Published September 24, 2008 05:01 pm -
THE PEOPLE SPEAK: Chief fights to preserve sovereignty and rights
A response to William Austin and Jack Johnson message written on signs they were holding at the non-Indian freedmen protest in front of the BIA:
It appears from what their signs said that Austin and Johnson would like for the Cherokee people to lie down, shut up and give up their sovereign rights to the U.S. government.
We thank the Creator that we have a principal chief who is fighting to preserve the historical sovereign rights of Cherokee people to determine their own citizenship criteria.
Like our ancestors who fought and sacrificed for the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation, our chief has continued the struggle today. Chief Chad Smith’s efforts have benefited the Cherokee Nation and all Native American nations in this country.
He honored his sworn oath and our ancestors when he fought for the Cherokee citizens all the way to the U.S. court of appeals last month. The court dismissed the freedmen’s lawsuit against the Cherokee Nation that sought to compel the tribe to give non-Indians the right to citizenship.
Cherokee Nation paperwork is color blind when it comes to citizenship requirements. It does not matter what the color of one’s skin happens to be because citizenship requires only that you have at least one Cherokee ancestor on the tribe’s base roll.
Austin and Johnson’s attacks are misdirected. Under the law, neither the chief, deputy chief, tribal council nor the tribal Supreme Court may determine Cherokee citizenship. Only the Cherokee citizens themselves, by majority vote per the Constitution may determine the citizenship criteria.
It is a sad shame that Austin and Johnson put their own self-serving desires above protection of the sovereignty of all Indian Nations. If Smith stood back and let anti-Indian sovereignty advocates working in tandem with a California congresswoman force our tribe to accept non-Indian citizens, it would not only diminish the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation but that of every federally recognized tribe in this country. Smith has our family’s full support, our thanks and prayers.