The Local Crank

Musings & Sardonic Commentary on Politics, Religion, Culture & Native American Issues. Bringing you the finest in radioactive screeds since 2002! "The Local Crank" newspaper column is distributed by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

Just a simple Cherokee trial lawyer, Barkman has been forcing his opinions on others in print since, for reasons that passeth understanding, he was an unsuccessful candidate for state representative in 2002. His philosophy: "If people had wanted me to be nice, they should've voted for me."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Column for 17 February, 2008

“Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.”

--Numbers 35:33-34

As I type this, the new Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, has just publicly apologized for 200 years of racism and brutality by the Australian government against the Aborigines, a policy virtually identical to that of the United States against American Indians. That got me to thinking; do any of the current leading presidential candidates have the guts to do the same on live national television? Even Bill Clinton, who made something of an industry out of presidential apologies and even apologized for the US overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, could not find time for the Indians. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a former presidential hopeful, has introduced a proposed apology, but that’s as close as it gets. Of the remaining four main candidates (Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Barack Obama), only Obama even mentions Indians (or as he poetically puts it “First Americans”) on his campaign web-site. The omission is particularly glaring in McCain’s case, since Arizona has a very large Indian population and the Senator frequently supported tribes while serving on the Indian Affairs Committee. Only Obama has offered a proposed policy on Indian issues, though like most campaign promises it’s long on florid generalities and short on the nitty-gritty details. When the group INDN’s List organized “Prez on the Rez,” a debate for Democratic Presidential candidates hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, only Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel (the latter two from New Mexico and Alaska respectively, states with large Native populations) could be bothered to attend. So, with that in mind, I have some questions for the candidates:
Recently a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department had failed to account for as much as $100 billion supposedly held in trust for over 100 years for individual Indians for the use of their land. Do you support a fair resolution of this lawsuit and just compensation for the Indians who were swindled by the government that purported to protect them?
A recent study showed that Indian women are four times more likely than any other ethnic group to be the victims of sexual assault and that their victimizers are, in most cases, non-Indians. One of the reasons for this is that the 1885 Major Crimes Act and the US Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Oliphant stripped tribal courts of the power to try felony offenses and prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed on Indian lands. The US Department of Justice has been abysmally slow to prosecute such cases. Will you push for repeal of the Major Crimes Act and the overturning of Oliphant?
In 1871, the US Congress unilaterally and unconstitutionally stopped signing treaties with Indian tribes, instituting instead a policy of “agreements” that wouldn’t make the government feel quite so guilty when they later chose to ignore them. Will you as president reinstate the Constitutionally-mandated treaty relationship between Indian tribes and the US Government?
Current Federal law allows state governments to effectively exercise a veto over what sovereign Indian tribes choose to do on their own land with regard to gaming. Will you support reforms to the land-into-trust process and Indian Gaming laws to eliminate this unjustified intrusion on tribal sovereignty?
Will you support reform of the land-into-trust and tribal recognition procedures that can now take decades to complete?
In 1980, the US Supreme Court agreed that the Sioux Nation had been wrongfully deprived of their sacred lands in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) of South Dakota. The Sioux have refused to accept the judgment award (now about $1billion counting interest) despite crushing poverty on the reservations because they refuse to give up their land. Will you pledge to return the Black Hills to their rightful owners?
Will you sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
Will you support and vigorously defend in court the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, particularly as it relates to sacred sites and the religious rights of prisoners?
In a recent election marred by fairly blatant fraud, the Cherokee Nation voted to strip citizenship from the Freedmen, the descendents of former slaves. Congresswoman Diane Watson has introduced a bill to terminate the US Government’s relationship with the Cherokee Nation if the Freedmen are ultimately terminated. What is your position on this bill?
Treaties between the Cherokee and the Federal Government provided for the right of the tribe to send a delegate to represent their interests in Congress. Other tribes were also given this right. Do you support seating tribal delegates in Congress?
And finally, do you believe the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be eliminated, reformed or left as is?
On the off-chance that anybody responds to any of these questions, I’ll be sure to let y’all know.



Blogger dmarks said...

About the Black Hills issue. I had long thought that this was a matter involving an ancient special place. Then I learned that the Lakota only took the Black Hills over rather recently:

"Native Americans have inhabited the area since at least 7000 B.C. The Arikara arrived by 1500 A. D., followed by the Cheyenne, Crow, Kiowa and Pawnee. The Lakota arrived from Minnesota in the eighteenth century and drove out the other tribes, claiming the land, which they called Paha Sapa, for themselves."

The Sioux claim to and involvement with the the land appears to be beief and temporary (even if completely legitimate according to the treaty). A blip in Sioux history.

It would be interesting to see justification for the involved Lakota leaders/groups justifying refusing the take settlement for the land theft. Are they holding out for a lot more money?

2/16/2008 6:27 AM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

First, you are assuming that white archaelogy is correct, the same archaelogy that invented out of whole cloth the mythological convenient ice-free corridor to explain how equally mythical "paleo-Indians" got here. Second, irrespective of how long the Lakota (and the Cheyenne) had been there, the Black Hills clearly belonged to them, which was confirmed in the 1868 Treaty of Laramie. Just because you steal something long enough doesn't mean you get to keep it. Finally, the Lakota are not holding out for more money; they know better than to expect anything approaching justice from the US government. They don't want any money. They want their land back.

2/16/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger ryanshaunkelly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/16/2008 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the Obama campaign has goodIndian advisors, bet you could get an answer or two out of them. Does the Clinton campaign have any, and if so, do we know who they are? Just curious.

2/17/2008 10:27 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

A good question, but one I don't know the answer to. The closest I could find to any Indian advisors to Hillary's campaign was a group called Native American Nurses for Hillary, and it only had two members.

2/18/2008 8:31 AM  
Blogger Xekechick said...

I'd like to know your evidence for calling the Cherokee Nation's vote to disallow NON-INDIANS into an INDIAN TRIBE "racist." I'd love to be a British citizen, but unfortunately I'm not British. Just like these individuals are not Indians!

2/19/2008 12:11 PM  
Blogger The Local Crank said...

Let me answer your question with a question: on what basis do you say the Freedmen are "not Indians"? If it is because you claim that they do not have "Indian blood," that is wrong on at least two counts. Some, though certainly not all, Freedmen do have ancestors who were unquestionably Cherokee. Their ancestors were not listed with a blood quanta on the Dawes Roll because of the racist white doctrine of the "one drop rule," i.e., that anyone with even one drop of "black blood" was considered black, no matter their other ancestry. Should our tribal membership really be determined on the basis on white racism? The notion of "blood quanta" is ENTIRELY a white invention and has no basis in Cherokee history or culture. After all, John Ross was "only" 1/8! Second, the Freedmen WERE citizens from the time they were freed by action of the Cherokee National Council in 1862 (BEFORE the 1866 Treaty, in fact before the Emancipation Proclamation). The ancestors of the Freedmen came with us on nunna daul isunyi as our family, but also as the property of some of the wealthy mixed-blood elite. Does that not suggest some sort of moral obligation on our part? If you were a British citizen, particularly if you had been brought to Britain as a slave originally, would you think it was fair that you were stripped of your citizenship even though you had committed no crime? Third, you should be very disturbed that the "petition" to disenfrachise the Freedmen was blatantly riddled with fraud (as pointed out in Justice Leeds' dissenting opinion) and supported with embarassingly racist language, such as mail-outs that urged Cherokee voters to "stop the infiltration!" and "protect our daughters!" Stripping the Freedmen cannot be justified in Cherokee history, tradition, culture or law; it can ONLY be justified by relying on racist white doctrines. Should the Cherokee Nation have the right to determine its own membership? Unquestionably. Should it have kicked out citizens solely on the basis of race? No.

2/19/2008 2:59 PM  
Blogger Nat-Wu said...

Right on, Crank. As a Cherokee (a real one, documented and all) I felt nothing but shame that my tribe voted to kick out people who had every right to belong to the tribe.

3/09/2008 11:07 PM  

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