In a masterful opinion piece written by some of Native America's strongest women scholars, they touch on the matters of importance, including the need for nations to stand up against those taking claims of membership. In the Andrea Smith case, they've known for over a decade that she was fake. Why allow her to continue the charade?
This fakery harms everyone, be it Smith, or many tribal leaders who claim Indian status, but know they are not blood, or achieved their positions through subterfuge. Read it all
Given the intellectual and emotional labor that Andrea Smith’s silence and lack of accountability has required us all—supporter or critic—to undertake, we would like to also ask for reflection and care in the stories generated to make sense of her contradictions and her silences.
The history of Cherokee removal and dispossession is deeply woven into the same southeastern landscapes shaped by slavery and anti-black racism, and the Cherokee Nation’s disenfranchisement of the Freedmen must continue to be ethically addressed and challenged.
So too must efforts to expunge the rolls of entire families in indigenous nations across this continent. At the same time, we recognize that histories of “playing Indian” have gone hand in hand with dispossession of land in Indian Territory during allotment. Playing Indian is enabled by and supports the dominant narrative that indigenous peoples are vanishing or already vanished. The material consequences of that narrative includes ongoing claims by the state, by science, and by non-indigenous individuals to indigenous lands, sacred sites, remains, and both individual and group representations of us. Our concerns are grounded in these histories, and we challenge both individual and structural forms of indigenous erasure.
Smith’s self-acknowledged false claims and lack of clarity on her own identity perpetuate deeply ingrained notions of race—black, white, and Indian—that run counter to indigenous modes of kinship, family, and community connection. When she and others continue to produce her as Cherokee, indigenous, and/or as a woman of color by default, they reinforce a history in which settlers have sought to appropriate every aspect of indigenous life and absolve themselves of their own complicity with continued dispossession of both indigenous territory and existence.
Read more at Indian Country Today Opinion on Andrea Smith