The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
Cherokee Tears - part 2 (DNA proves ancestry)
Thursday, March 6th, 2008
I have received an overwhelming response to my proposal to use DNA to solve disputes of Indian ancestry. Thank you all for sharing your comments with me. Here is my response to a message I received from a member of my tribe - it explains my motivation for this project:
Thank you for taking the time to send me your comments on the DNA issue. Our tribe is not guilty of discrimination and I am very proud to be Echota Cherokee.
I assure you that I don't have any ulterior motives by suggesting the DNA testing. My proposal was not to exclude anyone that was already a member of a tribe. The idea was to allow those who can't prove their lineage through the two rolls to prove it through DNA. It is directed toward the Georgia and Oklahoma tribes who have developed elitist attitudes when it comes to tribal membership.
The only way to join the Oklahoma tribe is by being on the 1906 Dawes roll. The only way to join the Eastern Band is by being on the 1924 Baker Roll. These hundred year old rolls were no where near accurate and many (probably thousands) were not included in the census. This method of proving ancestry was the best that could be done at the time, but science now has an objective means of ending all disputes.
I started the campaign when the Oklahoma recently voted on a constitutional amendment to exclude freedmen. That goes directly against their statements such as "The Cherokee Nation is a great Indian nation that embraces our mixed-race heritage." and "The people have spoken: The Cherokee people passionately believe that you must be an Indian to be in an Indian tribe."
If they are only wanting to only include "true Indians" - we aren't they including ALL "true" Indians? DNA is the only answer I can think of to solve that would solve this dispute.
The Georgia band states, "..if your ancestor was not included on one of the many Cherokee rolls for whatever reason they chose, then they basically gave up their citizenship in the Cherokee nation. If that is your case, then you will have to accept their decision."
The views of these two tribes are not fair, and are not in line with the longstanding Cherokee tradition of openly accepting ALL people into the tribe who wanted to part of their society. I am proud to be Tsalagi, but I am ashamed of the current policy of these two tribes.
The Echota Cherokee of Alabama currently has open rolls and I believe that our tribe can be the shining example of how the Cherokee nations should do business. Times have been tough, but we now have the leadership to move forward and we have many hard-working members who are willing to make it happen.
I hope that you understand my motivation behind my proposal. I am excited that technology now allows us to end all disputes of ancestry and that the Internet allows us to share our language and culture with the rest of the world. More importantly, the history of our people can be saved for posterity.
Thank you for sharing your opinion with me. It showed me a different way to look at the issue that I had never considered. I hope that soon I can travel back to Alabama and meet everyone in person. As I just wrote Chief Hallmark, I am so happy to be in touch with the tribe that I can hardly contain my excitement. I live in Atlanta, so it is hard for me to participate directly with the tribe, but I am willing to help in any way that I can. Please stay in touch.
-- Gary Wright II