Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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  • Brent A. Cox (2008-2012)
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    Milan, Tennessee 38358

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    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Recognition at last minute is suspect

    Recognition at last minute is suspect

    By Bristol Herald Courier Editorial Board
    Published: June 23, 2010
    » 0 Comments | Post a Comment

    What a difference a year makes, especially when the tribes wanting recognition are now filling more seats on the Tennessee Commission on Indian Affairs.

    Last year, we urged experts to make decisions surrounding tribal recognition for Native American tribes. At the time, it appeared some groups with incomplete documentation were gaining traction toward state recognition by asking for approval through the state Legislature.

    We advocated for the Tennessee Commission on Indian Affairs to make such serious decisions. Tribal recognition carries with it eligibility for college scholarships, federal funds and other aid. It also allows those tribes to make and market crafts as being made by Native Americans, an obvious financial benefit.

    We believed the commission would consider the Cherokee Nation’s numerous objections to granting state recognition to six Indian tribes that were disputed last year.

    But on Monday, the commission gave recognition to those tribes. The federally recognized Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma now aims to nullify the action. So what really happened?

    Most significantly the makeup of the commission has changed since last year. Caucuses held in the winter led to new leadership, and members of the disputed tribes are now part of the commission. Other tribes did not participate in the voting, because members knew the commission, by agreement of the Legislature, was going to sunset on July 1.

    Then nine days before its sunset, the commission – now made up of leaders from the disputed tribes – agreed to give recognition to those tribes.

    Tammera Hicks of Chattanooga is chairwoman of the commission. She told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Monday that “we have done what the commission was mandated to do more than 20 years ago.”

    But Mark Greene, a lobbyist for the Cherokee Nation, called the action “11th-hour recognition” that might violate Tennessee law. Cherokee representatives were meeting with attorneys on Monday to determine possible legal action.

    A similar bill giving state recognition to these tribes died in the Legislature. The commission acted separately, with six members of the seven-member panel present on Friday to vote to declare six groups as valid Indian tribes.

    The commission’s efforts to bypass the legislature appears to have violated Tennessee’s Sunshine Law, which mandates meetings be open and that adequate notice be given. There was no notice regarding Friday’s vote. Some members of the commission have obvious conflicts of interest because they belong to the tribes that were recognized.

    We agree with Greene that this move is a last-ditch attempt to give recognition to these tribes – a designation they were not able to get through the Legislature. We supported the idea of the commission taking the lead last year because it is supposed to be made up of experts on Native American history. But when the commission has been stacked with members of the tribes in question, its decisions cannot be considered valid.

    The recognition granted on Friday is obviously suspect and Tennessee lawmakers should intervene to nullify the decision of the commission.

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    Re: Recognition at last minute is suspect

    Clearly stated. Not much more to add. Good article.

    Re: Recognition at last minute is suspect

    Last minute? Twenty plus yrs of a commission which was mandated to do exactly what was done Sat. 6/19/2010? Remember Ecohawk has stated Cherokee in OK are no more Indian than other Cherokees. We are all descendants!!
    I personally don't know any ORIGINAL Cherokees..they'd have to be well over 200 yrs old!! R U all 200 yrs old? I think not! Cherokee Nation Tennessee!!!!

    Good luck with that one.

    So what do you plan now? Going to the BIA and demanding to be recognized by them? You might need to work on your documentation. State recognition is nothing--especially when it is recognition by a "commission" overloaded with the ones they just "recognized." Plus there is the obvious fact that the recognition did not follow any legal guidelines--therefore (master of the obvious) the recognition is illegal.

    Re: Recognition at last minute is fraudulent as the TCIA members who voted for it

    anonymous wrote:
    > Last minute? Twenty plus yrs of a commission which was
    mandated to do exactly what was done Sat. 6/19/2010?

    TCIA wasn't mandated to violate state rules re. creation & implementation of state rules.

    last minute. ...
    as in, no prior notice of a new Standing Rule.
    as in, no public notice of what the new Standing Rule was about.
    as in, a state agency's Standing Rules cannot be used to make public policy.
    as in, planning by commissioners and supporters held in secret to avoid state Open Meeting law.

    as one legislator put it, "frivolous".
    as another said, "deadly serious violation of state rules".

    but hey, let's not take our words for it.
    let's ask the state AG, Is the TCIA's recognition by Standing Rule legal?
    $5 his answer is 'no'.

    Re: Recognition at last minute is suspect

    Last minute? Twenty plus yrs of a commission which was mandated to do exactly what was done Sat. 6/19/2010? Remember Ecohawk has stated Cherokee in OK are no more Indian than other Cherokees. We are all descendants!!
    I personally don't know any ORIGINAL Cherokees..they'd have to be well over 200 yrs old!! R U all 200 yrs old? I think not! Cherokee Nation Tennessee!!!!

    "Mandate" ... but not the ONLY 'mandate'; just THE main focus of those who think they're gonna make a quick buck and legitimize themselves through bogus 'recognition'.

    Descendants who don't meet their Nation's enrollment/membership criteria still remain descendants. Lack of enrollment/membership won't change that ... and neither will fraudulent 'recognition' make them any more 'real'.

    If it takes YEARS for the BIA to look through documentation to determine the legitimacy of those petitioning for FEDERAL recognition <--- meaning determining a HISTORICAL and OFFICIAL RELATIONSHIP with the US government, how is it that a tiny group of UNofficial, UNtrained, OVERLYbiased folks can somehow spend MAYBE 30 minutes pretending to "look over" some papers and suddenly declare 6 groups to be "authentic" enough to receive State recognition?!!

    Rather like Alabama did when they started their state-recognition thing ... wave a magic wand to 'recognize' the groups and later, change the criteria to be strict BUT, "grandfather" in all those who COULD NOT meet the current, stricter criteria. Only difference is, TN has criteria (worked on it for YEARS) but the commission DID NOT USE IT. They could not have used it because IF THEY HAD, they could not and would not have 'recognized' the 6 groups.

    Ummm ... and while Echohawk may have a point, it applies to ALL Nations, not just the Cherokee. AND, it STILL does NOT diminish the fact that the Nations - Cherokee included - STILL have a HISTORICAL and LONG-STANDING relationship to and with the United States government to authenticate who and what they are (the Indigenous Nations of the north american continent) and continue be.

    Echohawk can blow his opinion out somewhere 'cause BLOOD alone does NOT determine citizenship - OBVIOUSLY - 'cause the CNO DOES NOT HAVE A BLOOD QUANTUM requirement to determine its citizens AND the CNO tribal government is who determines citizenship requirements, NOT Echohawk and NOT the United States government!!!!!!!

    Original Cherokees

    Actually, "original" Cherokees would date from the time the Aniyunwiya began to identify as Cherokee. I think that's probably a little farther back than 200 years if you want to argue a silly point which means nothing. While the Cherokee alive today are not the ones on the rolls, except maybe in a few cases, they are still Cherokee. They are decendants of the original enrollees. Whatever Echohawk's point was, I don't think he was saying the Cherokee are not Cherokee anymore than he would say he is not of his tribe. People often make fun of the fact that Cherokee Nation only requires decendancy and have issued cards for people with Indian blood degrees in the thousanths (sp?). Anyway, I have heard people refer to Echohawk as a thinblood, maybe he was trying to deflect--who knows? Is it really germaine to whether or not you clubbers merit any sort of recognition?

    It's a foregone conclusion that this "recognition" will not stand any legal tests and, therefore, will not stand.

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