Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Elizabeth Warren is not a friend to Indian Country

I have serious concern over Elizabeth Warren's claim that she is a non-enrolled Native American, "proved" by DNA. My concern is best explained with the words of anthropologist Michael Lambert, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He 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...
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."
To be very clear, despite everything Warren said and promised in her speech to the National Congress of American Indians and despite her new efforts to win over Indian country by proposing legislation "for us", she is not taking a pro-Indian position because she continues to claim she's Native American while admitting she is not enrolled. 
 

Those who insist Warren's DNA test legitimizes her claim are not taking a pro-Indian position either. DNA doesn't define who is or is not an Indian. Only tribes can do that. To say anything else, including DNA, determines who is or is not Indian is a political attack on tribal sovereignty. The three Cherokee Indian nations who have government to government relationships with the United States have said Warren is not Cherokee. That should be the end of it. Unfortunately Warren refuses to let it go.

By trying to make Native American identity about race instead of tribal sovereignty, Warren has done more harm with this DNA test than she ever did with her false claim of being Cherokee. I truly hope authentic Native Americans watch what she does more than they listen to what she says. She is not a friend to us or our tribal governments. Instead, she is a "skeen yoneg" [white devil] and she's leading an attack on tribal sovereignty that could destroy all of us.

The only thing Warren had to do was admit she was wrong and apologize. She not only refused to do that, but pushed back against it until she went too far. Now her time for apology has passed. At this point, the only thing we Native Americans can do to show her how incredibly alarming and offensive her actions have become is to turn our backs on her while asking the American people to join us and do the same.

#shunWarren

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.







***For those who might argue she is no longer claiming a tribe but simply the generic label of "Native American",  that is absurd. Until she was called out for her false claim of Cherokee ancestry, she specifically claimed to be Cherokee. She still claims the same lineage and family story, so her claim is still the same even if she no longer publicly identifies as Cherokee.***

copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Gardner Green Series: The Birth of a Fake Tribe

Unraveling the birth of the original fake Cherokee tribe in Missouri is complicated. There are several groups that claim to be the original, but the documents filed with the state, the available group histories, and interviews with people involved at the time make it clear which group was the first and which groups splintered from it.

There are at least three non-profit groups registered with the Missouri Secretary of State's office who claim to be Cherokee tribes who descend from "the Green Band" or Benjamin Green, purported son of the Gardner Green found on the 1835 Census of the Cherokee Nation. These groups are:
  • The Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory (Columbia, MO)
  • The Northern Cherokee Nation (Clinton, MO/Cuba, MO)
  • The Sac River/White River Bands of the Chickamauga Cherokee Nation, Inc. (Thornfield, MO)
The most active at this time appears to be the Northern Cherokee Nation (aka NCN), a non-profit out of Clinton, Missouri. The group claims to be the original "tribe" and says, on its website, that the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory split from them.

Screen shot from website - Click to enlarge

Documents found on the Missouri Secretary of State's website indicate this is not true. The first group to register with the state as a non-profit was the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory (hereafter OLT) in 1982 under the name of the Northern Cherokee Tribe of Indians. (click to enlarge)



The fact the OLT group is the original is also supported by both the history of the group, We Are Not Yet Conquered: The History of the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory by Beverly Baker Northup, and by J.C. Thompson, a founder of the OLT group and key player in developing it into the entity it is today.

The Northern Cherokee Nation from Clinton, Missouri did not become a state non-profit until 1991 and that only happened after conflict and turmoil in the original group. Much of what the NCN claims is their history occurred years before they were an autonomous group. Because the NCN sprang from the original group, it is impossible to write the authentic history of it without first addressing the history of the group from which it splintered.

The key events in the early history of the OLT are numerous. In an effort to explore these events in condensed form, it seems best to present a timeline of them first and explore each topic (recognition, grants, gaming, etc...) individually in later posts.

A timeline of key events in the OLT history follows:

1982 -
  • Beverly Baker Northup and her sister, Margaret Foley, became involved with the OLT after finding a letter at the Missouri Historical Society written by J.C. Thompson about the "Northern Cherokee Tribe."
  • J.C. Thompson sent a letter to Margaret Foley that listed the group leaders, including himself as Director of Tribal Affairs. Others listed were Dave Quentin, Virgil Simons, Lucy Kaufman, Cliff Harris, Jr., Marlene Corwin, Jess W. Cutting, Calvin Green, Everett J. Harris, and Betty Simmons.
  • Thompson said the leadership had taken a vote and it was 10 votes yes, 2 not voting, to have the permanent tribal office in Columbia, Missouri.
  • The group registered as a non-profit through the state of Missouri as the Northern Cherokee Tribe of Indians.
  • J.C. Thompson was the registered agent for the group.
1983 -
  • An application for an Administration of Native Americans (hereafter ANA) grant was filed. Amount requested was approximately $86,100 in salaries, with the largest salary going to J.C. Thompson for $26,000. The grant was denied.
  • The group considered an attempt to get the "Green Settlement." There were disagreements over the "money" and no attempt was made.
  • In order to raise money and at the suggestion of J.C. Thompson, the group formed a new non-profit, Northern Cherokee Indian Community Association. "Non-tribal" members were allowed to join for a fee. Baker Northup agreed with the idea, but some in the group did not. Inner conflicts began.
  • J.C. Thompson, Margaret Foley, and Beverly Baker Northup met with State Senator Roger Wilson about obtaining state recognition.
  • The group received a proclamation from Missouri Governor Christopher Bond.
  • Baker Northup became registered agent for the "tribe."
  • J.C. Thompson said he would step down from his position as Director of Tribal Affairs unless the group got some money. He did eventually resign his position that year, but remained active in the group.
  • Chet Ellis of the Indian Center in Kansas City, Missouri opposed the group and repeatedly stated there was no such thing as a Northern Cherokee Tribe.
1984 -
1985 -
  • The group attempted to get legislative state recognition again. Representative Chris Kelly and Senator Roger Wilson assisted.
  • The act passed the House but died in the Senate Committee.
  • The act was attached to another bill to try to get it through the legislature.
  • The bill passed in both the House and the Senate.
  • The Cherokee Nation opposed the state recognition of the group.
  • The bill was vetoed by Missouri Governor John Ashcroft who said he believed only the federal government had the authority to recognize Indian tribes.
  • The group changed the name of their non-profit, Northern Cherokee Indian Community Association, to Tsa-la-gi Wa-sha-she.
  • The group received an ANA grant of $25,000.
  • Sandy Clark, Beverly Baker Northup and her daughter, Sherry, started research for federal recognition, paying themselves from the ANA grant funds.
  • The group sent a Letter of Intent to the BIA in 1985, though the letter is now credited to the Northern Cherokee Nation in Clinton despite the fact they did not yet exist.
  • Internal conflict started over the ANA funds. J.C. Thompson and others felt they should have a share.
  • Chet Ellis opposed the group receiving any grant or money intended for tribes or Indians.
1986 -
  • They applied for another ANA grant. They were denied.
1987 -
  • They were denied for a Missouri Surplus equipment grant.
  • They were awarded another ANA grant. They received $30,000.
  • J.C. Thompson started a "culture group" called the Chickamauga Community Organization and wanted to attach it to Tsa-la-gi Wa-sha-she. The Sac River area people were the most interested in it but later that interest waned due to political issues.
1988 -
  • The group gave up on state recognition in Missouri and attempted to gain it in Arkansas. Their attempts were unsuccessful.
1989 -
  • Carl Griggs applied for enrollment and wrote a letter to the OLT explaining he'd like to open bingo parlors under their non-profit status and promised to give 12% of earnings to the group.
  • Baker Northup and others rejected the idea.
  • Past conflicts started to escalate.
1990 -
  • There was lots of turmoil and conflict in the OLT.
  • J.C. Thompson suggested Baker Northup issue a state of emergency, suspend the constitution, and name him Administrator. He said then she and the other leaders could resign and go quietly, leaving him as the new chief.
  • Baker Northup refused.
  • Baker Northup and Elva Beltz, sister of Carl Griggs, became candidates for chief.
  • A letter was sent out to group members saying Elva Beltz would pursue the Green and Alexander Brown settlements if "elected."
  • Elva Beltz was "elected" chief. Dan Coones was "elected" Deputy Chief.
  • Baker Northup did not acknowledge the "election" results.
  • The Beltz/Griggs faction and the Coones/Thompson faction had a falling out.
  • Beltz was recalled. Coones believed he should be chief.
  • Baker Northup again refused to relinquish power.
1991 -
  • February - Elva Beltz usurped Baker Northup as registered agent for Tsa-la-gi Wa-sha-she.
  • May - Baker Northup regained her position as registered agent for Tsa-la-gi Wa-sha-she.
  • June - The Beltz/Griggs faction started calling themselves the Northern Cherokee Nation and registered with the state of Missouri as a non-profit. Their registered agent was Elva Beltz.
  • October - The Coones/Thompson faction started calling themselves the Sac River and White River Bands of Chickamauga Cherokee Indian Nation of Arkansas and Missouri and registered with the state of Missouri as a non-profit. Their registered agent was Florence Hill. (They are now known as the Sac River/White River Bands of the Chickamauga Cherokee Nation, Inc.)
As stated above, the history is complicated, but basically that is how one "tribe" claiming descent from Gardner Green on the 1835 Cherokee Nation census multiplied into three "tribes" claiming descent from him. Until 1991, they shared a history and everything happened under the name of the original group that is now known as the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory.

Please remember, the heirs of the Gardner Green on the 1835 are known and NONE of these people actually descend from him.

This story is far from over, so please continue to follow the story of Young Wolf, son of Mouse; his legacy; and why it all matters.
 
Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.







copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Final Rejection and the Emergence of a Fake Tribe


In the last post, False Heirs: The Gardner Green Estate, the claim to a fortune made by the Green family of Boone County, Missouri was discussed. This Green family claimed they were the descendants of a Cherokee man named Gardner Green and that the United States was holding a fortune of his to be paid out to them if they could prove their claim. Instead of probating the claim, as anyone who was claiming heirship to a fortune would, the Green family filed Eastern Cherokee applications, the applications required for those who made claim to a share of the money the U.S. Court of Claims awarded the Cherokees (or their heirs) who remained in the eastern homelands until after the Treaty of New Echota. Those Cherokees were considered parties to that treaty and therefore entitled to a share of the funds. No single Cherokee was entitled to all the money and no single Cherokee family was entitled to it all despite the story repeatedly told by the Green family.

The Green family filed 241 Eastern Cherokee applications for 552 claims (children were paid a share if approved but were listed on their parents' applications.) ALL were rejected.

The Eastern Cherokee applications filed that claimed descent from "Gardner Green" are below. The two final claimants appear to have no connection to the Green family from Missouri. That indicates people were finding a name on the 1835 Cherokee Roll and claiming on it whether they were truly related to that person or not. After all, if the claims on Gardner Green were authentic claims, the family lineages should have matched. They didn't.


Remember, ALL the applications filed by the Green family were rejected. Guion Miller, the commissioner appointed by the United States to oversee the roll and payments, wrote an extensive report on why the applications were rejected. First, the testimony given by numerous claimants conflicted with testimony given by other claimants. Second, the Greens claimed Gardner Green, their ancestor, was very old. He would have had great grandchildren born before the Treaty of New Echota and none of his purported children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren had ever lived in the Cherokee domain. Third, Guion Miller did not believe the Gardner Green claimed by the Green family was the same Gardner Green found on the 1835 based on the family description, though he admitted it was only supposition that he believed the male listed as under 18 was the child of Gardner Green.

The full report of Guion Miller is below:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Though Guion Miller had limited resources at the time he made his decision on the family's claim, today we have numerous documents available and can confirm this family was correctly rejected. The man listed as Gardner Green on the 1835 was Young Wolf, son of Mouse. He could not have been the progenitor of the Green family from Boone County, Missouri.

After multiple rejections, by both the Cherokee Nation officials and the agents of the U.S. government, the false claim by the Green family should have come to an end. Unfortunately, it didn't.

Today, approximately 110 years after being rejected by Guion Miller, the Green family descendants still claim to be Cherokee. They, along with others, created a fraudulent tribe that has splintered into additional fraudulent tribes. While the idea of fake tribes may sound funny, it isn't. Recently, one of the Green family "tribes" has caused a tremendous amount of harm. 

They have threatened to destroy Rocky Miller, a Missouri state legislator and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, for sponsoring a law to protect the consumers of Missouri from being tricked into purchasing fake Indian art. They have launched an online smear campaign against the Missouri Archaeological Society, Inc. for cancelling the speaking engagement of one of their members when the Society learned that person was not legitimately Cherokee. They have used their fake tribal cards to apply for and receive government contracts intended for minorities. Most recently, their group members threatened an Eastern Band Cherokee when he asked to speak at their event to explain that what was being presented as Cherokee culture was, in fact, not authentic Cherokee culture.


This farce must end!

It will end.

My next few posts will show the emergence of a fake tribe, through documents and other sources, while also sharing the accurate history of this fake tribe, the non-profit group that calls itself the "Northern Cherokee Nation", headquartered in Clinton, Missouri.  You don't want to miss this. Please stay tuned for more on this story, the legacy of Young Wolf, and what we can learn from it all.


Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.







*Please click on images to enlarge.

*Video clip used with permission. Credit: Chris Penick

Previous posts in this series:


copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB