The Other Shoe Drops

In a move of apparently breathtaking chutzpuh, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court (itself very probably illegal), dominated by appointees of former Principal Chief Chad Smith, has just voted to disenfranchise Freedmen voters on the eve of a new election for Principal Chief!  The decision studiously avoids the merits of the case and instead cops out by claiming the court lacks jurisdiction to determine the issue.  Absolutely unbelievable.  By removing a bloc of voters who cast ballots in the June 25 election and were almost certainly opposed to Chad Smith, the CN Supreme Court has staged the the most nakedly transparent judicial overthrow of a democratic election since Bush v. Gore.

Published in: on August 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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News from the Nation

I’ve been behind the curve in blogging on Cherokee election news.  Let me try to make up for that with a shameless plug for Bill John Baker for Principal Chief.  The tribal Supreme Court threw out the results of the original election due to flagrant incompetence (and very likely corruption).  The new election has been set for September 24.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cherokee Role Model?

Some discussion of Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, an enrolled but evidently thoroughly assimilated Cherokee.  And more at John Cornsilk’s Place.  I have to say, Chief Smith’s clumsy transparent efforts to exploit this young man for PR purposes make me cringe.

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 10:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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Freedmen Case Before DC Circuit Court of Appeals

From, via Wampum who caught it before I did. I tend to agree with Judge Steven Russell (who comes from a long line of Cherokee Judges) that the panels’ questions indicate they don’t necessarily believe the Cherokee Nation has to be sued by the Freedmen in order for the Federal Gov’t to enforce the Treaty of 1866. So, if that’s really what the panel is thinking, does that mean the BIA would disallow the 2003 Constitution? Sever the government-to-government relationship with CN until the Freedmen are guaranteed citizenship? Both of the above? And, of course, we shouldn’t get too excited that this will all be resolved anytime soon; whoever is on the losing end of the three judge panel’s decision will move for a rehearing en banc (before the entire Court, including the virulently anti-Indian Judge Janice Rogers Brown); whoever loses that will likely appeal to the US Supreme Court. And if it gets into the hands of this Supreme Court, God help us all. If there’s anyway for the Freedmen, CN AND tribal sovereignty to ALL lose, this Supreme Court will find it.

UPDATE: And speaking of threats to tribal sovereignty, the Smith Administration has succeeded in having the Delaware Tribe stripped of its Federal recognition (and funding), the first time this has happened since the end of the Termination Era.

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 10:20 am  Comments (4)  

Quick Freedmen Update

Cong. Barney Frank, the powerful and well-connected Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced he will oppose a conference committee report on HR 2786 (the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act) unless it contains the Freedmen Rider proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus. So far, all of Chief Smith’s intensive lobbying hasn’t come to much.

More coverage and thoughtful commentary by my Right Honourable Cherokee Colleague, EBW at Wampum.

Published in: on April 23, 2008 at 11:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Senate to Attach Freedmen Rider

The US Senate is apparently poised to add a measure by the Congressional Black Caucus to cut housing funding to the Cherokee Nation if the Freedmen are disenrolled. Chief Chad Smith has been lobbying heavily against the proposal, which has already passed the House, an amendment to the reauthorization of the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act. If the NAHSDA passes with the Freedmen rider, the pressure on the Cherokee Nation to reach some kind of settlement will increase dramatically. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s a compromise left that both sides could sign off on. The Freedmen have a good case, legally and morally, that all Freedmen should remain as citizens. The Smith Administration has backed itself into a corner by refusing to even acknowledge that any of the Freedmen have a legitimate claim.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 10:27 am  Leave a Comment  

My Infamy Spreads

Once again, I am quoted in the Tahlequah Daily Press, this time over the controversy concerning term limits for principal chief and whether or not they apply to incumbent Chad Smith.

Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  

Morality and the Freedmen

From Wampum (back from summer vacation), a thought-provoking discussion of the moral aspects of the Freedmen controversy. The comments raise yet another point: if you are (like me) a fairly militant supporter of Tribal Sovereignty, what do you do when a tribe (particularly your tribe) uses its sovereignty to commit a grave moral injustice? Even though I am very sympathetic to the Freedmen and I hope they remain as tribal members, I can’t find myself rooting for Congress to ride to the rescue by cutting funding, since the very act of doing so states rather implicitly that Congress has once again expanded the scope of its peremptory powers to now decide tribal membership. If tribes can’t decide who is and who isn’t an Indian, what sovereignty do they have left?

On a semi-related note, my boys and I were in Tahlequah this weekend for the Cherokee National Holiday. I managed to miss Principal Chief Chad Smith wrapping himself in the flag of the very sovereignty he has endangered, but I did watch him get knocked off his feet and into the air two or three times during a stickball game Saturday Night. He was the oldest one playing by (I would guess) ten or fifteen years and apparently didn’t realize they were playing “Choctaw Rules”. Eventually, someone yelled “Don’t hurt him!” and they stopped clobbering him. To his credit, though, he stuck it out to the bitter end, and his team won 5-4. You won’t see George W. Bush suiting up for the Superbowl, I can guarantee you that.

Published in: on September 5, 2007 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Stacy Leeds on the Watson Bill

A bill was introduced in Congress today to pull our federal funds, close our casinos, and terminate our federal recognition. It’s truly a sad day for the Cherokee Nation. The rash decisions and inconsistent legal arguments of our current administration bring us to this point.
Will the bill pass? Doubtful.
Does the introduction of the bill matter? Without a doubt.
In addition to this proposed legislation, a federal court case is pending and there is on-going review by the BIA regarding the legality of the March 3rd Special Election. Now all three branches of the United States government are fully engaged in the fall out of our decision to expel a class of tribal citizens.
Why is this happening? The Cherokee people, although certainly possessing the right to redefine citizenship, were not told the whole story by the current administration. The Cherokee people were not fully advised of the legal and political consequences of the special election. Instead, the decision was rushed and public debate and deliberations were suppressed.
Why was the federal bill not introduced earlier? Principal Chief Chad Smith has been in negotiations to delay the introduction of this bill so that it would not be introduced the week before the election. He didn’t want to allow the Cherokee people the opportunity to know the seriousness of our present situation. Instead, he attempted to negotiate some undisclosed deal to keep this out of the media.
My concern is two fold: (1) The Principal Chief does not have the authority to strike a secret “deal” with the Freedmen without discussing it with the Tribal Council; and (2) exactly what were the details of Chief Smith’s “offer” to the Freedmen?
The introduction of the bill was delayed for a week based on the Principal Chief’s promises. What exactly did he promise? How much would his promise cost the Cherokee people?
I will alway support the Cherokee people’s right to make decisions, good or bad. What must end, if we are to be a healthy nation, are the half-truths and secret dealings of our present leadership.
A positive change is just around the corner . . . . vote Saturday June 23rd.

Published in: on June 23, 2007 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Some More Cherokee Election News

George Wickliffe, Chief of the United Keetoowah Band, denounces Chad Smith (who is also a UKB member) for endangering tribal sovereignty by violating the 1866 Treaty and disenrolling the Freedmen.

Pre-election rumors are flying around Tahlequah. The latest claims that Chief Smith has held out the prospect of some kind of Freedmen Tribe with gaming rights in exchange for Congress calling off the dogs until after the election. Frankly, while I certainly respect the source, this sounds way too ludicrous to be believed. There is simply no lawful way to fabricate a “Freedman Tribe” out of thin air, and even if you could, they would have no land base and thus no gaming. If Chief Smith won’t let the UKB build casinos on CN land, can you really imagine him letting the Freedmen do it?

UPDATE: More to the rumor as Cong. Diane Watson confirms that “negotiations” are going on and Chad Smith, as expected, denies offering the Freedmen their own band. Like Wampum, though, I’m not really sure what these “negotiations” can actually accomplish, given that yet another constitutional amendment would be required to allow the Freedmen back in.

Published in: on June 21, 2007 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment