Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rep. Diane Watson and John Conyers Press BIA on Cherokee Freedmen

BIA is accused of failing to take action to protect the Freedmen. They have failed to take action to protect the Picayune Tribal Members, the Pechanga Disenrolled, the Enterprise Rancheria. They sure get paid a lot of money for inaction.


BIA pressed on freedmen status
7/6/2008 12:00 AM
A congressional hearing is apparently the goal.

WASHINGTON — Congressional critics of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma continue to press a federal agency concerning the status of the descendants of the tribe's freedmen. One of their major goals apparently is to force the controversial issue before a congressional hearing.

The Cherokee Nation believes such a hearing should be viewed as "blatant interference'' by lawmakers if it is scheduled before pending litigation is resolved. As part of their effort to build a record that could lead to a hearing, U.S. Reps. Diane Watson, D-Calif., the most vocal critic of the Cherokee Nation in Congress, and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, laid out a series of questions concerning the status of the freedmen and the tribe in a letter to George Skibine. Skibine is the acting head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Their questions range from the legal status of the freedmen and the processing of citizenship applications to the BIA's actions to protect freedmen's rights and the federal government's take on the Cherokee constitution. Noting a March meeting with Skibine's predecessor, Carl Artman, the two lawmakers cite complaints they had passed on then that the BIA had failed to take action to protect rights of the freedmen, former slaves of Cherokees.



Cherokee Citizen said...

The BIA should be protecting tribes from Non-Indians such as the Non-Indian Freedmen! The Cherokee Freedmen, those with Cherokee heritage, have always been and shall remain citizens of the Cherokee Nation. NON-INDIANS SHOULD BE REMOVED from ALL tribes!

Anonymous said...

The BIA should also protect the INDIVIDUAL Indian from the damage that corrupt tribal councils and committees have done.

Anonymous said...

"As the court observed, the Secretary “ ‘is charged not only with the duty to protect the
rights of the tribe, but also the rights of individual members. And the duty to protect these rights
is the same whether the infringement is by non-members or members of the tribe.’ ” Seminole
Nation, 223 F. Supp. 2d at 137 (quoting Milam v. U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, 10 ILR 3013, 3015
(D.D.C. Dec. 23, 1982)).
"Many people mistakenly believe that the unique status of Indians and Indian tribes is based on race. Unfair and illegal racial discrimination is a commonly used argument in challenging tribal sovereignty, the tax status of tribes and individual Indians, and other perceived "special rights."
Indian people and tribes often are treated differently under U.S. laws, but such treatment has nothing to do with racial classification. While Indians and non-Indians are different races, Congress and the courts have made clear that separate treatment of Indians is based on their status as separate political -- not racial -- groups. “
"In Morton v. Mancari (1974), the case that affirmed the Indian-preference-in-hiring clause of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934), the Supreme Court noted: ''The preference, as applied, is granted to Indians not as a discrete racial group, but, rather, as members of quasi-sovereign tribal entities whose lives and activities are governed by the BIA in unique fashion.'' The definition of ''Indian'' supported here is political rather than racial and implies the treaty relationship between the tribes and the U.S. government, which is at the heart of Indian claims for sovereignty, ever since the Cherokees claimed and were unjustly denied their rights as an independent foreign nation before the Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831). "
"“In sum, the motion states that the ICRA amendments are reviewed under rational basis, since Indians [FN2] are a political and not racial classification; there is a rational basis for the law; and therefore, there is no constitutional infirmity.”
"The fact that the federal government does not recognize a person as an Indian does not prevent a tribe from considering that person an Indian for tribal purposes. Similarly, lack of tribal membership does not prevent a person from being recognized as an Indian under most federal laws."
Stephen L. Pevar, The Rights of Indians and Tribes: The Basic American Civil Liberties Union Guide to Indian and Tribal Rights, 1992
I repeat, the U.S. does not conduct government to government sovereign relations with Indian nations based on the racial make-up of the Nation/Tribe. Its relationship is based on a political recognition of a historically sovereign nation/Tribe, not a race of people.
Allen L. Lee

Anonymous said...

Question, but aren't a lot of the Freedmen, in addition to their African heritage, actually blood descendants of Cherokee people and haven't they been part of the people since the 1866 treaty?

If they have been part of the nation for over 140 years why all of a sudden are they not considered part of the nation?

Anonymous said...

Add on to my last question: I just noticed that Cherokee Citizen said there are Freedmen who would remain citizens if the Freedmen who are being questioned are disenrolled.

But aren't a lot of the Freedmen who are being questioned also blood descendants of Cherokee?