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African-Native American Research Forum Archive

Re: Why Must We Be Wannabees?
In Response To: Re: Why Must We Be Wannabees? ()

You said:
A word of caution. You harp on the many depredations suffered by the Cherokee so much and so often in your posts that it has become not much more than a tired litany, and that's too bad. Some might even construe from what you say that these are the elements that define the Cherokee.

My reply:
These are elements that define us, a people apart of from the rest of you. And I suppose the oppressor will always grow wearing of hearing the cries of the oppressed. Your response is not a surprise.

You said:
In fact, two centuries of slavery, along with loss of languages, cultures, and homeland are not defining for African Americans. The Holocaust is not defining for Jews.

My reply:
Then you simply don't understand how a people are defined. I have known many such of your kind and philosophy. We call them apples. I think your people call them oreos. The mantra, "Why can't we all 'just be Americans,'" is applicable to everyone except Native Americans. We are a people apart because of our peculiar status. Did we ask for that status? Certainly not. What we are is a remnant of what we once were because the dominant society has made it so. We struggle to hold onto the one thing that we can control, our identity. And even that, if you knew anything at all about the wannabe issue, threatens the very core of our existance.

You said:
People can "become" African American without their ancestors having paid "dues." Obama has... People can convert to Judaism.

My reply:
It is impossible to "become" a Cherokee without the consent of the Cherokee people. Likewise, it is impossible to become an African American without the consent of the American people. Obama is an African American because he met the requirements of American citizenship. African American and Judaism are 'aples and oranges.' I could convert to the Jewish faith without ever speaking to a Jew. You can't convert to being black no matter how much M&M might think so.

You said:
On another matter, genealogy is not science. It's not much more than a string of plausibility arguments. The only real science in genealogy just appeared recently with the rapid advances in DNA sequencing, which had as its initial phase the sequencing of the human genome and even this science is clearly in its nascent stage.

My reply:
You are wrong, genealogy is a science. Here is the meaning of the word "science":
Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") refers to any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique or practice.

Get it? Highly skilled does not include amatures.

You said:
Sometimes there is documentation, scribbled by someone, to support the genealogist's plausibility arguments. Sometimes there's only oral tradition. Most of human history depends on oral history or oral history that was written down decades or hundreds of years after the fact.

My reply:
Any hypothesis (plausibility argument) converted to theory through sound research and documentation that can be traced again and again by those who come after is science. The building blocks of that science may not be as glamorous as biology or chemistry, but if performed in a manner that provides a path anyone coming after can follow, makes it authentic. Family oral tradition is nothing more than the hypothesis, not the final result. Memories fade, people lie, stories change, that's not science. Oral tradition is equal to observation that leads to a hypothesis. Based upon scientific knowledge, Darwin espoused the hypothesis of evolution. Through scientific research, that hypothesis has come to be known as fact, a theory. In observing an oral tradition, whether held by an individual, family or community, a genealogist, in order to prove or disprove the tradition, must perform a scientifically based set of examinations that will lead to the conclusion that the hypothesis is factual and thus a theory or is not factual and can and should be discarded.

You said:
If someone wants to believe their oral history, why not let them do it?

My reply:
No one, least of all me, is or could stop someone from making baseless statements about their ancestry. By the same token, no one is going to stop me from pointing out the fallacy and danger of that behavior. And if it were just one or two, the statistical significance would make my efforts pointless. However, it is not just one or two. In fact it is not just one or two thousand. In the last U.S. Census the number of people claiming to be Cherokee, but who are not members of any tribe, number nearly 400,000. The Cherokee population, sans Freedmen, is less than 300,000. The non-enrolled, unprovens organize into groups and seek to speak for the Cherokee people. Right now, in the state of Tennessee, several groups claiming to be Cherokee tribes sent delegates to the office of the governor and the state legislature seeking redress for the wrongs committed against the Cherokee people. Without a shred of evidence, they claim they are the historic successor tribes to the Cherokee tribe of Indians once resident in that state. The Tennessee legislature by the efforts of the Governors office, sought to give state recognition to five of these groups. The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band leadership acted swiftly to block this legislation. In the state of Alabama there exists four groups recognized by the state as tribes. These groups have no proof of Cherokee heritage, yet they hold sway over much of the Cherokee peoples' original homeland. When historic burials of long dead Cherokees are discovered, the state of Alabama does not seek the counsel of the Cherokee Nation or the Eastern Band, they go to one of their fake groups, get their permission to dig and destroy the graves of our ancestors. Meanwhile our voice is silenced by the cocophany of the wannabes who say what goes on in Alabama is none of our business. That is still our homeland. Those are still the graves of our ancestors. The white people who drove us from our homes, who now pretend to be us have no right to call themselves Cherokees.

You said:
It's not going to get them into the Cherokee Nation. Your sanctuary is not really threatened. Their proclamations don't threaten the Cherokee Nation, because the vast majority of Americans know nothing about tribal sovereignty and don't care.

My reply:
I have already explained how the wannabe phenomenon threatens the Cherokee people. With over 200 groups claiming to be Cherokee tribes and clamoring to speak for and on behalf of the Cherokee people, the threat is real. Even one highly placed individual can wreak havoc on our tribe. Take for example Ward Churchill, the consumate wannabe. He claimed to be Cherokee, wrote an article calling those who died in the 9/11 attacks "little Eichmans" and caused many to turn against Cherokees. You don't feel or even see any of this because you don't care.

You said:
As you know, I've been an amateur genealogist for two decades, but I understand the difference between the nature of genealogical research and the research carried out by a biologist or a mathematician, which I am professionally.

My reply:
You understand the difference between how YOU approach genealogy and the profession you practice. That in no way makes you an expert on how genealogy is performed by professionals. And FYI, I too am a biolgist. My training is in biological research and I currently work for a university in that field. There are amatures and lay people in every field. In fact, there are people claiming to be doctors and lawyers who don't hold degrees in those fields. We don't give them much credence either, except to criminalize their activity.

You said:
If someone has a "story" let them have it. You'll still have your "authenticity," recognized by the USA. And I do write that last bit recognizing the irony.

My reply:
NO. I won't let them have it without a caveat, the knowledge that their claims do have an impact on the real Cherokee people. If they just sat around their dinner table and talked about granny's high cheek bones or "good hair" it would have no impact. But like I said, and which is documented fact, that's not what they do.

Regarding whatever "irony" you think you see in the government to government relationship between the Cherokees and the United States, that is only your sour grapes. Just like everything else Indian people have owned on this continent, the colonizers seek to either take it or destroy it.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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