Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Letter to the Editor

Sept 2, 2008
Dear Editor, Tahlequah Daily Press:

This is a response to a letter of Aug 29th written by Murv Jacobs and the recent disturbance he created at a Cherokee Identity program.

With all due respect to all involved - the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma has set up very specific criteria for citizenship. 1. You need to have a Cherokee Ancestor 2. That Cherokee Ancestor needs to be on the Dawes Roll. Under self-governing rules the Cherokee Nation does indeed have that right to determine who can or can not be called a Citizen of the Nation. We do not have a blood-quantum and I believe we are better for that.

Murv Jacobs claims to be Kentucky Cherokee - no mention that he's got a Cherokee Ancestor on the Dawes Roll or that his family lived in the NE part of Oklahoma which was a requirement for Dawes enrollment, which in fact he does not have.

He claims to be a Cherokee Artist - the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act requires that one be a member of a Federal or State recognized Tribe to be able to call oneself an Indian Artist of any Tribe - he does not have even that to claim Cherokee Artist. Recently the Cherokee Nation passed legislation which requires tribal citizenship for artists of any Federally recognized tribe to enter certain art shows or sell items in certain Cherokee owned and operated businesses.

I can assure you, although he claims to not state that he is a tribal member, the general public doesn't know enough to ask for Tribal enrollment numbers, in most cases they either ask if you are *An Indian or Cherokee* or assume that if one claims Indian heritage or writes or paints or does other artistic endeavors on Indian subjects, that you are indeed a member of a tribe. So the mere fact that he doesn't clearly state that he is not a tribal member, in and of its self allows folks to believe he is indeed a member of a tribe by implication.

Rather than accepting the fact that the Federal Government as well as the Cherokee Nation do not recognize him as a Native American Artist much less a Cherokee Artist or even of Cherokee descent, he continues to rant and belittle the current administration and council of the Cherokee Nation. Will this gain him citizenship? No, he needs that Cherokee Ancestor on the Dawes Roll for that. Will this gain him Indian status as an artist? No, he needs to be a member of a Federally recognized tribe under Cherokee law or a state recongized tribe under Federal Law. I find it indeed interesting that any non tribal member, reacts much the same way he does, when these things are brought to their attention. A *look what I've done for you* attitude. However, the Cherokee Nation and people are quite capable of *doing* for themselves without the outside help of folks who self-ID as *Indians*.

It is indeed unfortunate that self-id Indians seem to want to force themselves upon Tribal Citizens or upon Tribal Nations. When self-id Indians do this they devalue the citizenship of every Native American in the US. The Cherokee Nation and people have decided to take a stand and I am indeed proud of them for that. Non-Tribal members need to have respect for this rather than belittling everyone on the council or the tribal chief.

I personally find the Cherokee Council and Councilors to be extremely helpful and independent thinkers. When I have had questions or need help I have found the Cherokee Nation staff to be very promote, courteous and friendly. We have a Chief that is gracious, bright, dedicated and taking the brunt of the Freedmen Issue to date. He has extended a welcoming hand to those of us that don't live in the 14 county area of Oklahoma and this particular citizen is grateful for that. They have given us, two at-large councilors, showing again that with that Cherokee Ancestor on the Dawes we have a common interest. That common interest is to protect our Nation and the Identity of that Nation's people.

I personally can't say enough about Cara Cowan and Julia Coates as councilors - they are bright, very knowledgeable of the Cherokee Nation affairs, courteous and warm.

Thank you Cara Cowan, I for one am glad you are a Cherokee Councilor!

Murv Jacob's letter and subsequent conduct is not the temperament of a Cherokee or the way the Cherokee conduct themselves, but merely the rantings of an angry man who has no basis for imposing himself on either the Cherokee Nation or its people.

Sincerely,

Charlotte Coats
a Cherokee Citizen in California

(you don't see a link here, because apparently it never made it online....:)