UKB Chief: Cherokee Nation tells half-truths

The following is the opinion of George G. Wickliffe, the chief of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

From observing the materials handed out in mass quantities at the recent Cherokee National Holiday, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has really boosted the quality of its public relations materials. Not only are they very high quality and obviously expensive, the cover of their recent propaganda, titled, "If Cherokee funding is cut, who will feel the pain?" features a Keetoowah Cherokee child on the front cover - an exclusive member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

Once again, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma spin doctors do a very good job of telling only half-truths in this highly polished booklet. The opening page states, "Cherokee Nation believes that its citizenship should include only those with Indian ancestors." It further states that some freedmen descendants are suing the Cherokee Nation in federal court over their lack of citizenship. What it DOESN'T state, is that it doesn't matter what Cherokee Nation believes, but what is the law? Treaty agreements and past lawsuits clearly state that descendants of Cherokee Freedmen ARE citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and that this provision can only be changed by Congress, NOT Cherokee Nation. These people are not suing over a LACK of citizenship, but for having their rights as EXISTING citizens infringed upon, and then disenfranchised of this citizenship.

This biased publication makes the Cherokee people of northeastern Oklahoma look, as the booklet comes right out and states, "the poorest of the poor." This should immediately make Congress and the American people wonder just what CNO is doing with the 300 million a year they have been receiving from the Federal government, if the people are this bad off.

I personally take this visual display of deceit as an insult. Statements such as, "We're raising a five-year old next to raw sewage," and "Keeping food from the needy" clearly paint a picture of an impoverished people who depend solely on the Federal government for survival. While there are people of every race who need assistance once in awhile, the Cherokee people are clearly not a race of people dependent on the tax-payers for their livelihood. For the most part, they are a hard-working, honest and intelligent group of people who proudly serve their communities and families.

The booklet also asks, "How can Congress leave 126,000 people without health services?" This number is the population of CNO tribal members in the 14-county area, many of you who are reading this letter right now, and who know that this simply is not true. Many Cherokees hold jobs which provide insurance, and a salary adequate enough to pay their co-pays. The booklet states, "We feed 700 seniors every week. How could Congress think of taking away their only means of survival," which should make Congress wonder, are these people not receiving pensions, dividends, or at the least, Social Security? The United Keetoowah Band and other agencies in the area offer meals for seniors under the same Federal funding Cherokee Nation does, and these Elders are welcome to come dine with us anytime. Many do.

One must remember that all the services which are funded by federal dollars will still be available should H.R. 2824 become a Public Law. The BIA will continue to administer many of these programs, and other agencies which provide all the same services will be funded to service a larger population. All Cherokees of 1/4 Cherokee blood or more are eligible for membership in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally-recognized, OIWA organized tribe. Should they choose to remain associated with a tribe, they will be able to do so. All others who may need occasional assistance will be able to find it in other area service agencies. In addition, the legislation does not propose to permanently sever this fiducial relationship, only until Congress is assured that CNO is in compliance with all audits, requirements, policies and TREATIES.

While Cherokee Nation tries to paint a sad picture, it is sad that they chose to use a Keetoowah child for their propaganda.

Cherokee-Related Legislation:
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 -
Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes -
Freedmen Conference -

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