BLACK NDNS

BLACK NDNs. "If you know I have a history, you will respect me."

NYT: The Cherokees Free Their Slaves 
Written by Melinda Miller and Rachel Smith Purvis

Following on the heels of the Emancipation Proclamation, in February 1863 the Cherokee Nation declared that all slaves within its limits were “forever free.” In 1983, the descendants of these slaves, known as the Cherokee Freedmen, were removed from tribal membership rolls and prohibited from voting in Cherokee elections. A series of protracted legal battles over Freedmen citizenship ensued and continue today.
Questions on the status of the Cherokees’ former slaves in tribal life originated in the complicated landscape of the Civil War in Indian Territory, a story of an internal civil war within the larger conflict. Although the Cherokee Nation had initially joined the Confederacy, Principal Chief John Ross and his supporters began discussions with Northern forces during the summer of 1862. These loyal Cherokees convened a meeting of the National Council at Cowskin Prairie and produced two distinct emancipation acts, documents that reverberate in today’s controversies over the legal standing of the Cherokee Freedmen.
Ross had originally rebuffed attempts to become engaged in the war, writing in June 1861: “I have already signified my purpose to take no part in it whatever.” But neutrality proved untenable, and the Cherokees signed a treaty of alliance with the Confederacy in October 1861. The nation raised two regiments; one was under the command of Ross’s nephew-in-law John Drew, while Stand Watie, Ross’s long-time political opponent, led the other.
By 1862, Ross had become disillusioned with the Confederate government. The first major military engagements in Indian Territory proved disastrous for both the Confederacy and the Cherokees. Retreating from Indian Territory, the Confederacy left the Cherokees open to Union advances and without supplies for Cherokee troops and destitute civilians. Although Ross believed the Confederacy was shirking its treaty promises, the Confederate colonel Douglas H. Cooper called upon Ross to fulfill his obligations by ordering all Cherokee men of fighting age to “take up arms to repel invasion.”
Union Capt. Harris S. Greeno was aware of Ross’s dissatisfaction with the Confederacy, and he ordered the arrest of Ross and his family at their plantation home, Rose Cottage, in present-day eastern Oklahoma. They were quickly paroled and escorted to Union territory, and they retreated to his wife’s family home in Philadelphia. Ross would spend the remainder of the war attempting to convince the Lincoln administration of the Cherokee’s loyalty and commitment to the Union cause.
With Ross absent from from Indian Territory, southern Cherokee leaders moved quickly to elect Stand Watie as principal chief and reaffirmed the Cherokee Nation’s treaty with the Confederacy. But in the winter of 1863, Col. William Phillips escorted Union Cherokees into the Cherokee Nation. There, they held a meeting of the National Council to affirm that they, and not Watie and his followers, were the true government of the Cherokee people. This 1863 loyal council opened by denouncing the Cherokee treaty with the Confederacy and insisting they were pressured into the alliance due to a lack of federal protection in Indian Territory. They then quickly moved to address the issue of slavery in the Cherokee Nation. Within the four-day period from Feb. 18 to Feb. 21, 1863, the Cherokee Council passed two separate emancipation acts.
The slavery issue was of such great importance they tackled it first: before they removed Stand Watie and other Confederates from office, before discussing how to deal with the utter devastation the Cherokee people faced in their war-torn country and before John Ross was appointed to represent the Cherokee Nation in discussions with the United States government.
The prominent place of slavery at these council meetings reflected a keen understanding of the nature of emancipation policy within the Lincoln administration. As the Cherokee Nation severed ties with the Confederacy and hoped to rejoin the Union, they were certainly aware of another government that had recently done exactly that: on Dec. 31, 1862, President Lincoln welcomed West Virginia into the Union, with its statehood conditional on its newly written constitution’s including an abolition clause.
The Emancipation Acts themselves further demonstrated the Cherokee Council’s acute awareness of President Lincoln’s policies. They first called for a Cherokee delegation to negotiate with the United States government to emancipate their slaves “upon the Principle of Compensation.” During the initial years of the Civil War, Lincoln had proposed ending slavery in the border states through a gradual dissolution of the peculiar institution, with compensation offered to slave owners for their financial losses. He again endorsed a plan for gradual and compensated emancipation in his annual address to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862. The Cherokee Council’s first Emancipation Act, passed on Feb. 18, was an attempt to take Lincoln up on this offer.
What is surprising, then, is how quickly the Cherokee council issued a second Emancipation Act that specified universal emancipation without compensation. On Feb. 20, the council declared: “Any person or Persons, who may have been held in Slavery are, hereby, declared to be forever free.” Why did Cherokee leaders change such a fundamental aspect of their emancipation plans?
Between Lincoln’s endorsement of compensated emancipation in his annual address and the Cherokees’ plan for compensated emancipation, a watershed had occurred. On Jan. 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This action forever altered the parameters of freedom in the United States, and Lincoln would cease his offers of compensated emancipation. The Cherokee Nation had missed its opportunity to receive payment for freeing slaves. Strengthening ties with the Union would require the Cherokees to adjust to Lincoln’s new emancipation policies.
The Cherokees, however, differed from Lincoln and his cabinet over one key issue. There was no serious discussion or consideration of freedmen’s citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. Instead, on Nov. 14, the Cherokee Council passed an act that explicitly denied citizenship to former slaves and required freed slaves remaining in the Nation to obtain work permits. The incorporation of the former slaves of Cherokee masters into the Cherokee citizenry would wait until the 1866 Treaty between the Cherokees and United States.
In the aftermath of freedom, the United States incorporated freed people into the body politic with constitutional amendments outlining their citizenship rights. In the 1866 treaty, federal officials also required Cherokee leaders to grant former slaves and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees.” This particular phrase is important, because it did not explicitly state what these rights were - and has been a source of tension between Cherokee leaders and the Cherokee Freedmen ever since.
Follow Disunion at twitter.com/NYTcivilwar or join us on Facebook.
Sources: Clarissa Confer, “The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War”; William McLoughlin, “After the Trail of Tears”; Melinda Miller, “Essays on Race and the Persistence of Economic Inequality; Cherokee Nation, 1863 Emancipation Acts and Treaty of 1866; James Oaks, “Freedom National”; Rachel Smith Purvis, “‘Maintaining intact our homogenousness’: Race, Citizenship, & Reconstructing Cherokee”; United States Government, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Melinda C. Miller, a visiting assistant professor of economics at Yale and an assistant professor of economics at the United States Naval Academy, studies the economic status of the Cherokee freedmen during the decades following the Civil War. Rachel Smith Purvis, a postdoctoral associate at Yale, is revising her manuscript on the Cherokee Nation during the Reconstruction era.

NYT: The Cherokees Free Their Slaves

Written by Melinda Miller and Rachel Smith Purvis

Following on the heels of the Emancipation Proclamation, in February 1863 the Cherokee Nation declared that all slaves within its limits were “forever free.” In 1983, the descendants of these slaves, known as the Cherokee Freedmen, were removed from tribal membership rolls and prohibited from voting in Cherokee elections. A series of protracted legal battles over Freedmen citizenship ensued and continue today.

Questions on the status of the Cherokees’ former slaves in tribal life originated in the complicated landscape of the Civil War in Indian Territory, a story of an internal civil war within the larger conflict. Although the Cherokee Nation had initially joined the Confederacy, Principal Chief John Ross and his supporters began discussions with Northern forces during the summer of 1862. These loyal Cherokees convened a meeting of the National Council at Cowskin Prairie and produced two distinct emancipation acts, documents that reverberate in today’s controversies over the legal standing of the Cherokee Freedmen.

Ross had originally rebuffed attempts to become engaged in the war, writing in June 1861: “I have already signified my purpose to take no part in it whatever.” But neutrality proved untenable, and the Cherokees signed a treaty of alliance with the Confederacy in October 1861. The nation raised two regiments; one was under the command of Ross’s nephew-in-law John Drew, while Stand Watie, Ross’s long-time political opponent, led the other.

By 1862, Ross had become disillusioned with the Confederate government. The first major military engagements in Indian Territory proved disastrous for both the Confederacy and the Cherokees. Retreating from Indian Territory, the Confederacy left the Cherokees open to Union advances and without supplies for Cherokee troops and destitute civilians. Although Ross believed the Confederacy was shirking its treaty promises, the Confederate colonel Douglas H. Cooper called upon Ross to fulfill his obligations by ordering all Cherokee men of fighting age to “take up arms to repel invasion.”

Union Capt. Harris S. Greeno was aware of Ross’s dissatisfaction with the Confederacy, and he ordered the arrest of Ross and his family at their plantation home, Rose Cottage, in present-day eastern Oklahoma. They were quickly paroled and escorted to Union territory, and they retreated to his wife’s family home in Philadelphia. Ross would spend the remainder of the war attempting to convince the Lincoln administration of the Cherokee’s loyalty and commitment to the Union cause.

With Ross absent from from Indian Territory, southern Cherokee leaders moved quickly to elect Stand Watie as principal chief and reaffirmed the Cherokee Nation’s treaty with the Confederacy. But in the winter of 1863, Col. William Phillips escorted Union Cherokees into the Cherokee Nation. There, they held a meeting of the National Council to affirm that they, and not Watie and his followers, were the true government of the Cherokee people. This 1863 loyal council opened by denouncing the Cherokee treaty with the Confederacy and insisting they were pressured into the alliance due to a lack of federal protection in Indian Territory. They then quickly moved to address the issue of slavery in the Cherokee Nation. Within the four-day period from Feb. 18 to Feb. 21, 1863, the Cherokee Council passed two separate emancipation acts.

The slavery issue was of such great importance they tackled it first: before they removed Stand Watie and other Confederates from office, before discussing how to deal with the utter devastation the Cherokee people faced in their war-torn country and before John Ross was appointed to represent the Cherokee Nation in discussions with the United States government.

The prominent place of slavery at these council meetings reflected a keen understanding of the nature of emancipation policy within the Lincoln administration. As the Cherokee Nation severed ties with the Confederacy and hoped to rejoin the Union, they were certainly aware of another government that had recently done exactly that: on Dec. 31, 1862, President Lincoln welcomed West Virginia into the Union, with its statehood conditional on its newly written constitution’s including an abolition clause.

The Emancipation Acts themselves further demonstrated the Cherokee Council’s acute awareness of President Lincoln’s policies. They first called for a Cherokee delegation to negotiate with the United States government to emancipate their slaves “upon the Principle of Compensation.” During the initial years of the Civil War, Lincoln had proposed ending slavery in the border states through a gradual dissolution of the peculiar institution, with compensation offered to slave owners for their financial losses. He again endorsed a plan for gradual and compensated emancipation in his annual address to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862. The Cherokee Council’s first Emancipation Act, passed on Feb. 18, was an attempt to take Lincoln up on this offer.

What is surprising, then, is how quickly the Cherokee council issued a second Emancipation Act that specified universal emancipation without compensation. On Feb. 20, the council declared: “Any person or Persons, who may have been held in Slavery are, hereby, declared to be forever free.” Why did Cherokee leaders change such a fundamental aspect of their emancipation plans?

Between Lincoln’s endorsement of compensated emancipation in his annual address and the Cherokees’ plan for compensated emancipation, a watershed had occurred. On Jan. 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This action forever altered the parameters of freedom in the United States, and Lincoln would cease his offers of compensated emancipation. The Cherokee Nation had missed its opportunity to receive payment for freeing slaves. Strengthening ties with the Union would require the Cherokees to adjust to Lincoln’s new emancipation policies.

The Cherokees, however, differed from Lincoln and his cabinet over one key issue. There was no serious discussion or consideration of freedmen’s citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. Instead, on Nov. 14, the Cherokee Council passed an act that explicitly denied citizenship to former slaves and required freed slaves remaining in the Nation to obtain work permits. The incorporation of the former slaves of Cherokee masters into the Cherokee citizenry would wait until the 1866 Treaty between the Cherokees and United States.

In the aftermath of freedom, the United States incorporated freed people into the body politic with constitutional amendments outlining their citizenship rights. In the 1866 treaty, federal officials also required Cherokee leaders to grant former slaves and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees.” This particular phrase is important, because it did not explicitly state what these rights were - and has been a source of tension between Cherokee leaders and the Cherokee Freedmen ever since.

Follow Disunion at twitter.com/NYTcivilwar or join us on Facebook.

Sources: Clarissa Confer, “The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War”; William McLoughlin, “After the Trail of Tears”; Melinda Miller, “Essays on Race and the Persistence of Economic Inequality; Cherokee Nation, 1863 Emancipation Acts and Treaty of 1866; James Oaks, “Freedom National”; Rachel Smith Purvis, “‘Maintaining intact our homogenousness’: Race, Citizenship, & Reconstructing Cherokee”; United States Government, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Melinda C. Miller, a visiting assistant professor of economics at Yale and an assistant professor of economics at the United States Naval Academy, studies the economic status of the Cherokee freedmen during the decades following the Civil War. Rachel Smith Purvis, a postdoctoral associate at Yale, is revising her manuscript on the Cherokee Nation during the Reconstruction era.

Everything You Need to Know About The GOP’s Opposition To Protecting Native American Women From Abuse

Think Progress:

Our guest blogger is Erik Stegman, Manager of the Half in Ten campaign for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

As the last window of opportunity to pass a fully-inclusiveViolence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization comes close to shutting in the final days of the 112th Congress, many are wondering why Republican House leadership, particularly Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), are so opposed to the provisions protecting Native American women on tribal reservations. Other Republican leaders — including Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Tom Cole (R-OK), and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) — have proposed a reasonable compromise that protects Native women, but it puts them at odds with the Majority Leader.

With the Issa compromise on the table and backed by several House Committee chairs, what are Republicans like Cantor still so concerned about that they’re willing to hold up the landmark law that funds services, strengthens law enforcement for domestic violence, and increases accountability for offenders?

Here’s everything you need to know about the GOP’s opposition to new protections for Native women on tribal lands:

1) Non-Native men will continue to receive a jurisdictional free pass for abusing Native women:

In response to the epidemic rates of domestic violence against Native women on reservations, the Department of Justice issued a legislative proposal that would restore Tribes’ ability to prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic and dating violence committed by non-Natives against Native women. This proposal also requires that the non-Native offender either live or work on the reservation and be in an existing relationship with the victim. DOJ statistics show that 3 out of 5 Native women had been assaulted by their intimate partners and 56 percent of American Indian women have non-Indian husbands.

Today on Indian reservations, the local governments don’t have the ability to respond to domestic violence crimes in their community if the perpetrator isn’t Native. Without this ability, non-Native offenders often go unpunished on tribal land because the only ones who can bring them to justice are federal prosecutors who are often hundreds of miles away and lack local resources to properly investigate and prosecute these crimes. The result, according to a recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-funded report, the offenders become emboldened, and the violence escalates to rape and in some cases homicide. On some Indian reservations, the homicide rate of Native women is 10 times the national average.

2) Republicans are more concerned with Non- Native perpetrators than Native victims:

So why do some Republicans like Cantor still have issues with a well-reasoned, narrowly-scoped DOJ proposal to reduce violence against Native women on reservations? An unbalanced concern for the rights non-Native men accused of these crimes. Even though the current Senate version of VAWA includes a full set of constitutional protections for suspects of abuse, including due-process rights and a right to counsel, Cantor and other Republicans continue to stall the VAWA Reauthorization because of baseless constitutional concerns for those accused of abusing Native women.

In the spirit of compromise within their own caucus, Issa and his colleagues proposed a powerful extra protection for defendants in their bill last week: a new right to remove the case to a federal court if the defendant’s rights are violated by a local tribal court. Although advocates for Native women would prefer to see the Senate version passed, this compromise is a reasonable way to get a deal done and improve the system of justice on reservations. It will clarify that all persons who commit a crime of domestic or dating violence on an Indian reservation will be arrested and held accountable, regardless of their race.

3) Local tribal law enforcement is more responsive to Native women:

The Senate version of VAWA would end jurisdictional black holes that give non-Native men a free pass to abuse Native women and evade justice. It would provide local tribal law enforcement with the much-needed ability to investigate and prosecute crimes against Native women in their own communities, just as other state and local authorities do for other victims in the country. Prosecuting these crimes requires sensitive and time-consuming work with family and community members. Tribal prosecutors are down the street on the reservation and work closely with the tribal police who respond to these crimes. Restoring local control will provide the victim, the family, and the community the ability to seek responsive justice locally. There’s no reason that their ability to fully prosecute these crimes should rest on the skin color of the accused abuser.

Today in Poverty: GOP Leadership and Violence Against Native Women


My question for Congress was and has always been: why did you not protect me, or my family? Why is my life, and the life of so many other Native American women, less important?”

—Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes, April 25, 2012.

On April 24, Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of theTulalip Tribesin Washington State, visited Congress regarding an environmental protection matter. She stopped by Senator Patty Murray’s office and asked how the Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was proceeding. Staff members informed her that despite the efforts of Senator Murray and others, provisions to protect Native American women would not be included in the bill.

Parker was devastated. She had been abused as a child and has also witnessed rape and abuse many times on the reservation. Each time the “non-Indian” perpetrator wasn’t prosecuted because tribal authorities only have jurisdiction over Native Americans, and state and federal authorities were unresponsive. This is a crisis not only for the Tulalip Tribes, but also on reservations across the country, where non-Indians are permitted to commit violence against Native women with impunity.

“I don’t feel people understand,” Parker tells me. “On the reservation there is such a feeling of despair—it’s not a matter of is it going to happen, it’swhenis it going to happen? Perpetrators even mock Indian women because they know they will not get prosecuted.”

The statistics are indeed horrific:one in three Native women will be rapedin their lifetimes; two in five are victims of domestic violence; three out of five will be physically assaulted. Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted—and more than twice as likely to be stalked—than other women in the US. On some reservations, the murder rate of Native women is ten times the national average. According to the Indian Law Resource Center,88 percentof these crimes are committed by non-Indians—the majority of the population residing on reservations is now non-Indian—and US attorneys are declining to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse matters referred to them.

As a result, the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration proposed that VAWA reauthorization allow tribal courts to prosecute cases of domestic and dating violence, and violations of restraining orders, where a non-Indian has a clear relationship with a tribal member. It is a limited reform—it doesn’t address stranger-on-stranger violence, rape, or sexual assault, for example. Still, it’s an important advance in addressing a situation which Parker describes as allowing non-Indians to “come on the reservation and commit heinous crimes and walk off and little to nothing occurs.”

After receiving the news from Murray’s staff, Parker attended her next meeting on the Hill. But she didn’t finish it. She returned to Murray’s office and asked to see the Senator.

Murray left the Senate floor within ten minutes and met alone with Parker, whom she has known through many years of working together on tribal issues. The moment Murray saw Parker she said, “You’re it”—that Parker was the person they needed to be a spokesperson on this issue. Murray told her that she would hold a press conference the next day, and that Parker should just “tell the story that’s most important to you—I want people to understand how this is affecting tribes.”

On April 25, Parkertoldof being “one of many girls” violated and attacked as a toddler on the reservation in the 1970s, and how the man responsible was never convicted. She spoke of an occasion in the 1980s, when she hid her younger cousins while listening to the screams of her aunt who was being raped by four or five men—the perpetrators were never prosecuted. She described her realization that “the life of a Native woman was short,” and consequently “fighting hard” to attend the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice in the 1990s “so that I could be one to protect our women. However, I am only one.” She asked Congress to support the new provisions in VAWA to help protect Native women: “Send a strong message across the country that violence against Native women is unlawful and it is not acceptable in any of our lands.”

It was a turning point in the Senate’s work on the bill. It passed that month with sixty-eight votes, including fifteen Republicans—the kind of bipartisanship that is almost unheard of these days—with the new protections for Native women, and also for undocumented immigrant women and theLGBT community.

But in May the House passed a stripped-down version of the bill that contained none of these key provisions. Only six Democrats voted for it and twenty-three Republicans opposed it. Speaker John Boehner then used aprocedural maneuverto avoid reconciling with the Senate on a final VAWA bill. Five House Republicans—led by Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert—wrote aletterto Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to adopt the stronger Senate provisions and move to a final bill.

Yet the legislation languished—until now.

Perhaps sensing from the 2012 election results that the GOP has a serious problem when it comes torelating to womenwho live on this planet and in this century, Cantor is now negotiating with the Senate andVice President Biden—who sponsored the original VAWA in 1994. Word is Cantor has relented on the provisions for the LGBT community and undocumented immigrant women. He refuses, however, to consider any provision that gives tribes any kind of criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

While President Obama and the Vice President have met personally with Parker and other tribal leaders—“they get it,” she says—GOP leadership has so far declined. Last week, when Parker and others asked to join a meeting arranged by tribal lobbyists in DC, she says they were initially told “there wasn’t enough room” and that “they would only meet with our two non-Indian lobbyists.” In the end, she and two female tribal leaders were included in the discussion with Cantor’s staff members.

“But why isn’t GOP leadership having us at the table to have this discussion?” says Parker. “If they truly want a solution then you sit down with the very people who this bill affects.”

Still, Parker and others close to the negotiations are hopeful. Republican Representatives led by Darrell Issa and Tom Cole—a member of the Chickasaw Nation—have pushed for a compromise that allows non-Indian defendants the right to remove the case to a federal court if they can prove their rights have been violated by a local tribal court. (Issa tried to offer this proposal as anamendmentwhen the House Judiciary Committee originally worked on the bill in the spring, but GOP leadership didn’t allow a vote on it.)

Sources close to the negotiations tell me that we are now running out of time to pass this bill and that the next 48 hours are crucial. If the final bill isn’t approved, Native American groups who have pushed for this for ten years—and steadily worked on this reauthorization for three years—will be forced to start over from scratch.

“If this doesn’t pass it would be one of the worst messages we could send to Native American women,” says Parker. “It would be devastating to communities all over Indian country, and would send a clear message to perpetrators. It would leave reservations wide open for continued abuse.”

You can tell House Republicans to pass a VAWA that includes these protections here.

After spending over two years in prison, Patricia Spottedcrow greets her children when they get home from school.

Oklahoma woman serving 12 years for pot case released from prison

OKLAHOMA CITY — Patricia Spottedcrow once faced 12 years in prison, but on the morning she was released on parole, it took less than 20 minutes to walk free.

Spottedcrow had to call a friend to pick her up from Hillside Community Corrections Center in Oklahoma City, her mother hadn’t even arrived from Kingfisher yet when corrections guards asked Spottedcrow to leave the prison’s grounds.

Her friend drove her to a nearby pharmacy parking lot, so she could reunite with her mother, Delita Starr, and her attorney, Laura Deskin.

“Oh, man, this is wonderful!,” Spottedcrow said. “I’m so excited I can’t take it!”

She was released Thursday morning after completing the community corrections-level portion of her sentence required by Gov. Mary Fallin as a condition of her parole. She entered prison Dec. 22, 2010.

Spottedcrow’s 12-year prison sentence for selling $31 worth of marijuana garnered widespread attention after her story was featured in a 2011 Tulsa World series on women in prison.

She was originally handed a 12-year sentence in a blind plea before a judge for selling a “dime bag” of marijuana to a police informant. It was a first-time offense, but because children were in Spottedcrow’s home when she was arrested, a charge was added for possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor.

Gov. Fallin agreed in July to approve parole for Spottedcrow upon the unanimous recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board.

Corrections officials had told Spottedcrow her release date would be sometime near Dec. 15, but she was told this week it would be even a little earlier than planned.

Starr wiped away tears as she hugged her daughter in the drugstore parking lot.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

Spottedcrow’s reunion with her four children - now ages 11, 6, 5 and 3 - would have to wait a few hours, until the school bus arrived back in Kingfisher. The children were in school and daycare and Starr didn’t want to ruin their perfect attendance records, she said.

The women hugged and thanked all the people who had prayed, written letters and offered support to the family since Spottedcrow began serving her prison sentence in 2010.

“We’ve got a new road and we’ve got to travel it together,” Starr said.

Deskin, Spottedcrow’s attorney, said she first heard about her client’s case through the Tulsa World article and local activists, and was “absolutely shocked” at what had happened in Oklahoma’s legal system.

Now, they plan to focus on the possibility of post-conviction relief for Spottedcrow and possibly modifying the 30-year suspended sentence Starr received for her role in the crime, Deskin said.

[Source: Tulsa World]

Red, Black, and Brown: Artists and the Aesthetics of Race: In this illustrated talk, Dr. Phoebe Farris (Powhatan/Renape) discusses artists of mixed American Indian, African American, and Latin American heritage who reflect their identities in their art and who deal with themes of social justice. Primarily women, these artists reference race or identity in many ways, often juxtaposed with issues of gender

****** FREE GENEALOGY WORKSHOP ******
The National Museum of the American Indian (NYC) will be hosting a Genealogy workshop hosted by Angela Walton Raj on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6PM. Raj, who maintains the African-Native American website, will be give “step by step strategies in documenting Native ancestry in African American Families using 19th and 20th century records”. The workshop is FREE and open to the public, no RSVP required.
Please help spread the word about this wonderful opportunity.
I have class during this time but if you are able to attend this event and can perhaps take notes or provide some form of summary for others, please let me know.
- Jal

****** FREE GENEALOGY WORKSHOP ******

The National Museum of the American Indian (NYC) will be hosting a Genealogy workshop hosted by Angela Walton Raj on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6PM. Raj, who maintains the African-Native American website, will be give “step by step strategies in documenting Native ancestry in African American Families using 19th and 20th century records”. The workshop is FREE and open to the public, no RSVP required.

Please help spread the word about this wonderful opportunity.

I have class during this time but if you are able to attend this event and can perhaps take notes or provide some form of summary for others, please let me know.

- Jal

449 Plays

NPR: Who Gets To Decide Who Is Native American?

August 9, 2012

A controversy about identity has erupted in the race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. News outlets revealed Democrat Elizabeth Warren claimed Cherokee ancestry during her academic career, and critics say Warren isn’t providing enough documentation to prove her identity. Host Michel Martin discusses just who is Native American.

Guests: 

Rob Capriccioso is the Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for Indian Country Today Media Network. An enrolled citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault Ste. Marie.

Dr. Tiya Miles is an American historian, and professor in the Department of History and chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. She is a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. Her work includes: Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom,The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story , “Why the Freedmen Fight”

Tribe Fights With Slaves’ Kin: Court Weighs Whether Cherokee Must Extend Rights to Its Freedmen’s Progeny

An old dispute about whether the descendants of slaves freed by the Cherokee Nation more than a century ago qualify as members of the tribe is heating up again in a federal court.

The Cherokee Nation abolished slavery in 1863, and three years later it signed a treaty with the U.S. granting tribal rights to the Cherokee’s freed slaves, or “Freedmen,” many of whom had migrated with the tribe decades earlier to present-day Oklahoma.

But the Oklahoma-based Cherokee tribe, which has more than 310,000 members, later narrowed its citizenship criteria, excluding many descendants of the Freedmen and rendering them ineligible for a broad range of tribal benefits, such as business loans, medical services, housing assistance and college scholarships.

About 25,000 Freedmen descendants have been wrongly excluded from Cherokee citizenship, said Marilyn Vann, president of an Oklahoma-based Freedmen’s advocacy group. While a sovereign nation, the Cherokee don’t extend citizenship to all those within a certain territory but rather limit membership to those who share a common ancestry.

After almost 10 years of legal battles, including in Cherokee tribal courts and federal court in Washington, D.C., the Freedmen’s citizenship status appears headed toward a resolution before Judge Terence Kern in Tulsa, Okla.

The Cherokee Nation filed a complaint this year, asking Judge Kern to rule that a 1866 treaty didn’t grant citizenship to Freedmen descendants. On July 2, the Interior Department filed a counterclaim against the tribe, saying Freedmen descendants should enjoy all rights of native Cherokee. A group of Freedmen descendants also filed a July 2 claim contending the Cherokee Nation had violated the U.S. Constitution by perpetuating the “badges and incidents” of slavery.

"Hopefully, we can move forward on this issue," Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee, said in a statement. "This matter has been held up in the court system for several years, and now that we have everyone at the table, we can get a definitive ruling."

The litigation will hinge partly on the legality of a 2007 vote in which Cherokee amended their constitution to grant citizenship only to those descended from at least one person listed as Indian on a government census of Cherokee taken more than 100 years ago. That definition excludes most Freedmen descendants, although more than 1,500 people who had an Indian ancestor qualify as citizens.

The Cherokee declined to be interviewed about the litigation. But in a summary of the Freedmen dispute posted on the Cherokee website, the tribe said its 2007 vote on citizenship wasn’t meant to discriminate against Freedmen descendants.

"The Cherokee people determined that the Cherokee Nation should return to what it had been since time immemorial—an Indian tribe made of Indians," according to the website.

Some experts in Indian rights say the Cherokee Nation has a sovereign right and duty to limit its membership, particularly as the tribe has become increasingly assimilated into American society and more people claim some affiliation with the tribe.

"The Cherokee people are sensitive because of efforts by non-Indians to claim to be Indians with nothing behind the claim," said G. William Rice, a professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law and member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Mr. Rice noted the recent questions over whether Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts candidate for the U.S. Senate, exaggerated her possible Indian ancestry, an allegation Ms. Warren has denied. She has said that she has Native American ancestry, but she hasn’t been able to document that heritage.

Jon Velie, an Oklahoma lawyer who represents Freedmen descendants in the Tulsa case, said the Cherokee don’t have a right to discriminate against his clients because of their race. “The tribe is arguing, ‘We can do whatever we want,’ in the same way Southern states in the 1950s said, ‘Segregation is a states’ rights issue, and we can do whatever we want,’ ” he said.

Clint Carroll, a Cherokee citizen and professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Indian Studies, said a ruling in favor of the Freedmen would be a blow to the Cherokee’s tribal sovereignty. But if the tribe wins the right to define its citizenship as it sees fit, it would face the lingering perception that it had excluded people based on race.

"I can see both sides of the debate," he said. "We are at a fork in the road, and both paths lead to bad things."

Write to Nathan Koppel at nathan.koppel@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared July 17, 2012, on page A3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Tribe Fights With Slaves’ Kin.

Shinnecock tribe members canoe across bay and Sound to connect with Connecticut cousins

Members of the Shinnecock Nation on the South Fork have long considered themselves canoe people.

Their reservation in Southampton, bounded by Montauk Highway and Shinnecock Bay to the north and south, is right on the water.

But this week they’re venturing beyond their ancestral waters, taking a major step to cross Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound to reconnect by water with the members of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes in Connecticut.

A group of six paddlers in a 43-foot-long Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe paddled to East Marion Friday afternoon, slept at Orient Beach State Park Friday night, and left for Connecticut Saturday morning.

Chenae Bullock, a member of the Shinnecock Nation, spearheaded the effort to canoe from the Shinnecocks’ West Woods land just east of the Shinnecock Canal to the Connecticut reservations on the shores of the Thames River, just north of New London.


She began planning the trip after taking part last year in the Annual Tribal Canoe Journey, which has been held on Swinomish land in Washington State for 24 years.

“This hasn’t been done before,” she said earlier this week of her tribe’s trip to Connecticut. “This is something that we need to do, as eastern Algonquin tribes, to unite us.”

The outrigger canoe isn’t a type the Shinnecocks would have historically used but Ms. Bullock said there are few trees on Long Island that are large enough to be suitable for making traditional dugout canoes.

Throughout their journey, they stopped to hold ceremonies. At West Woods Thursday night, they were singing and drumming, with Shinnecock elders in attendance to give the rowers their knowledge, love and wisdom, said Ms. Bullock.


They rowed Friday morning from West Woods to Conscience Point in North Sea, the site of the Shinnecocks’ first interaction with European settlers, where they met with non-native leaders.

“We want to break any negativity we’re having with non-natives that live here now,” she said.

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, the canoers were visible from Greenport, near Bug Light at the end of the state park. But they decided instead to land in East Marion, in part because of the threat of severe thunderstorms. From there, they portaged the canoe across the land in order to leave from Truman Beach on Long Island Sound early Saturday morning.

At the state park, Ms. Bullock’s family was waiting near the playground Friday afternoon, hoping to see the canoe round the point as the thunderstorm moved closer. They had not yet received word that the paddlers had landed in East Marion.

“She’s very determined, when she sets out to do something,” said Ms. Bullock’s grandmother, Thelma D. Lee. “She really wants to learn about her heritage and culture.”

“She wanted to start this here with the young people, to embrace other nations and heal all the tragedies we’ve gone through, so there’ll be healing for all people. It will help us be a stronger nation,” she added.

She said about half the crew on this canoe voyage is from the Pacific Northwest but more young people on the reservation are interested in participating in the future.

“I think there’ll be more when they see what they’ve done,” she said. “It’s an adventure. We’ve never done anything like this. Not in a canoe. This is a first. There will be more.”

The last step of their voyage will be a homecoming. The Shinnecock Nation has a close relationship with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and when they arrive at the Mashantucket Pequot land, they will share gifts, stories, dances and songs, and then invite their sister tribe to row with them to Mohegan land.

“Our tribes have been related since before the Europeans came here. We have our own network. This is what we have been doing for thousands of years,” said Ms. Bullock earlier this week. “Nowadays we take the ferry and go to their reservation and they come over here when babies are born, when there are deaths, marriages, birthdays and graduation parties. We’re very, very close and related as people. We speak the same language.”

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