May 9, 2012
commented on Obama Comes Out for Same-Sex Marriage
You're not alone in your reading of what he said and what he means, Dan. It's been push, push, push since the boat I did row with this president on our issues.
I think remembering all the obstacles he placed before each victory and then his taking credit after we did all the work kind of sours the taste of this in the mouths of those who paid attention to what he did and not what he said.
But it is a momentous step forward and I'm glad he did it. I, like you, will open my gay checkbook and even vote for him. If for no other reason then that he's the Not-Romney choice.
Sep 15, 2011
joined My Stranger Face
Sep 15, 2011
commented on The Cherokee Nation's Sovereignty Storm
As is usually true with anything in federal Indian law, the issue is more nuanced than it appears.
Less than 3% of Cherokees owned slaves in the census prior to the Civil War. The mixed-bloods who were the ones who owned slaves were also the ones who ran the tribal government.
The U.S. had a shitty track record of treating tribes badly. When the Confederacy offered better terms, the tribal government chose to go with the Confederacy.
Individual Cherokees, however, were torn on the issue. Half the Nation supported the United States and half the Confederacy. A civil war within the Cherokee Nation broke out as a result. In my family, we didn't own slaves and we fought in the U.S. army.
When the Civil War was over, the U.S. ignored the half who fought on its behalf and supported it and punished the Nation as though everyone supported the Confederacy.
The United States secured the treaty term for the Freedmen to be admitted as though they were tribal members, but it was a U.S. treaty right, not a self-enacting right for the Freedmen. Subsequent issues were always handled by the U.S., not by the Freedmen in tribal courts.
The CN honored the Treaty and its terms until the U.S. abrogated the Treaty and prior treaties in the 1890s and early 1900s, by taking all the Cherokee lands and allotting them to Cherokee, the Freedmen (which it treated differently and listed differently from the Indians on the Dawes Rolls) and the rest to white settlement.
The U.S. explicitly intended to do away with the Cherokee government and required both Freedmen and Cherokee Indians to assimilate into the U.S. culture. In doing so, it unilaterally did away with the U.S. treaty right for Freedmen to be treated as Cherokees.
In the 1970s, when the Cherokee were allowed to reform the tribal government, the BIA wrote the constitution, which did not explicitly include the Freedmen. The intention was to create a new government for the Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. Not all Cherokees were or are allowed to join the tribe, only those on the Dawes Rolls. Many Cherokees refused to sign up on the Dawes Rolls out of protest. Their descendants are blocked from joining the tribe, which isn't fair, either.
The requirement to lineage from the Dawes Rolls was a bit ambiguous. The Freedmen descendants did not have citizenship rights until recently when they decided to pursue the Treaty right, creating the royal mess we're all embroiled in.
The United States, under federal Indian law, does not get to retain its own treaty rights it implicitly means to do away with, where tribes are given the benefit of the doubt. That is because the tribes were not legally proficient nor could they afford effective legal counsel until recent times.
If the U.S. intended to retain the Freedmen treaty rights, it would have explicitly done so during the Dawes Act and explicitly in the 1970s treaty that the U.S. wrote. It did not in either case. It was the U.S.' treaty right to maintain and it failed to do so.
The U.S. can fix it's mistakes by statute by providing that the Freedmen descendants from all Five Tribes get IHS health benefits. It has not done that.
It could also create a new tribe from the Freedmen and give it all the rights it wishes to, but it hasn't done that.
From the Cherokee cultural perspective, we have fulfilled the terms of the 1867 Treaty. The U.S. is seeking to have the Nation correct the legal mistakes of the United States.
The issue is seen as a sovereignty issue by most within the tribe. Federal Indian law has firmly established that only the tribes can decide who is a member. Most tribes exclude anyone who is less than 1/4 blood quantum of that tribe. Many children of mixed-tribal parents end up excluded because they may be more than 1/4 Indian, but not enough of either tribe. We don't do that. We allow anyone with direct lineage to a Dawes Roll enrollee on the Indian roll to become members.
The U.S. extorted the Seminole Nation into taking in its Freedmen's descendants because it couldn't afford the cost of litigation with the U.S. The Cherokee Nation did not want to give in to extortion by the U.S. for a price we already paid.
Is there some racism involved? It is Oklahoma, so probably, there are some members who voted to clarify the membership in the Constitution who did so out of racism. But not all who think the U.S. should clean up its own mess are doing so out of racism.
Do the Freedmen have Cherokee blood? I'm sure some do. Those who had ancestors who intermarried with Cherokees on the Dawes Roll are already members and are not disputed.
However, those who were on the Freedmen Roll of the U.S. Dawes Rolls can't prove their blood heritage because the U.S. refused to record Indian blood for them (the old one-drop rule, I presume). Again, the U.S. caused the problem.
At the root of the entire problem is the question of who is an Indian? The Cherokee voted to clarify that in our tribe we believe that members should have some degree of Indian blood; that an Indian tribe should be of and about Indians, not just a social club.
I agree that the Freedmen descendants got a raw deal. All of Indian law is about the U.S. giving raw deals to Indians.
But I do believe that the U.S. should clean up the mess it created. If it wants the Freedmen to be Indians, then simply recognize them as Indians and give them the benefits. Let them create their own tribe and be equals and preserve their unique culture and history along with all of us.
Don't extort us and force us to bear the brunt of the United States' mistakes in how it screwed the Freedmen and pretend it was us who did it. The U.S. needs to grow a pair, admit it screwed up and fix its mistakes.