The Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs recently recognized six Native American tribes. But those tribes have yet to gain federal recognition. As this USA Today story by Clay Carey illustrates, at least one federally recognized tribe has some objections to the process.
For years, the tribes have been fighting for recognition, which brings with it federal money and new opportunities for individual members. But the argument over whether men and women … are part of legitimate tribes remains a bitter one.
Mark Miller, a spokesman for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation, said the groups are stealing the identity of established tribes.
“Part of my family, way back, is from Germany,” Miller said. “I can go to Oktoberfest and I can do the songs and dances. But it doesn’t make me a German citizen, and I can’t create my own Germany.”
A coalition of 10 former state Indian Affairs a letter to the state’s attorney general and secretary of State in late June claiming the vote that made the tribes legitimate was tainted by ethical lapses and unlawful secrecy.
The new tribes are the Cherokee Wolf Clan, Chikamaka Band, Central Band of Cherokee, United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfield Tennessee, Tanasi Council and the Remnant Yuchi Nation.
The state recognition gives members of the Tribes the ability to identify themselves as Native Americans on loan paperwork, job applications and other documents, and also puts them closer to federal recognition, now granted – although not recently – to more than 500 tribes, which brings additional benefits, Carey writes.
Mark Greene, a Nashville lobbyist who works for the Cherokee Nation, calls the groups “culture clubs” and “Indian heritage organizations.” The Cherokee Nation has sued, asking a county court to void the commission’s decision.
Tags: buffalo post, Central Band of Cherokee, Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Wolf Clan, Chikamaka Band, Gwen Florio, Native American news, Remnant Yuchi Nation, Tanasi Council, Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs, Tribal recognition, United Eastern Lenape Nation of Winfield Tennessee