Cedric Sunray: Tribal leaders no strangers to sex controversies

"Infidelity is a gateway to the acceptance of female marginalization in indigenous society. Time after time we see relationships maintained with the men who dominate their lives after reports of infidelity surface. As a father and husband, I know that such mental abuse would have a devastating impact on the life of my wife, daughter and three sons if I were to engage in such a practice. Our daughter would be shaken to the core if her future spouse were to be so hurtful. I was deeply impacted by my own father’s infidelity. This choice of his, as well as his involvement in drug dealing, led to the end of my parents’ marriage and my not being raised by him. Aside from the obvious moral and ethical failings, is the fact that infidelity can lead to death. HIV/AIDS are serious epidemics. What kind of man takes such a risk with the person he supposedly loves more than all others? What kind of leadership does this display for his children?

Then there are cases of children born outside of wedlock, such as in the Schwarzenegger revelations. Attempts to quash scandal tend to hinge on the “protecting the children” excuse, which does nothing to address the serious issues of sexism and psychological abuse. Cherokee Chief Chad Smith, recently re-elected leader of America’s largest Indian tribe, admitted to fathering three other children outside of his marriage when pressed by a Muskogee Phoenix reporter. In a November 4, 2007 article, now common knowledge to those of us who have lived in the Tahlequah, Oklahoma area, it was reported that, “In addition to his wife and three children, ages 5, 11, and 18, Smith confirmed Wednesday he has a second family of three children, ages 6, 10 and 11. He said he loves all his children and financially supports all of them…He said, he had hoped the subject wouldn’t come up until later in his campaign.” It didn’t, because the issue was put to sleep by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma political machine and the apathy and fear of some whose livelihoods are beholden to the tribal organization."

Get the Story:
Cedric Sunray: Circle of Violence: Sex, Lies, and Sovereignty (Indian Country Today 7/22)

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Karonienhawi Thomas: Saying no more to violence against women (7/18)
Ray Cook: Taking a stand to put end to violence in Indian Country (7/15)

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