Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why I Do This

One of the most common questions asked of me during this Elizabeth Warren fiasco is why I do this. Some think the hoard of wannabes is so big we will never be able to stop it. Others have seen the attacks made against me on Twitter and Facebook and wonder why I would continue when I have to deal such abuse. And some think it just isn’t that important. They want to know what it is that drives me to keep going, even when they think it would sometimes be easier to give up.

The reason I do this is because the memory of our ancestors and the historical Cherokee Nation is important to me. Our ancestors dealt with intruders since the time non-Indians arrived and started living here. Time and time again, they ceded portions of their land until they only retained what is now known as the old Cherokee Nation East – parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina. And even then, during the two year period before the deadline, citizens of Georgia went into the Cherokee Nation and dispossessed the Cherokees of their homes and property. After that came the forced removal, the Trail of Tears, where Cherokees lost almost all their personal property, their beloved homeland, and sometimes their family members.

After the removal, our ancestors rebuild their nation in a new, untamed land. And intruders soon followed. The number of intruders, or people illegally squatting on Indian land, exploded during the two decades before statehood. By 1890, there were 128,000 non-Indians living in Indian Territory compared to about 50,000 Indians. By 1907, ninety percent of the population was intruders. Our ancestors were virtually overrun by these intruders who were, for the most part, white. These people saw the Indian Territory as the land of milk and honey. They knew the Indians were getting individual allotments of land and they, once again, saw it as an opportunity to get the land from the Indians.

We are truly a defeated nation who has lost just about everything we had to those who conquered us. But, despite all this loss, we have managed to retain something valuable – our identity. We are Cherokee and we come from strong and resilient people who time and time again overcame obstacles. No matter what they had to endure, they overcame it and carried on. Because of their repeated triumph over tragedy, they managed to hold onto and pass down our birthright – the right to call ourselves Cherokee.

Unfortunately now, people are trying to take that one thing we have left – our identity. This is what Elizabeth Warren has done. She usurped our identity. She took something that did not belong to her and she used it. If nothing else, we know she was counted as a Native American for diversity purposes, so either she or the schools she worked for benefited from her stolen Cherokee identity. She is no different than those people in Georgia who dispossessed our ancestors of their homes or the intruders in Indian Territory who squatted on our land. They did what they wanted without a concern for the Cherokee people and they took or used what was ours for their own personal benefit.

Elizabeth Warren isn’t the only one trying to take our identity. While there are only three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, there are over 200 groups trying to pass themselves off as Cherokee tribes. There are many, many more individuals who pass themselves off as Cherokees and some of these people have undoubtedly used the false claims for benefit like Warren has. 

The authentic Cherokee tribes are made up of descendants of those listed on either the Dawes or Baker Rolls. Those rolls include the names of citizens who stayed with their nations; helped clear and farm their nations' land; helped build their nations' businesses and schools; participated in their nations' governments; and defended their nations in times of war and unrest. Through their loyalty to their nations, those Cherokee citizens paid the price for their descendants to have the right to call themselves Cherokee. No one else has that right.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2012, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

1 comment:

  1. Quintessential non-revisionist history! Thanks for your dedication and hard work, Twila.


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