Tuesday, September 13, 2011

11 Days Before the New Election: BIA Goes Nuclear

As our alert readers have pointed out, the BIA sent a letter to the Cherokee Nation saying the BIA won’t recognize the upcoming election if the freedmen don’t vote. And that had Cherokee Truth blowing up!

Eight years into the freedmen court case in DC, the BIA decides to tell the world that the “Department’s position is, and has been” that the freedmen have citizenship rights in the Cherokee Nation.   

Really?  Even though they've recognized tons of other elections where Freedmen didn’t vote (Wilma Mankiller, anyone?), suddenly the BIA has always said the Freedmen should be citizens. Odd, they didn’t think to mention this once in the previous eight years!

Our readers and other news sources (the Tulsa World was first and thorough) have covered what this letter and the accompanying court filing might mean:  an unrecognized election, no election at all (which is what the freedmen have asked for), a loss of sovereignty and/or the BIA basically picking who would be chief.

APCSJC put a letter on the Cherokee Nation web site today in response. It said, in part: 

“The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA.  We will hold our election and continue our long legacy of responsible self-governance." 
He also says some more interesting stuff:
“I am also pursuing political remedies that are in the best interest of the Cherokee Nation. I will do my best to quickly resolve this issue and I have mobilized all resources to quickly resolve this matter so that services to our people and the operation of the tribal government are protected.  I will also do my best to ensure that services will not be interrupted and the election will occur timely.  The Cherokee Nation will emerge stronger because we will act quickly.”

Notice he uses the word "quickly" three times and "timely" once. Even though this issue has basically been going on at the Cherokee Nation since 1866, APCSJC is going to fix it all in his six weeks or so running the show. Which will be impressive if he can do it. It makes us wonder what he means by ‘political remedies.’  Thousands of Cherokees thought that a constitutional amendment was a political remedy to this issue, in part because our Supreme Court told us so.
The BIA says the election can happen, but in their opinion it won’t count unless the Freedmen vote.  The Freedmen say the election shouldn’t happen at all unless they get to vote, and oh by the way, if they don't get their way-- just terminate the whole dang Cherokee Nation.
But no worries-- APCSJC says he’ll "quickly" resolve it.  Let’s hope he does it while following the Supreme Court and upholding his oath to defend the Cherokee constitution.  Election Day is little more than 10 days away, absentee ballots are being mailed in as we speak, and early voting starts Saturday.