Thursday, January 27, 2011

Non-Indian is Not the Issue!

The Cherokee Nation is at it again, manipulating language and deceiving people with their cries that citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is for “Indians” ONLY!

I could get into the intellectual argument of what defines an Indian or for the matters of this article what defines a Cherokee but that is not and has never been the basis of the actions by the Cherokee Nation and “The Chief Who Shall Not Be Named.”

You only have to look at many of the initial Cherokee “by blood citizen” Dawes card to see that non-Indian is NOT the issue when it comes to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.

Citizenship in the Cherokee Nation and the other Five Slave Holding Tribes has always been based on the enforcement of rights gained by the Treaty of 1866 regarding the former slaves and their descendants.

Thousands of former slaves and their descendants in Indian Territory WERE NOT citizens of the United States!

Thousands of former slaves and their descendants were EMANCIPATED IN INDIAN TERRITORY, NOT the United States!

Thousands of former slaves of the Five Slave Holding Tribes, RECEIVED CITIZENSHIP BY TREATIES IN 1866!

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

The idea that citizenship is based on the “status of the mother” is clearly ignored when it came to the enrollment status for the citizenship of John WATKINS and Benjamin WILLIAMS. Their mother’s were non-citizens and it did nothing to restrict their enrollment as a Cherokee citizen by blood.

I wrote about this issue last year in articles concerning the Choctaw Nation.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

This is the type of manipulation the tribe has engaged in to deny the rights of Cherokee Freedmen. The tribe continues to ignore the ruling of their courts that directed the nation to adhere to the Treaty of 1866 when it came to the citizenship of Cherokee Freedmen. Theirs is a pattern of behavior that demonstrates no respect for the Constitution of the United States or the rule of law.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

Let the record reflect, in their latest act of clever use of language, the Cherokee Nation’s attorney general has trotted out the need to have this case decided by the “Cherokee Nation’s highest court.”

Cherokee Nation News Release January 25, 2011

"A constitutional case of this magnitude should be decided by the Cherokee Nation’s highest court," said Diane Hammons, Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation. "The district court failed to follow our highest court’s precedent, set in the 2006 case which allowed for non-Indian citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

The problem with this is the Supreme Court decided this issue in 2006, it will be interesting if this act to delay the implementation of the District Courts order to process citizenship application "within 30 days" will be enforced?

As you can see, the nation and it’s lawyer want the world to believe non-Indians are not already citizens of the tribe but it would take a fifth grader little time to look at the Dawes rolls and see there are numerous so called non-Indians already on the roll because of their descent from Intermarried Whites and Non-Citizens.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

What is the fixation about freedmen descendants who received their citizenship from their ancestor’s who were granted citizenship as a result of the Treaty of 1866?

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

The press release went on to attempt to confuse the argument more…

In that case, our high court said "The Cherokee citizenry has the ultimate authority to define tribal citizenship," and the people did that with an amendment to the Constitution which passed with 77% of the vote."

There are two statements in this press release by the Cherokee Nation that is misleading and require correction. The first correction being the Cherokee Nation's district court's ruling. Like the ruling in 2006 the court based its decision on the Treaty of 1866!

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

It would be advisable to actually read the decision rendered by the Cherokee Supreme Court in 2006 to see EXACTLY what they said, not the interpretation by the biased opinion of the Chief Who Shall Not Be Named and his well paid lawyers.

The Cherokee Supreme Court did indicate Cherokee citizenship should be determined by Cherokee citizens, but the District Court in my opinion correctly pointed out that authority was trumped by the Treaty of 1866 regarding citizenship for Cherokee Freedmen descendants.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

Additionally, Judge Cripps' recent ruling made it quite clear; treaties negotiated among "Sovereign Nations" are considered "Supreme Law."

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

This is what Judge Cripps indicated in his ruling and it is what the Cherokee Nation seeks to ignore and argue against. The Cherokee Supreme Court has already ruled freedmen descendants gained their citizenship because of the 1866 Treaty.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

If treaties are Supreme Law and the Cherokee Supreme Court adheres to the decision in 2006, it seems they have no choice but to affirm the decision by the Cherokee District Court.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

The second part of this statement has been flaunted around for about five years now and has been repeated more than I care to count. Evidently the Cherokee Nations lobbyist and public relations people think they can get people to believe elephants can fly?

The Cherokee Nation and its "Chief" have repeatedly stated that an "overwhelming majority of citizens" passed a vote to overturn a PREVIOUS CHEROKEE SUPREME COURT RULING that former slaves and their descendants ARE entitled to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

What they never mention when stating the OVERWHELMING figure of 77% is it is based on  a TOTAL of less than nine thousand (9,000) people in a nation that alleges its population to be more than two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000). If you conservatively give them 50% for people eligible to vote, this would still be less than 5% of their VOTING population!

This is hardly overwhelming in my opinion. By the way, does the United States government require the Cherokee Nation to verify its population when they allocate funds based on that population?

In a Cherokee Nation news release dated March 3, 2007 this is what they stated about their own voting results:

"Cherokee Nation Special Election Results


Cherokee voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution in a special election Saturday, March 3, by a decisive vote of 6,693 (77%) for the measure to 2,040 (23%) against...

Folks I couldn't make this stuff up!

Perhaps now they will stop trying to mislead people about the results of that "SPECIAL ELECTION" that sought to remove "Cherokee citizens" disparagingly referred to as non-Indian?

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

It should also be mentioned in that same "news release" on March 3, 2007 the Cherokee nation attempted to use the concept of treaties to justify its position regarding the expulsion of freedmen descendants.

The Cherokee people exercised the most basic democratic right, the right to vote," said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. "Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation. No one else has the right to make that determination. It is a right of self-government, affirmed in 23 treaties with Great Britain and the United States and paid dearly with 4,000 lives on the Trail of Tears."

This is more of that emotional heart tug that susceptible people fall prey too when they don't have all of the facts. This man is denying the rights of people who JUST SO HAPPENED to come along the same tear stained trail in SHACKLES but he wants to remove their descendants, yet in the same breath, proudly states the government of the Cherokee Nation is affirmed (say it with me boys and girls) BY 23 TREATIES WITH GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES!!!

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

Now this press release on March 3, 2007 was on the day of the election and the "Chief Who Shall Not Be Named" or one of his well paid public relations specialists continued the PR game for maximum effect:

"Smith added that the number of voters who turned out to vote on the constitutional amendment was actually more than the approximately 6,700 who approved the Cherokee Nation Constitution four years ago. "

  • This only demonstrates the voting public is apathetic and ill informed about what was deemed an "historic election."

“This was an unexpectedly high turnout, considering it was a special election with nothing else on the ballot,” Smith said. “I think that reflects the idea that this is an issue that has been close to the heart of the Cherokee people and an issue they have thought about carefully before voting.”

  • Only someone with a public relations background could fix their face to spin this tale of "high turnout."

"The special election was brought about by a petition of registered Cherokee voters, and was an historic event for the Cherokee Nation, as its first ever stand-alone election to vote on a Constitutional amendment."

Does anyone actually believe some "registered Cherokee voters" were the driving force behind this "special election" if you want, you might believe the "Chief Who Shall Not Be Named" ONLY WANTED TO SEE JUSTICE FOR HIS PEOPLE!

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

Note the date on this article, before the ink could dry on the ruling the "tribal chief" was the driving force that "brought about by a petition of registered Cherokee voters."

Let's look at some information leaked just days before the election and see how voters in the Cherokee Nation "thought about carefully before voting" in this "historic" event for the Cherokee Nation.

Date: Thursday, 1 March 2007, at 4:52 p.m.

Subject: [All-Employees] Special Election

Dear Employee,

I encourage every Cherokee to vote Saturday, March 3, in a Special Election focused on the single issue of who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation. It is my hope that our citizens will take the time to educate themselves about the issue that is coming before them in the special election and cast an informed vote. …

Freedmen were former slaves of Cherokees and were emancipated and given Cherokee Nation citizenship by an 1866 amendment to our 1839 Constitution after the American Civil War. The evidence shows that people with Cherokee blood were placed on the by-blood rolls and non-Indians were listed on either the Inter-married White rolls or Freedmen rolls by the Dawes Commission…

Although the Cherokee Supreme Court decision to include the Freedmen as citizens is controversial, I believe everyone understands it is a question reserved for the Cherokee people to decide. Whatever “side” you or I or any of us may have, I sincerely hope everyone will participate in this democratic process, and remember that many people in other parts of the world do not enjoy this privilege.

Chad Smith

Principal Chief

Cherokee Nation

It is because of actions like this Congress passed the "Hatch Act" where governmental officials could not engage in political activity which could be interpreted as patronage. Apparently the Cherokee Nation is in dire need of similar legislation?

The statement by the "you know who chief" stating the 1863 Constitution was changed by "AN AMENDMENT" is again deceptive and inaccurate language, IT WAS A TREATY! The fact is, the 1863 Constitution was change emancipating Cherokee slaves and granting them citizenship, it was reinforced by the TREATY of 1866.
Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

"What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive!"

Non-Indian is NOT the Issue!

• To see the actual decision by the 2006 Cherokee Nation Supreme Court use the link provided

Friday, January 21, 2011

“They should have honored that treaty a long time ago”

Possibly one of the best articles I've read to date on the recent decision by the Cherokee District Court is the one in the Daily Oklahoman on January 15, 2011

by: CHRIS CASTEEL Oklahoman

I cite this article because it is apparent to me that the reporter did his homework and was able to clearly point out the important aspects to this story.

Chris Casteel also reminded me of the back story to this decision. For many who may not have followed the progress of Cherokee Freedmen descendants struggle for citizenship in the "nations" of their ancestor's birth, this lawsuit was peculiar from the beginning.

The Cherokee Nation without notifying the defendants appointed an attorney to represent the freedmen descendants. Evidently they were so confidant their court and their appointed attorney would agree with the opinion the Treaty of 1866 was invalid ONLY where it regarded citizenship for freedmen and their descendants.

It is the response by the lead litigant that should tell you how devious the Cherokee nation has been and how misleading they have tried to make this issue of citizenship for the Cherokee Freedmen:
"The lawsuit was filed without the knowledge of the lead plaintiff, Raymond Nash, a freedman descendant from Nowata who was expelled from the tribal rolls after tribal members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution in 2007 that based citizenship on tribal blood."

"Nash said Friday that he didn't know anything about the lawsuit when it was filed."

That's right, the defendants were not aware they were being sued by the Cherokee Nation!!!

Another peculiar aspect regarding this lawsuit was the defendants were ALL chosen from a group of freedmen descendants who had previously been admitted to citizenship based on a ruling by an earlier Cherokee Supreme Court decision.

For an unbiased overview go to the link for a history of this issue:

The fact that the Cherokee leaders would make a statement that "tribal members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution in 2007" is also a joke!! The reporter should have asked for the election results; he would have discovered that less than eight thousand people bothered to take part in an election on a constitutional amendment. The tribe has boasted about its membership consisting of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand people, 8,000 people is hardly "overwhelming" in my book!!!

I gather the Cherokee Nation didn't think the attorney they appointed to the case had any moral or ethical integrity to give a vigorous defense for his clients.

I guess you might also conclude the “Chief Who Shall Not Be Name” also calculated that the Cherokee District Court might be so incompetent the justice's might buy his argument the 1866 Treaty of Ft. Smith was about "property rights."

In previous statements, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith has said that the 1866 treaty never guaranteed citizenship but was intended to address property rights. The tribe has also countered charges of racism by saying that the question isn't about race but about tribal membership; many freedmen descendants, including one of the lead plaintiffs in the federal suit against the tribe, have Cherokee blood.

What should not be overlooked in this case is the amount of money, time and effort the Cherokee Nation spent to avoid, circumvent and ignore the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.

Justice Cripps pointing out the moral and ethical responsibility of the Cherokee Nation should be a clarion call for the other Five Slave Holding Tribes and their obligations to their Treaties.

"The nation is still bound by the treaty, Cripps wrote. Though the French, Spanish, English and U.S. governments have violated treaties made with the tribe, Cripps said, “This does not mean that the Cherokee Nation should descend into such manner of action and disregard their pledges and agreements.”

It is amazing what lengths some people will go to avoid doing the right thing! The history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes is a monument to people doing the wrong thing.

The money spent on lobbyist and public relations campaigns could have been used to help people in the nation.

"The tribe mounted a multimillion dollar public relations and lobbying blitz to counter the congressional effort, and the legislation never advanced in a Democrat-controlled House."

The use of lobbyist to advocate for the Five Slave Holding Tribes is nothing new. The fact they spent MILLIONS of dollars to defeat a group of freedmen who are not that well funded and arguably not that well organized could still find protections under the Constitution and even in the Cherokee Court system.

What is almost lost in all of this is the fact the Cherokee Nation basically sued itself for all intents and purposes; AND LOST!!! The folks kicked off the citizenship roll didn't sue the tribe! Congress didn't sue the tribe! These genuises SUED THEMSELVES; as Bugs Bunny would say, "what a maroon!" Or as they say in those TBS promo's; "very funny!"

The MULTIMILLION DOLLAR effort of the Cherokee Nation should teach the leaders of ALL the Five Slave Holding Tribes an important lesson; treaties ARE Supreme Law and as Mr. Nash so correctly pointed out, "they should have honored the treaty a long time ago!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: The Joys of Documenting a Cemetery...

Last week I spoke about my interest in documenting and photographing a cemetery in my area; clealy this project is a challenge but it also brings with it some measure of joy.

It has been enlightening going from row to row of headstones and documenting the names and dates of the people interred at Union Cemetery in Brentwood, California. One of the surprising discoveries was I've found at least two headstones of people with my surname! I don't expect they will be members of my genealogy but it is a rush when as a genealogist you see your name in whatever capacity.

Another pleasant surprise it the length people will go to decorate the gravesite of their relative (and I mean that in a good way.) In a sense I'm discovering some of art to honoring and preserving a deceased relative, especially young children.

These images are a very small sample of what I've photographed to this point and there are about one thousand gravesites remaining that would come close to documenting the entire cemetery. Clearly there are more stories to tell by words and pictures.

It is my hope that other people become involved in photo-documenting cemeteries; ESPECIALLY those that exist containing the remains of Indian Territory Freedmen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ethics, Law and Citizenship in the Cherokee Nation

It was interesting to read the Court Order issued by the District Court of the Cherokee Nation the other day. The judge who wrote the order took great care to recite the history about how the former slaves and their descendants received citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. Of all the factors he cited in support of citizenship for the descendants of Cherokee Freedmen, I was most impressed with his ethical argument for citizenship.

The Cherokee Nation and I would add the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Nations have a moral obligation as well as one based in law that requires them NOT to “descend into such manner of action and disregard their pledges and agreements.”

Clearly the lower court saw through the smoke screen and rhetoric by the Cherokee Nation leaders that sought to invoke their rights to determine citizenship based “on blood.” That course of action is not applicable in this situation because of a treaty obligation!

The District Court understood the legal argument that Freedmen and their descendants received citizenship by way of a treaty that had not been annulled, destroyed, revoked, or cancelled by Congress.

Again, the treaty was specific in its language about the “status” of former slaves and their descendants; they “shall have all the rights of native Cherokees.” This was upheld by the decision of the Cherokee Nations Supreme Courts several years ago which prompted the “Chief Who Shall Not Be Named” to mount a campaign to circumvent the treaty and Constitution of the United States.

The campaign to keep freedmen descendants from receiving citizenship in the nation of their ancestor’s birth was sophisticated and slick but it lacked the legal and moral high ground on which it attempted to convey. And now, the Cherokee Freedmen have another decision that supports their position that they are entitled to citizenship in the Nation should they so desire.

In the coming days and weeks it will be interesting to watch as the Cherokee Nation responds to this decision. We know from the past actions much has changed in that nations Supreme Court and whether the Cherokee Freedmen and their descendants can receive justice in that court might be in question.

There is an election coming up soon in the Cherokee Nation, will those who have waited almost five years for citizenship be allowed to vote? Will the election be valid if the freedmen are not granted citizenship in time to vote?

If the so called Five Civilized Tribes want to consider themselves as “Nations” they should honor their agreements if there is any honor left in the nation or their leaders.

Stay tuned; film at eleven!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tribal District Court Rules Citizenship Amendment Invalid

In a lower court ruling that was just released to the public, Cherokee Nation District Court Judge John Cripps overturned an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution voted on by the 3% of eligible voters, which denied citizenship to about 2,800 Freedmen descendants who had gained citizenship since a previous court ruling in 2006.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Find A Grave Request...

On Thursday January 6th I received a request for a photo of a headstone located in a cemetery near my home. The request came from the website “Find A Grave” and at first I wasn’t sure I could fulfill it. When I awoke Friday morning I check the “Find A Grave” site and no one claimed the request (so I thought.) Since I had some personal business to take care that morning I decided to claim the request.

After cooking my son his breakfast and giving him a ride to school I returned home to grab my “cemetery bag” and head out to take care of my business

It has been foggy all week and Friday was no different. It was cold and damp so I made a cup of coffee and made sure my gloves were in the bag along with my knee pads because I was sure the ground would be wet from the fog.

I must have arrived at Union Cemetery about 9:30 in the morning and after talking to one of the caretakers about what I was doing he informed me someone had just left the cemetery who had asked about the same headstone.

He searched the maps on the wall for the site and thought the area he had just left was surely where the person who came in earlier took her photos. He couldn’t locate the area on the map and the woman who usually locates the sites on the computer would not be in until ten or eleven that morning. My friend decided to try and locate the site for the name I gave him (Dawn Frazier) while I continued to look for the grave site on the wall map.

Map courtesy of Sharon GARRISON
 I was able to locate the site because of the information given in the initial request. The woman who wanted the photo mentioned Dawn and her boyfriend William “Billy KEEN had been killed in an auto accident. She also mentioned that both families laid stones at the site and she wanted to have images of both headstones.

Because I knew about the KEEN connection I looked at the map where the caretaker thought it was located and was successful in finding it! At this point the caretaker and I made our short trek over to the site and he was positive now this was the same site he directed the “claim jumper” to earlier.

Once I located the burial site and took the requested photographs I knew I wanted to continue documenting the cemetery and began to take photos of additional grave sites. This was my second claim of a photo request and when I fulfilled the first I thought it would be a nice project to document all grave sites that have not been photographed. So I just began the process and remained at the cemetery for about an hour and logged about one hundred and fifty more headstones.

Upon returning home to upload these images I received an email from of all people the "claim jumper!" She apologized for shooting the headstone without claiming it first and invited me to meet for a coffee since we deduced we live in the same community.

I assured her it was not a problem and that I was kidding when I called her a "claim jumper" (people just don't get my sense of humor, who knew?) After thinking about her offer of buying me a coffee as a peace offering I thought it would be a great idea that we worked together and photographed the headstones that were not on Find A Grave so we both contribute to this worthwhile effort.

Sharon has graciously accepted to work with me and we plan to meet tomorrow and plan the logistics!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Words Matter!

M1650 # 111D Callie NEWBERRY
1896 Application for Citizenship Chickasaw Nation

Unfortunately the WORDS of the Chickasaw Nation in 1896 sent a message of racial animosity:

Apparently these WORDS meant the very people Chickasaw Indians held in chattel slavery would not be accepted in the nation of their birth.

The Chickasaw Nation would go on to emphasize WORDS of rejection for those held in slavery. By doing so they denied the rights, privileges and immunities of citizenship despite the years held in bondage.

The WORDS of the Chickasaw Nation were meant to deny any rights to
former slaves of African and African-Native descent forever.

Surely not the WORDS of a benevolent people that experienced oppression themselves?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Confederate General and his Negro-Indian Daughter

During the course of my research on “Community, Culture & Identity” I came across a story that was another eye opener. I have become accustomed to “men of privilege” in the Five Slave Holding Tribes having children by slave or Indian women. It appears Douglas Hancock COOPER was no exception.
Douglas H. Cooper

The “Chronicles of Oklahoma” give a glowing account of this man’s exploits as a Mississippi politician prior to the Civil War. They share his experiences as the Indian Agent for the Choctaw Nation, yet buried in an obscure record of a "Negro-Indian" woman is the testimony that Douglas H. COOPER, Indian Agent, Confederate General of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, is her father!
Joanna BLACK ~ Dawes Choctaw by blood # 4190

The complexities of this story are on par with all the others I’ve been chronicling but this story took an unusual twist that brings up tons of questions on the effects of the racial caste system among the so called Five Civilized Tribes. It illustrates how race politics can be detrimental to an individuals mental health. Joanna BLACK nee COOPER is one who suffered in this system and my guess it had everything to do with her inability to deal with “identity” issues in her community of Choctaw Indians.

Here is a woman born around the end of the Civil War in 1865 fathered by a man who was and became influential in the politics of the Choctaw Nation. She was also the daughter of a “Negro-Indian” Mary A. BROWN nee THOMAS who may have had similar problems but was better equipped to deal with them than her daughter. The story of Joanna COOPER that deserves to be told!

There isn’t much in the records that indicate COOPER had anything to do with Joanna. The only children attributed to him are the seven he fathered with his wife Frances Martha COLLINS. Under what circumstances Douglas COOPER met Mary THOMAS-BROWN and fathered her child is not a part of the story in the “Chronicles of Oklahoma but so many stories of miscegenation during this period rarely get told.

If this were not enough, this story becomes tragic for Joanna and I suspect her children. Joanna marries a “white man” by the name of William BLACK (I can’t make this stuff up folks.) From all indications he was not a responsible man and did little to support his family.

Dawes Jacket of William BLACK # D682 p.4

It became clear to Joanna’s family that she was no longer able to take care of her children. William BLACK was not making an effort to support Joanna or their children. It was the testimony of Joanna’s sister Ida BANKS and her daughter Maggie E. BUTLER that provided the portrait of a woman who succumbed to the pressures of life in the territory, possibly conflicted with the need to provide for her children and burden by the issues of identity that may have caused her to lose her sanity.

Dawes Jacket of William BLACK # D682 p.21 Interview of Ida M. BANKS nee BROWN

Dawes Jacket of William BLACK # D682 p.22 Interview of Maggie BUTLER nee BLACK

Dawes Jacket of William BLACK # D682 p.23 Interview of Maggie BUTLER nee BLACK

Tragically we don’t know if Joanna's mental illness was caused by not having a relationship with her father Douglas H. COOPER. We don't know if her illness was the cause of being abandoned by her husband William BLACK. Clearly, when BLACK left her and the children, Joanna’s mental stability left as well.

It would be interesting to know about this family and any descendants who survived such a tragic episode. In my opinion it also serves as an example of how many people of African-Native descent fought with the idea of where they fit in that society.

Certainly more people survived the dilemma of being part this and part that but even today we see some traces of people struggling with identity issues if they have a family history tied to the Five Slave Holding Tribes.

I'm sure there is a lesson here somewhere?