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Analysis of Cherokee Employee Buzzard

Analysis of Cherokee citizen tribal employee buzzard June 2006 letter:

A letter was sent to tribal councilman Oleary of Delaware County, criticizing her for not supporting a
special election to kick out Cherokee freedmen citizens of the tribe. The letter (see attached) mentions
many reasons for the person's beliefs which are based on ignorance and misinformation from the Chief
and his supporters.

These are the true facts regarding the Cherokee freedmen and the Cherokee nation:

Almost all Cherokee tribal members are Christians and very few follow
traditional religions of belonging to the ceremonial grounds, dancing around the fire, and taking medicine. Deputy chief Joe Grayson who opposes Freedmen citizenship, and exhorts the Cherokee by
blood people to break their promises to the freedmen people is the son of a Baptist Minister.

Jackie Bob Martin of the council who leads the fight against the freedmen states on his Cherokee nation website page that he has been a member of a Baptist church for over 30 years. Ceremonial (or Stomp )
grounds that freedmen belonged to such as one in Nowata County have closed within the last 40 to 50 years just as many others have in the Cherokee nation; however, some freedmen are still associated
with grounds in the Creek nation or Cherokee nation.

Also, Mr Buzzard may have seen Freedmen at the grounds and did not realize that these were freedmen people as I believe that he pictures all freedmen as having all ancestors indigenous to Africa and having a similar look to say former African leader Idi Amin.

On what basis does Buzzard presume that freedmen know nothing about
Cherokee traditions and customs?

Why does a Cherokee freedmen who has Cherokee blood, has lived in the
Cherokee nation for all his life, and whose ancestors have been in the Cherokee nation for more than 200 years not entitled to embrace his Cherokee customs, culture, language, and legal rights?

How many freedmen people does he Buzzard know? Just what does he believe that black culture is?

Almost no tribal members still speak Cherokee; even chief Smith is not a Cherokee speaker - and he has said there are virtually no Cherokee speakers under the age of 40 presently and this information has been reported in the Cherokee Phoenix tribal newspaper within the
last 2 to 3 years.

Smith always brings attention to the fact that his wife is a Cherokee speaker, who grew up in Rocky Mountain, a Cherokee community. His Cherokee nation website also does not list him as being a Cherokee speaker nor does it list him as growing up in a Cherokee Community.
Council persons Cowan Watts, Garvin, Johnson, and Anglen who have consistently worked to keep the freedmen from using the courts to up hold their rights under the treaty and under the Cherokee nation 1975 constitution, do not claim to be Cherokee speakers on their web pages, nor have I heard these individuals speak the Cherokee language at any Cherokee nation event.

Why is buzzard okay with the continued tribal membership of other people in the tribe as non Cherokee speakers but wants to hold the Freedmen to a different standard?

On what basis does Buzzard believe that no freedmen can
speak the Cherokee language? I have met Cherokee Freedmen who are Cherokee speakers.

3)INDIAN BLOOD: Buzzard continues to spread the false propaganda that freedmen do not have Indian blood, which is continually espoused by the Principal chief as a reason to remove the freedmen.

The tribal court in the Berniece Riggs case held that people listed as freedmen have Cherokee blood; and cases such as the Sango case (listed on the Descendants of Freedmen website Creek link) clearly explain that being listed on the Dawes rolls as a freedmen tribal member does not authenticate that the person has no Indian blood.

Since people were sometimes listed as freedmen who had a parent listed
on a "by blood" roll with a blood degree - but only that the person listed as a freedmen has no Indian blood for the purposes of selling their tribal allotment and can be "an Indian" for all other purposes.

The Chief and deputy Chief personally know tribal members living in Nowata County who had ancestors listed with a blood degree by the Dawes Commission whose children were listed as Freedmen tribal members by the Dawes Commission.

Buzzards statements that freedmen do not have the gadugi (working together) spirit when they make claims to their legal rights and promises is illogical. For the Freedmen to ask for their
rights promised to them is no different than any other person or tribal entity doing so - and the courts are filled with cases of individual tribal members and tribes demanding that their rights be honored by the US government.

A Caucasian person could just as well say that Indians should give up any claims to Judgment funds or fulfillment of contracts by the US government or anything else for the good of the American nation and just accept what everyone else is getting. After all, aren't all needy people entitled to Medicaid, or rental assistance, etc.?

Under what basis does buzzard presume that Freedmen just want benefits?

After all, the freedmen applied and received tribal membership cards during the early 1970s after the Principal chiefs act was passed and the tribe began processing tribal memberships again at a time when there were almost no benefits to be held by tribal membership.

The Freedmen citizens wanted to give back to their tribe while many other descendants of Dawes enrollees listed on the Cherokee by blood rolls did not want to be identified as "Indians" until much much later.

Buzzard says that the freedmen never supported the tribes sovereignty. Freedmen tribal members were very opposed to the dissolvement of the tribal government at the turn of the 20th century and worked with other tribal members to avoid Oklahoma statehood and to continue the tribal government.

Even Blacks members of Congress who have no ties at all to the Cherokee nation or other Indian nations supported legislation such as the Indian Self Determination Act of 1975 giving tribes more sovereignty.

On what basis does buzzard believe that the problems of the Cherokee nation and the Cherokee people beginning with the Indian Removal Act of the 1830 have been caused by the people of African blood Freedmen and non freedmen alike?

Also Didn't the slaves and free blacks who were later enrolled as Freedmen fight in the Civil War along with other Cherokees and Creeks to protect the Cherokee nation, some going into Kansas and were at Ft Leroy to protect the tribe?

Didn't these people, after the Civil War, return to rebuild the Cherokee nation?

Prior to the passage of Civil

Rights legislation in the 1960s, Both the freedmen and other members of the tribe faced discrimination as non whites in housing, jobs, education, etc after Oklahoma statehood. Indeed, former deputy Chief
Hasting Shade, a full blood Cherokee, has told members of the media of times of applying for a job and being turned down for the reason that the job was filled and then the same job being filled the
next day by a Caucasian looking Cherokee.

It seems that Buzzard has forgotten that the Oklahoma Civil rights struggle of the 1950s and the 1960s , the brunt of which was borne by the people with African blood - Including the freedmen - helped the Cherokee people and not just the "blacks".

Buzzard refers to the treaty as a piece of paper, is he then okay with the us government terminating the tribe based on plenary power of Congress since the treaty which is the basis of the tribes Federal Recognition is just a piece of paper?

Or canceling any debts to the tribe? If its not valid concerning the freedmen, its not valid for anything else is it. Also, the federal and tribal courts have established that the freedmen citizenship rights were not "forced" on the tribe.

(See the Lucy Allen JAT case and the case Cherokee nation Vs US 12 ICC 570 cases for verification).

Buzzard talks about validation of popular culture and that popular culture does not see Freedmen as Indians or entitled to rights.

To the contrary, the majority of "white society" as well as
members of other tribes, who are becoming familiar with the struggle of the Cherokee freedmen seem amazed that the Cherokee leadership leaders of a tribe of whom the majority are completely Caucasian looking - would boot out freedmen tribal members, who have participated as tribal members for more than 140 years with the exception of a 23 year period (1983 through 2006 when they were illegally stripped of their rights for political reasons by Swimmer and Mankiller and some whose ancestors were participating as Cherokee tribal members prior to that) the majority of whom can
document Cherokee blood.

"White society" wonders why these tribal leaders make statements that
Freedmen people do not have "Indian blood" and should be removed from tribal membership when the Freedmen people can prove through documents to the contrary, And regarding DNA, DNA tests do prove that freedmen have Indian blood: Since he brings up DNA, why is a mixture of African and Indian DNA subordinate to a mixture of Caucasian and Indian DNA?

Why is only the person with the Caucasian and Indian mixture a real Indian?

8. CULTURE: Buzzard indicates that the Cherokees must protect "our culture".

Buzzard forgets that the tribe has several cultures already:
Delaware, Shawnee, Creeks, etc people who practice their own
language, culture, and dances.

The tribe contains Catabas, natchez, etc . The tribal council even
authorizes funds to protect the Shawnee culture. Why does he pretend that the tribe has one culture?

The tribe has not had one culture for more than more than 150 years!

Buzzard's comments as to "sucking us dry", I would say that the Cherokee nation citizens by blood as a whole has benefited much more from the contributions of the Freedmen peoples ancestors than vice versa as the freedmen people ancestors toiled for years without payment and their labor enriched tribal leaders.

If the civil rights struggle had not succeeded and white society had not began to regard the rights of non white peoples as a whole as human rights, I doubt that there would be any federally recognized tribes at all and every federally recognized tribe would have been terminated by now.

All through the 20th century Freedmen people have worked in tribal schools, worked in tribal clinics, sometimes worked at the BIA, etc. and helped other Cherokee people.

What makes him think that all freedmen will apply for or need Benefits?

Isn't his desire to kick out the Freedmen based on what he "thinks" they want? Just about the same as Caucasian people 50 years ago supporting the denial of voting rights to Indian people in states such as Utah because "they don't pay taxes" and might vote
for higher taxes for the white people to pay?

Isn't this talk about "infiltration," "fighting", and
"protecting your daughter"--- the sound of the old South during the 1950s when the blacks simply asked for their constitutional and legal rights such as voting rights as American citizens?

As Chief Smith commonly says, "History repeats itself".

Marilyn Vann President
Descendants of Freedmen

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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