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I thought this looked familiar, so I double checked and David has already debunked the BS

October 21 2008 at 7:26 AM
John Cornsilk  (Login JohnCornsilk)
John's Place Users


Response to From my Snailmailbox, absolute pure BS by Gayle Ross published in the Oklahoma Eagle!!

 
Appears it is an ole letter written back in march, and as David said could have been written in the long past, and evidently fits the BS of CNO Today, as the Oklahoma Eagle reprinted this month.

Here is David's Debunking:

The following is a letter to the editor sent to the Native American times by a thin blood member of the Cherokee Nation who bills herself as a story-teller and descendant of Cherokee chief John Ross. Her attack on Ms. Vann throughout her diatribe is neither unexpected, nor is it anything new. The letter could have been written during the 1960s in Alabama by any number of hood wearing denizens of the old South, all you have to do is replace Ms. Vann's name with that of Martin Luther King and the Cherokee Nation with Alabama and you have a repeat of history. My comments follow are interspersed with hers:

Letter was titled:

Letter to the Editor - issue of Cherokee rolls is Cherokee business

My response:
Since the Freedmen are Cherokees, many with blood of the tribe and all having rights of citizenship, it is their and all of our business.

3/22/2007

GR said:
My name is Gayle Ross and I am an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. I want to respond to the remarks made by Marilyn Vann, but first I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak and to thank those who take the time to listen.

DC responds:
At least she got her name right. Or did she? We'll have to check on that. But Ms. Ross is NOT an "enrolled" member of the Cherokee Nation. There is no "roll" of Cherokees. There is a registry of descendants of citizens of the Cherokee Nation and Ms. Ross' name does appear on that list. Since there is NO CHEROKEE NATION ROLL, it is impossible for Ms. Ross or any descendant of a Dawes enrolled citizen to be "enrolled."

GR said:
You may know that Ms Vann has conducted extensive campaigns of both legal and public relations attacks on the Cherokee Nation.

DC responds:
Ms. Vann has never conducted a "campaign" legal, public or otherwise against the Cherokee Nation. Her efforts to secure her and all Cherokee citizens right to vote is against the tyrannical rule of Chad Smith, an avowed racist who seeks to destroy the rights of Cherokee citizens simply because they have ancestry traceable to the continent of Africa. Her campaign is to educate the Cherokee people on the truths of the Freedmen, that they have Cherokee blood, they have treaty rights, they are eligible to vote in the elections for the office of Principal Chief and the efforts to expel them are rooted in racism and fear of their vote.

GR said:
She represents herself as a victim of "racism" and to do that, she finds it necessary to distort our history and the facts. I can no longer listen to her shrill, strident invective smearing the Cherokee Nation in the name of "her rights". There is too much at stake to stand silently by as she continues her attacks.

DC responds:
Ms. Ross is just beginning to hear the shrill and strident voices of the Freedmen of the Cherokee Nation. She better get some really good ear plugs, because the cacophony of their cries for justice and those who support them may cause Ms. Ross to lose what little mind she has left.

GR said:
Ms Vann says Cherokee people were slave owners and signed a Treaty with the Confederacy. What she hasn't told you is the majority of Cherokee wished to be neutral or remain loyal to the Union.

DC replies:
At the time of the signing of the Treaty with the Confederate States of America (CSA), the Cherokee Nation was virtually divided in half. One half, constituted predominately by full bloods and near full bloods supported continued relations with the U.S. The other side, comprised of mixed bloods, mostly slave-holders and slavery sympathizers, supported a treaty with the CSA. There was no majority on either side. There is little evidence, except in the words of John Ross himself, that even gives an indication that neutrality was considered an option. The rank and file citizenship of the Cherokee Nation had very strong opinions and the divisions in the Nation were aligned mostly on racial lines.

GR said:
The treaty with the Confederacy was signed under duress while Southern troops occupied our country.

DC replies:
This statement is blatantly false. There were no "southern troops" in the Cherokee Nation. Albert Pike had been sent to the Cherokee Nation to negotiate a treaty. He was rebuffed several times by John Ross and the National Council. But as the deal kept getting sweeter, Ross acquiesced and signed, as did many tribes now resident in Oklahoma. Certainly, the federal troops had abandoned the CN to go where the fighting was, which means that's where the CSA troops were too; not in the Cherokee Nation.

GR said:
It was repudiated in less than a year and many more Cherokees fought and died to end slavery than practiced it.

DC replies:
The CSA treaty was repudiated by followers of John Ross, but was NEVER repudiated by Ross until the end of the war; very convenient. I'd like to see the document that shows where more Cherokees died fighting to end slavery than practiced it. Every Cherokee member of a slave-holding household practiced slavery, from the oldest granny to the youngest baby. All profited by the labor and free time afforded by the chattel slavery of human being in the Cherokee Nation. Much of the education attainment possible by Gail Ross' own ancestors, which has provided her with the legacy that instilled a love of books and education in her own family and self. She owes much to the slaves owned by her ancestor John Ross.

GR said:
President Lincoln assured Principal Chief John Ross that he understood the Cherokee situation and that the Cherokees would not be treated harshly, but our hopes of fair treatment died with him.

DC replies:
The Cherokee Nation got fair treatment. The truth of the negotiation process which created the Treaty of 1866 shows an astute negotiating force headed by William Potter Ross, a Princeton educated lawyer and nephew of John Ross. Nine points were offered by the United States and four of those were accepted without reservation. Among those four points was the citizenship of the Freedmen. In fact, the Cherokees responded to the point on Freedmen citizenship by saying to the U.S. negotiators, "Tell us what you wish us to do with them and that we will do."

GR said:
The Treaty of 1866 was a "reconstruction" treaty demanding many concessions Cherokees felt were unfair. The United States responded by threatening to sign a Treaty with the very Confederate Cherokees who actually had taken up arms against them. The Cherokees had been willing to offer land and certain rights to their freed slaves. The United States included the article calling for the "rights of native Cherokees."

DC replies:
"Reconstruction" use to be a code word for federal oversight in the old South. Anyone who reads the Treaty of 1866 and its attendant historic documents can easily see that very little "reconstructionism" went into its wording. Certainly, there were points that were not negotiable. First, slavery had to end. On that issue we can say that the U.S. forced its hand. But even there, the Cherokees came out better than other tribes because we had ended slavery in 1863, a good three years before the end of the Civil War. And Ms. Ross is a wrongheaded historic revisionist when she says that the U.S. included the article giving rights to Freedmen "equal to native Cherokees." That provision was not just presented to the Cherokee delegation, it was actually written by William Potter Ross himself. The evidence is apparent in the words used in the phrase itself. The term "native Cherokee" was one coined by the Cherokees themselves. The negotiators of the time might have been familiar with it, but most likely not. The Cherokee delegation and most assuredly W.P. Ross would be familiar with the term, as it had been used in records created by the Cherokees themselves for decades.

GR said:
Ms. Vann did not tell you that freed slaves did not want tribal citizenship either. Congress, in 1865, sent Gen. John Sanborn to report of the status of the freed slaves of the Five Tribes and he reported that they wanted and expected the United States to procure a separate tract of Indian Territory for them.

DC replies:
Sanborn toured Indian Territory and did not visit a single freed slave. His information came from the whites and mixed Cherokees who had owned the former slaves. In fact, when Sanborn toured the Cherokee Nation, many of the former slaves were not even present in the Nation. They had been carried south to Texas and Choctaw Nation by their masters. The few remarks Sanborn records as "wishes of the freed slaves" no more represented the views of the whole freed slave population than did the recent vote to oust the Freedmen represent the views of the whole Cherokee people. And then again, why wouldn't the former slaves want their own space. They had been held in bondage and abused. If they could get their own space, live under their own laws and have their own plot of land, what's wrong with that? The mixed blood southern Cherokees were advocating the same thing at the same time. Ms. Ross doesn't seem to hold them to the same standard she would have us judge the Freedmen's ancestors.

GR said:
They wanted to own their own land rather than in common. They wanted autonomy under territorial law rather than tribal jurisdiction. The United States declined. Federal officials put Cherokees and Freedmen on the same path, knowing they wanted to go in different directions.

DC replies:
Ms. Ross just does not understand what she is saying here, or she intentionally distorts history to promote her own racist agenda. The views of the few freed slaves still in the Cherokee Nation in 1866 are not reflective of the desire of the whole Freedmen population to enjoy citizenship in the Cherokee Nation or on their own. And the United States did not decline anything regarding the Freedmen. The Freedmen were not parties to the negotiations of the Treaty of 1866, their wishes were not considered, either by the U.S. agents or the Cherokees. The freed Cherokee slaves were a people without a country and the Cherokees, reflective of our inclusiveness, empathy and love for our former servants, caused the our Cherokee ancestors to adopt them as full citizens of the Nation. Ms. Ross, a steadfast supporter of Chad Smith and someone who has profited from the cash cow casino Smith operates, Ross is merely protecting what she sees as her meal ticket.

GR said:
It was a rocky road. The majority of Freedmen advocated allotment and the dissolution of the Cherokee government.

DC replies:
This statement is blatantly false. The Freedmen, much like the full bloods, were very opposed to statehood and dissolution of the tribal government, and they voted overwhelmingly against it in 1901. Had the full bloods voted, the mixed bloods who supported destroying the Cherokee Nation would have been defeated. The Freedmen opposed statehood for one main reason. The blacks in the south were suffering greatly under a developing "Jim Crow" system of segregation and oppression. Despite some of the same sentiments in the Cherokee Nation from whites and thin blooded Cherokees, for the most part, Black Cherokees enjoyed a better standard of living, access to the land base of the tribe and could even get themselves elected to public office in the Nation where they constituted the smallest minority. Statehood would open the doors of the territory to the virulent racism practiced throughout the south. Why would the Freedmen want that? The truth is they didn't and they did not support closing the tribal government. Gail Ross' own ancestors, who voted in the 1901 election supported closing the tribal government and allotment of land. If how your ancestor voted in 1901 could get you kicked out of the tribe, there would be a lot fewer Cherokees named Ross on the registry.

GR said:
Cherokees struggled to hold on to their land and their nation. Forty years later overwhelmed by forces from both within and without, our borders were obliterated and our government all but paralyzed. Freedmen interests were served. The United States interests were served. The Cherokee Nation was devastated.

DC replies:
The voting population of the Cherokee Nation, comprised of mostly mixed bloods and their white spouses sold the Cherokee Nation out. Gail Ross' ancestors were among them. Slavery served the interests of her ancestors as they built wealth, absorbed education and climbed to the top of the Cherokee heap on the backs of the full bloods and the slaves. Yes, the Cherokee Nation was devastated, but the source of the devastation from within cannot be laid at the feet of the full bloods or the Freedmen. The destruction that came from within the Cherokee Nation came from the mixed bloods and their white spouses.

GR said:
Throughout the coming decades, African-Americans fought a long and noble fight for their civil rights as Americans. Indian people fought to remain Indian. Our battles were against the policies of "forced assimilation"; boarding schools, termination of our governments, allotment of our lands, the banning of our ceremonies and the destruction of our cultures and our languages. We fought not just for the rights of our people, but for our rights to exist as nations.

DC replies:
I seriously doubt that Gail Ross fought for anything but her next book deal or speaking engagement. She is and has always been more concerned with promoting herself as an "Indian" storyteller than doing something for Indian people. Even her so called storytelling is nothing more than repeating the stories collected by a white anthropologist living among the Eastern Cherokees. Her family did not preserve any traditional stories, as they had none to preserve. In her efforts to feel and act more "Indian" Ms. Ross cleaves herself to one of the most infamous administrations to govern the Cherokee Nation. She shouts about being an "Indian" and a "Cherokee" all the while decrying the identity and rights of the Freedmen. Her efforts speak loudly about her own self-doubt about her identity as she seeks to destroy the Cherokee heritage of others to make herself feel more Indian. Destroying the rights of others is NOT an Indian thing.

GR said:
The Cherokee Nation survives today because Cherokee people refused to let it die.

DC replies:
This is true; and the Freedmen have been there all along. They, like the Delawares, Shawnees, Keetoowahs and other Cherokees by blood have participated in the revitalization of our national identity as a tribe and government. Interestingly enough, Gail Ross' family were not there. Not a single member of her immediate family appears on the list of voters from 1970, 1971, 1975. It was not until there was something for her to gain that Ross herself became a member of the CNO. She's one of those jonny-come-lately whites with an Indian ancestor who puts on a "tear dress", braids her blackened hair and starts telling stories she only read in a book. If it had been left up to Gail Ross and her immediate family, the Cherokee Nation would have died as they lived it up among the white folks.

GR said:
The first Freedmen supported the dissolution of our government to relinquish Cherokee citizenship for American citizenship. This was right for Freedmen. Our own people voted to accept allotment, but it proved to be wrong for Cherokees. Now Ms. Vann would wreak devastation on the Cherokees to demand citizenship.

DC replies:
Again, the Freedmen did not support allotment or dissolution of the Cherokee government. It was the mixed bloods and their white spouses who did that. And the amendment to remove the Freedmen purports to exclude the intermarried whites, yet their descendants, the thin blooded Cherokees on the Dawes Rolls continue to enjoy their citizenship. Ms. Ross is right when she says that "her" own people voted to accept allotment. Even though she descends from John Ross, she obviously got little of his world view. It is not Ms. Vann who would wreak devastation on the Cherokees to demand citizenship. That is being wrought by Ross' beloved leader Chad Smith. He has wrought devastation on the Cherokee Nation in his effort to promote ethnic cleansing and protest his position by preventing the Freedmen from voting.

GR said:
In order to make this about race, Ms Vann has shrieked to the press about our citizens with low quantums of Cherokee blood, saying we accept "white" Cherokees but not "black" Cherokees. This is a lie. Our paperwork is color-blind. The citizens Ms. Vann sneers at may very well be part Cherokee, part white, part some other tribe, part Hispanic and part Black! We do not tell our children whom they may marry. Our enrollment is determined by a direct connection to a specific list of Cherokee citizens on the Dawes Rolls.

DC replies:
Ms. Ross obviously cannot read. Ms. Vann has stated accurately, time and time again, that there are white people on the by blood section of the Dawes Roll. They have no blood quantum next to their name, yet the recent amendment does not exclude them because they are on the by blood section. Ms. Vann is 1/8 Cherokee by blood. Yet, because of their negro ancestry and complexion, her ancestors were enrolled as Freedmen instead of Cherokee Indians. She has more Cherokee blood than some who now serve on the Council and certainly more than Ms. Ross. Ms. Vann has ancestors on the same citizenship roll that Ms. Ross extols. Yet, because that roll of citizens was segregated by color in 1902, Ms. Ross would punish those on it because racism in 1902 prevented them from declaring their Cherokee blood.

GR said:
Ms. Vann arrogantly says the Cherokee Nation "misapplies" the Dawes. That was what the vote was about, Ms. Vann. How to apply the Dawes. There are literally hundreds of thousands of "Cherokees" some with blood who cannot meet enrollment criteria. Different tribes use different rolls. It is our right to establish what we require for citizenship.

DC replies:
Ms. Ross needs to consult an attorney regarding the right of the Cherokee Nation citizens and their descendants to determine who is eligible to vote in the election for Principal Chief. Congress has closed the citizenship rolls of our Nation. We who are members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma are merely descendants eligible under the 1970 Principal Chiefs Act to vote for Principal Chief. This right is extended by Congress to ALL citizens of the Cherokee Nation and their descendants in accordance with the Act itself. Congress gave the tribes of Oklahoma the right to recreate their governments and reestablish their citizenship criteria based on their own desires. This law is called the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA). The Cherokee Nation, identical to the Seminoles, has never taken advantage of this law. Our citizenship roll remains closed and our tribe is nothing more than a descendancy group known as CNO. The members of the CNO claim to have the right to remove from its ranks other members, but they cannot change or destroy the rights of citizens of the Cherokee Nation and their descendants to vote for the office of Principal Chief. That right is guaranteed by Congress to us all. That also means there can never be a residency requirement or a blood quantum requirement to vote.

GR said:
Ms. Vann has asked Indian people to imagine how it would feel if this happened to your family. She doesn't know that most Indian people don't have to "imagine" this. I know many Indian people from many tribes who either have relatives or know a family with relatives who can no longer meet their tribe's legal requirements for enrollment. But mostly, when Indian relatives drop below a quantum requirement or a residence restriction, they go on being proud of their heritage, being active in their community and culture, honoring their ancestors. They know these things are not defined by enrollment, citizenship is.

DC replies:
Ms. Ross most certainly does know lots of fakes and wannabes. Her social and professional associations, just like Chad Smith, have always been with wannabes. She obviously feels more comfortable among whites because she does not socialize among real Cherokees. She did not grow up in an Indian community and does not now live in an Indian community. The Freedmen, in the face of great odds and much unwarranted hatred by people like Gail Ross, do treasure their heritage. And one of the greatest treasures of their heritage is the right to vote in the Cherokee Nation. If they are not members of CNO, they, like Ross will still be proud of their ancestors, proud of their Cherokee blood, proud of the contributions they have made to the Cherokee people and the tribe. But Ms. Ross has one thing she is proud of the Freedmen do not have. Ms. Ross is a racist and for that, she is obviously proud.

GR said:
They know that the rights of their sovereign nations are more important than their individual rights. They do not seek to hurt their nations and their people by attacking them in federal courts or the press. Ms.Vann doesn't seem to understand this. I guess it's an Indian thing.

DC replies:
The entire fiasco of disenrollment against the Freedmen is the direct result of activity by the racist element in our tribe headed by Chad Smith. The ballyhoo in the press following the vote is merely a symptom of a greater ill infecting our people, racism. Ms. Vann is not attacking the Cherokee Nation when she fights against racism to protect her rights. She is attacking racists like Ms. Ross, Chad Smith and Cara Cowan Watts. They are NOT the Cherokee Nation, despite the cat-bird-seat they find themselves in now which seems to give them the idea that they are.

GR said:
In order to divert attention from our majority vote, Ms Vann tries to make this about Principal Chief Chad Smith. What an insult to Cherokee people. We see further ahead than the next election.

DC replies:
This is about Chad Smith. He has made a mockery of the Cherokee Nation worldwide. He has brought the wrath of federal officials upon the Cherokee Nation. Ms. Ross is blatantly lying when she says her Cherokee people, Smith, Watts, among others, see further than the "next election." This is all about the next election in June of this year. Smith did not want to face the Freedmen vote in his race for an illegal reelection to a third term in office. Neither Ross nor Smith see nor care about the damage they have done and continue to do to the Cherokee Nation and her people just so Chad Smith can hold onto his political office and she can keep telling bogus stories and selling books.

GR said:
And I am truly outraged at her suggestion that Chief Smith was "using" the Trail of Tears as a play for sympathy. Cherokee people don't play "victim", Ms. Vann. We remember our history to remember what our ancestors sacrificed so that OUR NATION might live.

DC replies:
Smith has attempted to gain "sympathy" for his own position to oust the Freedmen by reciting a litany of tragedies that happened to the Cherokee people. What Ms. Ross conveniently forgets to tell us is that ancestors of the Freedmen, slaves to the Cherokees who crossed the Trail of Tears, were there too. And not only that, but Cherokee Indians married to Negros, their children later classed as "free blacks and Freedmen" crossed the Trail too. A federal official and witness to the Trail of Tears noted that some Cherokee women, showing all the beauty of any white American woman, were being attended by their slaves who were cooking for them. Ms. Ross hopes to make the invisible human beings who crossed the Trail of Tears with the Cherokee Indians, carrying their property and children, disappear again by ousting the Freedmen.

GR said:
And your suggestion that the disenrollment of people who have had their cards for less than a year is a greater injustice than the loss of our original homeland and the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee people is truly beyond belief.

DC replies:
Ms. Vann is the direct descendant of Katherine Fields, a Cherokee Indian and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Katherine crossed the Trail of Tears. The homeland Ms. Ross says was lost to the Cherokees was also the homeland of Ms. Vann's ancestors. The mere fact that Katherine's descendants, being of negro ancestry, were dumped onto the Freedmen Roll, does not diminish Ms. Vann's rightful claim to the old homeland. What is beyond belief is that someone as learned as Ms. Ross would hold such ignorant views of our true history and continue to punish an innocent people simply because their ancestors chose to marry blacks when her ancestors chose to marry whites. And to imply that the Freedmen have only had their cards for less than a year is utterly ridiculous. We are born into the Cherokee Nation. The card merely testifies to an already existing fact, we have citizenship rights in the Cherokee Nation. The Freedmen had cards in 1970 and 1976, just like thousands of other Cherokees. They voted and participated then. Their cards were taken from them in 1983 by Ross Swimmer who, like Chad Smith now, feared their vote. The Cherokee courts did not grant citizenship to the Freedmen. The ruling by the court recognized their already existing citizenship. The Freedmen's efforts to get a card since the March 2006 ruling is nothing more than Ms. Ross did when she found out how lucrative it could be to claim her drizzle of Cherokee blood. Yet, the Freedmen claim their rights in order to vote.

GR said:
Over the last thirty years since the Cherokee Nation revitalized its government, members of the Freedmen Association have taken their case to the court. They have screamed to the press. But, for the most part, they are so far removed from Cherokee communities that most Cherokees don't know any more about them than what they read in the newspapers.

DC replies:
The Freedmen have been vocal about their rights and disfranchisement since its inception in 1983. Ms. Ross, herself being very far removed from the Cherokee communities, would know nothing of them because she only knows what she learned in Chad Smith's white-washed history class and a few books she read. She was neither raised a Cherokee, nor was she raised among Cherokees. She is a white woman with a thin strain of Cherokee blood. But, to the credit of the Cherokee people, and for her sake, we recognize that citizenship, not blood, begets citizenship. If we use any anthropological, scientific or social definition of Indian, Ms. Ross simply would not qualify and neither would 90 percent of the Cherokee Nation, including the Freedmen. We, as a tribe, are lucky to have developed a system of self-determination that recognized that citizenship cannot be bifurcated. But now that Ms. Ross and Chad Smith have, for the first time in the history of the Cherokee Nation, imposed a blood requirement upon us, the stage has been set for a determination of who really is an Indian among us. Smith will probably be safe, because he's at least a quarter blood. But poor Ms. Ross. When we finally do create an "all Indian tribe" based on race and blood, she, quite simply, won't qualify.

GR said:
And there we read that we are "racist" or that we are too stupid to decide for ourselves but have listened to "lies" from the current administration. Can Ms. Vann not see how despicable this behavior is?

DC replies:
A concerted effort on the part of ONE Cherokee man in the Coffeyville area to educate the voters of his precinct, shows that, given accurate information, the Cherokee people would vote in favor of the Freedmen. Most Cherokees only got information from the Chad Smith and his minion. Their information was at the least inaccurate and was intentionally distorted to mislead the voters. Ms. Vann does not call the Cherokee voters stupid. Stupidity cannot be fixed. I have rightly called the average Cherokee voter ignorant. Most will tell you, they knew little about the Freedmen and all they knew was what they read in the tribal newspaper published by Smith, Grayson, Ketcher and Watts. This is evidence of a lack of education on the subject, which is the very definition of ignorance. Ignorance can be fixed, but only with time and education. Chad intentionally pushed a quick vote on the matter to give little time or opportunity for the average Cherokee voter to be properly educated. Ms. Ross admits that she, typical of most Cherokee voters, knew little or nothing about the Freedmen.

GR said:
Especially against the members of our traditional communities who spoke for the "by blood roll" with votes of 9 to 1 or 10 to 1. Ms. Vann doesn't seem to understand that traditional Cherokees can't hear you when you scream. I guess it's an Indian thing.

DC replies:
The United Keetoowah Band, representative of the majority of the higher degree of Cherokee Indians, and a group that Ms. Ross is neither a member of, nor would qualify for, have supported the rights of the Freedmen. The religious groups of the traditionalists, including the Keetoowah Society and the Cherokee Baptist Association, have remained silent. If Ms. Ross is privileged to know the blood degrees of those who voted in the recent election, it begs the question of HOW? We know she is a Chad Smith sycophant and political insider. Is she telling us that the Smith administration knows how we voted, even down to the break down of our blood quantum? Or, as is typical of racists, she is simply blowing smoke up our arses and neither she, nor Smith know the blood quantum of those who voted for or against the amendment. If its the former, and they know these things, I smell fraud. If its the latter, and they don't know, then she's a liar. Either way, both are probably right.

GR said:
Ms. Vann contends that the Cherokee Nation is endangering the sovereignty of all tribes by refusing to "honor the treaties". She apparently does not know or care how many articles of how many treaties the United States has failed to honor.

DC replies:
The lack of fidelity by the United States to its treaty obligations is not relevant. I don't do something wrong just because my neighbor does. We Cherokees, through our ancestors, made a promise. They considered the Treaty to be sacred, just read the teachings of RedBird Smith and you'll know this. We have now violated a treaty and not only that, but we have violated the promise of our ancestors.

GR said:
She does not see or care that the threat to Indian sovereignty is in her continued demands that the federal government once again infringe on our rights as a nation.

DC replies:
It is Chad Smith and his spokespeople, like Gail Ross, who seem not care that their racist actions are what invite federal intervention. The Treaty of 1866 is a contract. We have broken our part of the contract. We have gotten from the United States what they promised, federal recognition, among other things. It is the right and the obligation of the United States to enforce the Treaty of 1866. If they do nothing, the U.S. will be violating the treaty. The Cherokee people promised the Freedmen and their descendants equal rights to native Cherokees. If the U.S. does not enforce this promise, it is denying to all Cherokees the rights afforded by the Treaty. I am a Cherokee by blood and I want the Freedmen to be members. I want to honor the promise made by my ancestors to the Freedmen. If the United States does not enforce the Treaty, it will be violating my rights along with the rights of all Cherokee citizens to enjoy the benefits of the Treaty of 1866.

GR said:
Cherokee people did not "ignore" the Treaty of 1866. They simply expressed their belief that the obligations inherent in the Treaty were fulfilled long ago.

DC replies:
Ms. Ross has been living among the white people waaay too long. She is using their words against her own people. I have heard so many times, for as long as I have been involved in tribal affairs, nearly 30 years now, that the treaties are old and outdated. They have been fulfilled many times over by white America and are no longer valid. If the obligations of the Cherokees stemming from our side of the contract were fulfilled long ago, then so too were the obligations of the other side, the United States. Our obligation was to take as citizens our former slaves and their descendants. The United States obligation was to give us federal recognition. If we no longer honor the treaty, then why should they?

GR said:
To the mixed Black/Cherokees on the Freedmen Roll who feel hurt that we limit our citizenship to a specific blood roll, I would ask them to understand that their heritage is theirs. Nothing can take that away. Heritage, culture, pride in your ancestors are all good things. But heritage and citizenship are not the same.

DC replies:
On the contrary Ms. Ross, a right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is their heritage. Heritage is that which we inherit from our past and our ancestors. Citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is not the only part of their heritage, but it constitutes an important part of it. Certainly, anyone, like Ms. Ross, can pick up a book, throw on a tear dress and some beaded earrings and call one's self a traditional. Making a mockery of Cherokee culture is Ms. Ross' heritage. But her right to vote in the Cherokee Nation elections is also her heritage. And I guarantee you, if we could take it away from her, we'd hear her shrieking, going to court and talking to the press. But because we real Cherokees allow white Cherokees such as her to participate, she is safe. Too bad she doesn't extend the same Cherokee ethos to her fellow Cherokees.

GR said:
Ms. Vann has refused to respect the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Supreme Court. They ruled that citizenship is for Cherokee people to determine. Ms. Vann has refused to accept the vote of the Cherokee people. She calls for the BIA to cut off our funding unless we accept her demands. She has brought down the wrath of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Congress of Black Women on our heads. With these same misrepresentations of fact and distortions of truth. She has screamed about "her rights" as opposed to what Cherokee people believe IS right. She has screamed about "her rights" and said not a word about her responsibilities.

DC replies:
What about Ms. Ross' responsibilities to the Treaty of 1866? What about her responsibility to protect the rights of ALL Cherokee citizens? What about the duty of the Principal Chief to protect and defend the rights of ALL Cherokee citizens, including the Freedmen? Ms. Vann calls upon those who can do something about the injustice going on in the Cherokee Nation. The Courts of the Cherokee Nation are packed with Chad Smith supporters who do his bidding. But that did not stop the Freedmen association from quietly supporting the case of Allen v. Council that did go through the Cherokee courts. This case proved that the Freedmen have treaty, constitutional and citizenship rights in the Cherokee Nation. Where is Ms. Ross' responsibility to respect that ruling and accept as citizens and her equal, persons of Cherokee heritage who just happen to be black? No, this is not about Ms. Vann shrugging off her responsibility. She has taken her case to the forum that can enforce the United States' obligation to her and the Freedmen, federal court. If anyone has brought the wrath of the African American community, Congress and the BIA down upon the Cherokee Nation, it is Chad Smith and the three percent of the Cherokee population who voted for an amendment designed to destroy the rights of innocent people just because of the color of their skin and the section of the roll upon which their ancestors were placed.

GR said:
She has demonstrated with her words and her actions that she does not respect Cherokee people, Cherokee culture, Cherokee law and interestingly enough, Cherokee treaties. Apparently Ms Vann has not read the entire Treaty of 1866. Only the article that applies to her. There is an article in the treaty that states that all disagreements among Cherokees arising in the Cherokee Nation are the sole province of the Cherokee courts. By demanding federal intervention, Ms. Vann is herself in violation of the Treaty of 1866. That is if she considers herself Cherokee. By making this a federal case, Ms. Vann is stating that she is NOT Cherokee. Which means she has no case. Sound like a Catch 22, Ms. Vann? Welcome to Indian Country.

DC replies:
The Treaty of 1866 provides for federal intervention, should the Cherokees choose not to provide properly for their former slaves, the Freedmen. Ms. Vann has done nothing wrong in seeking to have her FEDERAL TREATY RIGHTS enforced by the very party the Cherokee Nation agreed would protect them. There is no need to welcome Ms. Vann to Indian Country. She has lived in it most of her life, having grown up among the Ponca. While she did not grow up in the Cherokee Nation and among Cherokees, she is well aware of the plight of Indian people. Ms. Vann, as we have stated earlier, is 1/8 Cherokee Indian. The fact that she might not look it has no more bearing than the fact that Gayle Ross doesn't look it either. But at least Ms. Vann grew up around Indian people. Ms. Ross lived most of her life among whites. In fact, she still lives among whites and only associates with Indian people a few times a year when she returns to Tahlequah to visit Chad Smith, attend Cherokee National Holiday and collect whatever royalties she's getting from Smith.

David Cornsilk





John "The Elder" Cornsilk


 
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