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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Mike Graham
Bio: Mike Graham
Date:  March 19, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

Cherokee Nation Vote: No Such Thing As A Black Or White Indian

Today, some African Americans claiming Indian heritage are calling themselves Black Indians. There is no such thing as a Black American Indian or White American Indian! You're American Indian or you're not! If you're Black or White and have Indian heritage, that is all you can and should claim. It's an insult to the American Indian community for people of another race to claim their Indian heritage while doing so through their dominant race color.

Oklahoma Cherokee Nation members have voted to exclude a group of African Americans going by the name of Freedmen and Intermarried Whites. Members of the Freedmen group claim to be descendents of runaway Black slaves, some claim Indian heritage. Some Eastern Indian Nations were forced by the federal government to give full tribal citizenship to the runaway Black slaves through the treaty of 1866 at the end of the U.S. Civil War 1861-1865.

Cherokee voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution in a special election Saturday, March 3, 2007 by a decisive vote of 6,693 (77%) for the measure to 2,040 (23%) against. The amendment limits citizenship in the Cherokee Nation to descendants of people who are listed on the Final Rolls of the Cherokee Nation as Cherokee, Delaware or Shawnee and excludes descendants of those listed on Intermarried White and Freedmen rolls taken at the same time.

The issue at hand is this: Can the federal government dictate to a sovereign Indian Nation who can and cannot be a member of their nation? Today we all see what's happening in the Middle East. After World War Two, the U.S. Government and other world governments divided up the Middle East land. They created new countries, changed borders, and shifted the balance of political power from one ethnic group to another. This action brought about numerous inter-tribal warfare in the region to include the war on Middle Eastern terrorism on going today.

At the end of the U.S. Civil War some Indian Nations were forced at gun point to sign the treaty of 1866. Part of this treaty forced Indian Nations to accept the Freedmen Group and Intermarried Whites as tribal members. Indian Nation leaders rejected the proposal outright, but had no choice but to do as the federal government ordered them. The federal government, on it's own, made it a point to dishonor every treaty it made with American Indian Nations when it suited them.

The treaty of 1866 allowed any African American claiming to be part of the Freedman Group to lay claim to citizenship in one of the so called "Five Civilized Tribes." Whether a member of the Freedman Group had Indian heritage by blood did not matter; the U.S. treaty made them full citizens of the Indian Nation of their choice.

Today, Indian Nation leaders are having to take a hard look at who cannot and should not be a member of their nation. Under their government sovereignty they have every right to do so. Concerning the Freedman Group and Intermarried Whites, Indian Nation leaders are stating their tribal nation membership was set up and based on Indian blood quantum proof and tribal roll number linking a person to that Indian nation.

The Freedmen Group is playing the race card, calling the action from Indian Nations as racist toward them. Fact: there are full blooded Indians today that cannot join their Indian Nation because their past family members did not take a tribal roll number of their nation. The Indian roll number system came about because of the U.S. Government's illegal "Indian Removal Act of 1830." That law brought about the "Trail Of Tears", 1838-1839. Tens of thousands of Indians from many tribal nations were pushed West of the Mississippi River together in one area now called Oklahoma. In 1887, congress passed the Dawes Rolls Act. The purpose of this act was to divide Indian lands and give 160 acre parcels to heads of Indian families, each tribe has its own official tribal roll book.

Dropping the Freedman group and Intermarried Whites as tribal members puts them on equal footing with millions of other American Indian descendants that have to prove their Indian heritage by blood and tribal roll number linkage. Something to think about: "What If Indian Nation leaders open up their tribal membership to anyone? If this happened it would change the political and economic structure of America. This action by Indian Nations would open up a Pandora's box the federal government never thought it would have to deal with again, after it's "for real holocaust" against American Indian Nations.

Today, some African Americans claiming Indian heritage are calling themselves Black Indians. There is no such thing as a Black American Indian or White American Indian! You're American Indian or you're not! If you're Black or White and have Indian heritage, that is all you can and should claim. It's an insult to the American Indian community for people of another race to claim their Indian heritage while doing so through their dominant race color.

Fact: No American Indian government supported or encouraged using Blacks or Whites as slaves before or after the U.S. Civil War. Fact: Columbus forced Indians into slavery. He was a slave trader by profession. On Columbus' orders, Indians were the first race of people forced into slavery when he came in contact within the Americas. Columbus' sick and inhuman actions against Indians in the Caribbean Islands set the stage for genocide of Indians throughout the Americas. On the mainland of America, American Indians could not be contained as slaves. They would escape and return to their tribal nation. This brought about the use of importing Africans as slaves to the American Indian world by Europeans. In some African countries today Black on Black slaves being sold is still happening.

At the time of the U.S. Civil War less than two percent of Indian people left in the Eastern states, because of the "Indian removal act 1830", owned land and used runaway slaves. After the U.S. Civil War Indians had their land taken away from them and were forced to leave their home lands. At that time any person working as a runaway slave was let go. No runaway slaves working for Indians were brought west of the Mississippi during the forced relocation against their will. Runaway slaves were given protection by the Indian people. Indians would not turn runaway slaves back over to the slave companies even though rewards were offered to them.

The racial divide between American Indians and African Americans came to light during the U.S. Civil War. Some African Americans denounce Indians for fighting against the federal government in the war; saying Indian Nations supported southern states and slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth! Indians knew if the federal government won their war, nothing would stand in the federal government's way to continue it's holocaust against them. Fact: African Americans fought against the federal government in the U.S. Civil war also. It was a truly a war of brother against brother.

The American civil war was not about ending slavery as we know it. President Lincoln, during the U.S. Civil War, authorized the largest mass hanging of Indian men in America's history. Authorities in the northern state of Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of 303 Indian men. Because Lincoln was concerned that Europeans would enter the war on the side of the South over the large number of Indians set to be hanged, the hanging list was cut down to thirty-nine northern Sioux Indian men on "Dec. 16, 1862. The rest of the Sioux Indian men were force marched to area prisons and held there till they died. President Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. He only owed the Sioux Nation 1.4 million for their land that the federal and Minnesota state government had taken over at gun point in a treaty made with them.

During and after the U.S. Civil War, African Americans freely joined the U.S. Government Army to wage war against American Indians. It's true American history that African American men supported the federal government after the U.S. Civil War in U.S. Army uniforms to kill Indian men, women and children to include enslaving Indians on reservations. Indians gave the Black soldiers the nickname of Buffalo soldiers. This came about because the black soldiers' hair resembled the hair of the buffalo's mane.

Originally Indian Territory, the state of Oklahoma was opened to settlers in the "Land Rush of 1889." Now remember, the treaty of 1866 set aside this land for the Indian Nations at the time of their forced removal west of the Mississippi. Within twenty four years of the 1866 treaty the federal government proved Indians were right in saying the U.S. War against them was not over!

For the most part, Americans have put the hate of all that happened in the forming of America behind them. Today we strive to live united in defence of our American home land. Indian nations in 2007, are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. They're exercising their right to freely govern themselves without interference from outsiders. Just as Americans do not agree with all the federal government has done in it's short past history, Indian Nations today have the right to correct those wrongs forced on them. Indian Nations will face their past and present issues head on as they always have.

Historical time lines in Americas history:

In 1865, following the U.S. Civil War, African-Americans were given the right to vote. In 1868, the 14th amendment granted full U.S. citizenship to African Americans

White women citizenship naturalization law: While original U.S. nationality legislation of 1790, 1795, and 1802 limited naturalization eligibility to "free white persons," it did not limit eligibility by sex.

White women's voting rights was ratified on August 18, 1920.

The "Indian Citizenship Act" of 1924 gave United States citizenship to Native Americans. The "Indian Citizenship Act," made Indians citizens, thus granting them protection under the 15th Amendment. President Coolidge was made an honorary Sioux Chief at the White House event by Henry Standing Bear. Despite their U.S. citizenship and accompanying right to vote, Indians have historically been prevented from participating in elections.

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act 1978: U.S. federal laws interfered with the traditional religious practices of many American Indians and Native Hawaiians. The Act led to a number of changes in federal government policies, but critics argue that the Act was inadequately enforced and that additional reforms are still needed. The Indian Massacre at Wounded Knee was on December 29th 1890. Over 300 Indian men, women and children were massacred by U.S. Army troops because they were performing a traditional religious dance by the name of "Ghost Dance".

U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

However, the Voting Rights Act, as amended, expires in 2007.

Mike Graham
United Native America (Founder)

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Biography - Mike Graham

Mike Graham is a citizen of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, a retired service connected disabled Army veteran. Founded United Native America in 1993 to form a national group to take action on American Indian issues. The groups main issue is to bring about a federal national holiday for Native Americans. United Native America's motto is, "Standing up for America and the American Indian community."

Graham has been a guest speaker on national and international radio talk shows to include television programs concerning Indian community issues, his reports on Indian issues have been published in newspapers all over America. He has traveled across the country discussing issues with Indian nation leaders, he has presented Indian issues at college's and high schools.

Read other commentaries by Mike Graham.

Visit Mike Graham's website at United Native America

Copyright 2007 by Mike Graham
All Rights Reserved.

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