A Lucy Allen Story

 

2/15/2007 By: David cornsilk 

Racist are saying of the Associated Press that parts are untrue, so David Cornsilk took the Story an labeled it line by line, paragraph by paragraph:

ARTICLE:
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- When Lucy Allen sets out to tell her family's story, she first finds an empty room with plenty of open table space.

FACT: Every time I have met with Lucy Allen, at the Rudicil North Tulsa Library or received documents from her in the mail, the amount of space required to look at them was tremendous.

ARTICLE:
She arrives wheeling two big black suitcases, each stuffed with enough supporting evidence to do Perry Mason proud.

FACT: She does carry her documents in two big black suitcases.

"This is my father," she begins, and directs long, thin fingers to a vintage oval-framed photograph swaddled in a towel.

ARTICLE:
A long time ago, the man in the picture told his little girl she was born of Indians -- proud people, descended from a regal line.

FACT OR FICTION: Only Lucy and her family knows the truth concerning the oral traditions handed down in her family. It is just as likely that Lucy's family would proclaim their Cherokee Indian heritage, though the degree would be small, as it would be for someone like Cara Cowan Watts to do the same thing, considering she is only 1/256 blood Cherokee. The fact that Lucy's skin is black does not negate the pride of heritage from the Cherokees that she and her family enjoy.

ARTICLE:
The girl loved those stories. But it wasn't until she had children of her own, that Allen realized the tales might have dimensions she'd never considered.

FACT: Lucy's parents were Cherokee citizens and received an allotment from the Cherokee Nation. During the 1920s, some of the land was in dispute and the court records clearly describe her parents as "citizens of the Cherokee Nation." Lucy was born in 1928 and it takes no stretch of the imagination to believe that as a young girl, she would have heard stories of the old Cherokee Nation days, her mother's Indian blood ancestry from noted Cherokee Indian Joseph Martin and that she would have enjoyed those stories as much as any young Cherokee would and has in many families of mixed white, Indian and negro ancestry.

ARTICLE:
It was just as her parents told her. Yes, she was black. But there was Cherokee in her veins, too.

FACT: Lucy has researched her own family so thoroughly, that she can recite the lineage back four and five generations by heart. And she has the documents to prove that she and her ancestors were not only of mixed black, white and Cherokee Indian ancestry, but they were all citizens of the Cherokee Nation. She has more proof of being a Cherokee Indian, though her skin is black, than the likes of Murv Jacob, Willard Stone, Troy Anderson among other wannabes lauded by Chad Smith as Cherokee Indians, though they have not one shred of proof of Cherokee Indian ancestry. The thing that sets them apart is they are white.

ARTICLE:
There was a catch, though.

FACT: There is a catch, Lucy's Indian blood was not recorded by the Dawes Commission, even though the Dawes Commission clearly states that she is a direct descendant of Joseph Martin, a Cherokee Indian.

ARTICLE:
She could call herself an Indian. But Allen's "proof" could just as easily be cited to show her people were not real Cherokees, but a human burden a defeated tribe had been forced to shoulder.

FACT: The Dawes Commission make careful note of the fact that Lucy Allen's ancestors were descendants of Joseph Martin, a Cherokee Indian. They also made sure that no blood degree was recorded for her ancestors so that there would be no question regarding the legal status of the land they would recieve. They had no blood recorded and therefore their land could not be restricted and stolen more easily. It is also clear from the meticulous records of the Dawes Commission that Lucy's ancestors were held as slaves by Cherokee Indians, including Joseph Martin, who was not only the master of his slaves, but many of them's father.

ARTICLE:
A century past, Allen's ancestors had secured what they thought was a permanent place in the tribe. Now, though, it was clear the only way she could ever be acknowledged as Cherokee would be to take on the very Cherokees who refused to count her as one of their own.

FACT: The former slaves of the Cherokees, free blacks and Cherokee Indians of negro ancestry were guarnateed equal rights to all other native Cherokees by a treaty with the United States. For 34 years, following the Treaty of 1866, Adopted Coloreds (Freedmen) enjoyed all the rights of native Cherokees, including voting, holding office, peacable possession of land, per capita payments and a free education. Following Oklahoma statehood, Freedmen enjoyed all of the same benefits of other Cherokee citizens including employment rights with the BIA, per capita payments and full participation in the limited political life of the shrunken and disabled Cherokee Nation. Following the 1983 disbarrment of the Freedmen from political and civil rights in the Cherokee Nation by Ross O. Swimmer, Lucy Allen, Roger Nero, Bernice Riggs and all other Freedmen were catapaulted out of the tribe against their will and without a single vote being cast for or against them. Roger Nero fought for his rights in the federal courts and his case was sent back to tribal court. He died before he could take on the Cherokee Nation. Bernice Riggs challenged the Cherokee Nation through the enrollment appeal process. Her case was lost under the cover of darkness, she never knowing she had lost for two years after the ruling. Bernice died a short time thereafter. Lucy Allen attempted to get the BIA to look at the Dawes records proving her to be a descendant of Joseph Martin, but because they are bound by the 1946 5-Tribes Act which says blood of the 5 civilized tribes will be determined from the nearest enrolled ancestor on Dawes, and her ancestor was enrolled with NO blood degree, she could not be issued a CDIB card. She had no choice to protect her rights and those of her gandchildren than to challenge the entity which was denying her those rights, the Cherokee Nation. Some might say to her, just sit back and do nothing. She is not that kind of woman and I applaud her, Mrs. Riggs and Rev. Nero for having the guts to stand up when no one else would.

In the past

ARTICLE:This begins as one woman's story, but it is much more. It is the story of identity. Who are we? Who decides who we are?

FACT: Identity is something we all struggle with on a daily basis. I am almost half Cherokee, but am I an Indian. To whites, yes I am. To me, yes I am. To full bloods, perhaps not. Fortunately for us all, especially those with lower blood degrees, such as Cara Cowan Watts, the right to call oneself a Cherokee and an Indian lies in the law and not in the blood. There is NO WAY that someone with a degree of 1/256 could be anything but what the other 255/256 would be. Cara is a white woman with a thin strain of Indian ancestry. She has that in common with nearly every person I meet on the street. What sets her apart from them is the fact that her ancestors, low blood and all, and like the Freedmen, were citizens of the Cherokee Nation and she has inherited that citizenship in full. There are NO mixed citizens of the Cherokee Nation. We are all full citizens as proven by reference to the Dawes Commission Rolls.

ARTICLE:
Each September, a crowd gathers in Tahlequah to celebrate the identity of the nation's largest Indian tribe -- while acknowledging the brutal history of efforts to extinguish it.

FACT: This is a reference to the Cherokee Nation Holiday. We Cherokees do gather every Labor Day weekend, some to celebrate their heritage, others to talk about the tragedy of our history and others just to eat an Indian taco.

ARTICLE:
"We stand here today on the shoulders of our ancestors, who endured the Trail of Tears and brought us to this place we call home," a speaker told the crowd last fall.

FACT OR FICTION: I wasn't there to hear that. It might have been said and considering how well researched the article we are discussing have proven to be, I believe it was probably said.

ARTICLE:
And yet while Cherokees are proud of their journey, there is one chapter most aren't taught.

FACT: Cherokees rarely hear about the Freedmen or slavery in the Cherokee Nation. I have heard many a Cherokee say, "We owned slaves?" Very little of the rich history of the Cherokee Nation is taught to Cherokee children in the public school systems. And when that history is taught, it is colored by notions of the noble savage and slavery, if mentioned at all, is brushed over as if it were a minor contributor to that history, when in fact, it was a major contributor to the history and wealth of the Cherokee Nation as a whole.

ARTICLE:
Long ago, as Cherokees struggled to remain independent of a white government, they were masters of black slaves.

FACT: A large faction of the Cherokees, mostly mixed bloods, owned black slaves and even had children by their slaves and owned their own children as slaves.

ARTICLE:
After the tribe backed the losing side in the Civil War, the government demanded Cherokees free slaves and make them citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

FICTION: The Federal government never demanded the Cherokees free their slaves because they had already freed them in 1863, nearly three years before the end of the war. And it has been proven in the federal courts (Cherokee Nation v. United States) that the U.S. government never forced the Cherokees to adopt their freed slaves. The historic record from the era shows that the Cherokees wanted their slaves as citizens and were more concerned with splitting the Nation in half as Stand Watie and his followers wanted and they opposed railroads through the Nation.

ARTICLE:
The people, dubbed freedmen, embraced citizenship. They voted in tribal elections, ran for office, started businesses and became teachers. What's difficult to know is how much the lives of Cherokees and blacks intertwined before Jim Crow laws enforced separation.

FACT AND FICTION: The Cherokees originally called their former slaves "adopted colored." It was not until the U.S. Court of Claims labled them "Freedmen," a term used widely in the South for freed slaves, that the term caught on. By the time of the 1896 Cherokee Census, the term Freedmen as in common use in the Cherokee Nation. It is not difficult to know that the lives of the Cherokee Indians and the Freedmen intertwined gloriously throughout the post civil war era. Many prominent families arose from the ranks of the Freedmen and intermarriage, while not common, did occur. As I have posted before, the Bigby family, whose modern descendants include former Oklahoma house speaker Larry Adair and former U.S. House of Representative Brad Carson, were intermarried with freedmen. It is very rare for the mixed blood families of the Cherokee Nation and some of the socalled full bloods to be untouched by the DNA of the former slaves of our Nation.

ARTICLE:
In the last 20 years, modern-day freedmen have tried to reclaim citizenship. The resulting conflict provokes charges and countercharges of racism, greed and dirty politics.

FACT: Beginning in 1983, with the suit brought in federal court by Rev. Roger Nero, the Freedmen have been fighting for their rights. The 1983 Cherokee election was the first election where the Freedmen were NOT permitted to vote. Prior to that time, there was no need for them to fight, because they were freely participating in the electoral process. The fact that hundres of Freedmen had voting cards and actually voted is proof of their involvement in the life of the Cherokee Nation. Racism has been present in the Cherokee Nation and the lives of the Freedmen from the days when they were enslaved and continues to this very day. Many hate them simply because they are black, totally discounting the fact that many have Cherokee blood and all have full rights in the Cherokee Nation equal to every other native Cherokee. There is greed involved, but those who are greedy seek to destroy the freedmen and keep them from voting. They want so badly to hold onto their lucrative jobs in tribal government they are willing to destroy the lives of thousands of innocent people. If that's not dirty politics, I don't know what is.

ARTICLE:
"Do you want non-Indians ... using your Health Care Dollars?" warned an e-mail circulated last summer by backers of a tribal vote on citizenship. "... getting your Cherokee Nation scholarship dollars? ... making your Housing wait list longer?... being made Indians?"

FACT: The e-mail and statements mentioned above were made and distributed by Cara Cowan Watts among others. Cara has been educated on the fact that many of the Freedmen have Cherokee blood and all of them have Cherokee citizenship rights. Yet she continues to lie to the Cherokee people about the Freedmen and implying that the sole reason for their fight for citizenship centers around a desire to take benefits away from other Cherokees. This is exactly the same argument made in the 1970s against the mixed bloods like Cara herself, when Ross Swimmer got the IHS to drop its 1/4 blood requirement for services. Swimmer did the right thing by fighting for the rights of the thin blood citizens of the Cherokee Nation and he even went to far as to try to pursuade the IHS to serve the Freedmen as if they were 1/4 bloods. He turned on the Freedmen when he thought they were going to vote against him in 1983, in support of Perry Wheeler. Mankiller simply continued his racist policy and made it law. Smith continues to fight against the Freedmen for much the same reason as Swimmer's first attack on them. Smith is afraid of their vote. But had he simply embraced the Freedmen when the Courts ruled they ARE citizens, he would have come out smelling like a rose. But like a leopard that cannot change its spots, a weasel cannot change its menacing behavior or its stench.

ARTICLE:
Now, the vote on citizenship is set -- for March 3.

FACT: There is a vote set for that date.

ARTICLE:
Cherokees have reason to be suspicious. Thanks to casinos, Cherokees' power to generate wealth and provide benefits is increasing. Meanwhile, numerous self-described lost Cherokees have popped up, some claiming a right to recognition.

FACT: Because the Smith administration takes the money from the Casino, but delivers very little in the way of services to the people, we have every reason to be supicious of him and his wicked ways. But typical of a slimy politician, Chad Smith takes the wants of the Cherokee people and turns them into a weapon to be used against a minority in our own Nation. Just like Adolph Hitler did against the Jews, Chad and his minion go about deriding the Freedmen as beggers, leaches and parasites on Cherokee society. Chad, like Hitler, knows that if the truth were known, that the Cherokee Nation's wealth is great enough to alleviate the poverty in our Nation and most of the Freedmen, like most of the rest of us Cherokees, don't need or want services, just their right to vote, he could not win this election.

ARTICLE:
But Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, says the conflict is not about politics or race.

FACT: Chad did say this, I read it and I heard it.

ARTICLE:
"It's just a fundamental right of sovereignty ... to not only determine your own future, but to determine your own identity," he says.

FACT: Chad hides his racism and dirty politics behind sovereignty, just the same as George Wallace hid his behind states rights and state sovereignty. Wallace screeched "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segretation forever." Chad is no different that Adolph Hitler in the lies he tells about the freedmen and no different than George Wallace in that he uses mob and majority rule to crush the life out of an innocent minority.

Blood relative

ARTICLE:
After 20 years spent raising a family and following her husband in his Army career, Lucy Allen discovered the blessing of time. She spent hours in historical archives, prospecting for clues to back up her family's oft-told mythology.

FACT: Lucy's husband was in the military and she had done a tremendous amount of research. Her family oral tradition was that she was a Cherokee Indian with African slave ancestry. Both facts have been clearly documented in her research. Her ancestors were held as slaves by Cherokee Indians, including one Joseph Martin, a Cherokee Indian who fathered children by his slaves, one of whom was Lucy's ancestor. What once was family oral tradition, mythology if you will, is now fact backed up by documents created long before Lucy was born.

ARTICLE:
Allen, now 74, quickly found her ancestors on Cherokee citizenship rolls from the early 1900s. The lists were compiled by the Dawes Commission -- appointed by Congress -- which drew up two rolls. One listed Cherokees by blood. The other, where Allen's ancestors were listed, was a roll of blacks, regardless of whether they had Indian blood.

FACT: Lucy's ancestors, including both of her parents and three of her grandparents, appear on the Dawes Roll as Freedmen. Her maternal ancestors were placed on the Freedmen roll despite the fact that they presented proof they were Cherokee Indians and the Dawes Commission documented it.

ARTICLE:
Then, in the early 1990s, papers from the National Archives arrived in Allen's Tulsa mailbox, offering a window back to a long forgotten afternoon.

FACT OR FICTION: I wasn't there, but Lucy told me the same story. She has a ton of documents, many stamped with National Archives, so I have no reason to think this statement is not true.

On that Thursday in 1901, a black farmer named William Martin -- Allen's great grandfather -- headed for tents pitched by the Dawes Commission outside his hometown.

ARTICLE:
"How old would you be?" a white official asked Martin.
"Something over 40, I judge," Martin replied.
"What is your father's name?"
"Joe Martin," said William Martin, whose mother, a freed slave woman, was with him.
... "Was Joe Martin an Indian and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation?" the questioner asked Martin's mother.
"Yes sir."

FACT: These statements were taken from the enrollment record created by the Dawes Commission for William Martin, Lucy's great grandfather. Joe (Joseph) Martin was quite the man, not unlike Chad Smith. He had children by various women, some of them called wives, others just women on the side. He had children by several Cherokee women, one white woman, and numerous slave women. All of his carnal activity was documented by the enrollment of his children and grandchildren by the Dawes Commmission.

ARTICLE:
The aged transcript, Allen says, linked her to Capt. Joseph L. Martin, Cherokee lord of a legendary 100,000-acre ranch. He owned 103 black slaves. And one, it seemed, had born him a son -- Allen's great grandfather.

FACT: Joseph Martin was a propserous Cherokee citizen, he paid high taxes to the Cherokee government, owned enough slaves to work his very large tract of land and it is well documented that he had children by his slave women.

ARTICLE:
But since the early 1980s, her request for a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood -- issued only to those who can prove a link to someone on the comission's "by blood" rolls -- has been rejected eight times, Allen says.

FACT: The BIA is required to follow the 1946 Act which says that the blood degrees of the Five Civilized Tribes will be determined from the nearest enrolled ancestor on the Dawes Commission Rolls. Because the Freedmen, despite many having Cherokee blood, were listed with no blood degree, their descendants are not eligible for a CDIB card.

ARTICLE:
Rejection stings, she says, and others agree.

FACT: Lucy and many other Cherokee Freedmen have told me over and over again that the rejection they have experienced at the hands of tribal officials has been hurtful and confusing for them. They do not understand why the fact that they have a different skin color than the white Cherokees flocking to recieve services and vote, they are left on the outside looking in.

ARTICLE:
Ruth Adair Nash says genealogical sleuthing makes clear she's descended from Cherokees. Her determination to have tribal benefits is precisely because the Cherokee Nation has continually denied them, she says.

FACT: While working for the Cherokee Nation in 1987 - 90, I and my fellow employees were daily subjected to the inquiries of white Cherokees newly enrolled regarding their ability to access benefits including housing, food, payments and health care. Since winning the Allen v. Council lawsuit in March of 06, which restored the rights of the Freedmen, I have not heard ONE Freedmen ask "what are my benefits." The first question I hear them ask is "how do I vote." Most Cherokees, including those of high and low blood degrees do not even take the time to vote. Yet they sure seem to want to complain when things don't go the way they would like. When the March 3 vote takes place, the thin bloods and outlanders sure better be voting a big ole NO, because when the Freedmen get the boot, they will surely be next.

ARTICLE:
"It's because we're black," Nash says, "And when you're black -- get back!"

FACT OR FICTION: I don't know, I have never been black and do not know what kind of hatreds and insults they have endured. What I do know is that the Dawes Roll is the sole source of Cherokee citizenship and there is NO reason to see that roll in terms of race unless you are a RACIST.

ARTICLE:
Johnny Toomer, a forklift driver in Muskogee, sees it a little differently, a view framed by working alongside Cherokees.

FACT: Johnny grew up around Cherokee Indians. I don't know him personally, except having met him a couple of times, but I know of him from the Cherokees, white, black and Indian who have known him to be a truthful and good man.

ARTICLE:
"Johnny," they say, "you can see the Indian in you!"

FACT: I don't know if I can see any Indian in him. I don't have to, cause he's a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in accordance with our laws and that's good enough for me. In the Cherokee full blood communities of Bell, Kenwood or Briggs I look like a white guy. Thank goodness looks are not what determines our citizenship or 99 percent of our tribe would be out on their Cherokee fanny packs.

ARTICLE:
"Well," Toomer answers, "seeing it and proving it is quite a different thing."

FACT: Many people think they see high cheekbones, almond shaped eyes or any of numerous traits identified as "Indian" and that person doesn't have a lick of Indian blood. I knew an old Cherokee man named Charley Jones from Jay, spoke Cherokee, lived Cherokee, and looked like nothing but a plain ole white man. He was enrolled as full blood. Its all about the proof.

A court decision

ARTICLE:
In 2003, Allen joined a meeting of freedmen, where a man named David Cornsilk rose to speak.

FACT OR FICTION: I'm not sure that was in 2003. It was when Brad Carson was running for Senate against Tom Coburn. The meeting was at the Rudicil North Tulsa Library and Carson had sent a rep to speak to the Freedmen meeting. I rose to ask her questions about the rights of minorities in the 5 Civilized Tribes and ended up making the poor child cry. Lucy Allen came to me after the meeting and we talked about her situation.

ARTICLE:
Cornsilk is Cherokee by blood. But as an unpaid "lay advocate," he's poured himself into battling for freedmen descendants.

FACT: I am Cherokee by blood. My CDIB card says I am 7/16 degree of Cherokee blood. I am an unpaid lay advocate, certified by the Cherokee Courts to practice before the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation. I have fought for the rights of the Freedmen since learning of their plight since 1988.

ARTICLE:
When Allen approached, Cornsilk had recently lost a citizenship case in the Cherokee Nation's top court, the latest in a series of tribal court setbacks for freedmen.

FACT: I don't think recent would be correct, but close. The case of Riggs v. Ummerteskee had been lost in 1999 after Chad Smith appointed Daryl Matlock to the JAT, where he joined Philip Viles and Darryl Dowty. In a unanimous ruling, the court found that Mrs. Riggs did in fact have Cherokee blood (from the Ridge and Bean ancestry), but she could not be enrolled as a Cherokee citizen, even though she has ancestors on the Dawes Roll, because the Council can deny her those rights based on inherent sovereignty. Prior to the loss of the Riggs case, the case of Nero v. Cherokee Nation was dismissed from the Federal Court in Denver under the doctrine that the legal remedy at the tribal level had not been exhausted.

ARTICLE:
Still, when "Lucy walked up to me and said, 'What can I do?,' " Cornsilk recalls, "I said, well, let's sue them."

FACT: After talking to Lucy Allen for about 30 minutes and looking at some of her records, I was able to determine that she had Cherokee blood, was a descendant of Dawes enrollees and that she should be eligible for Cherokee Nation citizenship. I did say, "Let's sue them."

ARTICLE:
Lucy Allen v. Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, asked the court to strike down a law making citizenship contingent on proof of Cherokee blood.

FACT: Lucy's suit did ask that a law requiring proof of Cherokee blood be struck down. This law, passed by the Council and endorsed by Wilma Mankiller put a blood requirement on Cherokee citizenship that was not found in the Constitution. Lucy did every thin blood Cherokee a favor when she won that suit, because if a blood requirement could be imposed by the Council, then a blood quantum requirement could also be imposed. Lucy proved that the constitution rules and thus, the will of the people rules. All Cherokee citizens became safer thanks to her suit. But now she and other Freedmen face being evicted from the Cherokee Nation by the very Cherokee citizens she has protected.

ARTICLE:
"We as a people must look back to where we have been to know where we are today," Cornsilk argued.

FACT: Many Cherokees don't know their own history. They believe anything and everything they are told by Chad Smith and his minion. If we are to survive as a coherent people, we must know the true history of our people, including the pimples, such as slavery. But more importantly, we must know how to keep our promises as we would have the United States keeps its promises. We must not be hipocrytes and only keep those promises we choose, because we set a bad example for our children and a bad presedent for the United States.

ARTICLE:
But tribal lawyers argued that Cherokees had already made clear freedmen should not be counted among them.

FACT: The attorneys who fought against us in the Allen case made the rediculous argument that an entire class of Cherokee citizens could be excluded from enrollment by silence. In their fantacies about the Dawes Rolls and the 1976 Constitution, they postulated that because the Freedmen were not mentioned in the constitution, they were excluded. But by this very argument, so too would the Cherokees by blood be excluded, because they were not mentioned either.

ARTICLE:
"It's not unreasonable to require someone to be Cherokee to be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation," Richard Osburn, an attorney for the tribe, told the court.

FACT: If Richard Osburn said this, then he is correct. All citizens of the Cherokee Nation are Cherokees. We are nationals of the Cherokee Nation, thus we are all Cherokees. Are we all Indians? Under federal law, every citizen of the Cherokee Nation is considered the same. It is not unreasonable that every citizen of the Cherokee Nation be considered a Cherokee. The Freedmen are citizens of the Cherokee Nation and they are in fact, nationals of the Cherokee Nation, and thusly, are Cherokee.

ARTICLE:
Seven months later, a divided court issued its ruling.

FACT: The Court was hardly divided. The ruling was two to one. I suppose that could be considered divided, but the division was certainly not equal or close to equal. The intelligent members of the court ruled in favor of the Freedmen, the political member of the court ruled in favor of Chad Smith. It was all pretty easy to see. And the fact that Justice Darryl Dowty did an about face and changed his opinion regarding Freedmen citizenship from what he had previously agreed to in the Riggs decision was profound. He even went so far as to issue a special opinion to explain his about face. It is a great man who can admit he was wrong.

ARTICLE:
"The Cherokee Nation is much more than just a group of families with a common ancestry," Justice Stacy Leeds wrote for the 2-1 majority, last March.

FACT: Stacy did say that in her opinion and it has very profound meaning. While most of us Cherokees are by blood and related to each other by marriage, clan and blood, there are others among us, Creeks, Choctaws, Delawares, Shawnees, whites and Freedmen, who are among us by consent and adoption rather than blood kinship. It is easy to see the Cherokee Nation as a monolithic blood grouping, but that would be a false perception. Not since the first non-Cherokee Indian was admitted to citizenship has the Cherokee Nation been monolithic. We have been for two centuries a multi-ethnic Nation, merely called a tribe for the sake of convenience, but not a tribe by any stretch of the imagination.

ARTICLE:
Allen, celebrating the answer she'd been waiting for, drove with her sons to Tahlequah to register as citizens.

FACT: Lucy did do that.

ARTICLE:
But the court's decision alarmed others.

FACT: Chad Smith and his minion were alarmed by the ruling because they had been so vocal in their opposition to the rights of the black Cherokees, they feared their vote. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate but equal schools is unconstitutional. That ruling alarmed many white southerners and many whites generally. Does anyone but me see the similarities?

ARTICLE:
"It really shook me up," says John Ketcher, a respected former deputy chief. "We're not just going to sit here and twiddle our thumbs and let it happen."

FACT OR FICTION: I wasn't there and did not hear him say this, but it would not surprise me. John Ketcher is an elder and he grew up in the era of Jim Crow and segregation. He himself has lived through racist views against Cherokee Indians. But not unlike his southern white counterparts from the 60s, John Ketcher shrouds his racist views in racial pride and tribal heritage that if he would look at the real history of the adoption of the Freedmen, he would find that they are more like us, than the white Cherokees he seems to have no problem with.

ARTICLE:
To Ketcher and others, the freedmen's quest for citizenship looks like a cash-grab -- for tribal health care benefits, scholarships and other perks -- by people who have little true interest in the Cherokees.

FICTION: The Freedmen have been citizens of the Cherokee Nation for 140 years. For 23 of those years, they were blocked from voting by an unconstitutional law. The Freedmen began the right for their civil and political rights immediately following their ouster by Ross Swimmer in 1983. There were no casinos, no payments being made. The fact that the Cherokee Nation has developed casinos and while making few services available has the ability to do so, is not the fault of the Freedmen or any Cherokee enrolling at this late date. Why does John Ketcher not make an argument against the 100 or so white Cherokees who get enrolled every month for the sole purpose of accessing scholarships, health care and donated food. I'll tell you why, he's a racist and he refuses to acknowledge, even though informed, that many of the Freedmen have Cherokee blood, often more than many who sit on the Council, and all Freedmen have Treaty Rights guaranteeing them rights in the Cherokee Nation equal to native Cherokees. And the Freedmen do have an interest in the Cherokees because they themselves are Cherokee and so are their children and grandchildren.

ARTICLE:
"I think they want some of the goodies that are coming our way," he says.

FICTION: There are NO goodies coming our way. While the Cherokee Nation has become one of the wealthiest tribes in North America, with well over $300 million in federal funds and about the same in gaming revenue, very little in the way of goodies goes to the poorest of the Cherokee people. And while there may be impoverished Freedmen who will need services, there are among them doctors, lawyers, accountants, merchants, engineers etc. Who knows what hidden talent lies in that community that could be the savior of the Cherokee Nation. If we throw these human beings away today, we might never know what great contributions they could have made to our Nation.

ARTICLE:
Tribal officials reject criticism that the controversy stems from racism.

FACT: Of course they reject it, because its not cool to be a racist. But racist they are. But even worse than that, they are greedy dirty politicians who are willing to sacrifice the civil rights and the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation just so that they can hold onto their jobs and continue to feed off of the lucre of the Cherokee people.

ARTICLE:
Cherokees are one of the most racially tolerant Indian tribes, says Mike Miller, a spokesmen for the tribe.

FACT OR FICTION: Mike is a white Cherokee. We tolerate him. I guess he knows what he's talking about, because we see him hanging around in Bell, Kenwood, Briggs etc., NOT. What he should have said is the Cherokees are one of the most racially diverse of Indian tribes. We are a people, unified under one constitution, but comprised of ethnically different groups, such as whites, blacks, Indians of various tribal origins. We are truly a Nation, not a tribe.

ARTICLE:
After the ruling, critics collected more than 3,000 signatures demanding that Cherokee voters be allowed to decide. Smith, the chief, has called a vote.

FACT: The socalled critics illegally collected those signatures and that was proven in court. The petition was a fraud and the election was called by no more than four Cherokee citizens, Daryl Matlock, Jim Wilcoxen, Kyle Haskins and Chad Smith.

ARTICLE:
Conventional wisdom is that, even with more than 1,500 new freedmen voters registered, they will be denied citizenship again.

FACT: Most Cherokees know little or nothing about the Freedmen. Chad Smith and his minion have been lying to the people about the Freedmen from the git go. But I have faith in the Cherokee people that they can smell a rat when one is presented to them and they will vote no. But I also believe the Cherokee people have a strong sense of self-preservation and will vote NO because the proposed amendment could lead to the ouster of the outlanders and thin bloods one day.

ARTICLE:
But the issue's complexity is evident in talk among members of the Victory Cherokee Organization, a community group in Collinsville.

FACT OR FICTION: I wasn't there, but I do know that the Freedmen have been the talk of many Cherokees.

ARTICLE:
If freedmen are barred from citizenship, what's to say that people won't next try to bar those with limited Cherokee blood, Jewel Hendrix wonders. Her sister, Mary Burr, agrees.

FACT: An amendment to impose a blood requirement is the first step in requiring a specific blood quantum. These two wise Cherokee women should be heeded by all citizens. When one innocent minority is attacked, the question that raises is "who is next."

ARTICLE:
"I feel like you are (Cherokee)," Burr says, "because you feel it in your heart."

FACT: If she feels that is what it takes, that is her personal view. However, what makes a Cherokee is the law, and the constitution is the law and the constitution is made possible by the Treaty of 1866, which says the Freedmen are citizens of the Cherokee Nation equal to native Cherokees.

ARTICLE:
So what makes a Cherokee?

FACT: See the fact above.

ARTICLE:
Is it blood?

FACT: See the fact above.

ARTICLE:
While some freedmen descendants have Indian blood, the majority probably don't, says Daniel Littlefield Jr. of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and author of a book, "The Cherokee Freedmen."

FACT OR FICTION: My research shows that at least 1/3 of the 4,500 Freedmen appearing on the Dawes Roll have a Cherokee Indian ancestor listed on their census card. This research did not include how many of the other Freedmen were the children and grandchildren of that 1/3, but it would stand to reason that one elderly Freedmen, a child of a Cherokee Indian, would have numerous children and grandchildren who are also descended from that Cherokee Indian. Statistics would infer that over half, perhaps 3/4 of the Freedmen have some degree of Cherokee blood. And because they have intermarried among themselves for so long, an even larger number today would possess some degree of Cherokee blood than other exogomous communities.

ARTICLE:
But, he says, blood should not matter.
Cherokees continued adopting blacks as citizens well after a treaty required it, making it hard to argue they were unwanted, he says. Once free to participate, there is ample evidence that black freedmen did just that.

FACT: Blood is not the determining factor in citizenship. It is dangerous to make it so. Blood, in most Cherokee families, has gotten so rediculously thin, that even they question their own right to call themselves Cherokees. But citizenship, handed generation to generation undivided, knows no limit. Every child of a citizen is a citizen.

ARTICLE:
Is being Cherokee about sharing a culture?

FACT: Good question, but not a question of citizenship, but more a question of social mores and human relationships.

ARTICLE:
Long before the Civil War, Cherokee masters and black slaves crafted relationships that confounded stereotypes, says Tia Miles, author of "Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery."

FACT: When one delves into the documents which reveal the daily lives and interpersonal relationships of the black, red and white Cherokees, an amazingly tolerant and often intricate ballet emerges that is not what the Jim Crow and Post Jim Crow teachings about the Cherokees would have us believe.

ARTICLE:
She says: "Yes, there was a line between who was enslaved and who was free. And yet, Cherokee people were much more willing to bend that line than white slaveholders were in the South, and to cross that line."

FACT: In my research, the blurring of the line between races in the Cherokee Nation was much more prevalent than we have been lead to believe. The Southern white Cherokees, steeped in racial purity that literally made no sense for them, was adopted to the point where the grand wizard of the KKK, in 1920's Tahlequah was a Cherokee citizen of thin blood. But even in that family, the Rogers, some lines of its most prominent members draw negro kinfolks very near.

ARTICLE:
The Cherokee Nation has rebuilt itself by redefining itself.

FACT: The Cherokee people have always been a very pliable people. We take from other cultures those things that work for us, and we discard the rest. That is how we have survived. That is why we were able to take in 3,000 former slaves and make them Cherokees and even elect a few of them to the highest offices in the Cherokee Nation. As badly as some many romanticize and wish to return the Cherokee Nation to a purer day, when the people were a tribe and the blood lines were purer, just like Hitler's efforts to purify Germany, these sort of efforts are destined to fail because they are first impossible to achieve and second, inhumane and unGodly.

ARTICLE:
"We basically have changed from a nation of territory to a nation of people," says Smith, the chief.

FACT: The Cherokee Nation exists. It is a bounded piece of property rightfully belonging to the Cherokee people and currently being occupied by the state of Oklahoma and its settlers. We are a Nation of both land and people. Chad would sell us out to the state of Oklahoma by proclaiming our territory as non-existant. He is a sell out and a collaborator with the occupiers of our land. He is an enemy of the Cherokee state.

ARTICLE:
Now the Nation will decide which people belong.

FACT: The vote will be illegal, if it takes place. And an illegal vote cannot stand.

ARTICLE:
But freedmen descendants say history has already made that decision and they will accept no other.

FACT: The Treaty of 1866 makes it clear that the Cherokee Nation has a boundary and territorial integrity. It makes clear that the Cherokee Nation is a federally recognized nation with a government to government relationship with the United States. And it makes clear that the Freedmen are citizens of the Cherokee Nation with civil and political rights equal to those of native Cherokees. The Treaty is not a buffet. We cannot pick and choose what parts we will obey. Its all or nothing. And if Chad Smith is not careful, he may be serving the Cherokee people a big nothing when the federal government revokes its recognition after we revoke the Treaty.

ARTICLE:
If Cherokees reject her, Allen says she'll go back in court. "I'm not quitting. I'm still in for the fight," she says. "We might not ever see anything. But we're looking out for our children now -- and they wouldn't know where to begin."

FACT: Lucy is just the woman to do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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