A Victory For The Struggle?
A “Victory” at this time depends upon the angle one views “the struggle”, or overall Ethnic (Black) Indian Human Rights Struggle in today’s Indian Country.
The determinant for “victory” or “defeat” is defined by many factors. Presently, we are discussing, “A federal order for one of the nation’s largest American Indian tribes to restore voting rights and benefits to about 2,800 descendants of member’s former slaves threw plans for a special election for a new chief into turmoil.”;
On one hand, it is a victory in terms of making both the White House, Congress, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the American public simultaneously aware that Black Indians and Freedmen in particular are in fact; rightful legal Descendants of Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples (Warriors) imbued with Treaty Rights stemming from ancestral inhabitance within that (and other nations). Additionally, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Convention, ratified by the United States in December 2010, means the struggle must be approached a bit more cautiously by politicos (or at least bear the appearance of having issues weighed a bit more judiciously).
Freedmen People feel that continued disrespect and overt intolerance of our humanity will no longer be endured quietly, now or in the future and Black Indians will not back down, even if it appears that we only have a slingshot or hatchet with which to wage an effective campaign. One must not forget that we are imbued with a self-determined propensity to protect rights encoded in our melanated DNA.
It is a victory also that Freedmen have elicited a response from the White House upon the illegal disenfranchisement of Freedmen People, Deprivation of Nationality, Citizenship and denial of access to their Treaty Mandated Rights.
It is a victory, in that the White House has indicated that Rights of Cherokee Freedmen must be restored by their parent Nation. All of those things are indeed considered victorious accomplishments.
Yet, on the other hand it seems like defeat, in that the move only makes them eligible to receive restored benefits, housing aid and become employees to Chad Smith, but grants them nothing economically tangible of their own.
It seems for all intents and purposes like defeat, in terms of allowing the Cherokee Nation to go forth with an open plan to isolate the votes of Cherokee Freedmen within the still impending Special Election, by making them cast “challenge ballots,” while that nation waits for the results of Court Actions on the rights of Freedmen. With the percentage of unfavorable court actions and political decisions weighing negatively upon Black Indians and Freedmen in particular, means essentially that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is gambling upon past good fortune to aid them in continuing to oppress persons having African Ancestry in America openly without reproach, especially in terms of voting (an ages old problem in this country).
Challenge Ballots For Cherokee Freedmen
(enigmas or chimeras?)
Freedmen Challenge Ballots will be votes obtained by an initiative of the Cherokee Nation to allow Freedmen to participate in the election as a legal technicality, but their votes may or may not be relevant.
Previously registered Cherokee Freedmen Descendants will be able to cast ballots in the upcoming Principal Chiefs Election near the end of the month, under the provisions of a vote taken Wednesday night (Sept. 14th, 2011) by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission.
Of course, the Cherokee Freedmen are understandably upset, because they “should be able to cast regular ballots”, due primarily to the fact that “Challenge ballots aren’t necessarily counted.”
“A challenge ballot is one given to someone whose name is not on a voter registration list at a precinct. The voter must fill out a registration form at the polling place and sign an affidavit confirming his or her eligibility to vote in the election.”
The challenge ballots are segregated from the regular ballots and are individually reviewed after the polls close.” It is a controversial action that raised the ire of African Americans in the South as they were met at various Polling Precincts that claimed not to have their names on voting lists during an American Election fraught with hanging chads and more.
The action, appears like a play taken out of the Bush Election handbook section on disinfranchising Black Voters that is now being employed in Oklahoma and seems like a carefully calculated political move by the Cherokee Nation to be prepared for any conceivable outcome of court action. Cherokee Nation Commission Chairwoman Susan Plumb said “If a court decides the freedmen descendants can vote, we will have the ability to certify the election. If the court decides they cannot vote, we will still be able to preserve the election.”
This is the hallmark of hostile conditions that Cherokee Freedmen will be left to deal with inside the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma going forward, as long as that Nation is not “induced” by the highest level of Government to abide by 1866 Treaty Law, as well as U.S. Constitutional Laws (as agreed to in the 1866 Treaty) protecting the rights Citizens having African Ancestry. So far, the “strongly worded” White House document is being toyed with by Cherokee Nation officials because the threat seems to lack substance.
It is a defeat, because the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has managed to reduce the Freedmen Struggle in the media to just (2800 “registered” Cherokee Freedmen), effectively locking out all other Cherokee Freedmen eligible for modern Citizenship enrollment, numbered in the thousands, pulling media away from dissent from Advocates for all other Freedmen.
Yet, it is also indicative of defeat, and a major failure by the White House to reach beyond a reluctant tight-fisted grudging nod to a mere 2,800 Black Cherokees, to clarify the status and treatment of all other Ethnic Indians Freedmen and Tribal Peoples in North America also having African Ancestry numbering in the several hundred thousands of eligible disenfranchised descendants (i.e., Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole Negro Scouts, Creek Freedmen, Mississippi Choctaw, and others) treated the same way in today‘s Indian Country, while their stories have been buried under attention paid only to the plight of Cherokee Freedmen.
It is not ok for issues relating to persons having African Ancestry in America to be treated to attention paid only in increments of one issue at a time. It is wholly a diplomatic failure of the highest order to fail to respond to persistent calls by the collective Freedmen People to invoke, implement or proclaim a Presidential or Congressional Enactment making it mandatory for all Tribal Nations and the U.S. Government to respect and/or adhere to the Treaty Rights of all the aforementioned Peoples, or face the legal consequences, in one fell swoop! Such was accomplished by Civil Rights Laws that seem to have by-passed Indian Country in Oklahoma, when they failed to dismantle Jim Crow Laws practiced openly and remaining on the books (or reinstituted in various forms) within the Tribal Nation and Federal Laws of access (as in the codified Indian Reorganization Act provisions).
This nation (as guardians and stewards) also failed to notify Indian Freedmen of their rights to include historic Claims in the much more amenable Freedmen Commission or Indian Claims Commission before it closed in the 1970s and all such remaining claims involving Indian Tribes were subsequently remanded to the U.S. Court of Claims (a very hostile entity towards Indian Freedmen of all Nations, in that claims are met with challenges that the U.S. Court of Claims are not compelled to hear such claims, then the hurdle that Freedmen actions are time barred, after which comes the extreme burden of overcoming Tribal Nation and U.S. Sovereignty. None are charitable enough to waive Sovereign Rights to weigh Freedmen Rights fairly, depriving them of much deserved Due Process. This is why Freedmen Tribes must stand on their own acumen as Nations to challenge other Sovereigns in Nation to Nation actions.
The biggest losers overall in hollow victory and defeated individual economic parity are Autonomous Freedmen Nations and their struggle against Deprivation of Nationality, as the White House continues to fail to treat with them individually as Successors in Interests, instead opting to throw them further under the bus of Nations that are fighting with their best and brightest to legally reject them ad infinitum.
Our weakest link is need (or as old text alludes to "want", meaning a lack of something). There are those that feel the need for validation far outweighs the need for Economic Parity, or Security as Autonomous Nations.
In the end, this continues to stall Indian Freedmen, Black Indian Tribes by making them wait on insane protracted legal battles designed to keep them firmly at bay, locked in limbo into perpetuity, while openly rebellious “parent tribes” continue to aid the Government in what appears to be collusive actions designed to keep the carrot dangling before Indian Freedmen, tied to string behind them.
So, at the end of the day, I was asked if I (personally), felt that Freedmen achieved “Victory” in the decision to restore rights to 2,800 Cherokee Freedmen?
My answer is;
1. Yes (for 2,800 previously registered Cherokee Freedmen…), and
2. No, for hundreds of thousands of other Ethnic Black Indians ignored by the U.S. Government in failed bids to achieve provisions of separation for the benefit of their particular Indigenous Peoples, failed State Compacts and rejected for modern citizenship enrollment by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (and other Parent Nations of the 5 Civilized Tribes. For them, their devastated extent Tribal Communities, devastated housing and blighted infrastructure, as well as fledgling small business, it is continued exile, famine and destruction.
Dr. Angela Molette (Tuscaloosa Ohoyo) Black Warrior Woman
Black Indians United Legal Defense and Education Fund