Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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American Indians in Tennessee government volunteer service
TN Archaeological Advisory Council
mandated 3 Native American representatives
  • Michael Lynch, West Tennessee (2008-12)
         member, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Pat Cummins, Middle Tennessee (2004-08)
         descendant, Cherokee
  • Mark Cantrell, Middle Tennessee (2010-14)
         unknown tribal affiliation
  •   TN Historical Commission
    mandated inclusion of person/s
    of Native American ancestry

  • Brent A. Cox (2008-2012)
    444 Cades Atwood Road
    Milan, Tennessee 38358

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    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Date: Monday, November 3, 2008, 1:01 PM

    Dear Friends:

    It has been a while since I last wrote about my eagle feathers. I would like to start off by telling you that nothing has happened since I last wrote. The last time I wrote, our September 7, 2007 court case with the Department of Interior was postponed for a later date by the federal government. We, my lawyers and myself, continue to seek direction as to what to do next. There are several explanations but one thing they are hoping will happen eventually is that with time interest will die out and people will forget what happened. This is where I feel we must never let them forget what happened. It sort of reminds me of our history books and all the wrong the government has done to our people. The old "out of sight, out of mind" comes to remembrance here. That is what history has done about all the horrible things they did to us in the name of justice and fairness. We must never let them forget and we must unite together - not for my victory, but for the victory of all American Indian people, whether they are recognized by the government or not.

    One statement that continues to bother me is one of the last things the federal agent that came to our pow wow said to the newspapers. He said, "Just because his parents are Indians does not make him an Indian." That is one of most idiotic statements I have ever heard. The man who came to our pow wow was Mexican American. How does he know he is Mexican American? Did the government issue him a card that declared him Mexican American? Was he born with a stamp somewhere on his body that says "Made in Mexico?" He knows he is Mexican American because more likely that is what his parents and relatives declared to him from the time he was born. So I know who I am because I not only carry the oral traditions that have been passed on to us from generation to generation, but we carry our genealogy which is backed up by academic citations that support who my family is as American Indians of the Lipan Apache tribe. Yet today, we have given the government the authority and the right to tell us who is and who is not Indian. I don't know about your tribe, but our tribe fought fourteen different campaigns with the United States and Mexico with the hopes that no man would tell us where to live or who we were as Lipan Apaches.

    The more I have thought about this the more I have determined that the whole issue is control. Control over who we are and control of those things that are sacred to us. What would a Catholic do if tomorrow he was told he had to beg the United States government for their rosaries? What would the Jewish people do if tomorrow they realized they had to beg the United Stated government for their sacred scrolls in order to worship God? What would Evangelical Christians do if tomorrow they were told that the only cross they could wear around their neck or their Bible they read were those sanctioned by the United States government? Yet in order for us to use our sacred objects like our eagle feathers, whether in a religious service or at a pow wow, is that we beg the government for them, who determines who can and who cannot use them. It is about time our people were set free to use that which is sacred to us without fear of the United States government sending agents from the Department of Interior to harass us and take away things like our Eagle feathers. They need to remember the countless of American Indians along with others who have given their lives in the armed forces up to date for the right to worship as we please.

    In my last conversation with my lawyers, which was about three days ago, he advised me that we will wait until January to take our next step on this case. He said due to the election, no one is listening right now so we will wait until the election is over and things settle down in Washington. Until then, I would like you to write to the Department of Fish and Game and basically ask them to let our people go. To settle the issue once and for all and allow us to be free in the area of worship and the use of our sacred objects as eagle feathers.

    I thank you for your time. I thank you for your support. The only way laws will change will be that we unite together and fight together as one to change the laws that have held us under fear and bondage from the very government we elect. I will include the following addresses and e-mails of the Department of Interior Fish and Game to ask them to let our people go and allow us the same freedoms other ethnic groups enjoy in our country.

    God bless and thank you for your time.

    Robert Soto

    Vice Chairman of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas
    Pastor of McAllen Grace Brethren Church
    Pastor of the Native American New Life Center
    Pastor of the Chief of Chiefs Christian Church
    Spokesman for the South Texas Indian Dancers Association

    Secretary of U.S Department of Interior
    US Department of Interior
    1849 C Street NW
    Washington DC 20240

    H. Dale Hall, Director
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    Main Interior
    1849 C Street NW
    Washington, DC 20240-0001

    Alberto Gonzalez

    U.S. Attorney General

    U.S. Department of Justice

    950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

    Washington , D.C. 20530-0001

    Attorney General - 202-353-1555

    Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000

    Benjamin Tuggle
    Region 2 Acting Regional Director
    Office of Law Enforcement
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    P.O. Box 329
    Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA 87103
    Phone(505)248-7889 Fax 505)248-7899

    San Antonio TX
    RAC Gary Young
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    Grandstand Dr
    San Antonio TX 78238-4507


    McAllen TX
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    320 N. Main Room 229
    McAllen TX 78501


    This whole situation could've been avoided if the arena director would've of went straight to the agent and stopped him in his tracks. It is the arena director's responsibility. I think that this only happened because it was in Texas and the non federally recognized powwow dancers would be in violation.

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