressed his profound disappointment in the actions of the Cherokees and the other four tribes (Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw) that have denied the descendants of former slaves equal standing in their tribes.
Marilyn Vann, lead plaintiff of the Federal suit and Band Chief of the Freedmen Band of the Cherokee Nation and President of the Descendants of the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, told the stories of Freedmen who held offices in the Cherokee Nation throughout history, stories of current Freedmen, like Ruth Adair Nash whose most prized possession is her Cherokee Membership and voting card issued to her in 1975. Ms. Vann also told of Charlene White, an elder Cherokee speaking Freedmen from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, capital of the Cherokee Nation, who relies on tribal health benefits to combat her diabetes. (Obama if elected will give these folks a *better health plan*, Congress has never given Indians adequate medical care! so they won't need Indian Health care - so this is a Non Indian taking Indian funds!!)
Moderator Wayne Thompson declared that the 1866 treaty is the law and the U.S. must hold Cherokee officials responsible. But it is not just about the law, he said, it is also about morality and justice. Mr. Thompson said 148 years ago the Cherokee Nation went to war against the U.S. with the Confederacy to preserve slavery and lost. Today, the slave-holding aristocracy of the Cherokee Nation cannot continue its Jim Crow segregation policies. (lol...so they're going to force us to violate our constitution?? - what about the Congressional Black Caucus? they going to open that to *everyone* as well - this is the audacity of hypocrisy!!)
Allen Mitchell, a Creek Freedmen told the story of losing his citizenship in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation with the implementation of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act in the 1970's.
Cherokee citizen David Cornsilk told the audience the Cherokee leadership has not always been racist, but the current administration has lost its Cherokee ways. Mr. Cornsilk said he was saddened by the actions that have been taken against his Cherokee Freedmen brothers and sisters. (Many Cherokee Citizens are saddened that Mr. Cornsilk and his father are working and continue to work to tear down the legitimate Cherokee Nation by spewing hatred against their own people, in hopes of using a Freedmen voting block within the Cherokee Nation - the United Cherokee Nation has no legitmate grounds to insist on this course of action - and they themselves have adopted almost all the *white* concepts for over 200 years) He told the story of Molly, the slave who was adopted by a Cherokee family in the 1830's. Molly was given her freedom and given a Cherokee name and despite her skin color was taken in as a Cherokee. Molly had a large family, who was also taken into the Cherokee community as free people. When a white lady claimed Molly and her family as her property, Cherokee Chief White Path declared she was Cherokee and fought off the slavers. Mr. Cornsilk helped Cherokee Freedmen Lucy Allen win a lawsuit in the Cherokee's highest Court - a lawsuit seeking reinstatement of Freedmen descendants in the tribe -- before it was dissolved by tribal officials and replaced by a new court and packed with new judges by the current Chief. (not accurate information - Joe Bryd tried to dissolve the Cherokee Court years ago - ask yourselves this - if John and David Cornsilk have their own *tribe* United Cherokee Nation - or whatever, it's called*, why aren't the Freedmen included among them instead of fighting to get citizenship into a Tribe that requires everyone else to have a Cherokee Ancestor on the Dawes Roll? - Treaty my foot, half these Freedmen aren't even covered under that Treaty!!)
Find out more at the Congresswoman's official website:
Contact: Bert Hammond (202) 225-7084
Lois Hill Hale