miércoles, 18 de julio de 2007

state recognition vs. tribal reconnection

some descendants of indians in Tennessee want to be "recognized" by the state as politically-valid generic indians, competent and able to speak for the in-state interests of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Yuchi and other nations. the idea that biological descendancy creates national identity - that one drop of indian blood makes a person indian - is as false as any principle of racial determinism.

before a non-indian political entity like the State of Tennessee is used as the means of identifying the generic indian, two questions need to be competently answered:
1. what is the need for state-approved generic indians in Tennessee? and
2. what efforts have been made to reconnect descendants with their tribal relatives?

if there is no demonstrable need for an alternative authority on indian identity in the state, then we shouldn't be wasting our time trying to make a state agency act like a tribe.
and if no efforts have been made to re-establish contact and affiliation between descendants and existing tribes, we need to question the political intent of the descendants and apply ourselves to reconnecting the tribal-Tennessee relationship.

viernes, 22 de junio de 2007

candidates: get real

in this election the two most important qualifications in evaluating the candidates, imo, are:
  1. what has the candidate actually done for the TN indian community over the past 4 years?
  2. what does the candidate propose to accomplish - with actual projects - for the TN indian community in the next 4 years?

history repeats itself. people who haven't done anything in the past will more than likely continue to do the same in the future. people who talk ideas but have no record of action to show how they implement their ideas are like Paul's clanging cymbal warning of 1 Cor. 13.

talk is cheap. action costs. we need people on the Commission who do things, who get things done, who will get us out of this morass of 'recognition' into projects that will physically benefit the indian community and the state.

get real. tell us precisely what you want to accomplish in the next year.
then maybe we'll vote for you.

miércoles, 20 de junio de 2007

responses to Questions

responses to Questions about organizational & individual recognition
at www.tncia.org/recognitionqueries.html

lunes, 18 de junio de 2007

Questions about organizational & individual recognition

The following are some questions about the past and future Native American Indian Organizational and Individual Recognition in Tennessee that need to be answered before the state Commission of Indian Affairs considers writing new rules for Native American Indian organizational and individual recognition. We all should know and be satisfied with the complete answers to these questions before we go any further toward developing state rules about indianness in Tennessee.

  1. Purpose of recognition

    1. What is the purpose of 'recognizing' Native American Indian organizations and individuals by the state of Tennessee? Is there a goal to 'recognition'?
    2. To what degree do the tribes, the state, the public, the organizations and the individuals benefit from state recognition of Native American Indian organizations and/or individuals?
    3. What are the material benefits of Native American Indian organizational and individual recognition? Will recognized individuals or members of recognized organizations qualify for K-12 federal funding, college scholarships, artisan status under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, Small Business Administration 8(a) minority contract set-asides, Administration for Native Americans grants?
    4. What was the political situation that initiated discussion and desire for recognition criteria?
    5. How have organizations and individuals recognized in the past (1990-2000) as Native American Indian by the State of Tennessee benefitted from their changed recognition status?
    6. What are the problems associated with Native American Indian organizational and individual recognition?
    7. What are the traditional Native American Indian cultural values that are being promoted by state recognition of Native American Indian organizations and individuals?
    8. Is state-based 'recognition' of a person or group as Native American Indian a valid racial or ethnic entitlement, ie, a rectification of past injustice?

  2. Authority

    1. Who recognizes indians as indians? Indians or non-indians? Tribes or non-indian governmental agencies?
    2. Why should the state be interested in 'recognizing' organizations or individuals as Native American Indian?
    3. Given the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution, does the state define, determine and officially 'recognize' organizations and individual members of other racial/ethnic/minority groups?
    4. How is the principle of Tribal Sovereignty advanced through the development of Native American Indian organizational and individual recognition controlled and provided by a non-tribal public governmental agency?

  3. Comparative recognition

    1. Which states have or had or are considering state tribal recognition and what are their regulations?
    2. Which states have or had or are considering state organizational recognition and what are their regulations?
    3. Which states have or had or are considering state individual recognition and what are their regulations?
    4. Given that other states have such types of recognition, what are the opinions of their Indian Affairs Commissions regarding the benefits and problems associated with each type of recognition?

  4. Alternatives
      Tribes can charter affiliate organizations directly or or recognize an associated organization by resolution in the same manner as states.
    1. Which tribes have affiliate or associate organizational recognition?
    2. How are these affiliate or associate organizations chartered by the tribe?
    3. Native American Indian organizations and individuals in this state and in others have survived without recognition for years. How are they coping without recognition?

  5. Elder relatives' opinions
      Being indian means that an organization or an individual is related by family to a larger and much older social group of a tribe or nation. As older relatives, their opinions should be requested and acknowledged. To deny them a voice is to deny relationship.
    1. Why did the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs amend the rules to severely restrict individual recognition in 1991, less than one year after implementation?
    2. Why did the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs call a meeting on 22 december 1997 to dismantle the recognition criteria seven years after implementation? Was that meeting ever held?
    3. What do tribes say about state recognition of Native American Indian organizations and individuals?
    4. What do other non-tribal indian organizations (eg, National Congress of American Indians, Governors Interstate Indian Council, Intertribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes) say about state recognition of Native American Indian organizations and individuals?

martes, 22 de mayo de 2007

on agendas

when we recreated the Commission, we wanted to be sure that the public was informed about the Commission's agenda items so we, the public, could know and follow what was being discussed, and to be able to have the opportunity for input into Commission decision-making before the Commission meeting. we've been disappointed several times by false, misleading and sometimes hidden agendas. some commissioners - past and present - have learned how to avoid public review of agenda items before the Commission meetings by either obscuring or simply not explaining the true nature of their agenda proposals (like 'caption bills' in the state legislature), or by adding new agenda items that nobody is prepared for at the meeting itself, or by bringing up a general topic during Commission meetings and turning it towards a motion that nobody else is prepared for - the old bait-and-switch.

these are dirty political tactics designed to blindside other commissioners as well as the public in hopes that surprise and lack of background information will improve the chances of their motion passing by the uninformed commissioner.

i hope you'll all take some time when this coming meeting's agenda comes out to review it - to make sure you know what's being proposed and the potential avenues for resolution. if you don't understand the agenda item, i hope you'll press the commissioner who proposed it to explain it, fully. additionally, i hope you'll ask whether the proposed agenda items move the Commission towards doing more, better projects or if it's discussion that will just stall the Commission for a couple more months, or even do it more damage.

domingo, 11 de marzo de 2007

an alternative TN NAI license plate proposal

dummy NA license plate dummy plate
for demonstration purposes only
not a suggested design

ceremonial blade from Duck River cache,
outline of Pinson mound,
antique spelling of TN

eagle design
proposed as NA
design in 1997
already taken:
eagle license plate design

Creating a Tennessee state Native American license plate
revising SB1307/HB0570: Special License Plates - Authorizes issuance of Native American cultural license plates.
Recommended changes to current proposed legislation:
1. Change definition to a "specialty earmarked plate" (TCA 55-4-202.c.6). was "cultural" - by definition all proceeds
are allocated to non-indian state agencies.
2. Allocate all net proceeds to the Commission of Indian Affairs. was 80% Arts Commission, 20% Highway Fund per TCA 55-4-216 "cultural".
3. Set effective date at 1 January 2008. was 1 July 2007;
provides 6 more months for planning/selling.
4. Set minimum number of plates at 500. was 1,000 (failed to sell 500 in 1997).

AMEND Senate Bill 1307 / HOUSE BILL 570 to read accordingly:

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 4, to authorize the issuance of specialty earmarked Native American license plates.


SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 55-4-202(c)(6), is amended by adding the following as a new, appropriately designated subdivision: (_) Native American;
SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 55, Chapter 4, Part 2, is amended by adding the following as a new section thereto: Section 55-4-2__.

  1. An owner or lessee of a motor vehicle who is a resident of this state, upon complying with state motor vehicle laws relating to registration and licensing of motor vehicles and paying the regular fee applicable to the motor vehicle and the fee provided for in § 55-4-203, shall be issued a Native American specialty earmarked license plate for a motor vehicle authorized by §55-4-210(c), with all net proceeds from the sale of such plates allocated to the commission of Indian affairs.

  2. The specialty earmarked plates provided for in this section shall be designed in consultation with the commission of Indian affairs.

  3. The initial minimum order shall be five hundred (500) license plates.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect January 1, 2008, the public welfare requiring it.

March 2007

SUMMARY OF REVISED BILL: Creates a Native American specialty earmarked license plate.

Increase State Revenues - $4,380 General Fund
$13,120 Dedicated Funds
Increase State Expenditures - $4,380 One-Time

REVISED Assumptions:

  • Revenues (500 plates @ $35.00 each)
  • Expenditures (Production cost ­ 500 plates @ $3.76 each = $1,880 one-time; computer system changes = $2,500 one-time; total $4,380)
  • Five hundred new plates will be purchased by individuals that currently do not have a specialty license plate.
  • Net proceeds from the sale of such plates will be allocated as follows: 100% to the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs ($13,120).

$30.75 of the $35.00 additional fee is appropriated to the Commission of Indian Affairs. $30.75 x 500 = 15,375


an alternative agenda proposal for this coming saturday ...

    Committee Reports
    (- what good are committees if they don't meet or report? let's use them.)
  1. Agenda - need rules to control agenda-development process
  2. Rules & Procedures
    1. Bylaws
    2. Standing Rules
      1. agenda development issues - how do items get on the agenda? - who controls agenda development?
        1. standardized blank format
        2. procedure for submitting agenda item proposals
        3. procedure for submitting resolutions
      2. discussion rules - rules for in-meeting discussion with second-party proposals
      3. minutes' DRAFT circulated electronically (email/internet) to the public as well as to the Commissioners in advance of the Commission meeting.
  3. Education
    1. Basic (3 half-hour units, grades 5-12) school curriculum on Mississippian culture and the Three Sisters; approval of grant-writing.
    2. TN NAI music CD of TN indian musicians for school distribution; approval of grant-writing.
    3. TN NAI tourism map; approval of grant-writing.
  4. Health Care
    1. Research Initiative/Health & Education Community Assessment
    2. Promoting diabetes screening and blood-donation in coordination with local healthcare institutions at all in-state pow-wows.
  5. Funding - revised license plate proposal
    - Commission as unfunded mandate
  6. Website - needs update, better integration, more references
  7. Repatriation - Development of TN repatriation iniative of 11,150 "culturally-unaffiliated" NA remains using the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs' model, support for working with the TN Archaeological Advisory Council and Division of Archaeology.
  8. Housing - ?
  9. Indian Memorial Project - TN AmInd Day? m, 24 sep 2007 TN AmInd Month? october 2007?
  10. Legislative Committee - appointment for 2008 session
    Old Business
  1. Tribal recognition criteria
    1. Hearing comments & responses
    2. Proposed tribal recognition rules: action
    3. Tribal recognition application: action
  2. Mascot discontinuation: status
  3. Recognition of the Historic Tribes of Tennessee: status
  4. NA representation into the state parks' planning: action
    New Business
  1. Review and comment on proposed or pending state legislation (TCA 4-34-103.9)
    1. SJR0002 Urges the TNCIA and the BIA to recognize the Cherokee Wolf Clan as Native American Indians.
    2. SB0162 Prohibits state agencies from prohibiting use of American Indian symbols, names, and mascots.
    3. SB1307 Authorizes issuance of Native American cultural license plates.
      revised license plate proposal
    4. SB1371 Exempts bona fide Indian organizations from payment of $50 charitable solicitations registration fee.
    5. SB1681 Authorizes TDEC to issue recognition to certain Indian tribes; grants recognition to Cherokee Wolf Clan.
    6. SB2121 extends TNCIA to 2011.
  2. Letter of commendation to Tommy Veal.
  3. Next quarterly meeting date - proposed: saturday, 16 june, Chattanooga

viernes, 9 de marzo de 2007

Chattanooga Commissioner Meet&Greet

- interested in talking about Tennessee Native American Indian politics,
locally or statewide, the current TNNAC elections for Grand Division
commissioners, or the current proposals before the Commission of
Indian Affairs, including the upcoming vote on tribal recognition criteria?

if so, you're invited to an hour-long Meet&Greet with Chattanooga
Commissioner of Indian Affairs tom kunesh at 6pm at Audubon Acres
next friday evening.

with Chattanooga Commissioner of Indian Affairs tom kunesh
6-7pm next friday evening, 16 march 2007
Audubon Acres, 600 Sanctuary Road Chattanooga TN

followed by
Native American Fireside Chat, Friday, 7:00 pm
info: Cleata Townsend at Audubon Acres
Chattanooga Audubon Society
a Trail of Tears National Historic Trail site
900 North Sanctuary Road
Chattanooga TN 37421
423. 892.1499

next TN Commission of Indian Affairs meeting
March 17, 10am - 4pm - Nashville
tentative Agenda


If there is a vegetative soul, an animating power that all things
share, there must be great rejoicing out there on windy days, ecstasy,
for trees move so slowly on calm days. At least it seems that way to us.
On days of high wind they move so freely it must give them
a cellular pleasure close to terror.

- Louise Erdrich, the Blue Jay's dance