indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
GOP candidate says Cherokees aren't real Indians
Friday, September 17, 2004

A conservative Republican in a highly competitive race with a Cherokee Nation tribal member is coming under fire for claiming that Cherokees "aren't Indians" and for suggesting that tribal sovereignty is a "joke."

Tom Coburn, a former Congressman who won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate over rivals who had the backing of party leaders, told a town hall meeting in Altus, Oklahoma, recently that the Cherokee Nation wants to enroll more members in order to receive more federal funds. He questioned the legitimacy of the tribe's heritage and said "the average Cherokee [blood] quantum is 1/512."

"Alright, listen, I know the tribal issues," he said on August 21. "I was a congressman where most of the Indians are in this state. The problem is, most of them aren't Indians."

Coburn went on to criticize attempts by several Oklahoma tribes to assert environmental authority over their lands. He then blasted opponent Rep. Brad Carson (D), a Cherokee member, for sponsoring a bill that would prevent land owned by Cherokee and other citizens of the Five Civilized Nations from falling out of trust.

"I mean this is a joke," Coburn told the audience. "It is one thing for us to keep our obligations to recognize Native Americans, but it's a totally different thing for us to allow a primitive agreement with the Native Americans to undermine Oklahoma's future and that's what they're talking about doing and it's big money."

The remarks largely went unnoticed until the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is making a big push on behalf of Carson, began circulating them. Previously, only Coburn's characterization of the race against Carson as "the battle of good versus evil," also made at the Altus meeting, ended up in the mainstream press.

But now, tribal leaders who are firing back at Coburn for his "divisive" comments. Even though some are registered Republicans, they say they aren't going to support him.

"I'm a Republican and it is hard to understand why Tom Coburn takes pride in dividing Oklahoma and ridiculing people," said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. "If you disagree with him, you are evil. There's no discussion, no room for understanding."

"I've been a Republican all my life and Tom Coburn is an embarrassment to the Republican party," added Bill Johnson, a tribal council member.

The battle between Coburn and Carson is a significant one for several reasons. Carson would be the only Native American in the Senate since Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, is retiring.

The outcome of the race also will help determine which party controls the Senate. Democrats and Republicans are hoping to pick up seats in order to shift the balance of power in what is now a one-member Republican majority.

Polls currently show the two candidates neck-and-neck. A television poll released this week put Carson in the lead but only by two points. Nearly one in five voters was undecided. The Senate seat up for grabs is being vacated by Republican Don Nickels, who is retiring.

Smith has said in the past that the Cherokee Nation does not endorse candidates for public office. But he has actively encouraged tribal members to vote. The tribe counts more than 200,000 members.

Former principal chief Wilma Mankiller is supporting Democratic candidates, including the presidential ticket of Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards. She characterized Coburn as a radical who is out of touch with America.

"Tom Coburn's extremist views on the basic rights of women and outrageous views of tribal citizens and their governments are shocking and simply too far out of the mainstream for him to serve as our United States Senator," she said.

Carson won his party's nomination in July with 80 percent of the vote. He was elected twice to the U.S. House, serving the 2nd Congressional district, which has the highest percentage of Native Americans anywhere in the country.

Listen to Coburn:
Remarks at Altus Town Hall (August 21, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Cherokee Nation - http://www.cherokee.org
Tom Coburn - http://www.coburnforsenate.com
Brad Carson, campaign site - http://www.bradcarson.com
Brad Carson, U.S. House site - http://carson.house.gov

Related Stories:
Senate candidate Coburn denies malpractice (9/15)
Senate race pits tribal member against conservative (07/28)

Copyright © 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior nominee contradicts Trump on 'race' and tribal programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
Steven Newcomb: The racist and toxic roots of federal Indian policy (5/19)
Indian Country braces for worst with Trump's planned budget cuts (5/18)
Bipartisan task force announced to look into Indian Health Service (5/18)
Lawmakers push to renew Special Diabetes Program for Indians (5/18)
Albert Bender: Police slaughter of Native people rages unabated (5/18)
Steve Russell: There's a downside to impeaching Donald Trump (5/18)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant goes on trial (5/18)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe repays money to address federal audit (5/18)
House passes bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (5/18)
Kalispel Tribe using bottled water at casino after contamination (5/18)
Leech Lake Band wins approval to build new casino at new site (5/18)
Tohono O'odham Nation secures victory in long-running dispute (5/17)
Dakota Access seeks to intervene in Oglala Sioux Tribe's lawsuit (5/17)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves 3 bills at meeting (5/17)
Indian Health Service and 'high risk' tribal programs on agenda (5/17)
Bureau of Indian Affairs designates service area for Tejon Tribe (5/17)
Ruth Hopkins: Taxpayers footing $15M bill for DAPL private army (5/17)
Matthew Fletcher: Expect litigation after Supreme Court decision (5/17)
Alex Jacobs: Trump is starting to act like he's guilty of something (5/17)
Yakama Nation spars with county official over road resurfacing (5/17)
Spirit Lake Nation suspends referendum on liquor sales at casino (5/17)
Court supports release of $380M in Keepseagle settlement funds (5/16)
Indian Country leaders testify about funding needs on Capitol Hill (5/16)
House panel sets hearing on future of Cobell buy-back program (5/16)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation homes still without running water (5/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.