Chief Smith: Cherokee Nation helps UKB members
The following represents the opinion of Chad Smith, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The Cherokee Nation is accustomed to attacks from United Keetoowah Band Chief George Wickliffe. After all, he has run, and lost, many elections for seats on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and for Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. It was only after being rejected many times by Cherokee voters that he moved to the UKB, which, sadly, is becoming a splinter group for political dissidents of the Cherokee Nation.

Most surprising about his latest rant, Mr. Wickliffe apparently supports Congresswoman Watson's bill to terminate the Cherokee Nation and eliminate $300 million in Cherokee federal funding for the young, elderly and poor would, even though the bill would hurt his own members, who are Cherokees themselves.

Wickliffe has screamed that the UKB is the real Cherokee Nation, even though countless federal court cases and treaties say otherwise. The UKB is currently claiming in court that they are equal heirs to the Cherokee Nation’s treaty provisions, since the UKB has not treaty rights themselves. If he truly believes that there is a treaty article which calls for citizenship for descendants of Freedman, then why doesn’t the UKB enroll them?

George Wickliffe complains that a UKB registered child is in the literature explaining the human impact of federal cuts. This simply underscores the fact that many UKB members are helped by Cherokee Nation services. And we all need to remember that. If the UKB was taking care of their own members, why would the child and his guardians need to ask for and receive help from the Cherokee Nation? All you need to know about UKB’s leadership is that George Wickliffe would publicly advocate for services to be cut off for UKB members as long as it hurts the Cherokee Nation in the process.

And the assistance Cherokee Nation provides to UKB members is significant, including health care, housing, education and childcare. For example, during the January 2007 ice storms, the Cherokee Nation provided some of its $2.5 million in financial assistance to UKB members. We helped our Cherokee people, the UKB did not.

We know better than anyone that the majority of Cherokees are self-reliant and need no help. After all, the Cherokee Nation and CN owned business employ thousands of Cherokee people, including at least 300 UKB members. Does George Wickliffe want to see some of his own people lose their jobs if the Nation is terminated? The federal programs under attack have income guidelines and are designed to help the poor, the elderly and those who can’t help themselves. It’s apparent that UKB leadership would sacrifice all of them to serve his own political agenda.

Cherokee-Related Legislation:
H.R.2786 | H.R.2895 | H.R.2824 | H.R.3002

BIA Letters:
August 9, 2007 | July 11, 2007 | June 22, 2007 | May 21, 2007 | March 28, 2007 | August 30, 2006

Sovereign Immunity Court Decision:
Vann v. Kempthorne (December 19, 2006)

Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal Decision in Freedmen Case:
Allen v. Cherokee Nation (March 7, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Cherokee Nation - http://www.cherokee.org
Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes - http://www.freedmen5tribes.com
Freedmen Conference - http://www.freedmenconference.com

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