Sunday, July 12, 2015

Andrea Smith and the battle over sovereignty

Most of you have heard the Andrea Smith story by now. She's a member of academia who like Elizabeth Warren, US Senator from Massachusetts, claims to be Cherokee. I've not done Smith's genealogy, so I can't comment on her ancestry, but to do so would detract from the real point anyway. Her false claim, like Warren's, is an assault on the sovereignty of all Indian Nations, but specifically the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

False claim? Can we say that without doing her genealogy? Yes because this is not about who Andrea Smith claims, but instead, who claims her. None of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes claim her, therefore she isn't Cherokee, period.

Despite this, Smith continues to disrespect Cherokees and our tribal sovereignty by saying, "My enrollment status does not impact my Cherokee identity or my continued commitment to organizing for justice for Native communities."

Justice for Native communities? It is impossible to attack our sovereignty and seek justice for us at the same time. A person does one or the other. Smith's words suggest she is taking a pro-Indian position but her actions show this is not true.

In the book,Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century” by Circe Sturm, anthropologist Michael Lambert, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians described Cherokee identity politics as a “battle over sovereignty”:

"One of the terrains on which this is being fought is that of how we define “Indian.” The current effort to define Indian as a racial/cultural group is an effort to extinguish Indian sovereignty.  The only way for Indian nations to defend and expand their sovereignty is to make exclusive claim to defining who is Indian and what it means to be Indian. If Indians have sovereignty, then culture, behavior, and belief should have nothing to do with who is or is not Indian. After all, we wouldn’t deny someone’s Germanness because they hate sauerkraut, nor would we have the audacity to recognize someone as German simply because they love it. German is what German does. Indian is what Indian does…

What does this have to do with non-enrolled Cherokees identifying as such? I see the basis of claims to Indian identity to be political acts. This is, and has been, a battle over sovereignty. One who bases their claim to Indian identity on any basis other than sovereignty is not taking a pro-Indian position.”

By rejecting the idea that enrollment or citizenship in an Indian Nation is a factor in who is or is not Indian, Andrea Smith is taking an anti-Indian position. That is a direct attack on tribal sovereignty. No matter what Smith says, she is not acting in our best interest. She is not our friend and she is not seeking justice for us. Instead, she's forced us to a national stage where we must defend our tribal sovereignty, and once again, battle to protect one of the only things we Cherokees have left - our identity.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cherokee Man Hiking to Raise Awareness

Today, I met James "Trout" Armontrout, a Cherokee citizen, who is hiking from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Sandusky, Ohio in an effort to raise awareness for two non-profits; the Semper Fi Fund and the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund.

From the webpage about his hike, The March - Forging Forward for the Fallen:

"A journey of remembrance for those who have gone on, healing from the guilt of survival, connection to those we meet along the way, and closure that we are still here and relevant. We are "Forging Forward For the Fallen" and we invite you to join this journey and remember that Freedom is a choice to forego ourselves for the benefit and livelihood of our fellow countrymen." - James Armontrout

Trout started his walk June 16 at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, paying his respects to two Marines who were killed that day - Capt. Randolph Guzman and Sgt. Benjamin Davis. The hike will conclude at the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines Battle of Fallujah Veterans' Reunion held in Ohio between July 2nd to July 5th.

While the first five days of the hike Trout has had to travel through the rains of Tropical Depression Bill and then the heat and humidity of Oklahoma and Missouri summers, his spirit and determination remain strong. Keep our fellow Cherokee in your thoughts and prayers as he makes this hike. It won't be easy, but if anyone can do this, Trout can.

Safe travels, Trout!

Donations in support of this hike will benefit the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund and the Semper Fi Fund. To make a donation please click here. For additional information please download their flyer.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Remember the Removal - Waynesville, MO - 2015

The 2015 Remember the Removal riders passed through Waynesville, MO on June 19. They were in attendance of the dedication/unveiling of the Trail of Tears encampment site recently marked in Waynesville. I'll write more about that later, but wanted to share photos of our Remember the Removal riders. They rode through very hard rain to get to Waynesville and departed in rain as well but that weather didn't dampen their spirits. 

Billy Flint introduction - Encampment site dedication ceremony.
Tennessee Loy introduction in both Cherokee and English - Encampment site dedication ceremony.

I, like many others, am proud of our young Cherokee people who embarked on this journey to remember and respect our ancestors for the extremely difficult journey they endured in 1838-39. 

Thank you RTR riders. You are proof that our nation has not only survived, but also that we have thrived. You carry our hearts with you. Safe travels.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB