The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
Where is the Recognition? The plight of the Cherokee
Thursday, March 20th, 2008
This blog entry is actually a bulletin posted by Warrior Wolf, with my comments at the bottom. I normally don?t post other people?s work in my blog, but this is a conversation worth having:
Warrior Wolf wrote:
Where?s The Recognition?
If you are among those people who have a Cherokee heritage and yet are not a member of one of the three recognized tribes, then you must realize that you are part of a group of people who got the proverbial "short end of the stick. It? s not fair, but it is the way that the U.S. Government views those who are not one either the Final Dawes Rolls or the Baker Rolls. There are roughly about 240,000 members of the three Cherokee tribes who have federal recognition and most have the coveted CDIB card.
How ever, is it fair to say that they are the only true Cherokees? Hardly. There were several thousand Cherokees who did not subscribe to the removal known as the "Trail of Tears." Those who were not on the Trail of Tears either hid out in the mountains or lived as "white" people and hid their identity. Of course, these people were not accounted for in many of the censuses as "Indian" or "Native American" because when the census takers came by their home, they claimed to be white or "Black Dutch".
I had the privilege of listening to some great stories as told by my great grandmother Pearley Wood. She was a descendant of James Smith, a mixed blood Cherokee. She told me that our ancestors claimed they were Black Dutch or Blackfoot (not to be confused with the Blackfeet Indians of Montana). She also claimed we were Cherokee and while she was not taught many of the Cherokee ways, and neither was her mother, her own grandmother was. This was my third great grandmother, Melinda Arlabell (Grider) Creamer. She was the granddaughter of David Editon Smith, and great granddaughter of James Smith. She most certainly was taught the Cherokee ways, which I?m sure she learned from her mother and perhaps her grandmother.
So just because I?m not a member of those three federally recognized tribes, does that make me any less Cherokee? I may not be a full-blood, in fact I?m only 1/16th blood quantum. But as I understand it, the Cherokee Nation does not base its membership on blood quantum at all. Your direct ancestors must be found on the Dawes or Baker Rolls.
Now that seems a bit ridiculous, but that has been the law for some time now. We need a change. First of all, we should not have to be found on some roll, which is full of errors to prove our heritage. In some instances, it doesn?t make any difference.
Many of the Freedmen?s ancestors were found on the Dawes Rolls and yet, by a "popular" vote they were removed. This is the center of controversy and has yet to be completely settled.
So, where is our recognition?
We need to fight for our ancestors too! Why shouldn?t we have access to funds when there is a need if we can prove our heritage?
Let?s see what we can do about this. Write your comments please.
The following text was my comment:
You are absolutely right! The Cherokee have a very unique history during the Indian removal that differs from all of the other tribes. Unfortunately, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the Georgia tribe have abandoned the long-standing tradition of acceptance. If you look at the tribal membership prior to removal, you will find Europeans, Africans, and all other walks of life who were treated as equals and were welcomed into the tribe with open arms. An example would be the Moravian missionaries who lived among the tribe. The history books are in error, the tribe had no intentions of being "converted" to a new religion. They were welcomed in order to teach the language of the white man. That was a turning point in the history of the Cherokee, because they saw what was happening to other tribes. They thought they could receive justice through the white mans system of "liberty and justice." They actually won the battle in the US Supreme Court, but an out-of-control president scoffed at the law of the land (sound familiar? I?m not referring to Bush, but to Andrew Jackson). Jackson basically said, "They made their decision. but let?s see them try to enforce it!" Even as we still are learning today, the justice system is not always just. When someone preaches liberty, justice, and democracy - we must ask how much liberty? who?s definition of justice? what type of democracy? The actions of the US never resemble the words that have been written on paper. Unfortunately, the Georgia and Oklahoma tribes have fallen prey to the greed of the white mans system. They have developed an elitist attitude toward their own brothers and sisters. The destruction caused to our people from within actually pales in comparison to what was done to our people by the white man. I wrote to every tribe and asked the tribal council to allow DNA to be as evidence of ancestry. Not to be used to exclude people already on the rolls - but for people to be allowed to submit this proof when there is no other way to prove their relationship to the tribe. I thought this would be the only fair way to give membership to those who deserve it. I was shocked by the negative responses that I received, which further proves that our leaders have lost their way. Many people say it is all about casino money, and I don?t know for sure. All of the money in the world will never bring happiness to the tribes who are living in a society with no justice and that isn?t even fair to their own people. I have to applaud the Echota Cherokee tribe for setting a good example. We have all made mistakes in the past, but the Echotas have a good reason to be proud. We have always stuck together and we have always tried to do what is right. Not many other tribes can honestly make that claim. I am not saying these things to drive our people apart. I think we have to acknowledge our failures and then work together to become a strong and united Cherokee nation. We are Tsalagi. We are Cherokee. We are Echotas.