Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Election Limbo Part II, Day 11: Know your Roll/Role

It is important to know your roll* as a council member.
Ever since the Cherokee Nation won its lawsuit against the freedmen (last week), there has been some discussion about the OTHER lawsuit with the freedmen, known by some as the Nash case.  Nash is the name of the one of the freedmen who sued the Cherokee Nation in Tribal court (and lost) over citizenship.  The Cherokee Nation sued him (and a bunch of others) back in federal court.

They asked Attorney General Diane “Hammonds”   to investigate this “secret deal.”

Well she did, and she released the results of her investigation today.  The Smith campaign liked it so much, they posted it online.
It’s just a couple of pages long, and it’s pretty straight forward.  She notes that the request for the investigation was filed 3 days before the election and immediately publicized by Baker’s campaign.  She also points out that Baker was well informed about the Nash case, despite his claims otherwise.

We did a little research of our own, based on Hammon’s analysis, and the more we looked the more Cherokee Truth came out. Here’s what we discovered:

“TULSA, Okla.—The Cherokee Nation filed today a lawsuit asking a federal court in Oklahoma to resolve the long-standing dispute of whether non-Indian Freedmen descendants have a federal right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.  The Cherokee Nation is asking the court to confirm that Congress unilaterally modified the Treaty of 1866, and, as a result, the non-Indian descendants of those Freedmen have no federal rights to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.”
It later has a quote from Smith:
“Last year, I assured members of Congress, including Barney Frank (D-MA), that if they would let the federal courts decide we would push to have the controversy heard on the merits,” Smith said.  “This filing today is the Cherokee Nation keeping its word, and letting the federal courts have a clear path to reaching a decision on the merits without compromising the Nation’s sovereign immunity, and without the risk of setting procedural precedents that may affect other tribes.  Members of Congress have said they will respect a federal court decision on this issue, and this is the quickest way to an impartial, apolitical, judicial solution."
Nothing secret going on here: There was and is a news release about it on the Cherokee Nation’s web

There are also later media references to the case, including an Associated Press story. 

Just two days after the case was filed, Hammons told a council committee meeting about it (see the rules committee meeting minutes from February 5, 2009).  Smith talked to the full tribal council about it at the February Council meeting (see the council meeting minutes from February 17, 2009).  The full council voted on, and unanimously approved of the lawsuit in the March council meeting (see minutes of the March 16, 2009 council meeting).  

Unanimously, of course, means everyone on the council agreed.  Bill John Baker and Chuck Hoskin Jr. were both on the council during these meetings, and both men were in attendance.  Hammons was kind enough to pass along a PDF showing Baker and Hoskin had indeed approved it.

So not only is the "deal" not secret, Baker and the full tribal council were explicitly informed about the case--so much so that they agreed it was a good idea for it to move forward!

So, that said, let’s walk back through Baker’s quotes again after having done some cursory research that any Cherokee citizen could do for themselves.

Baker claims: “Smith illegally cut this deal with a group of Congressmen without the knowledge or consent of the elected Cherokee Council.”  WRONG. Council minutes referenced above show that the council, and any Cherokee who checked the Cherokee Nation web site, were proactively informed about the lawsuit.

Baker claims: “Tulsa World further verified that Smith waived the Tribes (sic) sovereignty and we demand the details.”  WRONG AGAIN.  And while we’re handing out demands, how about this: the Cherokee people demand you pay attention in the council meetings we pay you to attend!  The details you need are in the minutes from the meeting in 2009 when you voted IN FAVOR of the lawsuit you are now criticizing.

Smith had some choice words on the subject and he, rightfully, lets Baker have it with both barrels.  You can visit his facebook page if you want to find out more.  

Baker and Hoskin may have presented more evidence to Hammons, but the evidence that any Cherokee can find is clear:  the discussion of the Nash case was made in a very public way and approved by the very people who now claim not to know anything about it.  It doesn’t seem like they take their rolls** as council members very seriously if they don’t even know what they voted on.
*Probably a typo.  He probably meant tribal rolls, the list of Cherokee Nation citizens, not ‘tribal roles’
** We meant to use the wrong word here.  Because it is funny.  We know our role, as citizens on the Cherokee Nation’s rolls.  See?  It isn’t that hard really. But don't get us started on the difference between polls and poles.