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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    TN Commission of Indian Affairs
    Website of the (defunct) TCIA * History of the 1st & 2nd TNCIA

    Greene (CNO) v. TCIA   filed 30 June 2010
    Commission terminated     30 June 2010

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Looking forward, back

    Looking forward, back
    Cherokees fete courthouse museum, mourn leader

    TAHLEQUAH — It was a bittersweet day for the Cherokee Nation on Wednesday, as the tribe dedicated its first wholly owned and operated museum while still mourning the death of famed former principal chief Wilma Mankiller a
    day earlier.

    The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum dedication ceremony featured the opening of the new museum, which was built in 1844 and was the first public building in the state, housing the tribe's supreme court and the first newspaper in the state, the Cherokee Advocate.

    But hearts were also heavy on what should have been a proud day for the tribe, as thoughts and words often turned to Mankiller, who died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Mankiller, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, was the tribe's first female principal chief and is credited with leading the Cherokee Nation into an era of growth, as well as being a fierce advocate for American Indian and women's rights.

    Statements of condolence and fond memories of Mankiller poured in from around the state and country, from leaders of other Indian tribes to President Barack Obama.

    Before the dedication ceremony, a moment of silence was observed in her honor.

    Principal Chief Chad Smith, who spoke at the dedication ceremony, said the opening of the tribe's first museum was a great moment for the tribe, but not one without sadness.

    "We hope in a decade or two or three from now, when our descendants come across these grounds and they see this building and they see this building, that they will say we passed on the great Cherokee legacy. That the day our beloved Principal Chief Mankiller laid in rest," Smith said, his voice choking with emotion, "that we took the charge to heart, that we became statesmen, true leaders."

    David Stewart, the CEO of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, which oversees the tribe's cultural tourism program and management of the new museum, said the opening of the museum was a continuance of Mankiller's dream and legacy of cultural preservation.

    "She would have wanted this," he said. "This would represent a dedication of what she believed in — preserving our culture for future generations. She was all about people and giving back to people."

    The museum is the culmination of years of work and restoration. In it can be found interactive displays of a printing press that served the Cherokee Advocate from 1875 to its final edition in 1906, as well as typeset casings, including Cherokee Syllabary casings.

    It also houses law books from the late 1800s, furniture, photos, information on early Cherokee court cases and a gift shop.

    The two-story brick building, which sits on Capitol Square across the street from the Cherokee Nation's current courthouse, is considered the first public building in Indian Territory and has survived fire, the Civil War and the grind of time.

    "Over the past 166 years, from these very steps much of the expanse of Cherokee history has been witnessed," said Jay Hannah, chairman of the board for Cherokee Nation Enterprises and master of ceremonies for the event.

    "The preservation of this building and the ideals it represents are here today protected and cherished so that future generations of Cherokees will know we honor our history and we learn from all that we observe so that our nation shall not perish but always endure through strength and through heartache."

    Museum info
    What: Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum

    When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

    Where: 122 E. Keetoowah St., Tahlequah

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  • Native American Indian Association of Tennessee (NAIA)
    Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs (ACTIA)
    Alliance for Native American Indian Rights (ANAIR)
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