lunes, 21 de abril de 2008

False assumptions

  • Names of historical tribes are free for the taking.
  • Native American Indian cultural club should be recognized as tribes in Tennessee.
  • Persons who are members of federally- or state-recognized tribes are not "Tennessee Indians".
  • Claimed relatives in related tribes should have no say in whether or not the relational claim is true or not.
  • The citizens of Tennessee should believe that every group that calls itself a "tribe" or "nation" in Tennessee is real.
  • "Tennessee Indians" are only those Native American Indian descendants whose 19th-century ancestors were born in Tennessee.
  • The claims of cultural affiliation to historic tribes made by culture clubs wanting to be recognized as tribes do not need to be proven.
  • Being a descendant of a 19th-century Native American Indian born in Tennessee qualifies a person as a 21st century "Tennessee Indian".
  • A group of Tennessee-born 21st-century Native American Indian descendants qualifies as an affiliate of a 21st century Tennessee Native American Indian tribe whose ancestors were 'removed' from Tennessee in the early 19th century.
- based on the rationale of the "Confederation of Tennessee Native Tribes" created in 2008 to advocate for the State of Tennessee's official recognition of 6 member culture clubs as tribes to the state legislature in the form of bills HB3299/SB3123 sponsored by Rep. Vaughn (D-Kingsport).

miércoles, 16 de abril de 2008

culture clubs ≠ tribes

When cultural clubs refer to themselves as "tribes", few people take exception, seeing it as a kind of harmless exaggeration or idealism like the way the Boy Scouts do it. When newspapers refer to cultural clubs as tribes, however, the line between objective journalism and regional self-promotion has been crossed.

Readers have an expectation that the newspaper, engaged in the business of serious journalism, has checked the facts. In this case, the Kingsport Times-News has not checked the facts, leading to continued validation of false claims to tribal status of a local cultural club, the "Remnant Yuchi Nation". Lee Vest, founder of the organization just last year, acknowledges that he himself is not Yuchi, has never claimed to be Yuchi, and that the purpose of seeking tribal status is financial support for a 'living Indian village' which could become a major tourist attraction for Kingsport.

Taking the Yuchi name from the Yuchi tribe, currently living in forced exile in Oklahoma as part of the Muscogee/Creek Nation, without their permission is identity theft. Planning to re-create a Yuchi village with a stolen identity and misappropriated culture is cultural identity theft. Calling your local group of descendants a Native American Indian tribe is not only a bastardization of the meaning of the term but also an attack on the historical identity of the real Yuchi people.

The Commission of Indian Affairs created Tribal Recognition Criteria (Rule 0785-1) in 2006, and was then directed by legislators to repeal it in 2007, which it did. It is time for the Commission to re-assert its definition and process for state tribal recognition in order to make sure this vacuum of definitional responsibility is properly addressed by Native American Indian people now and for the future.