Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday "Photo" Preservation Tips

Click on image for an enlarged view

I was exchanging emails with some research colleagues and we all have varying levels of experience. Because we have recently come across some vital information on Indian Territory Freedmen and sharing the results among us, I was motivated to share some of my experience as a photography lab rat before digital photography existed; when we did it in the dark(room.)

Most people don't have experience performing "copy work" and we all may have to conduct it in some way as genealogical researchers. After performing her research my colleague (Angela Walton-Raji) shared her findings and I was struck how she could have improved on her copying of original documents that have been folded and stored for many years.

When viewing the documents I was reminded of some advice I received Paul Lee years ago about preserving paper documents. It was stressed that I should never fold a paper document because it could deteriorate and become torn. His other advice was never staple or paper clip paper documents because of the detrimental effects.

It was his suggestion that we should never fold a document that became clear to me when I saw how my colleague was capturing the documents that prompted me to offer some advice for her future trips to the archives for information gathering.

It is unfortunate that our National Archives have stored historical documents in such a way that may lead directly to their destruction. It also makes it important for researchers in general and Indian Territory Freedmen researchers specifically to utilize today’s technology to preserve these documents in a manner that future generations will be able to view and appreciate them.

It was with this background I hoped to suggest something you all could find useful later on. As I viewed the letters Angela was sending it occurs to me you all can use a little photo device for composing pictures.
All you have to do is get a mat board the size of an 11” X 14”, cut the board along the vertical axis in 4 pieces each measuring approximately two and one half inches by fourteen inches. When you have papers like Angela was photographing you can frame the document so it will lay down flat and take the shot as if it were in a frame.

You may want to look for archival acid free board so the personnel at the archives won't have any objections to what you are doing with the document and the board will be heavy enough to have a uniform look to the finished document as you use your camera to capture the image.

If you look for a little table top tripod it shouldn't be more than $5/$10/ less than $20 and it will allow you to take a picture that will be in focus. Generally you need to be at least 12” to 18” away from the document so the camera can focus on it and look for contrasting elements within the document to focus your lens.
If the documents are letter size or smaller you may want to create similar pieces of mat board cut from an 8” X 12” mat board (1 inch X 12 inch strips.)
The other important aspect of all of this is the quality of light you are working in; but with digital cameras they have a wide latitude for low light situations and when you use a tripod you minimize any problems you may have with the low light situations, such as out of focus and blurred images.

If there is a table near a window, natural light is perfect and for the photo perfectionist we, I mean they prefer northern light because it is softer and more diffuse, but any good light source should be okay (you can always fix it later in a computer graphics program.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bloodline Trailer.Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band

I just viewed a video trailer called “Bloodlines” for what appears to be an incredible new video produced by the Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band. When they complete their project I’m confident the production will become a tool for educating the public on the history of Indian Territory Freedmen in this country.

If you are familiar with the WPA slave interviews this production uses the techniques of oral interview and oral history tradition but in a visual format. It tells the story about multiple generations of family connections within the Creek (Muscogee) Tribe and people classified as “freedmen.”

Ron Graham, the President of Creek Muscogee Freedmen Band: articulates the citizenship issues by demonstrating the clear distinction between adoption versus emancipation that should have you think how this tribe has been allowed to remove citizens in direct conflict with a treaty and the United States Constitution.

DeMario Simmons an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma clearly explains how a Treaty is considered the law of the land and demanding the United States apply these laws where they affect Indian Territory Freedmen in general but Creek Freedmen specifically Simmons, like so many freedmen descendants states emphatically that they are not attempting to receive benefits they don’t need but are insisting that their rights as citizens be acknowledged based on their ancestors being adopted according to the law.

Gail M. Jackson and Rhonda Grayson eloquently demonstrate that the effects of the Creek nation was essentially “family not wanting you as a member” is what the Creek nation did to freedmen in 1979. Their insights demonstrate clearly how the Five Slave Holding Tribes have been given a pass on adhering to the laws of this country which they were subscribed to when their tribes signed the Treaties of 1866.

The inclusion of Jabar Shumate, Chair of Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus was a pleasant surprise. Over the years we rarely see politicians involved themselves in righting the wrong done to Indian Territory Freedmen. Jabar is one of only six African-Americans in the Oklahoma legislature; as such his voice is evidence on how deep this issue resonates within the state yet difficult to be heard by those in political power. It is my hope he will be joined by other progressive politicians in his state and around this country.

Jefferey Kennedy, another Creek freedmen descendant understands clearly why a lot of the issues revolve around the old axiom, “follow the money.” Kennedy makes one more statement that tells me how this group of men and women understand their identity and how it affects their direction and motivation. “Nobody has the right to define who we are” that is a powerful statement and one descendants from the other four tribes should take to heart.

I was most impressed with the statements of Mary Ann Cunningham. She understands the meaning of speaking truth to power. Mary points out several vital things in her commentary.

“They can accept me or not; I can be a part of that community and I have a right to be acknowledge as a Creek whether I’m a part of them or not.” She points out the prejudice of the Creek Nation that keeps the freedmen out. Her point is clear, “my fore parents were Creeks it was what they contributed to the nation then that is what makes the nation now.”

Overall, I eagerly await the completion of their video project, it will add volumes to the history of the Indian Territory Freedmen that for some reason is not taught in our schools and is not mentioned as part of the Five Slave Holding Tribes, known as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole. Why?

You can view the trailer at the following link:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ancestored Approved

As one of the latest recipients of the “Ancestor Approved” award initiated by Leslie Ann Ballou of Ancestors Live Here I have to thank Lisa Wallen Logsdon and Angela Walton-Raji for nominating me for this honor and it is greatly appreciated.

The rules of this award specify to list ten things I've learned about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled, or enlightened me. As the recipient I am to pass the award along to ten other genealogy bloggers that I feel are also deserving of it!


o I am totally surprised to the reaction of the Black and Red Journal blog. You have to understand I was very reluctant to construct a blog and had too have my arm twisted for at least a month or two before I finally gave in and began to write on subjects and opinions I’ve harbored for years but rarely wrote about.

o Over the past twenty years or so since I’ve been researching the genealogy and history about Freedmen of Indian Territory, I’m constantly surprised to encounter people who have absolutely no history of their ancestors who are connected to this very unique history.

o My father asked insisted I take possession of the family’s photo collection about a hundred years ago and share them with my siblings. Since he knew I was into photography I suspected that was his main reason for choosing making me responsible for the collection. In the collection (2 large cardboard boxes that once was the home to T.P.) I discovered a framed photo of what I thought was a “white” woman. Surprisingly I learned this woman was not “white” but my father’s “Indian grandmother.” If that weren’t enough, I was surprised again when I opened the back of the frame so I could make a copy negative of the image and discovered another photograph that my father had no idea was there. This image was later deduced to be his great grandmother, a 2 fer!!!


o Having a certain amount of knowledge concerning the Freedmen of Indian Territory reminds me of how much I don’t know of their history. There are thousands upon thousands of records available and for me too just get a handle on the records pertaining to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen is indeed a humbling experience.

o Recently one of my niece’s wrote me about how she was glad and fortunate that I was the family historian. I was very appreciative of the compliment but realized the weight of so many people who will benefit from the research I do and just the other day we discovered she was pregnant for the first time (she’ll be forty this year) she also told me, I will have another name to add to my descendant chart. It is humbling to know people think of me in such a way! That’s a blessing!


o Back in 1989, I had very little knowledge of my family’s genealogical history. When I received the collection of photos it took me on a journey that has forced me to become knowledgeable about the subject of Indian Territory Freedmen in general and Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen specifically. This was a subject I never learn or read about in any school I attended and I LOVED history courses.

o When I “discovered” my great grandmother Bettie LIGON was named in a history book and she was the lead litigant in a lawsuit that wound its way to the Supreme Court of the United States, I became more interested in legal, political and the construction of race in this country on a level I never thought about before.

o With all of the information I’ve been able to digest and become knowledgeable about the one thing that continues to impress me is the caliber of people I have met on this journey. From my local genealogy society and the people I have met on the internet and later in person, my enlightenment comes from the interpersonal relationships that have been developed over the years that have taught me more than just what is in the libraries and archives. It is people that we learn so much from and about that I find enjoyable.

o It has been my opinion that most people of “African” descent have a difficult time with genealogy because of the stigma of slavery. In turn, this stigma seems to have presented some interesting issues on self identity as blacks learn about their family history. The issue of identity really affects people who have a connection to “Native American” history in general and those whose ancestors were enslaved among the Five Slave Holding Tribes in particular in “peculiar” ways. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around these issues because they seem too and rightfully so; affect different people in different ways. It is interesting to see people take on an identity that is contrary to culture and customs they grew up with to embrace this new found history.

o Another aspect of research and discovery is what I have learned about myself. The various skills and education I’ve received have all been brought together to have me engaging in activities I would not have thought to do previously. The main two have been my engaging in public speaking on the history and genealogy of Indian Territory Freedmen and the other is writing about them. I’ve have been forced out of my comfort zone and too my surprise I haven’t died from either experience.

Being new to blogging I will have to take my time and view what genealogical blogs are out there and have not received the award already. Once I can adequately locate them (suggestions accepted) I will fulfill my requirement for accepting this “Ancestor Approved” award.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday Woodmen of the World

In February of this year I had the good fortune to travel to Oklahoma and visit with a friend prior to attending and presenting a “lecture” on historical and genealogical video’s I produced. My good friend Verdie Triplett and I had a few days to kill before we had to travel from Spiro, Oklahoma to Tulsa for the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen Heritage Conference and Reunion, so we did what any good researchers would do with time on their hands.

We made day trips to various locations throughout eastern Oklahoma visiting friends and locations that were significant to the history of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen in that part of Oklahoma. Verdie being the gracious host took me to several cemeteries by way of back roads and briar patches. I had to endure “cow pies” barbed wire and damn near freezing temperatures in pursuit of elusive gravesites that would be added to my collection of stock photographs for use in future videos.

It was on one day trip that we visited a little cemetery in the Spiro area known as New Hope that he wanted to show me some headstones that had significance to his family history. Verdie has ties to the Choctaw Nation and his grandmother was the daughter of a Choctaw Indian named Silas Darneal.

So naturally I wanted to photograph the Darneal gravesite (never know when you will need a photo) and while canvassing the cemetery on that cold afternoon with the metal camera body causing my hands to go numb (I brought gloves but for some reason never thought to put them on until AFTER my hands went numb) I spotted three unique headstones.

I’ve done some limited cemetery work so I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to be in old Indian Territory and getting the opportunity to photograph a cemetery. However, Verdie informed me that this particular cemetery was not a freedmen cemetery and since that was our main agenda I only wanted to capture the unique headstones before we headed off to go check on the Freedmen burial ground known as Brazil that was not too far from where we were. Before we left and before my hands totally froze, I was able to capture a few images of the cemetery and the three unique headstones that caught my attention earlier.

These three stones didn’t look like any headstones I had ever seen before in my limited excursions doing cemetery work. Yet, my keen photographer’s eye knew enough to capture the stones; again, you never know when you might need something down the road.
Finally having time to go through some of the more than five hundred images taken on the trip, I took a closer look at the three unique stones and discovered there was more too them than met the eye.

Certainly just looking at them you could tell they had something in common about them. They all look as if they were tree stumps with intricate carvings throughout. With a closer look you could see an emblem of some kind at the top of the piece but all three were similar but different. I didn’t pay much attention to them until recently and began taking a more in depth look at the design and the names of the people who were buried beneath them.

It was when I began cropping the images and getting a closer look at the emblems did I get the sense that there was more there than met the eyes.

The names of the individuals did not ring a bell. I couldn’t and have not found any of the three on the Dawes Choctaw Rolls but that could only mean they were possibly settlers and married into the Choctaw Nation but did not receive citizenship.

While looking for the names of the men on the Dawes rolls and all three stones were men; their dates of birth and death were curious. All three were relatively young when they died.

It wasn’t until I took a good look at the emblems atop the stones did I begin to really get curious about this cluster of three headstones. Each of the men died before World War I and none of them lived past the age of 35. They didn’t appear to be related because all three had different surnames but somehow the three unique headstones above their burial plot indicated they had some connection.

That connection I’ve come to discover was indicated in the emblem atop the headstone. All three had an inscription that connected them to some organization called Woodmen of the World. Being the curious individual I am it was just a matter of Googling that name to see if there was a clue to what these three headstones might have had in common.

It didn’t take long! Apparently Woodmen of the World is a fraternal organization not unlike Free Masonry. These three young men having died at such an early age all had a connection to an organization that had as part of its mission the erection of monuments over member’s gravesites among other things.

Apparently I am not the only one that finds these headstones interesting. There are sites dedicated to capturing the design where ever they are located.

There is a man in Colorado who has done some extensive photography capturing these unique stones and has gone as far as publishing a book about Woodmen of the World memorials.

So far I haven’t seen where the three I photographed have been captured but I’ll keep looking and at some point I guess I’ll just have to contact one of these sites to determine if I have something to contribute to this legacy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is the Cherokee Nation Taking Over the White House?

It may sound ridiculous but when you look at some of the recent events concerning nominations by the White House you have to ask is the Cherokee Nation making these appointments?

Think back to the year 2008, then Senator was in the midst of a presidential race and was confronted by headlines that the Congressional Black Caucus was authoring bills that would stop funding $300 million dollars per year to the Cherokee Nation if they did not adhere to the Treaty of 1866 and a Cherokee Supreme Court decision that the descendants of the former slaves of the Cherokee Nation were entitled to citizenship.

Obama position on Cherokee issue builds ties with Native Americans

By Kevin Bogardus

Posted: 06/04/08 07:08 PM [ET]

Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Barack Obama’s support for the Cherokee Nation in its controversial battle with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is helping him win support from Native American leaders.

That support has translated into votes in Democratic primaries, and could also help the Illinoisan in a general-election fight with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Obama has weighed in against legislation supported by other CBC members that would cut off federal funds to the Cherokee Nation. The CBC is upset with the Cherokee for excluding Freedmen — descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members — from tribal membership.

Many people would probably agree with Obama that the United States has been heavy handed when it comes to relations with Native Americans. However, the issues pertaining to the Five Slave Holding Tribes concern issues that have more far reaching aspects that include people perceived as African-American exclusively.

The history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes and “blacks” was based on enslavement and the repercussions of the five tribes siding with the Confederacy during the Civil War. These two facts require an extensive look at the true history of these tribes and how the laws of the United States not only affect the tribes and tribal members but the descendants of the former slaves of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Nations.

President Obama has indicated he is in favor of a court rendered solution to the issue of whether freedmen descendants have legal rights as citizens, or more accurately the tribes have the legal rights of sovereignty and can ignore the treaty when determining citizenship in lieu of the Treaty of 1866.

This background is necessary when you look at the various appointments and nominations by the Obama administration since he has become president. During his run to the White House, then Senator Obama was being advised on Native American issues by former Oklahoma Congressman, Brad Carson.

After the 2004 Senate race, Carson's term in the United States Congress expired on January 3, 2005; Carson was succeeded by Dan Boren. Carson indicated that he had no immediate plans to seek political office. In January, 2005, he accepted a semester-long teaching fellowship specializing in U.S. politics at Harvard University. Upon leaving Harvard, he worked as Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses, which is owned by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in Catoosa, Oklahoma. As CEO, Carson oversaw more than a dozen lawyers who specialized in Indian law and corporate law, and was primarily responsible for the legal and business dealing of the company. In December 2008, Carson left his post at Cherokee Nation Businesses to deploy to Iraq as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy. He was officer-in-charge of weapons intelligence teams embedded with the U.S. Army's 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion in the nine southern provinces of Iraq; the teams worked with EOD teams at seven bases and investigated bomb sites, caches, smuggling routes, and other activities related to improvised explosive devices. For this work, Carson received, among other awards, the Bronze Star. On his return, he was elected to the board of Cherokee Nation Businesses.[3] In January 2010, Carson assumed a position as professor of business and law and director of the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit energy policy organization funded by billionaire George Kaiser's family foundation, and located at the University of Tulsa.[4]

In 2006, Carson endorsed the campaign of Barack Obama. [5] He has contributed journalism to The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, Blueprint, and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.

Clearly Mr. Carson is an accomplished man but it is his ties to the Cherokee nation that become worrisome when put into context with the statements coming from the President of the United States, Barak Obama.

If that was all, we might not be alarmed by this connection but as we continue to connect the dots a distrubing trend begins to emerge and it may have severe consequences for Indian Territory Freedmen descendants in general and Cherokee Freedmen specifically.

Since Obama has become president we have seen not only appointments by his administration curious but the advisors attributed to the Obama administration would have a decidedly “Cherokee” bias on deeper inspection.

Again as Obama was running for president, a news article I read caught my attention and I made a mental note just in case it became useful later. The first item dealt with former Clinton Chief of Staff, John Podesta. The article told a story of Mr. Podesta and an organization he developed since his time at the White House called the Center for American Progress.

The article went on to say how Podesta would become a major powerbroker should any Democrat win the general election for President. This was newsworthy to me because back when the Cherokee Nation’s Chief ignored and disregarded and disagreed with the decision by the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court, he subsequently hired the Podesta group to lobby for the tribe in Congress to prevent the Cherokee Freedmen from receiving citizenship according to the Treaty of 1866 and begin the process of public relations to minimize the perception that his actions were based on racial intolerance.

John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile


Published: November 6, 2008

WASHINGTON — John D. Podesta, co-chairman of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, has spent the last five years building up liberals’ policy-making muscle as president of a lavishly financed research organization, the Center for American Progress.

Thu March 9, 2006

Freedmen to become Cherokee citizens

By Chad Previch

The Oklahoman

TAHLEQUAH - Cherokee Nation officials said Wednesday the tribe will abide by a court ruling that will allow black freedmen to become Cherokee citizens. …

In a 2-1 vote, the tribe's highest court, the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, ruled unconstitutional a law requiring citizens to trace ancestry to a person with Cherokee, Shawnee or Delaware blood. Now freedmen must prove only that they are descendants of a person on the Dawes Rolls.

Up to 45,000 freedmen are estimated to be eligible for citizenship now, with a majority of those in Oklahoma, two attorneys said. A representative of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes estimated the ruling will affect 13,000 Oklahomans.

"I think this is a momentous decision," said Nate Young III, chairman of the Cherokee Nation Bar Association. "It makes the freedmen real players in the politics over here."

Justice Stacy L. Leeds wrote that the 1975 Cherokee Constitution did not mention blood as a requirement for tribal membership.

"People will always disagree on who is culturally Cherokee and who possesses enough Cherokee blood to be 'racially' Indian," the ruling states. "It is not the role of this Court to engage in these political or social debates."

There were other accounts that noted D.C. insider Lanny Davis was involved as a lobbyist to thwart any congressional actions that would take away the $300 million dollar annual “reparation” doled out to the Cherokee Nation when Congresswoman Diane Watson became aware of the actions by the Chief of the Cherokee Nation to disenfranchise the Cherokee Freedmen Descendants.

Congresswoman Seeks To Sever U.S. Relations With Cherokees

AP - 6/21/2007 10:51 AM - Updated 6/22/2007 6:29 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Rep. Diane Watson introduced legislation Thursday to cut millions of dollars in federal funding to the Cherokee Nation over its vote ending tribal membership for many descendants of former slaves. The tribe decided on March 3 to limit Cherokee citizenship to descendants of ``by blood'' tribal members.

Results of the election are on hold pending a legal challenge, but if the results stand, about 2,800 descendants of the tribe's former black slaves, also called freedmen, would be removed from the tribe. They would lose tribal benefits, including medical coverage.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said the Tahlequah-based tribe has a sovereign right to determine membership.

``The Cherokee Nation simply wants to be an Indian tribe composed of Indians,'' Smith said in a statement. ``The introduction of this bill is really a misguided attempt to deliberately harm the Cherokee Nation in retaliation for this fundamental principle that is shared by more than 500 other Indian tribes.''

Watson, D-Calif., said the vote violated a treaty the tribe signed with the U.S. government in 1866. She said that until the Cherokees comply with the treaty, federal funding of an estimated $300 million a year should be cut and the tribe's authority to conduct gaming operations should be suspended.

``The Treaty of 1866 states unequivocally that the freedmen are citizens of the Cherokee Nation and have all the rights of Cherokees,'' she said in a statement. ``It particularly pains me, over forty years after the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act, that legislation has to be introduced to compel the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to recognize the basic civil rights of the Cherokee freedmen.

``The Cherokee Nation's leadership claims that it has the sovereign right to determine who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. But the sovereign right to discriminate is no right at all.''

Two Oklahoma congressmen, Republican Tom Cole and Democrat Dan Boren, have said that Watson's legislation should wait until after the courts have resolved the issue.

The fact that you have a wealthy Native American tribe receiving $300 million dollars in aid is not surprising or unique, the fact they could employ some of the most expensive and influential lobbyist to prevent the descendants of their former slaves from receiving their rights to citizenship is also not surprising considering the deep pockets they possess and the determination of their Chief to clothe himself and the tribe as some aggrieved party that these “non-Indians” are attempting to force themselves on the tribe.

Cherokee Nation Courts Allow Temporary Citizenship for Non-Indians, Including Freedmen Descendants

Cherokee Nation's Attorney General Statement (PDF)

Temporary Court Order And Injuction (PDF)

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.—Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons today agreed to a temporary injunction in tribal court that allows descendants of Freedmen to keep their citizenship while their citizenship appeals work their way through the tribal court system.

“I agreed to the injunction because I believe that, although the Cherokee citizens who voted to change the citizenship requirements on March 3rd have a right to have their determination implemented, those individuals who lost their citizenship status as a result of that election also have the right to have our Cherokee Nation courts consider the legality of the Amendment,” said Hammons. “In the interest of fairness and as a legitimate exercise of a reasoned democratic government, I believe that an injunction staying the effect of the March 3rd election is proper from the Cherokee Nation court until that tribunal has the opportunity to fully review and decide the plaintiffs’ claims.”

“For decades our people understood that you have to be Indian to be in our Indian tribe,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “I think the will of the people is very clear. I understand, however, that the rights of citizenship should be taken very seriously, and we take our court’s orders very seriously. We will abide by the order and restore citizenship while the case is pending.”

In March 2006, the Cherokee Nation’s highest court reversed a previous decision and ruled that the Cherokee Nation’s Constitution allowed citizenship for non-Indian descendants who were listed on the Dawes Rolls of the Cherokee Nation. Until that time, citizenship had been restricted to those who had a Cherokee, Delaware or Shawnee ancestor on the Dawes Rolls. On March 3, 2007, Cherokee voters approved an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution that mirrored the previous policy, requiring citizens be a descendant of a Cherokee, Delaware or Shawnee Indian listed on the Dawes Rolls.

Cherokee voters to decide on constitution amendment


The question of who can be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation will be answered on Saturday as Cherokee Nation voters go to the polls to decide on an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution.

The tribe is proposing that a section of the tribe's constitution, which pertains to who can be a citizen of the tribe, be amended to include only citizenship by blood.

These issues may not seem to be connected to the White House and whether the Cherokee Nation has bought their own influence within those hallowed walls but as we continue to look at the events of the day, you begin to see a pattern of behavior that begs the question; is the Cherokee Nation taking over the White House?

Just last year the Obama administration nominated

Kim Teehee to a White House job

TUESDAY, JUNE 16, 2009

Filed Under: Politics

Kim Teehee, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, will do a great job for President Barack Obama and for Indian Country. "I have always found her to be a thoughtful, dedicated and passionate advocate for our Native American population,"

Teehee will serve on the White House Domestic Policy Council and will advise Obama on Indian issues.

I suspect that Ms. Teehee is a dedicated worker and has great concerns on Indian Country but under the circumstances one has to ask; who does she serve. Certainly it is the President that determines policy but if his main advisors are Cherokee Indians or lobby for the Cherokee Nation shouldn’t the question be asked, who is in charge, Obama or the “Cherokee Chief Who Shall Not Be Named?”

I know you are probably saying this doesn’t amount to an indictment on Obama or the Cherokee Nation but considering Obama’s statement when he was running for president he was not overly supportive of the Cherokee Freedmen descendants and he continues to appoint Cherokee’s to key positions in government and include them among his advisors. What are they advising him on? He is a Constitutional lawyer so the Treaty of 1866 must mean something to him other than a statement that he is resign to let the courts decide. The same thing that Congressman Dan Boren and Senator Tom Cole stated as representatives of Oklahoma. Oh, and by the way, Tom Cole is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation the nation that was so determined not to adopt their former slaves they denied them educational funding for the forty years following the Civil War and tried to induce them to leave Indian Territory and the only home they knew following the Civil War.

It was just a week or so that it was announced that President Obama was making a nomination to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and guess what, he nominated another Cherokee. Is this just coincidence or is it the advisors? In that week the usual suspects began to complain loud and often that the position should have gone to a “real” Oklahoman. The congressional representatives of the house and senate were up in arms about a nomination they thought should be “reserved” strictly for an Oklahoman.

The Chief of the tribes was non-committal about his opinion on whether it should be an Oklahoman because you see, he was conflicted. Which was more important, siding with his boys in Congress who represent him like the blue dawg Democrat Dan Boren or does his loyalty support the Cherokee, no matter what degree of blood and no matter if he resides in the nation.

Well we didn’t have to wait long. Old Smith figured it out. He is all Cherokee all the time. Is this a reflection of all Cherokee’s? I mean I can understand it to a point. You want to see people you identify with achieve success but how does this play with the issues of citizenship and Freedmen?

Keith Harper is a card carrying Cherokee citizen and as an appeals judge on the 10th Circuit, he could very well become instrumental in legal issues concerning the Five Slave Holding Tribes and the descendants of their former slaves. In a recent editorial the “Chief Who Shall Not Be Named” made a remarkable statement that bears to be scrutinized.

Nomination for circuit court well deserved


Published: May 30, 2010

“… Harper could be the first American Indian ever nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. However, I fully expect that Harper, as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, will not be assigned cases that our tribe may have before the 10th Circuit, should he be nominated and confirmed. But the chance for me to support an Indian in the mold of the Will Rogers for appointment to a federal court is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which is why I will firmly support him if he's nominated, as will other tribal leaders from around the country. “

Now for the record, I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on T.V. but Smith is and I would gather that should Mr. Harper become confirmed (and that Oklahoma Congressional Contingent was still objecting last I heard) shouldn’t he have to recuse himself from any case concerning the Cherokee tribe? What about any of the Five Slave Holding Tribes?

I’m not sure what to make out of all these Cherokee appointments but it is rather remarkable how they have become ingrained in the Obama Administration and appointments by the president. Remember he wants the courts to decide the fate of Cherokee Freedmen Descendants, it appears he is stacking the deck against them.

Something to think about at the very least.