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
    731-723-9994

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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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    Comment
    Petition for Withdrawal or Repeal of TCIA Rule 0785-1

    Pursuant to TCA 4‐5‐202, the following thirty‐four (34) persons who will be affected
    by TCIA Rule 0785‐1 hereby request the Commission of Indian Affairs hold a public
    hearing on withdrawal and repeal of the Commission’s Rule 0785‐1 Recognition
    Criteria for Tennessee Native American Indian Nations, Tribes, or Communities.

    Reasons for Request:
    1. Rule 0785‐1 lacks an objective historical date from which groups applying for
    recognition need to prove their historical record, and allows for applicant groups
    to establish their own date of origin — even in the 21st century — as the
    beginning date of their required historical proof, which does not provide for any
    true historical record of affiliation with actual and existing Native American
    Indian tribal peoples. Any such state tribal recognition criteria should establish
    an objective historical date such as the year 1900 as used in the federal tribal
    recognition criteria (25CFR83.7).
    2. Rule 0785‐1 lacks objective evaluation of applicant’s historical claims by
    knowledgeable third‐parties. Any such state tribal recognition criteria should
    require that historical claims of tribal history in Tennessee be reviewed and
    evaluated for accuracy by the State Historian, Tennessee Historical Commission,
    and the applicant’s local historical society.
    3. Rule 0785‐1 lacks the requirement of an objective genealogical basis by which to
    evaluate members of applicant groups who claim to be Native American Indian.
    Any such state tribal recognition criteria should require documented proof of
    descendancy from an historical tribal member on a known and accepted tribal
    roll. Additionally, individuals’ claims to descendancy should be evaluated by
    third‐party historians and genealogists, not appointees and fellow group
    members who are also members of the Commission of Indian Affairs.
    4. Rule 0785‐1 lacks a conflict‐of‐interest clause that would protect the public from
    commissioners of Indian Affairs who are members of groups petitioning for
    recognition from voting on recognition petitions while their own petition is under
    consideration by the Commission. Currently a majority of commissioners of
    Indian Affairs are members of groups that will be petitioning the Commission for
    the Commission’s approval as state‐recognized tribes. Five of the seven
    commissioners have been members of the “Confederation of Tennessee Native
    Tribes” political action committee that lobbied on behalf of six groups who
    wanted state‐recognition as Native American Indian tribes. The state tribal
    recognition process should be administered by persons with no special interest in
    the groups or in the process.
    5. Rule 0785‐1 places state tribal recognition in the hands of persons (appointed
    commissioners) who, as the Commission is currently composed, lack academic or
    professional qualifications to properly evaluate historical, cultural and
    genealogical claims. The state tribal recognition process needs a requirement for
    third‐party professional testimony on the historical, cultural and genealogical
    claims made by applicant groups.
    6. Rule 0785‐1 has an effective life of 44 days: it goes into effect on 17 May 2010 and
    then terminates with the termination of the Commission of Indian Affairs on 30
    June 2010. No public rule should open and close a window of opportunity for
    state benefits such as state tribal recognition in such a short time. At the same
    time, no public agency should be given authority to apply a new rule for such a
    short time and then terminate ‐ or be terminated, without any further public
    review or accountability.

    Petitioner’s interest in the request:
    Petitioners will be affected by the rule as members of the state Native American
    Indian community. Petitioners are present and past active members of the
    Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian
    Affairs, and of other groups that have consulted, contributed and supported the
    creation of Rule 0785‐1. Petitioners are concerned that Rule 0785‐1 should have
    safeguards in place before the Rule is implemented, and that state tribal recognition
    should not be a 44‐day state entitlement program for undocumented groups that
    have no public record. Petitioners believe Rule 0785‐1 should be amended and its
    faults corrected prior to implementation, and that Rule 0785‐1 should not be
    implemented by a state agency with only 44 days left in existence.

    Authority of the agency to take the action that is requested:
    TCA 4‐34‐103, TCA 4‐34‐111; TCA 4‐5‐201, TCA 4‐5‐214.

    Petitioners
    1. Valerie Ohle, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, East Tennessee, former chair, Knoxville TN
    2. Evangeline Lynch, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, West Tennessee, former chair; enrolled member, Choctaw Nation, Dyer TN
    3. Ray Emanuel, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs; Executive Director, Native American Indian Association of Tennessee; enrolled member, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Nashville TN
    4. John W. Hedgecoth, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, East Tennessee; Chief Executive Officer, Tennessee Native Veterans Society, Crossville TN
    5. Bill Wells, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Nashville, Smyrna TN
    6. John Anderson, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Chattanooga enrolled member, Iroquois Nation, Ohsweken, Ontario, Chattanooga TN
    7. tom kunesh, former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Chattanooga; member, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs; member, Tennessee Native American Convention, Chattanooga TN
    8. Corky Allen, member, Tennessee Archaeological Advisory Council (East TN);enrolled member, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, enrolled member, Euchee Tribe, Chattanooga TN
    9. Michael G. Lynch, member, Tennessee Archeaological Advisory Council (West TN);enrolled member, Choctaw Nation, Dyer TN
    10. Sally Wells, President, Native American Indian Association of Tennessee;enrolled member, Mississippi Band of Choctaw, Smyrna TN
    11. Dale Mitchell, chair, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Franklin TN
    12. Melba Checote Eads, chair, Muscogee Citizens of the Southeast;vice chair, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Woodbury TN
    13. Patty Beecham, former secretary, Tennessee Native American Convention, West TN board member;
    current member, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Big Sandy TN
    14. Katherine M.B. Osburn, Professor, Department of History, Tennessee Technological University; member, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Cookeville TN
    15. Joe W. McCaleb, Attorney at Law, former chair, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Primm Springs TN
    16. Donald Merzlak, former member, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Greeneville TN
    17. Patrica Merzlak, former secretary, Native American Intertribal Association of North Carolina, Greeneville TN
    18. Vicky Lynn Garland, former chair, vice chair, Tennessee Native American Convention; past vice president, current Tennessee State Director, TN Trail of Tears Association, Lawrenceburg TN
    19. Scott Sanders, chair, Tennessee Native American Convention Chattanooga Caucus, Cleveland TN
    20. Helen Wagner Vinson, former vice chair, Tennessee Native American Convention Memphis Caucus; enrolled member, Monacan Nation, Lakeland TN
    21. E. Raymond Evans, past editor, Journal of Cherokee Studies, Museum of the Cherokee Indian,Cherokee, North Carolina; past consultant to the Chattanooga African American Museum, Chattanooga TN
    22. Brent Cox, member, Tennessee Historical Commission;
    former board member, Tennessee Native American Convention, West TN, Milan TN
    23. Donna Smith, moderator, Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee message board, Harrogate TN
    24. Rhetta D Sapp, former president, vice president,
    Alliance for Native American Indian Rights of Tennessee, Madison TN
    25. Debra Shattuck Capino, President, First Nations People Inc, Kelso TN
    26. Jim Unussee, member, Muscogee (Creek) Nation;
    cultural historian, Muscogee Citizens of the Southeast, Chapel Hill TN
    27. Leigha Mouse, Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, Lebanon TN
    28. Cindy Yahola, President, Middle Tennessee Powwow, Lebanon TN
    29. Rachel Bloom, enrolled member, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Murfreesboro TN
    30. Floyd Ayers, Vice President, Tennessee Chapter, Trail of Tears Association; former board member of the Tennessee Native American Convention, Winchester TN
    31. Sandi Perry, board member, Alliance for Native American Indian Rights; former board member, Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs, Tennessee Native American Convention, Franklin TN
    32. Mark Tolley, Nashville TN
    33. Bruce Two Eagles Lemire, Cree/Chippewa, council member, Native American Intertribal Association, Greeneville TN
    34. Mary Lemire, Cree/Chippewa, council member, Native American Intertribal Association, Greeneville TN

    Submitted: 26 April 2010 Nashville


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