Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Cherokee Nation Today

In my humble opinion, our nation is in a state of crisis. While the Smith camp confidently celebrates their "victory", court motions are being filed by the Baker camp. I find it odd that Smith and his supporters were never in doubt about his winning this election, even after the unofficial results of Baker winning were announced and reported all over the country through the media.  I find it disturbing that those unofficial results were changed to official and Smith was announced the winner after a string of events occurred behind closed doors of the election commission after they had broken for breakfast and returned later.

I think at this point, it does not matter if one is a Smith supporter or if one is a Baker supporter. Something is wrong and we all should be concerned. It isn't just the Baker camp that believes this. Other Indian nations are watching and in at least one place, they say Smith stole the election and they call him a chief thief. Media outlets from all over the United States have been following and reporting on this. People see that there is controversy and something is wrong here.

In our past, there has been another disputed election. I think we would all be wise to remember it and the ramifications of it. From the Chronicles of Oklahoma:

The political life of Joel B. Mayes began rather modestly as clerk of the district court of Coo-wee-scoo-wee District in 1869 which position he held until 1873, when he was elected judge of the northern circuit of the Cherokee Nation, and subsequently was reelected. In 1881, he was appointed clerk of the citizenship court, a court which had been created by the Council to hear and dispose of claims for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. He served for a brief period as clerk of the Council and later was elevated to the tribal supreme court and was serving as chief justice when, on August 1, 1887, he was elected chieftain of the Cherokee Nation on the Downing ticket, his opponent being Rabbit Bunch, the candidate of the National party. The campaign which preceded his election was very spirited and, after the election, some confusion arose which embarrassed the newly elected chief in assuming the reins of office. Under the Cherokee National constitution, the National Council was required to canvass the election returns, declare the result and authorize a certificate to be issued to the successful candidate. These details appeared to be necessary prerequisites to evidence an unqualified right to office. The Council, however, postponed its canvass of the election returns and finally adjourned in December without having taken the required action.

On the face of the returns it appeared that Mayes had been elected, although the Bunch followers declined to make the concession. A National party majority in the upper chamber of the Council postponed the canvass of the returns and provoked the premature adjournment. This delinquency of the Council was indefensible and left the succession to Chief Dennis W. Bushyhead, the incumbent chief, in a controversial status. The situation became tense as armed members of the rival factions began to arrive at Tahlequah. In January, 1888, armed adherents of the Downing party, in defiance of the constitutional requirements which the Council had ignored, forcibly invaded the executive offices at Tahlequah and installed Joel B. Mayes as chief. Chief Bushyhead gracefully retired, bloodshed was averted, and the political affairs of the tribe returned to a normal posture. The metropolitan press throughout the country grossly magnified the incident and editorially denounced the capacity of the Indian tribes for self government and insisted upon an immediate liquidation of the Indian tribal governments by Congress. The first overt gesture of the Federal Government indicating a stronger policy of political control was evidenced the following year when Congress established a United States Court for the Indian Territory and a year later more clearly defined and enlarged its jurisdiction. With the succeeding years tribal disintegration proceeded rapidly until the independent political status of the tribes was completely folded up.

As we can see, disputed elections, such as the one between Smith and Baker, could have huge ramifications for not just the Cherokee Nation, but for all Indian Nations. While the Smith camp revels in their "victory", everyone else watches and waits. Will the United States government once again decide we cannot handle our own affairs and get involved? I don't know, but I think we have every reason to be concerned. In my opinion, this is not just a division between two political entities. There are too many reasons to believe something unethical has occurred. I believe the Cherokee Nation is in a state of national crisis. Normally, in times of national crisis for any nation, their leader leads them through it. In this case, though, I feel like our leader has led us to it. He seems oblivious to the fact that the results of this election and the events surrounding the release of those results are extremely controversial.

Tomorrow there will be a gathering of people outside the election commission during the recount. Though it is called a "peaceful protest", it is not really a protest in the standard form of a protest. Instead, it is a message to the election commission and everyone else in charge of making sure only legal and ethical measures were and are taken in this very important election. It is a message saying, "We are here. We are watching." It is time for truth and transparency in our Cherokee Nation government and now, the people will settle for nothing less.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

The Granddaughter
copyright 2011, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

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