Opinion: MOWA Choctaws are no longer Indian
"Woe is me. It has been hard adjusting to the fact that we are no longer Indians as of a few weeks ago. A United States District Court in Alabama recently ruled that the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians' lawsuit forcing federal recognition was filed after the statute of limitations was up. It was just another technicality decision in a litany of technicality decisions spanning many decades.

First, our petition for federal acknowledgment, whose requirements miraculously changed just as our tribe was up for consideration, was denied. Then the appeals, where all relevant materials - language recordings, yearbooks and papers showing attendance at All-Indian boarding schools - was supposedly received too late and therefore were not eligible for evaluation. Which is understandable because we all know the BIA and Office of Federal Acknowledgment always conduct business in a timely manner.

During this time, more Congressional bills than can be listed here came and went, all dying in the waning moments as lobbyists and casino-rich tribes rushed to the table in order to protect their gaming monopolies. Even an 11-to-2 vote in favor of federal recognition by the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs couldn't save the day.

It is hard not being Indian anymore. But, we have chosen to embrace it! We understand there are quite a few perks to being non-Indian and we want our fair share. We had hoped that since the decision that we are no longer Indians, our per capita family incomes would increase to the level of the surrounding non-Indian population. Unfortunately, that hasn't occurred."

Get the Story:
Cedric Sunray: Our new, non-Indian way (Indian Country Today 8/12)

Another View:
Duane Champagne: Inconsistent standards hinder recognition process (Indian Country Today 8/12)

Only on Indianz.Com:
Federal Recognition Database V2.0 (May 2005)

Related Stories:
MOWA Choctaw recognition lawsuit dismissed (07/04)