Blood Will Tell
I think it's astonishing that neither this USA Today story, nor Principal Chief Chad Smith's rebuttal to it, make mention of the central fact in this dispute: most of the Freedmen were not given a blood quanta on the Dawes Roll (due to the prevailing racist belief at the time that "one drop" of "black blood" made one "black") and therefore they cannot prove their eligibility for tribal citizenship, no matter how much "Indian blood" they have. Since we know the Freedmen were discriminated against, why can't the tribe simply allow them to register if they can show "Indian blood" from a source other than the Dawes Roll, such as one of the other rolls, the Cherokee census or so forth? This would allow Freedmen who are of genuine Cherokee ancestry to retain their citizenship, while weeding out those who have no "Indian blood," but are the descendents of those granted tribal membership on the order of the Federal Government in 1866. I hardly think I'm the smartest person watching this controversy; surely this solution has occured to someone else? Chief Smith is absolutely right; determining citizenship is a fundamental right of any sovereign Nation. But, as a dispossesed people, victims of ethnic cleansing, scattered into diaspora by the cruelty of a racist federal government, does not the Cherokee Nation have a larger moral duty? The duty to preserve the Nation by ensuring that ALL members of the tribe are ackowledged as citizens? Particularly those whose ancestors were subject to the first and largest termination in the whole sad history of that failed policy, the Dawes Commission?