Wednesday, December 28, 2011

UKB and Cherokee Nation Today

Hello, everyone –

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and didn’t overdo too much. It was a foodfest in my neighborhood and it was really fun! In this installment we will bring the story of the UKB and the Cherokee Nation to the present. As the Cherokee Nation began to recover its sovereign powers in the 1970s, after having being squelched for most of the twentieth century by the “bureaucratic imperialism” of the BIA as the judge in the Harjo case described it, the UKB was dwindling. As the Cherokee Nation elected its first Chief since statehood, developed a superseding Constitution, reinstated its citizens, reconstituted its Tribal Council (also a result of the Harjo case), established Cherokee Nation Industries and investigated other economic development enterprises, the UKB receded and was basically defunct by the end of the 1970s.

But in 1979, there was a particularly nasty runoff in the Principal Chief’s race between incumbent Ross Swimmer and his opponent, Jim Gordon. Swimmer defeated Gordon, and Gordon reacted by resurrecting the UKB in the 1980s. My colleague on the Tribal Council, Jack Baker, has shared with me that a good friend of his (who was a relative of Gordon’s) told him many times that Gordon had jump started the UKB specifically to compete with the Cherokee Nation. Whether that is just hearsay or not, who knows? But certainly that was the way things played out in the 1980s as Jim Gordon became chief of the UKB and began to assert for the first time that the UKB was not a corporate entity within the Cherokee Nation, but was a separate government that held the same territory and jurisdiction as the Cherokee Nation within what had been the Cherokee Nation’s historic boundaries as established by treaty in 1828. Unfortunately, the personal enmity of Gordon for Swimmer seems to have been the basis for the emerging competition in that decade between the UKB and the Cherokee Nation, but that is certainly open to interpretation.

Less open to interpretation, however, is the status of the UKB as it began to be tested in federal courts by the early 1990s. Once again, my caveat: although the UKB and its supporters will offer a different interpretation than the one I am presenting here, ultimately no one’s interpretation matters except that of the federal courts. And the interpretation I will offer on the legal points is that of the federal courts. In 1990, a case called Ross v. Neff had been decided by the federal court. The upshot of the case was that the tribes in Oklahoma had jurisdiction for law enforcement purposes over anything within their historic boundaries that comprised “Indian Country.” Under contemporary definitions, “Indian Country” is defined as (1) tribal trust properties (such as reservations or other lands that the United States holds in trust for a tribe), (2) individual trust properties, such as allotments, and (3) dependent Indian communities such as pueblos in New Mexico. The state has no jurisdiction in these instances, and this case led to the establishment of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to provide law enforcement protection to Cherokee Nation citizens on such properties. But it also became evident that the ruling likely meant the Cherokee Nation had jurisdiction in other areas as well.

At that time, the Director of Justice for the Cherokee Nation, attorney Chad Smith (later Principal Chief from 1999-2011), suspected that the Cherokee Nation could assert jurisdiction for taxation purposes within its historic boundaries. He began to develop tax codes and the Cherokee Nation, under then-Chief Wilma Mankiller’s leadership, negotiated compacts with the state for tobacco sales by smoke shops owned by individuals on trust properties within the Cherokee Nation’s boundaries who were licensed by the Cherokee Nation (hence the licensing and some taxation revenue to the Nation). Although many people did not understand the implications of compacting with the state and saw it as a reduction of sovereignty, it was, in fact, one of the earliest acknowledgments by the state of sovereign authority held by the Cherokee Nation.

In 1992, the UKB decided that it would follow the Cherokee Nation’s lead and also issue licenses to UKB members so they could open smoke shops. Understanding that this was a full tilt challenge by the UKB to the Cherokee Nation’s exclusive jurisdiction within its historic boundaries, the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, as directed by the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission, raided UKB smoke shops and shut them down. The UKB took several cases into court attempting to establish their right to also acquire land for the purpose of establishing smoke shops, and to license and sell tobacco, but in every instance, the federal court agreed with Director of Justice Chad Smith’s legal analysis of the situation and the action of the Cherokee Nation. (This is the source of the extreme ill-will the UKB bears toward Smith to this day).

The language of some of the cases includes:

1991 – UKB v. Secretary of the Interior, “…the 1946 Act, while recognizing the United Keetoowahs as a band of Indians within the meaning of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, can in no way be read as authorizing the Band to exercise concurrent jurisdiction over Cherokee lands within the jurisdiction of the former Cherokee Reservation. Furthermore, because the subject lands fall within the Cherokee Nation’s former reservation their consent is required…Therefore, we must affirm the Acting Area Director’s decision of December 19, 1985 and require the concurrence of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma before the Band’s request for trust land can properly be evaluated by the Muskogee Area Office.”

(So the UKB may not place land into trust within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction, which to date the Cherokee Nation has never given, despite several land-into-trust applications filed by the UKB during the twelve years of the Smith administration.)

1993 – Buzzard v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, “ …If the restriction against alienation were sufficient to make any land purchased by the UKB Indian Country, the UKB could remove land from state jurisdiction and force the federal government to exert jurisdiction over that and without either sovereign having any voice in the matter. Nothing in…the cases concerning land trust land indicates that the Supreme Court intended for Indian tribes to have such unilateral power to create Indian country.”

(The UKB cannot assert that its land is “Indian Country” according to the legal definition simply because it is owned by an Indian tribe, and therefore cannot assert jurisdiction different from that of the state).

1992-93 – UKB v. Mankiller, “…The court has previously determined in prior cases that the Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty is preeminent to that of the UKB in Cherokee Nation Indian Country.”

(The case was dismissed due to the sovereign immunity of the Cherokee Nation from suit. The court, however, acknowledged at several places in its ruling the precedents determining that the Cherokee Nation has exclusive territorial jurisdiction within its boundaries.)

2005 – Arkansas Riverbed Settlement, the UKB attempted to claim a portion of the Cherokee Nation’s share of the $40 million settlement over its ownership of the Arkansas Riverbed. The judge in the case noted that the UKB based its claims to the Arkansas riverbed "on the same statutes and treaties" that gives the Cherokee Nation sole ownership interest in the Arkansas riverbed and banks within its borders, and that the Cherokee Nation that owned the Arkansas riverbed and banks at the time of allotment is the same Cherokee Nation that exists today. The judge also stated that, "The Cherokee Nation also correctly notes that in the Settlement Act, Congress recognized the Cherokee Nation as a ‘federally recognized Indian tribe... [that] has maintained a continuous government-to-government relationship with the United States since the earliest years of the Union.’"

Thus the Cherokee Nation believes the matter has been settled for twenty years: according to the federal courts, the UKB has no right to place land into trust within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction, and does not have jurisdiction of any kind within the fourteen county area of northeastern Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation’s historic territory. This means that the casino the UKB operates in Tahlequah, which is not on trust land as is required of every other Indian tribe in the United State, is illegal under Oklahoma state law. The National Indian Gaming Commission has no jurisdiction over the issue, since it is not on trust land. Therefore it would be up to the county and the state to close it. Instead, a former District Attorney in Cherokee County, Dianne Barker-Harrold, refused to take action against the tribe. After eight years as DA, in 1999, she was hired by the UKB as their Attorney General. Likewise, county district judge John Garrett issued an injunction against closing the UKB casino in the early 2000s, which was challenged by the Oklahoma Attorney General. Garrett was later appointed as the Chief Justice of the UKB’s Supreme Court. (In a recent ugly twist, the Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation just confirmed Chief Baker’s appointment of John Garrett to the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. I voted against his appointment, along with five other councilors, but the good ol’ boy system is strong around here, and Garrett was confirmed.)

Likewise, the UKB, which has no taxation jurisdiction within the Cherokee Nation’s boundaries, issues car tags as well, which is a taxation function. This is also illegal on the face of it, but I have heard Chief Smith state that he didn’t pursue it since the relationship between the two entities was already so bad.

Throughout the Smith administration, the Cherokee Nation was aggressive in defending itself against UKB encroachment, and the Cherokee Nation prevailed in every single case, without exception. But in the tenth year of his tenure, a new Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Larry EchoHawk, brought a different sentiment to the situation than the federal courts and his predecessors had had. That story, and the talking points for your action, will be the next, and final installment to date of this story.

Julia

(Dr. Julia Coates is an At-Large councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The UKB and the "Punch Line

Hello, everyone –

I apologize for the delay in getting this next installment to you, but Christmas has overtaken me. I’m sure you can all relate to that! As we have seen in previous installments, by the 1970s, we had a Cherokee Nation that was beginning to stand up again for the first time since Oklahoma statehood, and we had the United Keetoowah Band that operated in conjunction with the Cherokee Nation, always stating that they were, in fact, an incorporated entity within the Cherokee Nation, rather than separate from it. By the early 1970s, the Cherokee Nation had established both a financial basis once again, by interest earned on a settlement from Indian Claims Commission concerning the 1893 sale of the Cherokee Outlet, and there had been an election for Principal Chief in 1971 – the first since statehood. W.W. Keeler, who had already served by Presidential appointment for twenty-two years, won that election by a landslide. One of Keeler’s initiatives was to develop a new Constitution, and for this he turned to a network of grassroots organizations that had emerged called the Original Cherokee Community Organizations (OCCO). Many members of the United Keetoowah Band were involved in these groups as well, and the OCCO groups acted as the entities that in large part drafted a new Constitution for the Cherokee Nation.

In 1975, that Constitution went into effect. Article XVI was contained within, which reads, “The provisions of this Constitution overrule and supersede the provisions of the Cherokee Nation Constitution enacted the 6th day of September 1839.” This sort of clause is seen in every Constitution and/or treaty that the Cherokee Nation adopted throughout its existence and is critical in creating a continuum of legal government from one document to the next. In short, the Cherokee Nation that ratified this 1975 Constitution is the same Cherokee Nation that ratified the preceding Constitution in 1839. There has been no break, no termination of this government, in the intervening years. The 1975 Constitution was accepted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, making it clear that the Bureau accepted at that time that the contemporary Cherokee Nation was the same Nation that had existed in the 1800s, not a different entity.

But even more significantly, in the following year of 1976, the federal courts also acknowledged the continuous, unbroken existence of the Cherokee Nation. In a case called Harjo v. Kleppe, filed in the US District Court in DC by a councilor of the Muscogee Creek Nation, Allen Harjo, , Federal District Judge Bryant issued a ruling that addressed many of the major issues the Cherokee Nation currently has today with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although the case specifically concerned issues brought by a Creek councilor, the ruling applies to all the Five Tribes, since the legal precedents involved all five, including the Cherokee Nation. Follow closely, for this case is the punch line!

In Harjo v. Kleppe, Judge Bryant said that although the intent of Congress from about 1890 to 1906 had been to terminate its relationships with the Five Tribes, that termination had never been statutorily achieved, and instead its relationships with the governments of the Five Tribes had been expressly and deliberately continued in the 1906 Five Tribes Act. There is no “old” Cherokee Nation and “new” Cherokee Nation (as the UKB and its supporters, now also including Assistant Secretary EchoHawk, assert), but only one continuous Cherokee Nation, just as the Bureau itself had acknowledged only a year earlier by its acceptance of the superseding 1975 Cherokee Nation Constitution.

The Judge also stated that the passage of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA) in 1936 did not have any bearing on the existence of the Five Tribes. It was intended to offer tribes a way to re-organize essentially as corporate entities for the purpose of small business and cultural development. The existence of tribes as governments, especially of the Five Tribes which had strong legacies as republics in the Indian Territory, was not affected. The United States was already “recognizing” them, so there was no requirement that they re-organize in this fashion. Thus the argument on the part of the UKB and its supporters that it is the “older brother” of the Cherokee Nation “of Oklahoma,” as they insist on misnaming the Cherokee Nation, is entirely false. The UKB was established as a corporate entity in 1946. The Cherokee Nation has existed as a recognized sovereign government through its treaties with Great Britain and the United States since 1721. And the Cherokee Nation is the government that the territorial land base and all jurisdictions and governmental interests in the Indian Territory were ceded to in 1828. The United Keetoowah Band did not exist at that time; the Cherokee Nation has never not existed since that time.

And finally, the judge in this case also stated that if it wanted to, the Cherokee Nation was legally entitled to develop a new Constitution either under the terms of the OIWA (if it wanted to reorganize under that Act) or as an inherent sovereign, since it continued to hold that status. The Cherokee Nation, through several administrations, has continued to maintain and defend its status as an “inherent” sovereign. To re-organize under the federal statute would greatly reduce our level of sovereignty, since it would give the Bureau greater oversight of our government, such as approval authority over our election processes, elections, and constitutional process.

So thirty-five years ago, a federal court had already addressed the three major conflicts that we are having with the BIA today: (1) it said that we are not a “successor” to the old Cherokee Nation, but in fact, are still the same Cherokee Nation; (2) it said we are not required to organize under the OIWA; and (3) it said that we have the right to adopt Constitutions without necessitating BIA approval over the document the citizens of the Cherokee Nation choose to ratify. Today, the BIA is directly contradicting the first point by granting the UKB the same level of jurisdiction within the Cherokee Nation’s boundaries, and it is strongly trying to intimidate us in contradiction to the second two points. (These are the talking points for your action letters to Principal Chief Baker, the Council and the BIA. I will delineate them more concisely in the very near future. We are almost up to date on this story.)

And the punch line to the punch line: the attorney for the BIA who lost the Harjo v. Kleppe case in 1976 was named Scott Keep. The attorney who is advising Assistant Secretary EchoHawk today on these matters is (wait for it)…Scott Keep.

Once again, law and history are very subject to interpretation. This specific installment is particularly contested by the UKB and its supporters, but as I consistently state, it doesn’t matter what anyone’s interpretation is. The only one that matters is that of the federal courts. And this is very directly the federal court’s interpretation. No appeal was heard, subsequent cases have relied on this one as a precedent, and so this stands to this day.

In the next installment, we will at last uncover the reasons for the rising tensions between the UKB and the Cherokee Nation in the past thirty years.

Julia

(Dr. Julia Coates is an At-Large councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cherokee-Keetoowah in the mid 20th Century

Hello, everyone –

In our continuing saga of the Cherokee-Keetoowah relationships, we move into the mid-20th century. Before starting off, I will add my caveat once again: history and law are very interpretive endeavors. There will be those who disagree with this interpretation, but in the end, the only interpretation that matters is that of the federal courts. And the courts to date have supported the interpretation I am offering to you.

In 1937 the Keetoowahs had been rebuffed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in their attempt to organize as a “band or tribe of Indians” under the terms of the OIWA. The Bureau is an agency of the Executive Branch, but the other branches of government have also been empowered to create and/or recognize tribal groups as well. So in the mid-1940s, the politically-oriented Keetoowah organization(s) of that era gave it another shot. This time they approached the legislative branch, the Congress, with a request to organize as a band or tribe of Indians. And this time, in 1946, the Congress did what the Bureau had refused to do almost a decade earlier and they passed legislation recognizing the “Keetoowah Indians of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma as a band or tribe of Indians under the meaning of the [Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act]” (emphasis mine). (See attachment).

So even as Congress created this new tribe or band for the purposes of accessing the programs and benefits offered by the OIWA, they acknowledged, just as the Bureau had previously, that the Keetoowahs were a part of the Cherokee Nation. As a statute, the OIWA was passed in an era when the idea of modern tribal governmental sovereignty was probably just a gleam in a young dreamer’s eye. Certainly it was not on the radar of federal legislators. The intent of the OIWA seems to be about forming incorporated entities for small business development, especially cultural enterprises. And it seems that Congress may have approached the incorporation of the Keetoowahs from this perspective, indicating even as they did so, that they understood that this incorporated group was still within the government called the Cherokee Nation. But it is hard to know in hindsight what Congress may have understood they were doing.

It is more reliably known that the Keetoowahs were attempting simply to incorporate their organization, not to be recognized as a separate or different government from the Cherokee Nation. A former official of the United Keetoowah Band has team taught the Cherokee Nation History Course with me in the past. He has shared with classes that in the 1980s, he was fortunate to interview, in the Cherokee language, some of the “old timers” who were instrumental in the organizing effort of the 1940s. And he states unequivocally that it was never their thought to be separate from the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation was their government. They were simply trying to access additional services offered by the legislation. (Those recorded interviews, he believes, are archived at the University of Arkansas, but one would have to speak Cherokee in order to understand them!)

The incorporated group created in 1946 began to draft a Constitution, as they were allowed to do under the OIWA. In 1950, that document was approved by the BIA, in accordance with the Act, which states that all Constitutions, by-laws, and revisions of such documents, must be approved by the Bureau for groups organized under this statute. (This is one of the main reasons the Cherokee Nation has refused to reorganize under the OIWA). By this document, their official name was established as the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (UKBCIO). But we normally refer to them as simply the UKB. They elected officers, including their first “Chief,” the Rev. Jim Pickup, and thus were launched.

Their Constitution stated that they would have elections every four years, but by 1962, they had never had an election after the first, so they were ordered by the Bureau to have another, which they did the following year. At that time, Rev. Pickup was re-elected to be their “Chief,” and Rachel Quinton, former Principal Chief Chad Smith’s grandmother, was elected their Secretary. Beginning in the early 1960s, there are some records of their meetings and efforts which were clearly centered around economic development enterprises. Interestingly, in the minutes of their meetings throughout the 1960s, the interactions between the UKB and Principal Chief W.W. Keeler are constant. With Keeler himself, or through his representative, Earl Boyd Pierce, the desire of the Cherokee Nation to not step on the efforts of the UKB, as well as the UKB’s constant repetitions that Keeler is their Chief and the Cherokee Nation is their government, the support that each offered the other is obvious. but it also obvious that at many points, the Bureau tried to bypass the

But evidence of the UKB’s organizational difficulties is also in the minutes and correspondence from this time. There are repeated remarks about the inability to recruit people to serve as officers, resignations from positions, and a general lack of time or interest on the part of community members to participate. Any fledgling community organization will recognize these issues as constant obstacles to growth.

And by the mid-1970s, the UKB had largely floundered as the Cherokee Nation began to revitalize once more. With the passage of the Principal Chief’s Act in 1970, which established a mechanism for the Five Tribes to elect their Chiefs again for the first time since Oklahoma statehood, and the federal Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975, a new policy era opened which enabled tribes to push the envelope further and further in re-establishing sovereign powers that had largely been stripped by federal paternalism throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. As had happened in 1906 when the anticipated demise of the Cherokee Nation had not occurred, a rejuvenated Cherokee Nation in the 1970s rendered obsolete the intended purpose of the Keetoowah groups of each era – to find a way to continue with some semblance of an organization if the Cherokee Nation no longer existed.

And then the dam broke for all the Five Tribes! Tomorrow we will get to the punch line for all of this –

Julia (Dr. Julia Coates is an At-Large Councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keetoowahs and Cherokee Nation enter Contested Waters

From this point on, the story of the Keetoowahs and the Cherokee Nation gets into contested waters. Before setting off on today’s episode, I will note again that both history and law are very interpretive endeavors. The version I am giving is one that is contested at some points by the UKB and its supporters. But the thing to remember is that in the end, it doesn’t matter what my version is, or what the UKB’s version is, or what anyone’s version is. The only version that matters is the one that is accepted by the federal courts. And the one I am offering here is the one that the courts have upheld – several times now.

The date of termination of the Cherokee Nation had been set as March 4, 1906. But tribal termination requires a piece of legislation to be achieved. And on March 4, 1906, no such legislation had been drafted or introduced. Instead of termination legislation, a different kind of legislation was in the works. (As an aside, the idea that the United States could put an end to the Cherokee Nation is laughable. Short of outright genocide, that is not within their power. So “termination” really means that they would end their recognition of us, just as the US does not recognize certain other governments in the world, for instance.)

On April 26, 1906, the Five Tribes Act was passed in Congress. Intended to tie up loose ends resulting from the complexity of the allotment process, the legislation was also necessitated by the fact that oil had been discovered midway through the allotment process. If tribal governments were terminated, the leasing process would be complicated by the need to negotiate with literally tens of thousands of individual allottees. It was an expediency to continue the five tribal governments for the purpose of signing off on leases, transfers of allotments, etc.

Although tying up the final affairs of the allotment process, the Act reversed the march toward tribal terminations. Instead of ending the federal relationship and recognition with the Five Tribes, Section 28 the 1906 Act expressly continued “in full force and effect” the governments of the Five Tribes! (See first attachment)

So the Cherokee Nation, or actually the federal recognition of the Cherokee Nation, was never terminated. This counters one of the arguments of the UKB and its supporters that there is an “old” Cherokee Nation that ended in 1906 and a “new” Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma that came into existence in 1975 with the Constitution of that year. But the Five Tribes Act of 1906 does not terminate the Cherokee Nation, in fact quite clearly does exactly the opposite. Again, although the UKB and its supporters may disagree, the only interpretation that matters is that of the federal court – and the federal court has said several times that the contemporary Cherokee Nation is the same government that existed in the 1800s. There has been no legal break in the continuum of its existence.

In the first decades of the twentieth century the ceremonial Nighthawk Keetoowah Society continued to function at ceremonial grounds throughout northeastern Oklahoma. Although the number of practitioners began to diminish again after the rejuvenation of the allotment period, there was a continuous lineage of practice that exists to this day. The political Keetoowah Society, Inc., also dwindled as an incorporated entity, after the government of the Cherokee Nation was “expressly continued” by federal statute, rather than terminated, since their action had been taken only in anticipation of the Cherokee Nation’s loss of recognition. These Keetoowahs resumed their grassroots, community-oriented activities and in these early decades of the 1900s, several organizations, all offshoots of the old Keetoowah Society, Inc., emerged, functioned for a time, and then died out.

These organizations and others were important from the 1920s through the ‘40s as the Cherokee Nation’s government only nominally functioned throughout those years. A consortium of grassroots organizations thus became the primary collective decision-making mechanism among the Cherokees. By the 1930s, as federal Indian policy was beginning to be somewhat more favorable toward Indians, legislation was passed in 1934 called the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA). It gave tribes that would agree to reorganize under its corporate business model the possibility to access additional federal programs for Indians, including supports for cultural arts enterprises and lending cooperatives for small business development.

Initially tribes in Oklahoma rejected inclusion in the IRA, but after observing some of the benefits to those tribes that had organized under it, a number of tribes in Oklahoma got together to request a similar act that would pertain to them. And so, in 1936, the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA) was passed. This Act was similar to the IRA in that it offered the same types of programs. It was also similar in that it demanded a corporate model of organization, rather than a governmental model, of those tribes that adopted it. (See attachment). While the tribes in the central and western part of Oklahoma organized under this legislation, initially none of the Five Tribes did.

But within the Cherokee Nation, the politically-oriented Keetoowah organizations made an appeal in 1937 to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be organized as a “…band or tribe of Indians…” under the terms of Section 3 of the OIWA. The Bureau rejected this petition on the basis that the Keetoowahs were not different from the Cherokee Nation, in fact were a part of the Cherokee Nation, and the Cherokee Nation was already recognized by the United States.

But the question remained: without formally organizing under the OIWA, would the Cherokee Nation be able to access the programs it offered?

That question would not be answered for several more decades and only after Congress created additional complications. More tomorrow…

Julia.
(Dr. Julia Coates is a councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Keetoowah and the Civil War Era

Today we will continue with the history of the conflict between the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band (UKB). In my previous update I outlined the emergence of the Keetoowah Society as a political movement from the Civil War era and stated that the name “Keetoowah” began to be used about this organization at this time. This is important because one of the arguments the UKB makes today to try to support its assertions that it is a government of equal jurisdictional standing with the Cherokee Nation goes back to an even earlier era and involves an extreme revisioning of Cherokee history.

 In the past eight or ten years, the UKB has claimed that “the Keetoowahs” (and again, this is obscure as to whether this means the political or the ceremonial group) are the descendants of the Old Settlers, those Cherokees who emigrated first to Arkansas in 1817, and then were relocated to the Indian Territory in 1828. These dates are prior to the Trail of Tears, and the both of the treaties involved conveyed tracts of land to the Cherokee Nation from the United States. The intent of this revisioning of Cherokee history has been to suggest that the Keetoowahs were the original and earliest occupiers of the land base that is now the disputed jurisdictional area, occupied it before the Cherokee Nation did, in other words.

 These claims can be easily disputed and dismissed. First, it is impossible to link the founders or the membership of the UKB in the twentieth century exclusively as descendants of the Old Settlers. Second, as I stated yesterday, there are no references to any group called “Keetoowah” in the extensive documentary record prior to 1858. Third, and most significantly, the government to which the land in Arkansas was ceded in 1817 and in the Indian Territory in 1828 was the Cherokee Nation. Land is not conveyed by treaty to individuals or sub-groups within a citizenry, but to a government. And that government was very clearly “the Cherokee Nation” as stated in both treaties, and so that is the government that took ownership of those lands.

 There is no question that history and law are two fields that are very interpretive, and it is not unusual for historians, like lawyers, to argue over the meanings and merits of the past. But the UKB’s rewriting of this aspect of the Cherokee Nation’s history is not one that is accepted or repeated by any reputable historian. In fact, one doesn’t find this interpretation anywhere except in the UKB’s own literature and in its museum. It would be easy to dismiss this claim, and most do, but for unknowing members of the media and the public, these assertions made by the UKB and its supporters have been picked up uncritically from press releases and propaganda and have been repeated to the point that many people simply accept these misrepresentations as truth. So it is important to understand that the emergence of the Keetoowah Society as a political and military organization was in the Civil War, and not before.

 Now, I will pick up from yesterday’s story and move on. The Keetoowah Society experienced a split in its membership around 1900, midway through the allotment era. For most of the 1890s, the clear intent of the federal government had been to terminate its relationship with and recognition of the Cherokee Nation. Through several pieces of legislation, including the Curtis Act of 1898 which abolished Cherokee law and courts and extended Arkansas law over the Indian Territory, and the Cherokee Agreements of 1901-1902 which legislated March 4, 1906 as the day when the government of the Cherokee Nation would cease to exist in the eyes of the United States, every move on the part of the US had been to dismantle the governments of all the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole). In these extraordinary times, the Keetoowahs were fairly unified in their opposition to allotment.

 But social scientists have frequently noted that in desperate times, religious revitalizations frequently occur within a People, and this happened among the Cherokees as well. A ceremonial practice, which had been almost lost among the Cherokees by this time, was rejuvenated in large part by the efforts of Redbird Smith (great-grandfather of former Chief Chad Smith), who rekindled the ceremonial fire at a newly-established ceremonial grounds at Blackgum Mountain in present-day Sequoyah County. Very quickly, thousands of Cherokees began to participate once again, and Redbird led these practitioners away from the politically-organized Keetoowah Society toward a stated goal of “getting back to the old ways” – in short, of re-focusing on ceremonial practices.

 But these ceremonialists, who had the moniker “Nighthawk Keetoowahs” bestowed upon them by the local white media in Muskogee, were far from uninvolved in the events of their Nation. Coupled with their revived spiritual practices, the Nighthawks also engaged in a campaign of passive resistance to enrollment for allotment. They evaded federal commissioners and returned unwanted allotment deeds unopened. While the Nighthawks began to be identified as a separate movement due to their return to ceremonial practice, the politically-oriented members of the Keetoowah Society persisted with an organization as well. They were active in the Sequoyah Convention in 1905 (an attempt by the Five Tribes to create an Indian state out of their territories). In that same year, when it appeared the Cherokee Nation was soon going to be legislated out of existence, they applied for a federal charter of incorporation, which they received, establishing the Keetoowah Society, Inc.

By the end of the allotment era, the Keetoowah Society had thus split into two distinct movements and organizations. But in 1906, something amazing happened. And that’s tomorrow’s story!

 Julia
(Dr. Julia Coates is a councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Allotment Era Keetoowah Societies


Subject: Cherokee Nation Update: The Allotment Era Keetoowah Societies



Hello, everyone –

Today we will continue with the history of the conflict between the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band (UKB).  In my previous update I outlined the emergence of the Keetoowah Society as a political movement from the Civil War era and stated that the name “Keetoowah” began to be used about this organization at this time. This is important because one of the arguments the UKB makes today to try to support its assertions that it is a government of equal jurisdictional standing with the Cherokee Nation goes back to an even earlier era and involves an extreme revisioning of Cherokee history.

In the past eight or ten years, the UKB has claimed that “the Keetoowahs” (and again, this is obscure as to whether this means the political or the ceremonial group) are the descendants of the Old Settlers, those Cherokees who emigrated first to Arkansas in 1817, and then were relocated to the Indian Territory in 1828. These dates are prior to the Trail of Tears, and the both of the treaties involved conveyed tracts of land to the Cherokee Nation from the United States. The intent of this revisioning of Cherokee history has been to suggest that the Keetoowahs were the original and earliest occupiers of the land base that is now the disputed jurisdictional area, occupied it before the Cherokee Nation did, in other words.

These claims can be easily disputed and dismissed. First, it is impossible to link the founders or the membership of the UKB in the twentieth century exclusively as descendants of the Old Settlers. Second, as I stated yesterday, there are no references to any group called “Keetoowah” in the extensive documentary record prior to 1858. Third, and most significantly, the government to which the land in Arkansas was ceded in 1817 and in the Indian Territory in 1828 was the Cherokee Nation. Land is not conveyed by treaty to individuals or sub-groups within a citizenry, but to a government. And that government was very clearly “the Cherokee Nation” as stated in both treaties, and so that is the government that took ownership of those lands.

There is no question that history and law are two fields that are very interpretive, and it is not unusual for historians, like lawyers, to argue over the meanings and merits of the past. But the UKB’s rewriting of this aspect of the Cherokee Nation’s history is not one that is accepted or repeated by any reputable historian. In fact, one doesn’t find this interpretation anywhere except in the UKB’s own literature and in its museum. It would be easy to dismiss this claim, and most do, but for unknowing members of the media and the public, these assertions made by the UKB and its supporters have been picked up uncritically from press releases and propaganda and have been repeated to the point that many people simply accept these misrepresentations as truth. So it is important to understand that the emergence of the Keetoowah Society as a political and military organization was in the Civil War, and not before.

Now, I will pick up from yesterday’s story and move on. The Keetoowah Society experienced a split in its membership around 1900, midway through the allotment era. For most of the 1890s, the clear intent of the federal government had been to terminate its relationship with and recognition of the Cherokee Nation. Through several pieces of legislation, including the Curtis Act of 1898 which abolished Cherokee law and courts and extended Arkansas law over the Indian Territory, and the Cherokee Agreements of 1901-1902 which legislated March 4, 1906 as the day when the government of the Cherokee Nation would cease to exist in the eyes of the United States, every move on the part of the US had been to dismantle the governments of all the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole). In these extraordinary times, the Keetoowahs were fairly unified in their opposition to allotment.

But social scientists have frequently noted that in desperate times, religious revitalizations frequently occur within a People, and this happened among the Cherokees as well. A ceremonial practice, which had been almost lost among the Cherokees by this time, was rejuvenated in large part by the efforts of Redbird Smith (great-grandfather of former Chief Chad Smith), who rekindled the ceremonial fire at a newly-established ceremonial grounds at Blackgum Mountain in present-day Sequoyah County. Very quickly, thousands of Cherokees began to participate once again, and Redbird led these practitioners away from the politically-organized Keetoowah Society toward a stated goal of “getting back to the old ways” – in short, of re-focusing on ceremonial practices.

But these ceremonialists, who had the moniker “Nighthawk Keetoowahs” bestowed upon them by the local white media in Muskogee, were far from uninvolved in the events of their Nation. Coupled with their revived spiritual practices, the Nighthawks also engaged in a campaign of passive resistance to enrollment for allotment. They evaded federal commissioners and returned unwanted allotment deeds unopened. While the Nighthawks began to be identified as a separate movement due to their return to ceremonial practice, the politically-oriented members of the Keetoowah Society persisted with an organization as well. They were active in the Sequoyah Convention in 1905 (an attempt by the Five Tribes to create an Indian state out of their territories). In that same year, when it appeared the Cherokee Nation was soon going to be legislated out of existence, they applied for a federal charter of incorporation, which they received, establishing the Keetoowah Society, Inc.

By the end of the allotment era, the Keetoowah Society had thus split into two distinct movements and organizations. But in 1906, something amazing happened. And that’s tomorrow’s story!

Julia Coates
(Dr. Julia Coates is an At-Large Councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

The Original Keetoowah Society of Cherokee

Subject: Cherokee Nation Update: The Original Keetoowah Society

Hello, everyone –

This week I will give a history of the issues between the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band (UKB) – issues that are currently threatening the Cherokee Nation’s historic jurisdiction in northeastern Oklahoma. This is a complex story so I will be taking several days to cover it. And then I will provide some talking points for you to use in communicating your concerns to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the elected officials of the Cherokee Nation.

Part of the confusion today results from the fact that there are actually two different entities that informally call themselves “Keetoowahs.” One is the Keetoowah Society, a ceremonial group that was revitalized in the allotment era and which still functions at several ceremonial grounds in northeastern Oklahoma, and the other is the United Keetoowah Band, an organization incorporated in 1946 under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (a federal act) for the purposes of accessing programs offered by that legislation. Although each organization customarily refers to itself as “the Keetoowahs,” they are not the same organization. The ceremonial group has a private membership, usually acquired by birth or by invitation. The UKB is a political organization whose membership is open to anyone who meets the criteria: directly descended from the Dawes Rolls and of at least ¼ blood degree.

The emergence of the original Keetoowah Society in the Cherokee Nation was around 1858 or ’59, just prior to the Civil War. At that time, it organized at the request of Principal Chief John Ross as a way to counter the influences of southern-sympathizing Cherokees led by Stand Watie. Ross approached his longstanding friends, the northern Baptist missionary team of the Rev. Evan Jones and his son John B. Jones, with a request that they quietly ask their congregations to form this counterpoint group. Although ultimately comprised of both ceremonial and Christian Cherokees, it was initially led by Cherokee Baptist ministers trained and ordained by the Joneses – Budd Gritts, Lewis Downing, and Smith Christie. This early Keetoowah Society’s stated goals were to hold the line on the rising southern influences within the Nation and to place themselves at the disposal of the Ross administration and family for their protection. This is the organization within which the “Pin” Indians formed – about 1500 Cherokee men who fought as part of the Indian Home Guard, a Union regiment. Overall, the Keetoowah Society was a large organization during the Civil War, counting an estimated 70% of Cherokees as its members – basically all those who opposed the Confederacy.

The ceremonial Keetoowahs of today have an oral history that says that the Keetoowah Society as a ceremonial group did not emerge in the Civil War, but existed from ancient times. I’ve no doubt that is true, but I don’t personally believe that the name “Keetoowah” was used by the ceremonialists previous to the Civil War. My reasoning is this: there is no tribe in the country that is as documented as the Cherokees, in large part because of the development of the written language and our habit of launching strong legal and political defenses of our Nation and sovereignty, including an impressive body of political rhetoric authored by Cherokees. There are copious missionary accounts as well written by people who worked closely with the Cherokees and who were particularly observant of their “pagan/heathen” ceremonial practices, which the missionaries frequently noted and condemned. So those practices were not a secret, in fact seemed pretty flagrant from the perspective of the missionaries. And yet nowhere in the extensive documentary record of the Cherokees is there any mention of a “Keetoowah Society” or anything bearing that name, except the old town of Kituhwa, until the Civil War era. And then suddenly there are numerous mentions of a group called that, and the group itself is developing constitutions and keeping membership lists, etc. So although I absolutely believe that ceremonial societies existed far back in time and came through the ages, I also think the name “Keetoowah” was adopted around the Civil War period. And the group at that time had a predominantly political purpose and secondarily a military purpose, rather than a ceremonial purpose.

The Civil War era Keetoowah Society provided leadership to the Cherokee Nation after the death of Principal Chief John Ross in 1866. Subsequent Principal Chiefs such as Lewis Downing and Charles Thompson (Ochelata) were members of the Keetoowah Society. It was not a political party, per se, but was a movement within the Cherokee Nation that continued throughout the last decades of the 1800s, always identified as a community-based, grassroots organization of more traditionally-oriented subsistence Cherokee people.

The stresses of the allotment period contributed to increased activity by the Keetoowah Society, but also resulted in a split in the Society. And that’s when things start to be confusing. That will be tomorrow’s story.

Julia Coates
(Dr. Julia Coates is an At-Large Councilor on the Cherokee Nation Council)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

1866 Treaty with the Cherokee

TREATY WITH THE CHEROKEE, 1866.

July 19, 1866. | 14 Stats., 799. | Ratified July 27, 1866. | Proclaimed Aug. 11, 1866

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/vol2/treaties/che0942.htm

Articles of agreement and convention at the city of Washington on the nineteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, between the United States, represented by Dennis N. Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, [and] Elijah Sells, superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern superintendency, and the Cherokee Nation of Indians, represented by its delegates, James McDaniel, Smith Christie, White Catcher, S. H. Benge, J. B. Jones, and Daniel H. Ross—John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokces, being too unwell to join in these negotiations.

PREAMBLE.

Whereas existing treaties between the United States and the Cherokee Nation are deemed to be insufficient, the said contracting parties agree as follows, viz:

ARTICLE 1.
The pretended treaty made with the so-called Confederate States by the Cherokee Nation on the seventh day of October, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, and repudiated by the national council of the Cherokee Nation on the eighteenth day of February, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, is hereby declared to be void.

ARTICLE 2.
Amnesty is hereby declared by the United States and the Cherokee Nation for all crimes and misdemeanors committed by one Cherokee on the person or property of another Cherokee, or of a citizen of the United States, prior to the fourth day of July, eighteen hundred and sixty-six; and no right of action arising out of wrongs committed in aid or in the suppression of the rebellion shall be prosecuted or maintained in the courts of the United States or in the courts of the Cherokee Nation.
But the Cherokee Nation stipulate and agree to deliver up to the United States, or their duly authorized agent, any or all public property, particularly ordnance, ordnance stores, arms of all kinds, and quartermaster's stores, in their possession or control, which belonged to the United States or the so-called Confederate States, without any reservation.

ARTICLE 3.
The confiscation laws of the Cherokee Nation shall be repealed, and the same, and all sales of farms, and improvements on real estate, made or pretended to be made in pursuance thereof, are hereby agreed and declared to be null and void, and the former owners of such property so sold, their heirs or assigns, shall have the right peaceably to re-occupy their homes, and the purchaser under the confiscation laws, or his heirs or assigns, shall be repaid by the treasurer of the Cherokee Nation from the national funds, the money paid for said property and the cost of permanent improvements on such real estate, made thereon since the confiscation sale; the cost of such improvements to be fixed by a commission, to be composed of one person designated by the Secretary of the Interior and one by the principal chief of the nation, which two may appoint a third in cases of disagreement, which cost so fixed shall be refunded to the national treasurer by the returning Cherokees within three years from the ratification hereof.

ARTICLE 4.
All the Cherokees and freed persons who were formerly slaves to any Cherokee, and all free negroes not having been such slaves, who resided in the Cherokee Nation prior to June first, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, who may within two years elect not to reside northeast of the Arkansas River and southeast of Grand River, shall have the right to settle in and occupy the Canadian district southwest of the Arkansas River, and also all that tract of country lying northwest of Grand River, and bounded on the southeast by Grand River and west by the Creek reservation to the northeast corner thereof; from thence west on the north line of the Creek reservation to the ninety-sixth degree of west longitude; and thence north on said line of longitude so far that a line due east to Grand River will include a quantity of land equal to one hundred and sixty acres for each person who may so elect to reside in the territory above-described in this article: Provided, That that part of said district north of the Arkansas River shall not be set apart until it shall be found that the Canadian district is not sufficiently large to allow one hundred and sixty acres to each person desiring to obtain settlement under the provisions of this article.

ARTICLE 5.
The inhabitants electing to reside in the district described in the preceding article shall have the right to elect all their local officers and judges, and the number of delegates to which by their numbers they may be entitled in any general council to be established in the Indian Territory under the provisions of this treaty, as stated in Article XII, and to control all their local affairs, and to establish all necessary police regulations and rules for the administration of justice in said district, not inconsistent with the constitution of the Cherokee Nation or the laws of the United States; Provided, The Cherokees residing in said district shall enjoy all the rights and privileges of other Cherokees who may elect to settle in said district as hereinbefore provided, and shall hold the same rights and privileges and be subject to the same liabilities as those who elect to settle in said district under the provisions of this treaty; Provided also, That if any such police regulations or rules be adopted which, in the opinion of the President, bear oppressively on any citizen of the nation, he may suspend the same. And all rules or regulations in said district, or in any other district of the nation, discriminating against the citizens of other districts, are prohibited, and shall be void.

ARTICLE 6.
The inhabitants of the said district hereinbefore described shall be entitled to representation according to numbers in the national council, and all laws of the Cherokee Nation shall be uniform throughout said nation. And should any such law, either in its provisions or in the manner of its enforcement, in the opinion of the President of the United States, operate unjustly or injuriously in said district, he is hereby authorized and empowered to correct such evil, and to adopt the means necessary to secure the impartial administration of justice, as well as a fair and equitable application and expenditure of the national funds as between the people of this and of every other district in said nation.

ARTICLE 7.
The United States court to be created in the Indian Territory; and until such court is created therein, the United States district court, the nearest to the Cherokee Nation, shall have exclusive original jurisdiction of all causes, civil and criminal, wherein an inhabitant of the district hereinbefore described shall be a party, and where an inhabitant outside of said district, in the Cherokee Nation, shall be the other party, as plaintiff or defendant in a civil cause, or shall be defendant or prosecutor in a criminal case, and all process issued in said district by any officer of the Cherokee Nation, to be executed on an inhabitant residing outside of said district, and all process issued by any officer of the Cherokee Nation outside of said district, to be executed on an inhabitant residing in said district, shall be to all intents and purposes null and void, unless indorsed by the district judge for the district where such process is to be served, and said person, so arrested, shall be held in custody by the officer so arresting him, until he shall be delivered over to the United States marshal, or consent to be tried by the Cherokee court: Provided, That any or all the provisions of this treaty, which make any distinction in rights and remedies between the citizens of any district and the citizens of the rest of the nation, shall be abrogated whenever the President shall have ascertained, by an election duly ordered by him, that a majority of the voters of such district desire them to be abrogated, and he shall have declared such abrogation: And provided further, That no law or regulation, to be hereafter enacted within said Cherokee Nation or any district thereof, prescribing a penalty for its violation, shall take effect or be enforced until after ninety days from the date of its promulgation, either by publication in one or more newspapers of general circulation in said Cherokee Nation, or by posting up copies thereof in the Cherokee and English languages in each district where the same is to take effect, at the usual place of holding district courts.

ARTICLE 8.
No license to trade in goods, wares, or merchandise merchandise shall be granted by the United States to trade in the Cherokee Nation, unless approved by the Cherokee national council, except in the Canadian district, and such other district north of Arkansas River and west of Grand River occupied by the so-called southern Cherokees, as provided in Article 4 of this treaty.

ARTICLE 9.
The Cherokee Nation having, voluntarily, in February, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, by an act of the national council, forever abolished slavery, hereby covenant and agree that never hereafter shall either slavery or involuntary servitude exist in their nation otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, in accordance with laws applicable to all the members of said tribe alike. They 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.

ARTICLE 10.
Every Cherokee and freed person resident in the Cherokee Nation shall have the right to sell any products of his farm, including his or her live stock, or any merchandise or manufactured products, and to ship and drive the same to market without restraint, paying any tax thereon which is now or may be levied by the United States on the quantity sold outside of the Indian Territory.

ARTICLE 11.
The Cherokee Nation hereby grant a right of way not exceeding two hundred feet wide, except at stations, switches, waterstations, or crossing of rivers, where more may be indispensable to the full enjoyment of the franchise herein granted, and then only two hundred additional feet shall be taken, and only for such length as may be absolutely necessary, through all their lands, to any company or corporation which shall be duly authorized by Congress to construct a railroad from any point north to any point south, and from any point east to any point west of, and which may pass through, the Cherokee Nation. Said company or corporation, and their employ├ęs and laborers, while constructing and repairing the same, and in operating said road or roads, including all necessary agents on the line, at stations, switches, water tanks, and all others necessary to the successful operation of a railroad, shall be protected in the discharge of their duties, and at all times subject to the Indian intercourse laws, now or which may hereafter be enacted and be in force in the Cherokee Nation.

ARTICLE 12.
The Cherokees agree that a general council, consisting of delegates elected by each nation or tribe lawfully residing within the Indian Territory, may be annually convened in said Territory, which council shall be organized in such manner and possess such powers as hereinafter prescribed.
First. After the ratification of this treaty, and as soon as may be deemed practicable by the Secretary of the Interior, and prior to the first session of said council, a census or enumeration of each tribe lawfully resident in said Territory shall be taken under the direction of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who for that purpose is hereby authorized to designate and appoint competent persons, whose compensation shall be fixed by the Secretary of the Interior, and paid by the United States.
Second. The first general council shall consist of one member from each tribe, and an additional member for each one thousand Indians, or each fraction of a thousand greater than five hundred, being members of any tribe lawfully resident in said Territory, and shall be selected by said tribes respectively, who may assent to the establishment of said general council; and if none should be thus formally selected by any nation or tribe so assenting, the said nation or tribe shall be represented in said general council by the chief or chiefs and headmen of said tribes, to be taken in the order of their rank as recognized in tribal usage, in the same number and proportion as above indicated. After the said census shall have been taken and completed, the superintendent of Indian affairs shall publish and declare to each tribe assenting to the establishment of such council the number of members of such council to which they shall be entitled under the provisions of this article, and the persons entitled to represent said tribes shall meet at such time and place as he shall approve; but thereafter the time and place of the sessions of said council shall be determined by its action: Provided, That no session in any one year shall exceed the term of thirty days: And provided, That special sessions of said council may be called by the Secretary of the Interior whenever in his judgment the interest of said tribes shall require such special session.

Third. Said general council shall have power to legislate upon matters pertaining to the intercourse and relations of the Indian tribes and nations and colonies of freedmen resident in said Territory; the arrest and extradition of criminals and offenders escaping from one tribe to another, or into any community of freedmen; the administration of justice between members of different tribes of said Territory and persons other than Indians and members of said tribes or nations; and the common defence and safety of the nations of said Territory.

All laws enacted by such council shall take effect at such time as may therein be provided, unless suspended by direction of the President of the United States. No law shall be enacted inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, or laws of Congress, or existing treaty stipulations with the United States. Nor shall said council legislate upon matters other than those above indicated: Provided, however, That the legislative power of such general council may be enlarged by the consent of the national council of each nation or tribe assenting to its establishment, with the approval of the President of the United States.

Fourth. Said council shall be presided over by such person as may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior.

Fifth. The council shall elect a secretary, whose duty it shall be to keep an accurate record of all the proceedings of said council, and who shall transmit a true copy of all such proceedings, duly certified by the presiding officer of such council, to the Secretary of the Interior, and to each tribe or nation represented in said council, immediately after the sessions of said council shall terminate. He shall be paid out of the Treasury of the United States an annual salary of five hundred dollars.
Sixth. The members of said council shall be paid by the United States the sum of four dollars per diem during the term actually in attendance on the sessions of said council, and at the rate of four dollars for every twenty miles necessarily traveled by them in going from and returning to their homes, respectively, from said council, to be certified by the secretary and president of the said council.

ARTICLE 13.
The Cherokees also agree that a court or courts may be established by the United States in said Territory, with such jurisdiction and organized in such manner as may be prescribed by law: Provided, That the judicial tribunals of the nation shall be allowed to retain exclusive jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases arising within their country in which members of the nation, by nativity or adoption, shall be the only parties, or where the cause of action shall arise in the Cherokee Nation, except as otherwise provided in this treaty.

ARTICLE 14.
The right to the use and occupancy of a quantity of land not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, to be selected according to legal subdivisions in one body, and to include their improvements, and not including the improvements of any member of the Cherokee Nation, is hereby granted to every society or denomination which has erected, or which with the consent of the national council may hereafter erect, buildings within the Cherokee country for missionary or educational purposes. But no land thus granted, nor buildings which have been or may be erected thereon, shall ever be sold or [o]therwise disposed of except with the consent and approval of the Cherokee national council and the Secretary of the Interior. And whenever any such lands or buildings shall be sold or disposed of, the proceeds thereof shall be applied by said society or societies for like purposes within said nation, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

ARTICLE 15.
The United States may settle any civilized Indians, friendly with the Cherokees and adjacent tribes, within the Cherokee country, on unoccupied lands east of 96°, on such terms as may be agreed upon by any such tribe and the Cherokees, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, which shall be consistent with the following provisions, viz: Should any such tribe or band of Indians settling in said country abandon their tribal organization, there being first paid into the Cherokee national fund a sum of money which shall sustain the same proportion to the then existing national fund that the number of Indians sustain to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in the Cherokee country, they shall be incorporated into and ever after remain a part of the Cherokee Nation, on equal terms in every respect with native citizens. And should any such tribe, thus settling in said country, decide to preserve their tribal organizations, and to maintain their tribal laws, customs, and usages, not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the Cherokee Nation, they shall have a district of country set off for their use by metes and bounds equal to one hundred and sixty acres, if they should so decide, for each man, woman, and child of said tribe, and shall pay for the same into the national fund such price as may be agreed on by them and the Cherokee Nation, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, and in cases of disagreement the price to be fixed by the President.

And the said tribe thus settled shall also pay into the national fund a sum of money, to be agreed on by the respective parties, not greater in proportion to the whole existing national fund and the probable proceeds of the lands herein ceded or authorized to be ceded or sold than their numbers bear to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in said country, and thence afterwards they shall enjoy all the rights of native Cherokees. But no Indians who have no tribal organizations, or who shall determine to abandon their tribal organizations, shall be permitted to settle east of the 96° of longitude without the consent of the Cherokee national council, or of a delegation duly appointed by it, being first obtained. And no Indians who have and determine to preserve the tribal organizations shall be permitted to settle, as herein provided, east of the 96° of longitude without such consent being first obtained, unless the President of the United States, after a full hearing of the objections offered by said council or delegation to such settlement, shall determine that the objections are insufficient, in which case he may authorize the settlement of such tribe east of the 96° of longitude.

ARTICLE 16.
The United States may settle friendly Indians in any part of the Cherokee country west of 96°, to be taken in a compact form in quantity not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres for each member of each of said tribes thus to be settled; the boundaries of each of said districts to be distinctly marked, and the land conveyed in fee-simple to each of said tribes to be held in common or by their members in severalty as the United States may decide.

Said lands thus disposed of to be paid for to the Cherokee Nation at such price as may be agreed on between the said parties in interest, subject to the approval of the President; and if they should not agree, then the price to be fixed by the President.

The Cherokee Nation to retain the right of possession of and jurisdiction over all of said country west of 96° of longitude until thus sold and occupied, after which their jurisdiction and right of possession to terminate forever as to each of said districts thus sold and occupied.

ARTICLE 17.
The Cherokee Nation hereby cedes, in trust to the United States, the tract of land in the State of Kansas which was sold to the Cherokees by the United States, under the provisions of the second article of the treaty of 1835; and also that strip of the land ceded to the nation by the fourth article of said treaty which is included in the State of Kansas, and the Cherokees consent that said lands may be included in the limits and jurisdiction of the said State.

The lands herein ceded shall be surveyed as the public lands of the United States are surveyed, under the direction of the Commissioner of the General Land-Office, and shall be appraised by two disinterested persons, one to be designated by the Cherokee national council and one by the Secretary of the Interior, and, in case of disagreement, by a third person, to be mutually selected by the aforesaid appraisers. The appraisement to be not less than an average of one dollar and a quarter per acre, exclusive of improvements.

And the Secretary of the Interior shall, from time to time, as such surveys and appraisements are approved by him, after due advertisements for sealed bids, sell such lands to the highest bidders for cash, in parcels not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, and at not less than the appraised value: Provided, That whenever there are improvements of the value of fifty dollars made on the lands not being mineral, and owned and personally occupied by any person for agricultural purposes at the date of the signing hereof, such person so owning, and in person residing on such improvements, shall, after due proof, made under such regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe, be entitled to buy, at the appraised value, the smallest quantity of land in legal subdivisions which will include his improvements, not exceeding in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres; the expenses of survey and appraisement to be paid by the Secretary out of the proceeds of sale of said land: Provided, That nothing in this article shall prevent the Secretary of the Interior from selling the whole of said lands not occupied by actual settlers at the date of the ratification of this treaty, not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres to each person entitled to pre-emption under the pre-emption laws of the United States, in a body, to any responsible party, for cash, for a sum not less than one dollar per acre.

ARTICLE 18.
That any lands owned by the Cherokees in the State of Arkansas and in States east of the Mississippi may be sold by the Cherokee Nation in such manner as their national council may prescribe, all such sales being first approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

ARTICLE 19.
All Cherokees being heads of families residing at the date of the ratification of this treaty on any of the lands herein ceded, or authorized to be sold, and desiring to remove to the reserved country, shall be paid by the purchasers of said lands the value of such improvements, to be ascertained and appraised by the commissioners who appraise the lands, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior; and if he shall elect to remain on the land now occupied by him, shall be entitled to receive a patent from the United States in fee-simple for three hundred and twenty acres of land to include his improvements, and thereupon he and his family shall cease to be members of the nation.
And the Secretary of the Interior shall also be authorized to pay the reasonable costs and expenses of the delegates of the southern Cherokees.

The moneys to be paid under this article shall be paid out of the proceeds of the sales of the national lands in Kansas.

ARTICLE 20.
Whenever the Cherokee national council shall request it, the Secretary of the Interior shall cause the country reserved for the Cherokees to be surveyed and allotted among them, at the expense of the United States.

ARTICLE 21.
It being difficult to learn the precise boundary line between the Cherokee country and the States of Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas, it is agreed that the United States shall, at its own expense, cause the same to be run as far west as the Arkansas, and marked by permanent and conspicuous monuments, by two commissioners, one of whom shall be designated by the Cherokee national council.

ARTICLE 22.
The Cherokee national council, or any duly appointed delegation thereof, shall have the privilege to appoint an agent to examine the accounts of the nation with the Government of the United States at such time as they may see proper, and to continue or discharge such agent, and to appoint another, as may be thought best by such council or delegation; and such agent shall have free access to all accounts and books in the executive departments relating to the business of said Cherokee Nation, and an opportunity to examine the same in the presence of the officer having such books and papers in charge.

ARTICLE 23.
All funds now due the nation, or that may hereafter accrue from the sale of their lands by the United States, as hereinbefore provided for, shall be invested in the United States registered stocks at their current value, and the interest on all said funds shall be paid semi-annually on the order of the Cherokee Nation, and shall be applied to the following purposes, to wit: Thirty-five per cent. shall be applied for the support of the common-schools of the nation and educational purposes; fifteen per cent. for the orphan fund, and fifty per cent. for general purposes, including reasonable salaries of district officers; and the Secretary of the Interior, with the approval of the President of the United States, may pay out of the funds due the nation, on the order of the national council or a delegation duly authorized by it, such amount as he may deem necessary to meet outstanding obligations of the Cherokee Nation, caused by the suspension of the payment of their annuities, not to exceed the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

ARTICLE 24.
As a slight testimony for the useful and arduous services of the Rev. Evan Jones, for forty years a missionary in the Cherokee Nation, now a cripple, old and poor, it is agreed that the sum of three thousand dollars be paid to him, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, out of any Cherokee fund in or to come into his hands not otherwise appropriated.

ARTICLE 25.
A large number of the Cherokees who served in the Army of the United States having died, leaving no heirs entitled to receive bounties and arrears of pay on account of such service, it is agreed that all bounties and arrears for service in the regiments of Indian United States volunteers which shall remain unclaimed by any person legally entitled to receive the same for two years from the ratification of this treaty, shall be paid as the national council may direct, to be applied to the foundation and support of an asylum for the education of orphan children, which asylum shall be under the control of the national council, or of such benevolent society as said council may designate, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

ARTICLE 26.
The United States guarantee to the people of the Cherokee Nation the quiet and peaceable possession of their country and protection against domestic feuds and insurrections, and against hostilities of other tribes. They shall also be protected against inter[r]uptions or intrusion from all unauthorized citizens of the United States who may attempt to settle on their lands or reside in their territory. In case of hostilities among the Indian tribes, the United States agree that the party or parties commencing the same shall, so far as practicable, make reparation for the damages done.

ARTICLE 27.
The United States shall have the right to establish one or more military posts or stations in the Cherokee Nation, as may be deemed necessary for the proper protection of the citizens of the United States lawfully residing therein and the Cherokee and other citizens of the Indian country. But no sutler or other person connected therewith, either in or out of the military organization, shall be permitted to introduce any spirit[u]ous, vinous, or malt liquors into the Cherokee Nation, except the medical department proper, and by them only for strictly medical purposes. And all persons not in the military service of the United States, not citizens of the Cherokee Nation, are to be prohibited from coming into the Cherokee Nation, or remaining in the same, except as herein otherwise provided; and it is the duty of the United States Indian agent for the Cherokees to have such persons, not lawfully residing or sojourning therein, removed from the nation, as they now are, or hereafter may be, required by the Indian intercourse laws of the United States.

ARTICLE 28.
The United States hereby agree to pay for provisions and clothing furnished the army under Appotholehala in the winter of 1861 and 1862, not to exceed the sum of ten thousand dollars, the accounts to be ascertained and settled by the Secretary of the Interior.

ARTICLE 29.
The sum of ten thousand dollars or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay the expenses of the delegates and representatives of the Cherokees invited by the Government to visit Washington for the purposes of making this treaty, shall be paid by the United States on the ratification of this treaty.

ARTICLE 30.
The United States agree to pay to the proper claimants all losses of property by missionaries or missionary societies, resulting from their being ordered or driven from the country by United States agents, and from their property being taken and occupied or destroyed by by United States troops, not exceeding in the aggregate twenty thousand dollars, to be ascertained by the Secretary of the Interior.

ARTICLE 31.
All provisions of treaties heretofore ratified and in force, and not inconsistent with the provisions of this treaty, are hereby re-affirmed and declared to be in full force; and nothin herein shall be construed as an acknowledgment by the United States, or as a relinquishment by the Cherokee Nation of any claims or demands under the guarantees of former treaties, except as herein expressly provided.

In testimony whereof, the said commissioners on the part of the United States, and the said delegation on the part of the Cherokee Nation, have hereunto set their hands and seals at the city of Washington, this ninth [nineteenth] day of July, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six.

D. N. Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Elijah Sells, Superintendent of Indian Affairs.
Smith Christie,
White Catcher,
James McDaniel,
S. H. Benge,
Danl. H. Ross,
J. B. Jones.

      Delegates of the Cherokee Nation, appointed by Resolution of the National Council.

In presence of—
W. H. Watson,
J. W. Wright.
Signatures witnessed by the following-named persons, the following interlineations being made before signing: On page 1st the word “the” interlined, on page 11 the word “the” struck out, and to said page 11 sheet attached requiring publication of laws; and on page 34th the word “ceded” struck out and the words “neutral lands” inserted. Page 47½ added relating to expenses of treaty.
Thomas Ewing, jr.
Wm. A. Phillips,
J. W. Wright.

Cherokee by Blood are Serious when it comes to the Will of the People


As requested by many of you, here is the Section of the Constitution which speaks to recalling an elected official.

1999 Cherokee Nation Constitution as approved by the Cherokee People in 2003:

Article XI. Removal From Office

Section 1. The Principal Chief, Deputy Principal Chief, members of the Council, Attorney General and Marshal shall be subject to removal from office for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency or any conviction of a felony, or a crime under the laws of the Cherokee Nation that if committed in some other jurisdiction would be a felony, or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or offenses against the Cherokee Nation committed while in office.

Section 2. Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, all other appointed officials shall be subject to removal for cause, as prescribed by law.

Section 3. No official may be removed under Sections 1 or 2 of this Article or Section 8 of Article VIII except after trial before the Council, with the accused having been afforded due process and opportunity to be heard. Provided, removal under Sections 1 or 2 of this Article or Section 8 of Article VIII shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members of the Council.

Section 4. Separate from the Council's removal powers, the People of the Cherokee Nation reserve unto themselves the exclusive power to recall any elected official through petition and recall referendum. A petition must be signed by Cherokee citizens registered to vote. In the case of Principal Chief or Deputy Principal Chief, signatures must total a number equaling or exceeding fifteen percent (15%) of the total number of registered voters in the previous general election. In the case of district offices, signatures must total the greater of five hundred (500) or twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of registered voters in that district in the previous
general election. The signed petition shall be filed with the Election Commission to determine whether the signatures are valid. Said determination shall be made within thirty (30) days after the filing of same. Upon verification of the requisite number of signatures the Election Commission shall certify the petition as valid and notify the Council and the Secretary of State.  Upon notification of a valid certified petition the Council shall immediately call for and approve a special recall election for the office in question within sixty (60) days. The special recall election shall be limited in scope to the voting populous for the elected office in question. Votes casts shall be tabulated and the results certified in the same manner as in general elections. A majority vote to affirm the official shall retain the official in office. A majority vote to recall shall immediately remove the official from office. In the event of a tie-vote the Council shall call a special meeting to conduct a tie-breaking vote. Elected offices vacated under this section shall be filled as otherwise provided in this Constitution.

http://www.cherokee.org/Docs/Org2010/2011/4/308011999-2003-CN-CONSTITUTION.pdf

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Well, This Is Awkward
Stranger - Online, The
09/12/2011

http://nativetimes.com/

From the Native American Times :
OKLAHOMA CITY – Descendants of former black slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation are asking a federal judge to block a tribal election for principal chief until the tribe restores their full citizenship rights, including the right to vote.

In legal papers filed Friday in Washington, D.C., descendants of Cherokee freedmen, as they are known, asked a federal judge to halt a Sept. 24 election for principal chief of the Oklahoma-based tribe. A hearing on the request is set for Sept. 20 before U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr.
Documents filed by attorneys for the freedmen accuse the tribe of violating a 145-year-old treaty when the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court last month restored a voter-approved amendment denying citizenship to non-Native American descendants of tribal members' former black slaves. The court reversed a lower court ruling that had voided the amendment approved by trial voters in 2007. The court's decision affected an estimated 2,800 freedmen.

What's at stake for the estimated 2,800 freedmen: a vote over who gets to lead the tribe's $600 million annual budget, wield veto power over the tribe's agenda ("which is crucial," the news story says, "since many tribal members live outside Oklahoma"), and oversee its casinos and healthcare facilities. What's at stake for the genetic Cherokee: a bunch of folks with an oblique relationship to Cherokee-ness having political influence over the tribe's future.

I'm going to venture a hypothesis.

In the next decade or so, as an older generation concerned with maintaining tradition (as they define it) dies away and the rest of the U.S. slides deeper into trouble (drug war, economy, etc., etc.), the reservations' unique legal status will allow them to become oases of sanity ( pot , gay marriage , etc.). Being registered as Choctaw or Cherokee or Suquamish will become less of a cultural proposition and more of an economic/political one.

According to Indians in the Making by historian Alexandra Harmon, Indian "tribes" in the Puget Sound area were invented during the treaty-making process, which involved government agents identifying powerful families to negotiate with and build a "tribal" infrastructure around. That political jockeying is why, in part, the Tulalip keep trying to legally block the Duwamish from being recognized as tribe.

The business of Indian-ness, a onetime liability that is now being perceived as an asset, is going to get much more complicated in the very near future.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here is former Chief Chad Smith's response to the BIA letter sent out today, dated Sept. 9

Our September 24 election is a matter of Cherokee National pride and honor. My opponent needs to step up the plate and take a position: Does he agree that the Cherokee people have a right to elect a chief according to our own laws and Constitution or will he stand with his non-Cherokee freedmen supporters who are trying to stop this election and cut all funding for services?

The letter from the BIA is clearly an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Cherokee Nation. We must assert our sovereignty and follow the mandate of our Supreme Court. Washington D.C. bureaucrats are telling the Cherokee people that they don’t think we should be able to elect our own chief. The BIA wants to decide who our chief is, just like they did 100 years ago, and that’s wrong.

During my tenure as Chief, I fought each and every attack on our sovereignty and will continue to do so during the next term. As Cherokees, we must be united in our battle against these Washington DC bureaucrats instead of casting aspersions for personal gain like my opponent is doing.

Every Cherokee citizen, especially our acting leadership, should defend the Cherokee people’s right to determine their own citizenship and elect their own chief. I challenge my opponent to stand up for the Cherokee Constitution and the people's right to vote instead of his non-Cherokee freedmen supporters who are trying to end all funding for the Cherokee Nation.


(Go Chief!)

response to BIA - say if they move us again can we go to someplace where the weather is warmer in Winter, I like Hawaii

Below is a message from Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden in response to a letter from the BIA regarding our upcoming special election for Principal Chief and the citizenship status of freedmen in the Cherokee Nation.

"Yesterday, I received a letter from the United States Department of Interior which asserts that the United States will not recognize the results of the September 24, 2011 election for Principal Chief if the freedmen are denied the right to vote. I am disheartened by the Department of the Interior’s actions. I received no prior notification of the letter, and the federal government did not consult with me before sending their letter. In the future, I will insist on an open and transparent dialogue with the federal government.

The Department of Interior’s letter asserts that several amendments to the prior Cherokee Nation constitution were implemented in violation of tribal and federal law. This assertion, if not handled properly, could lead to additional losses of federal funding and severe hardship for the most vulnerable Cherokees.

The Cherokee people were not fully apprised of the methods or consequences of moving forward with proposed constitutional amendments, nor where they told of potential legal complications in having the amendments recognized externally. Such things will not occur during my administration.

When I was sworn into office, I pledged to maintain the status quo leading up the September 24, 2011 election. However, I have inherited issues that can’t wait until a new Principal Chief is elected, and recent events have put me in a position where I must act to protect the Cherokee Nation’s interests. Through this process, I will keep the Cherokee People informed and I intend to take actions in an open and transparent fashion. I will demand that the Department of Interior deals with the Cherokee Nation in an open and bi-lateral fashion. I will insist there will be no more behind the scenes letters from congressmen, and no more secret dealings behind the Cherokee People’s backs. I will demand of the federal government that we conduct the Nation’s business openly, and only after consultation.

The Cherokee Nation is a party to a lawsuit in Washington, DC regarding the legality of various constitutional amendments. I have caused briefs to be filed strongly defending the Cherokee Nation. I will continue to faithfully follow my oath of office and legally defend the Cherokee Nation. I am also pursuing political remedies that are in the best interest of the Cherokee Nation. I will do my best to quickly resolve this issue and I have mobilized all resources to quickly resolve this matter so that services to our people and the operation of the tribal government are protected. I will also do my best to ensure that services will not be interrupted and the election will occur timely. The Cherokee Nation will emerge stronger because we will act quickly.

I hereby re-pledge to the Cherokee People that I will be transparent and truthful. I re-pledge that my administration will not be negligent in performing its duties. I re-pledge I will take every necessary step to ensure that proper policies are followed and completed. The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA. We will hold our election and continue our long legacy of responsible self-governance."

Sept 9, 2011 Letter from the BIA!

Dear Chief Crittenden:

We have followed the news of the upcoming election for Principal Chief with interest and growing concern. I write to advise you that the Department of the Interior (Department) has serious concerns about the legality of the Cherokee Nation's actions with respect to the Cherokee Freedmen, as well as the planned Septemeber 24, 2011, election.

On August 22, 2011, the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation issued its decision in the matter of the Cherokee Nation Registrar v. Nash, Case No. SC-2011-02. In this decision, the Court vacated and reversed the earlier decision of the Cherokee District Court, as well as the temporary injuction that maintained the citizenship of the Freedmen. We have carefully reviewed this most recent decision. I am compelled to advise you that the Department respectfully disagrees with the Court's observations regarding the meaning of the Treaty of 1866, between the United States of America and the Cherokee Nation (Nation), 14 Stat. 799, as well as the status of the March 3, 2007, amendment to the Cherokee Constitution.

The Cherokee Constitution ratified by the voters in June 1976 expressly provides that "[n]o amendment or new Constitution shall become effective without the approval of the President of the United States or his authorized representative," which is the Secretary of the Interior. The Department declined to approve the 2003 amendments of the 1976 Constitution, as evidenced by the August 30, 2006 letter from Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason to Principal Chief Chad Smith and the March 28, 2007, letter from Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs (AS-IA) Carl Artman to Princiapl Chief Smith, copies of which are enclosed. (We've not seen these letters yet) Although on August 8, 2007, AS-IA Artman approved a June 23, 2007, amendment to the 1976 Constitution that removes the requirement for Secretarial approval of amendments, that decison is not retroactive. Thus, the decision of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court appears to be premised on the misunderstanding that both the unapproved Constitution adopted in 2003, and the March 3, 2007, amendment that would make Freedmen ineligible for citizenship, are valid. The Department has never approved these amendments to the Cherokee Constitution as required by the Cherokee Constitution itself.

Furthermore, we understand that in 2010 the Nation adopted new election procedures which will govern the upcoming election for Principal Chief. Those procedures were never submitted to, nor approved by, the Secretary of the Interior or any designated Department of the Interior official as required by the Principal Chiefs Act, (Pub. L. 91-495, 84 Stat. 1091). Pursuant to the Princiap Chiefs Act, enacted by Congress in 1970, the Secretary is required to approve procedures for the selection of Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

We are concerned that the recent decision from the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, together with 2010 election procedures that have not been approved by the Secretary of the Interior as required by the Principal Chiefs Act, will be the basis for denying Cherokee Freedmen citizenship and the right to vote in the upcoming election. The Department's position is, and has been, that the 1866 Treaty between the United States and the Cherokee Nation vested Cherokee Freedmen with rights of citizenship in the Nation, including the right of suffrage.

I urge you to consider carefully the Nation's next steps in proceeding with an election that does not comply with Federal law. The Department will not recognize any action taken by the Nation that is inconsistent with these principals and does not accord its Freedmen members full rights of citizenship. We stand ready to work with you to explore ways to honor and implement the Treaty.

Sincerely,
Larry Echo Hawk
Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs

(Thank you BIA!!!  Well, I guess the Freedmen don't need a Federal Court Case or Hearing on the 20th of Sept...what a slap in the face by the BIA and an absolute Fraud upon the Cherokee Nation to send out this letter at this time...why didn't they do this say in 8 or 12 years earlier...we needed not waste time and resources on something they were going to shove down our throats anyway...??)

BIA new Chief of Cherokee Nation - They have done what the Courts Will not Do; recognized the 1866 Treaty and demanded Freedmen be given Citizenship!!




CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS IN THE CHEROKEE NATION CRISIS
Compiled by Dan Agent
dagent@roadrunner.com
Copyright © 1996-1998 DAgent
All Rights Reserved
http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/Cherokee/News/CNCtimeline.htm


Text To Be Updated,'Various Sources Used'
[Related Articles found at: Tulsa World Online unless otherwise indicated.]


Birth of the Cherokee Constitutional Crisis
          Chronologies, timelines, news stories and press releases about the Cherokee Nation constitutional crisis began with the serving of the search warrant at the tribal complex on Feb. 25, ignoring the action or inaction that led to the search warrant. The crisis actually began when Chief Joe Byrd refused to provide contracts and financial records of tribal business to the council and the Cherokee people.
          During council meetings and council committee meetings beginning in the summer of 1996, some councilmembers made repeated requests to Byrd for those documents in compliance with the Cherokee Nation constitution. In brief, Article X. Fiscal requires the Secretary-Treasurer of the tribe to provide the council with "financial statements reflecting the results of operations of all tribal activities and shall prepare a consolidated balance sheet in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles...."
          Almost every request for this information, that should have been provided without the necessity of request, was refused or ignored.
          Frustrated by Byrd's failure to comply with the constitution, the councilmembers petitioned the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal for a ruling on the contracts. On August 22, 1996, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal ruled that the documents were a matter of public record and should be provided to the council. Byrd and his administration still refused to provide the documents.
          The ongoing refusal, combined with other information, resulted in the search warrant, a necessary last resort. Until June 20 when the Byrd administration raided the Courthouse, the tribal prosecutor had copies. Those copies were transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Presumably, the FBI has copies. On the basis of those documents, Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock charged Byrd with misappropriation of funds. The FBI is still investigating. Byrd claims he has done nothing wrong, and it can all be explained by accounting errors, yet the financial records with those accounting errors have not seen the light of public scrutiny. He has pledged accountability again-and-again, yet he remains unaccountable, refusing to make the constitutionally-required information public and firing everyone who has tried to make those documents public in compliance with the constitution.
          Following is a real chronology that will be refined further as we progress toward the Byrd’s removal from office, along with Deputy Chief Garland Eagle and the eight council members we will call Byrdettes for lack of a better term.
CHRONOLOGY
Feb. 5: Chief Justice Ralph Keen sends a letter to Byrd telling him that members of his administration had made contact with the JAT in an apparent attempt to influence the outcome of a case. Keen writes: "Please remind members of your administration that it is not proper for anyone to attempt to influence the outcome of any case."
Feb. 24: After Byrd's repeated refusal to produce financial records in accordance with the Cherokee Nation constitution, Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock asks Keen to issue a search warrant of Byrd's office, which he does based upon Ragsdale's sworn affidavit.
Feb. 25: Cherokee Nation marshals serve the warrant at the Tribal Complex, politely and peacefully gaining access to the financial records and making copies for the investigation rather than seizing the originals. Byrd claims he has done nothing wrong and fires Marshal Service Director Pat Ragsdale and Lt. Sharon Wright. Justice Dwight Birdwell reinstates Ragsdale and Wright and issues orders that anyone interfering with JAT orders and/or the investigation will be charged with contempt of court.
Feb. 26: In an effort to demonstrate employee and public support, Byrd orders all employees to attend a hastily-called press conference, where he says, "There is no need for an investigation because absolutely no money has been misused."
Feb. 27: Ragsdale calls for assistance in the investigation from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General's office.
Feb. 28: In one of many attempts to take credit when none is due, Cherokee Nation Press Secretary Lisa Finley informs the media that Byrd had requested the presence of the FBI.
March 3: Ragsdale calls for a federal civil rights probe into alleged interference with him and the other marshals.
March. 4: Tribal Inspector General Bob Powell, a non-Indian and former agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, makes a conference call to the marshals' office and urges five deputies to "come over" to the Byrd side and keep their jobs. During the call, Powell reveals the existence of a wiretap tape he says appeared on the chief's desk and which he gave to the FBI claiming it supports evidence of a "conspiracy" to overthrow Byrd's administration.
March 6: U.S. Attorney John Raley announces a federal investigation by the FBI and the Department of Interior into "recent developments" in the Cherokee Nation involving "allegations of violations of federal laws."
March 7: Byrd holds another employees-must-attend press conference, where the spin control continues as he tells the media that he invited the FBI to investigate his spending practices. Later, the FBI confirms that Ragsdale had made the first request for the FBI to investigate, and Byrd had asked them to investigate Ragsdale. Evidence surfaces of an illegal wire-tap of the phones of the Cherokee Observer, Councilmember Barbara Starr-Scott, Robin Mayes and former-Councilmember Melvina Shotpouch. The tape is cited by the Byrd as evidence of a "conspiracy" to overthrow him and his administration.
March 8: FBI announces the wiretap was illegal and begins an investigation into the illegal tape, stating the tape shows no evidence of a conspiracy, rather it is a recording of tribal members complaining to one another about the corrupt government of the Cherokee Nation.
March 10: The tribal council approves a budget of more than $100 million, despite a lack of a full accounting of expenditures for the previous year and an incomplete listing of all sources of income for the coming year. Council says they will amend it later. During the meeting, some councilmembers vigorously question the appointment of Powell to a position never approved by the council or provided for in the constitution.
March 14: Blalock files contempt charges against Powell for violating court orders not to interfere with the Marshal Service and trying to coerce fired marshals to join Byrd's new security force. Powell allegedly tells his staff he doesn't have to obey Cherokee courts because he is not an Indian.
March 16: FBIEyes Cherokee Wiretaps - [**Note: Tulsa World, article references both the "March 8 FBI investigation" and "March 14 Blalock files contempt charges" items above] By AP Wire Service
March 19: Counsel Pleads Case To Tribal Justices Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
March 20: At another press conference, Byrd says he intends to defy the orders of the JAT which he considers "illegal" or "unconstitutional." He issues an executive order disbanding the Marshal Service and claims he has sworn in his own 17-man armed security guard. He then orders all marshals to report to him by 5 p.m. and be sworn-in as members of his security force, or they will face termination. None report. Human Resources Director Ervin Rock, Administrative Assistant Jamie Hummingbird, along with councilmembers Sam Ed Bush, Mary Cooksey, Don Crittenden and Harley Terrell, deliver letters of termination and checks to Ragsdale and Wright.
March 21: Byrd swears in six individuals for a "new tribal marshal service" to join others already sworn-in and armed. His news release says that on Feb. 26, "Byrd said he would honor the tribunal's order to reinstate Ragsdale and Wright but changed his mind yesterday...." Birdwell says he is "dismayed and distressed" at Byrd's conduct, but declines to cite him for contempt as he orders the immediate reinstatement of the Marshal Service. Blalock notifies the council that the records taken in the search indicate violations occurred, and federal and tribal charges could be filed. Justice Birdwell orders the tribe's Secretary-Treasurer, Jennie Battles, and Chief of Staff George Thomas to restore services and funding of the Marshal Service by 4:30 p.m. or face the consequences. Powell sends notice on police teletype that Ragsdale and the other marshals are no longer recognized and "are not to be considered law enforcement officers." District Attorney Dianne Barker Harrold tells sheriffs in Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties that cross-deputization cards issued before the sheriffs took office in 1997 are no longer valid, and the marshal Service no longer has jurisdiction on non-Indian land, a curious ruling that gives Byrd another "reason" to call in the BIA police. Byrd cancels the Cherokee Marshals gasoline credit cards to fuel patrol cars and cuts off cellular phone service.
Former Chief Wilma Mankiller in a Tulsa press conference expresses alarm and concern for the Cherokee Nation and her shock that Byrd would defy the court, comparing him to a dictator from a third world country. Former Chief Ross Swimmer releases a statement in agreement with Mankiller and asks Byrd to "apologize to the court." Byrd holds another spin-control press conference to counter Mankiller's, but media focuses on Mankiller conference.
March 24: Chief Justice Keen issues a statement declaring "the Cherokee Nation is in a crisis" and Byrd "has set himself up as being above the law" and promises "aggressive action to restore the constitutional government of the Cherokee Nation." Justice Birdwell orders Battles and Thomas to appear in court on Mar. 25 on charges of contempt.
March 25: Chief of Staff George Thomas and Secretary-Treasurer Jennie Battles appear before the tribunal to answer charges of contempt. Justice Birdwell reads the previous order, and Justice Keen asks if they intend to obey. After consulting with their attorney, they answer no. They are then held in direct contempt and ordered to jail for 90 days or until they obey the court orders. Less than three hours later, they are released because of document problems.
March 26: Chief Snubs Tribal Truce Offer, Tulsa World article by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
March 27: Tribal Prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of conspiring to obstruct tribal justice. Tulsa World article.
March 31: Tribal Court Fines Lawyers, Tulsa World article by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 1: Cherokee Chief, Key Aide Plead Innocent Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 3: Cherokee Nation Press Secretary Lisa Finley sends out a release titled "High power weapons spark concerns among Cherokees," a potentially inflammatory release, inferring that the Marshal Service and their legal and justified armaments may be the cause of violence, beginning a pattern of blaming everyone except those responsible for the volatile situation--the Byrd administration.
April 3: Third Cherokee Official Under Fire Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer [**Note: References an arrest warrant issued for Bob Powell and the April 3 item concerning Marshal Service weapons.]
April 4: OCU Law Group to Stay Out of Cherokee Problems Tulsa World article, by World's own Service.
April 10: Chief Puts Officials On Leave, Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 10: Weapons Banned, Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 11: Tribal prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of diverting $64,984 to pay a Washington, D.C., law firm.
April 12: Inspector General Bob Powell resigns. Tulsa World article.
April 14: Critics Speak Out on Indian Housing Program Tulsa World article, by Wesley Brown World Staff Writer.
April 15: Coburn Offers Assistance in Cherokee Flap, Tulsa World article by, Jim Myers World Washington Bureau
April 15: On one of the darkest days in Cherokee history, Byrd hires a non-Indian attorney to provide one of the most ludicrous interpretations of a document in the history of Indian-white relations. The interpretation will ensure Byrd's place in history as the most sinister destroyer of Native American sovereignty since Andrew Jackson. The attorney, Thomas Seymour of Tulsa, was reportedly paid from $100,000 to $300,000 for the deed. In the Seymour-Byrd ruling, Seymour offered an interpretation that could not stand up to ethical and legal analysis by the most rudimentary "LA Law" student. Article V. Legislature, Section 4, emphatically states: "No business shall be conducted by the Council unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of members thereof regularly elected and qualified shall be in attendance, which number shall constitute a quorum." At no place in the document is this superseded, and certainly not in Section 5 of Article V, which immediately follows the ruling requiring a quorum to conduct business and which states: "Special meetings of the Council may be called:...(C) upon written request of fifty-one percent (51%) of the members of the Council...." In a quantum leap of logic that defies most imaginations, Seymour cited that section as the basis for changing the requirements to conduct business as a council or a "Council Court" from a quorum of ten to a simple majority of eight. Eight of 15 council members, in the absence of six members, vote to begin impeachment proceedings against the Judicial Appeals Tribunal. Nine of nine present vote to ask the BIA to take over the tribe's law for a period of two months. If the federal government and Cherokees accept Seymour-Byrd law, it can be invoked again or permanently, and he and the eight Byrdettes can do virtually anything they want until the next election. But wait. Under Seymour-Byrd law, we many not have an election, if Byrd remains in office and realizes he has no chance to win in a free, democratic election. Later that night, 44 Cherokees including former Chief Mankiller and a number of tribal employees, sign on as plaintiffs in a lawsuit contending the meeting is illegal due to the lack of a quorum. (Two related Articles were found at Tulsa World.)
April 16: A petition effort to recall and/or impeach Byrd, the deputy chief and the eight Byrdettes is begun. Tulsa World article.
April 17: Chief Ordered Not to Interfere in Probe Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 18: BIA Law Enforcement To Remain Two Months, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 21: Turmoil Grows For Cherokees Tulsa World article by, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 21: Contempt Charges Dismissed Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 23: BIA Acted in Haste, Court Says Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 24: Tribal Prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of diverting $23,419.75 in tribal funds to pay an employee assigned to work with the Democratic National Committee. Tribunal rules the April 15 meeting was illegal due to lack of a quorum.
April 25: Cherokees Find No Wiretap Evidence, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 27: Although Byrd has been in office almost two years (20 months), in an interview in the Tulsa World, he continues to blame others for his failures, including former Chief Mankiller. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
April 28: The illegal meeting recessed on April 15 is continued. When Cherokee attorney and constitutional scholar Chad Smith emphasizes the illegality of the meeting, Byrd's armed security guards drag him from the meeting.
May 1: Justices Named in Charges Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 1: Tribal Officers Relinquish U.S. Duties, Tulsa World article by, World's own Service.
May 2: The tribal council met and announced that they were going to change a statute from the requirement of the presence of a 2/3 majority (10 of 15) of the council to do business to a simple majority (8 of 15).
(Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
May 3: Eight of 15 members of the council conduct a "court of removal" using a plethora of frivolous charges and, in an unprecedented act, "impeach" the three justices. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
May 4: Cherokee Justices Say They Won't Step Down Tulsa World article by, Michael Overall World Staff Writer.
May 6: Changes Sought By Chief Tulsa World article by, Jerry Fink World Senior State Writer.
May 9: Cherokee Court Remains in Session Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service.
May 12: Group Calls for Chief Byrd's Resignation Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 14: Chief Cuts Off Impeached Justices' Pay Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 14: Cherokee Nation Marshals file suit in federal court against the BIA, charging the agency with interfering in tribal affairs. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
May 17: Cherokee Saga Continues to Churn Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 20: Tribe Officials Dispute Ousted Cherokee Judge's Term Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 20: Byrd's Allies Defend Ouster Of Judge Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 21: Chief Tries to Cut Off Utilities Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 22: Cherokees Seek Unity On March Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 23: Cherokee Marshals Restrained Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 27: Tribunal issues arrest warrants for Byrd and Eagle after they fail to appear on contempt charges. Byrd says he will not recognize or comply with actions of an "impeached" court. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
May 29: Judge Eyes His Role in Tribal Flap, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
June 15: The Muskogee Phoenix reports that Harlan "Joe" Jones, former secretary-treasurer of the Cherokee Nation and one of Byrd's boyhood chums, in a sworn deposition, said Byrd "indicated that I should not remember everything that happened" during negotiations to bring a plastics plant to the Cherokee Nation.
June 19: U.S. District Judge Frank Seay of Muskogee dismisses the lawsuit filed by the fired marshals, who alleged the BIA wrongfully intervened in tribal law enforcement. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
June 20: Byrd's security guards, apparently aided by the BIA and local law enforcement, take over the Cherokee Courthouse in an early morning raid, citing Seay's ruling in the Cherokee Marshals' case as justification. When Chad Smith attempts to cross the police barrier surrounding the Courthouse Square, he is tackled from the rear, taken to the ground, restrained by five officers, handcuffed and arrested. Throughout the confrontation, Smith does not strike any of the officers. Files are turned over to the BIA and FBI. Byrd refuses Ragsdale's request to be allowed to remove the personal belongings of the justices, including Birdwell's Silver Stars and a Purple Heart earned for heroism in Vietnam and photos of his tour in Vietnam. "Impeached" justices and "fired" marshals are locked out. Byrd says the justices will be allowed to re-enter the Courthouse and their offices, and conduct business on Monday, June 23.
Detroit News *** Path to RealPlayer Video Of Chad Smith's Arrest!
June 22: More than 700 people gather at Whitaker Park in Pryor for a hog fry and fund-raiser for the Cherokee Nation Marshals, who have not received a paychecks for nearly four months. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
June 23: Justice Philip Viles Jr. and Court Clerk Gina Waits go to the Courthouse in order to conduct the business of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal. Clint Vernon, head of Byrd’s security force, stops them from entering the building and informs them that if they don’t leave they will be arrested. (Two Related Articles were available at Tulsa World.)
June 30: Attorney General Drew Edmondson says cross deputization agreements between the Cherokee Nation marshals and state and federal agencies remain in effect, overruling District Attorney Dianne Barker Harrold’s conclusion that they were not, which was one of the reasons Byrd used to bring in the BIA police. Edmondson’s ruling was based on what he called an “obvious principal of law,” citing the Supreme Court of Washington’s decision in Board of Directors Kennewick School District v. Black in 1955, and concluded “There is...no automatic withdrawal from the agreement simply because an individual officeholder of a compacting agency leaves and another individual takes his or her place.”
July 9: Byrd fires Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock through a one-page notice from Shawn Terry, assistant personnel manager, "because of job abandonment."
July 11: A BIA public affairs officer informs the media that the BIA has spent $196,525 of taxpayer’s monies during the past ten weeks to provide police services and support for Byrd’s administration. The BIA public affairs officer said $159,363 had gone for the marshals’ hotel bills, meals and communications equipment. The remaining $37,162 in salaries was kept low because, Gonzales said, “We have had, on a rotating basis, essentially just two additional officers.”
July 14: Cherokee Elder Paul Thomas informs the council that Justice Birdwell's service medals and other personal belongings had been returned to Birdwell by mail, but they were intentionally damaged and defaced while in the hands of Byrd's security force. A collective moan of disbelief fills the council chambers when Thomas makes the revelation, and, during the discussion, councilmembers Mary Flute Cooksey and Harley Terrell, a veteran, walked out of the meeting.
July 16: News reports announce the Oklahoma Bar Association is investigating allegations that Tulsa attorney Thomas Seymour has had a bar complaint filed against him as a result of his interpretation of the Cherokee constitution on April 15.
July 29: With former Sequoyah County Times writer Lynn Adair waiting in the administrative offices to fill a position in the tribe's Public Affairs Department, the public affairs staff are informed that all are being "laid-off" except the clerk-typist, effective 5 p.m., Aug. 15. Four of the six are tribal members. Department Director Dan Agent, who has been excluded from all public affairs decisions, is placed on administrative leave beginning at noon, July 30. Adair is brought to the office of public affairs on Aug. 4 and seated in the former director's office.
Aug. 10: Judicial Appeals Tribunal orders the "fired" marshals to take back the Cherokee Courthouse at noon on August 13, 1997.
Aug. 12: Byrd swears in 10 “new marshals.” U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Interior recognize the Judicial Appeals Tribunal as legal court of the Cherokee Nation, saying only the BIA police have the authority to enforce tribal law until further notice. Yet, the BIA police fail to enforce the tribunal’s orders. When the council deadlocks 7-7 in a meeting, Deputy Chief Eagle casts the deciding vote, denying Councilman Harold “Jiggs” Phillips motion to “reinstate” the justices. Councilman Bill John Baker refers to the justices as “you boys” and “idiots,” prompting former Deputy Chief John Ketcher to call it an all-time low and disgraceful behavior by a council member. Byrd tells a reporter that he should be able to hire and fire at will to ensure that loyal people are working for him. Byrd tells the council that he had fired a lot of people recently and plans to fire more.
Aug. 13: When refused entry to the Courthouse, Ragsdale tries to force his way in. In the resulting melee, six people are injured, including women who are thrown off of the Courthouse back porch, as officers from five counties, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the BIA police help Byrd's security force maintain control of the Courthouse.
Aug. 14: The day before their lay-off begins, the five members of the public affairs staff still on duty are informed that their lay-off date has been changed to Aug. 29.
Aug. 21: Twenty-five people file two lawsuits in federal court for more than $1 million, alleging civil rights violations and that state and federal officials, including District Attorney Diane Barker-Harrold; the sheriffs and Boards of County Commissioners for Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah Counties; Perry Proctor; Jim Fields and Ada Deer of the BIA; the Tahlequah City Police; and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, illegally barred tribal members from access to their Courthouse on June 20 and Aug. 13.
Aug. 22: In an attempt to settle the crisis before Congress takes action, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt holds a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Byrd, Attorney General Janet Reno, BIA head Ada Deer, Councilmen Harold DeMoss, Harold "Jiggs" Phillips, Charles Hoskin and Don Crittenden. After the eight hour meeting, Babbitt informs the media that it appeared an agreement had been reached until Byrd refused to recognize the tribunal as the Cherokee Nation court and refused to agree to the return of all marshals to work with back pay.
Aug. 23: Media reports that Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., expressed his ongoing concern, saying Byrd is the cause of the problem and referring to him as a dictator.
Aug. 24: Media reports Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., says he will ask President Bill Clinton to remove Byrd from office. After walking out of the Aug. 22 meeting, Byrd decides to return to Washington, reportedly calling council members while he is en route to the airport in Tulsa. He and some council members arrive in Washington for another meeting with Department of Interior.
Aug. 25: Byrd, the council members and Babbitt sign an agreement that calls for the “reinstatement” of Ragsdale and the other marshals with back pay. Ragsdale is placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the Massad report. The Massad group investigation by three attorneys non-Indian attorneys with no connections to the Cherokee Nation was commissioned by the tribal council. The agreement calls for the opening of the Cherokee courthouse on Aug. 27 and the return of the Justices to their roles as the tribe’s Judicial Appeals Tribunal, pending the opinion of the Massad report as to the legality of the “impeachment” and a temporary moratorium, which may be only a few days, on further legal action. Many tribal members remain angry that a non-Indian panel is being utilized to determine the legality of an “impeachment” that is obviously illegal, as well as the placing of Ragsdale on administrative leave, which for the Byrd administration, is usually the preliminary action to termination. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
Aug. 26: The Massad report is released. It invalidates the “impeachment” of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, concluding that “Any business conducted by this council with less than two-thirds present is not valid.” In contravention of the Seymour-Byrd ruling and statements by Byrd and his spin nurse, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal was never impeached. (Related article was available at Tulsa World.)
Aug. 27: Report Backs Marshal Firings "Impeachment of Tribal High Court Justices Termed Improper" Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 28: Cease Fire, Tulsa World article by, World's own Service "All Oklahomans have a stake in the peaceful resolution of the internal strife that has wracked the Cherokees' tribal government."
Aug. 28: Tribal Treasurer Probed In Alleged Funds Misuse, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 28: Courthouse Reopened - Byrd Won't Give Traditional Address to Tribe on Tahlequah Square: "The doors were open again Wednesday at the historic Cherokee Nation Courthouse, but Chief Joe Byrd said there would be no state of the nation address Saturday on the square downtown." Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 29: Mankiller Calls for Unity "Former Chief Tells Of Facing Similar Problems in Tribe" Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale and Michael Smith World Staff Writers
Aug. 30: The Cherokees "THE RECENT TROUBLES of the Cherokee Nation tend to obscure the fact that the tribe has generally run a peaceful and usually productive operation." Tulsa World article by, World's own Service
Aug. 30: Panel Critical of Tribal Factions "Cherokee Nation Depends on Cooperation, Report Says" Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 31: Cherokees Reunite on Holiday - "Despite armed police atop buildings with binoculars to keep an eye on a peaceful parade, there were signs Saturday that a shaky truce might be developing in the strife-torn Cherokee Nation after six months of turmoil." Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
Sept. 7:As of September 7, 1997 Byrd still has not re-instated 7 of our Cherokee Nation Marshals. Byrd has yet to return the judicial branch files. Byrd's illegal Tina Glory Court is still set up inside the executive branch. Byrd has demanded that requistions for checks and purchases requested by the judicial branch be sent to him by accounting for approval. The BIA are still here in charge of law enforcement. The problems are far from over, and there are many legal actions to be filed and resolved.
Sept. 10: Chief's Peace Effort Called `Largely a Sham' - Tribal justices send a letter to keep the heat on Chief Byrd. Tulsa World article by, Michael Smith World Staff Writer
Sept. 18: Cherokee Treasurer, Officials Talk Writer "The treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, a major target in an FBI investigation into allegations of misuse of federal funds, has been talking behind closed doors with federal prosecutors, it was learned this week." Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior
Sept. 21: Point of View: The Illusion Of Sovereignty, "For several months the Oklahoma Cherokees watched Principal Chief Joe Byrd almost single-handedly destroy constitutional tribal government. Although high-level federal intervention recently quashed Byrd's rampage, the Cherokees are now wondering how to ensure that elected officials henceforth conduct tribal affairs in accordance with the Cherokee Nation Constitution." [**Note: The Author - A graduate of Columbia, Stanford and Harvard Universities, Robert A. Fairbanks is president of the Native American College Preparatory Center in Norman. He is Leech Lake Ojibwe.] Tulsa World article by, World's own Service
Sept. 22: Audit of Tribe Cites `Weaknesses' - in Accounting Procedures "Deloitte & Touche auditors told the Cherokee Nation that the tribe's weaknesses in internal accounting controls were 'as serious as it gets.'" Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service
Sept. 23: Cherokee Accounting Blasted "Audit of Tribe Cites `Weaknesses' in Accounting Procedures" Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service