Posts Tagged ‘Cherokee Nation’

Courtesy of in Denver

Courtesy of in Denver

Native American Rock Opera group to audition for “America’s Got Talent”
Brule, a Native American rock opera group, is stopping by the Colorado Indian Market this weekend. Then, they’re off for another stage.

Here’s the 9NEWS’ story on the group.

    In two weeks, the ensemble will audition for America’s Got Talent. Producers of the NBC show spotted the group as the performed their ongoing show in Branson, Missouri.

    This weekend, the Native American dancers, singers and musicians will bring their talents to the stage at the Colorado Indian Market.

    “I think it’s one of the best showcases of Native American talent and artistry in the country,” LaRoche said of the event.

Tracing tribal heritage through DNA questioned
It may be true that an Arizona company can tell if a person is Cherokee through blood tests – but does that really make them Cherokee?

The Tahlequah Daily Press reports that one Cherokee Nation representative noted DNA doesn’t necessarily make them a true Cherokee.

    “Cherokee is a cultural, social and political designation,” said Julia Coates, at-large Cherokee Nation tribal councilor. “There is no biological definition of ‘Cherokee.’ There are several large biological populations in the American hemisphere, but to my understanding, each contains numerous distinct cultural groups.

Census Bureau expands Oneida reservation to 300,000 acres
New lines drawn by the Census Bureau have hugely expanded the Oneida Reservation in New York. The expansion, in fact, blew up the reservation from 32 acres to more than 3,000, reports. It’s unclear when the new boundary lines were drawn and government officials are wondering if they’re right.

    As of last June, the Oneida reservation on Census Bureau maps was just a 32-acre dot in Madison County. By October, the reservation had sprawled across all or part of at least 18 towns, five villages and three cities. The new map follows the boundaries of the 36-year-old Oneida Indian land claim, which was tossed out of federal court just last week.

    The Census Bureau can adjust boundaries of Indian reservations if tribes submit documents showing the change. If there is any controversy, the bureau will seek an opinion from the Department of Interior. County officials say they’re trying to find out if the Oneidas asked for the change and whether Interior, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, weighed in.

    An Oneida nation spokesman did not return phone calls Wednesday. An Interior Department spokeswoman said she had no information yet.

A Oneida Nation Daily Dispatch story printed this statement:

    According to OIN Spokesman Mark Emery, this isn’t a new issue or a recent amendment to the map.

    “The map, which is prepared by the United States, properly reflects the United States’ longstanding position on the Oneida Nation reservation,” he said in a e-mail statement. “Any previous maps that suggested a different reservation were inaccurate legally, factually and historically, and corrections are appropriate. . . “

Jenna Cederberg

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Cherokee, Apple partner to put language on iPhones
iPhones that help keep Native languages alive? If the new app created by a Apple/Cherokee Nation collaboration catches on, it’s not such an outrageous statement.
As Indian Country Today reports, the app that was introduced late in 2010 is geared toward “tech-savvy” youth who are using the iPods, iPads and iPhones en masse.

    Tribal officials first contacted Apple about getting Cherokee on the iPhone three years ago. It seemed like a long shot, as the devices support only 50 of the thousands of languages worldwide, and none were American Indian tongues. But Apple’s reputation for innovation gave the tribe hope.

    After many discussions and a visit from Smith, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company surprised the tribe by coming through this fall.

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010.  (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)

Brian Smith, a member of the Glooscap First Nation and operations director of the Centre for First Nations Governance poses for photos in Kentville, Nova Scotia on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. (Sándor Fizli, For Postmedia News)

Native communities struggle with governance, accountability
As the headline suggests, this strong piece from Post Media News’ Richard Foot details how First Nations in Canada often fight for sovereignty amidst headlines of scandals within already established tribal governments.

The article details the how Brian Smith, of the Mi’kmaq reserve in Nova Scotia, fought against the outrageous news that leaders of the 87 person reserve were earning nearly $200,000 salaries.

You’ll get a sense of the frustration from people like Smith as the article goes through arguments about two main points:

    First, ordinary aboriginal people care deeply about the chronic lack of good government on Canada’s First Nations — a shortcoming illustrated this fall not just by the salaries at Glooscap, but at dozens of First Nations across the country.

    Second, the messages showed that many aboriginals don’t want the federal government to step in to fix such problems, whatever the outcry for intervention from non-native taxpayers. And they aren’t eager for passage of a Conservative private members’ bill, now before Parliament, that would require First Nation politicians to publicly disclose their salaries on a government website.

FSU’s Seminole imagery still frustrates Russell Means

    “It would be in the best interest of Florida State to become human. We’re not asking them to become politically correct. Keep the Seminole nickname, but get rid of the savagery.”
    Russell Means

Although the Chik-Fil-A bowl has come and gone, the match up was preempted by The State columnist Ron Morris’ piece after his interview with Russel Means, former American Indian Movement leader who now teaches language on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Morris makes a strong argument leading up to his final paragraphs:

    Yet in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young fought for civil rights in the 1960s, there will be Florida State fans with painted faces doing the “Tomahawk Chop” and singing “war chants” hours before the calendar flips to 2011.

    There exists some irony in that. It is disgusting enough to make Russell Means turn off his television set in South Dakota.

See if you agree.

Jenna Cederberg

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Just catching up with this interesting story from a couple of days ago by Clifton Adcock of the Tulsa (Okla.) World:

    (Photo from

    (Photo from

    A federal lawsuit filed in Tulsa by the Cherokee Nation seeking a declaration that the descendants of freedmen are not entitled to membership in the tribe has been ordered transferred to Washington, D.C., where a similar lawsuit is pending against tribal leaders and the federal government.

    The Cherokee Nation filed its suit last year against the U.S. Department of the Interior and five descendants of freedmen — former slaves that had been owned by tribal members. The freedmens’ descendants had obtained tribal membership before Cherokees voted in 2007 to restrict Cherokee citizenship by excluding people whose ancestors were not listed on the Dawes Rolls as having a percentage of American Indian blood.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy gets the case. He’s also hearing a lawsuit brought in 2003 by Marilyn Vann, who heads Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association. That case names Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith and the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“We eagerly await the day when all descendants of Dawes-enrolled Cherokee freedmen can register/reregister as Cherokee Nation tribal members, vote and run for tribal political office, as promised our ancestors by the U.S. government and tribal officials in 1866,” says Vann.

But Cherokee Attorney General Diane Hammons tells Adcock, “The record clearly shows that the federal government itself has extinguished any rights non-Indian freedmen descendants had under the treaty.”

Gwen Florio

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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.

Gwen Florio

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Remember the Removal bike ride (Cherokee Nation photo)

Remember the Removal bike ride (Cherokee Nation photo)

Tetona Dunlap is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Montana. She is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

Tetona Dunlap

Tetona Dunlap

This month 10 members of the Cherokee Nation will retrace their ancestors’ journey on the Trail of Tears, not by foot, but on bicycles.

The ride is called “Remember the Removal” and this is the second time the ride has taken place since its resurgence last year. The first ride took place in 1984.

On Wednesday, the group of 10 and four chaperones left by van for Georgia. They plan to bike from traditional Cherokee lands in New Echota, Georgia back to the Cherokee capital of Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 23 days, each day traveling around 40 to 70 miles.

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Above, please enjoy Gyasi Ross’ tribute to mothers everywhere.

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. defies eligibility question to seek third term
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. has filed to run for a third term, making him one of 12 people seeking to lead the nation. But the question of his eligibility may end up before the Navajo Supreme Court. “Under the law, he can’t run,” said Edison Wauneka, director of the Navajo Election Administration, tells the Navajo Times here.

Diversity resolution could follow ‘white pride’ school incident

A group of parents in Fort Thompson, Lower Brule and Chamberlain are working with Chamberlain, S.D., school officials on passing a resolution establishing districtwide “cultural competence standards,” that call for schools to value diverse cultures, according to this story in the the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader. The resolution was in the works before last week’s incident involving six white students who wore “White Pride World Wide” T-shirts to school.

Rising HIV rates termed crisis for First Nations communities
The head of the Saskatoon Tribal Council calls the rising rates of HIV in the province a “crisis” facing First Nations and Metis people, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports here. Provincial officials attributes 75 percent of the new questions to injection to drug use.

Cherokee Nation turns old jail into museum

The Cherokee Nation is restoring its former National Prison into a museum. This AP story following last week’s groundbreaking on the renovations tells the history of the jail. It was the only penitentiary building in what then was Indian Territory from its completion in 1875 until 1901, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gwen Florio

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Red Sox fan, Motown aficionada, poker player and, yes, trailblazing leader, too – friends, family and famous people remember Wilma Mankiller
More than 1,200 people turned out yesterday to memorialize Wilma Mankiller, the former Cherokee leader who became the first woman to lead her nation. “She always saw you a little better than you were, so you became better,” women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, one of Mankiller’s closest friends, said during the service. As the Associated Press recounts here, under Mankiller’s leadership, the Cherokee Nation tripled its enrollment, doubled employment and built new health centers and children’s programs. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in 1998.

Alaska village health clinic closes because workers fear for safety

The violence in the Yukon River village of Nunam Iqua can get so out of hand — and policing is so minimal — that staffers at the local health clinic have shut it down. The nearest hospital is an hour’s plane ride away and law enforcement is spotty. The Anchorage Daily News reports here that fewer than half the villages in the region have safety officers, meaning the clinic must sometimes treat victims of violence while their attackers are still nearby.

Dry weather traps cattle on Navajo Nation; several die trapped in stock tanks
Stock tanks on the Navajo Nation are drying up after a long, wet winter, trapping cattle who become mired in deep mud, then ironically die of thirst, according to this Navajo Times story. The fast-drying conditions disguise the mud beneath the surface soils, says Chapter President Ron Gishey Sr., who’s been using his truck and chains to free several trapped cattle.

Former Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes leader to run for Legislature
James Steele Jr., former tribal council chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, formally announced his candidacy for the Montana Legislature. Steele is running for the state House of Representatives. The Char-Koosta News reports here that Steele will host a reception at Salish Kootenai College between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

University of Montana’s Kyi Yo powwow is next weekend!

The skills of some of the best Native American dancers and drum groups in North America will be on display at the annual Kyi-Yo Celebration on Friday and Saturday, April 16-17, at the University of Montana’s Adams Center. The theme of this year’s celebration of heritage and artistry is “Existing in the 21st Century.” The first Grand Entry event will be held at 7 p.m. Friday. Saturday Grand Entry times are noon and 6 p.m. Head dancers this year are UM students Tashina Hunter and Darin Cadman Sr. More information is on the Kyi-Yo Web site. See the Missoulian story, here, for activities at the University of Montana all week that coincide with Kyi-Yo.

Gwen Florio

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Here‘s President Barack Obama’s statement, in full below, on yesterday’s passing of former Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller. And, the video above has a brief retrospective of Mankiller’s life (there’s a short ad, then you have to click again to watch it).

    I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was recognized for her vision and commitment to a brighter future for all Americans. Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work. Michelle and I offer our condolences to Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and two daughters, Gina and Felicia, as well as the Cherokee Nation and all those who knew her and were touched by her good works.

Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation Chief, says that “We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness.”

Read the tribe’s full statement, as well as condolences from others, here.

And, in this Wall Street Journal story, Mankiller both acknowledges her historic role as a female leader, and pays tribute to her ancestors, reminding people that “”Early historians referred to our government as a petticoat government because of the strong role of the women in the tribe. So in 1687 women enjoyed a prominent role, but in 1987 we found people questioning whether women should be in leadership positions anywhere in the tribe.”

The tribe’s site reports that Mankiller requested that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to advancing Native American communities though economic development, and to valuing the wisdom that exists within each of the diverse tribal communities around the world.

For tax deductible donations, click here or here. The mailing address for One Fire Development Corporation is 1220 Southmore Houston, TX 77004.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at 11a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.

Gwen Florio

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Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller during a 2004 interview in Stilwell, Okla. Mankiller, who was one of the few women ever to lead a major American Indian tribe, died Tuesday April 6, 2010 after battling pancreatic cancer. (AP Photo/Muskogee Daily Phoenix, Jerry Willis)

Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller during a 2004 interview in Stilwell, Okla. Mankiller, who was one of the few women ever to lead a major American Indian tribe, died Tuesday April 6, 2010 after battling pancreatic cancer. (AP Photo/Muskogee Daily Phoenix, Jerry Willis)

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In this Jan. 15, 1998 file photo, President Bill Clinton hugs former Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller after presenting her with a Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

In this Jan. 15, 1998 file photo, President Bill Clinton hugs former Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller after presenting her with a Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

Here’s the entire story from Associated Press writers Murray Evans and Rochelle Hines:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, one of the nation’s most visible American Indian leaders and one of the few women to lead a major tribe, died Tuesday after suffering from cancer and other health problems. She was 64.

Mankiller, whose first taste of federal policy toward Indians came when her family ended up in a housing project after a government relocation project, took Indian issues to the White House and met with three presidents. She earned a reputation for facing conflict head-on.

As the first female chief of the Cherokees, from 1985 to 1995, Mankiller led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building new health centers and children’s programs.

“We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us, but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us,” current Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said. “We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness.”

Mankiller met snide remarks about her surname — a Cherokee military title — with humor, often delivering a straight-faced, “Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname.”
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