Tribal Map (Eastern U.S.)

Tribal Map (Eastern U.S.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Creek Indians


Creek Indians, members of a noted confederacy whose domain extended from the Atlantic westward to the high lands which separate the waters of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers, including a greater portion of the States of Alabama and Georgia and the whole of Florida. It was with the people of this confederacy that Oglethorpe held his first interview with the natives on the site of Savannah. They called themselves Muscogees, but, the domain abounding in creeks, it was called the Creek country by the Europeans. Evidently the kindred in origin and language of the Chickasaws and Choctaws, they claimed to have sprung from the earth, emigrated from the Northwest, and reached Florida, when they fell back to the more fertile regions of the Ocmulgee, Coosa, and Tallapoosa rivers. Some of them remained in Florida, and these became the Seminoles of a later period. De Soto penetrated their country as early as 1540, and twenty years later De Luna formed an alliance with the tribe of the Coosas. When the Carolinas and Louisiana began to be settled by the English, Spaniards, and French, they all courted the Creek nation. The English won the Lower Creeks, the French the Upper Creeks, while the Spaniards, through their presents, gained an influence over a portion of them. In 1710 some of these (the Cowetas) made war on the Carolinas, and were petted by the Spaniards at St. Augustine, but in 1718 they joined the French, who built a fort at Mobile. In 1732 eight Creek tribes made a treaty with Oglethorpe at Savannah; and in 1739 he made a treaty with the Cowetas, and they joined him in his expedition against St. Augustine.
Fort MimsWhen the French power in North America was overthrown, the entire Creek nation became subject to English influence. At that time they had fifty towns, and numbered nearly 6,000 warriors. They were the allies of the British during the American Revolution. Many Tories fled to the Creek towns from the Carolinas and Georgia at the close of the war, and excited the Indians to ravage the frontiers of those States. A peace was concluded with the Creeks by Washington in 1790; yet some of them joined the Cherokees in incursions into Tennessee in 1792. Another treaty was made in 1796, and in 1802 they began to cede lands in the United States. But when the War of 1812 broke out they joined their old friends, the English; and by an awful massacre at Fort Mims, in August, 1813, they aroused the Western people to vengeance. Troops led by General Jackson and others entered the Creek country; and in 1813 they ravaged the finest portion of it, destroyed the towns, slew or captured 2,000 Creek warriors, thoroughly subdued them, and, in fact, destroyed the nation. Their last stand against the United States troops was made at Horseshoe Bend in March, 1814. Some of them had already settled in Louisiana, and finally in Texas, where they remained until 1872, when the government took steps to reunite the nation in the Indian Territory. They had ceded all their lands east of the Mississippi. With those who had removed there was trouble at times. Some favored removal west of the Mississippi; others opposed it. In 1825 they put one of their chiefs (William McIntosh) to death for signing a treaty for the cession of lands.
Creek ChiefIn 1836 some of the Creeks joined their kindred, the Seminoles, in Florida in attacks upon the white people, and others joined the United States troops against them (the SEMINOLE WAR). They were finally nearly all removed beyond the Mississippi, where they numbered about 25,000 in 1876. Unsuccessful attempts to Christianize them were made. They refused missions and schools for a long time. Their nation declined, and in 1857 numbered less than 15,000. During the Civil War the tribe was divided in sentiment, 6,000 of them joining the Confederates. Their alliance with the Confederates was disastrous to their nation. In 1866 they ceded 3,000,000 acres of their domain in the Indian Territory to the United States for 30 cents an acre. In 1899 there were 14,771 Creeks at the Union agency in Indian Territory.
The men of the Creek Confederacy were well-proportioned, active, and graceful; the women were smaller, exquisitely formed, and some of them were very beautiful. In summer both sexes went without clothing, excepting a drapery of Spanish moss that was fastened at the waist and fell to the thighs. The principal people painted their faces and bodies in fanciful colors, and fops sometimes appeared in beautiful mantles of feathers or deer-skins, and on their heads were lofty plumes of the eagle and the flamingo. The houses of the chiefs stood upon mounds, sometimes in the form of a great pavilion, and the inside of their winter dwellings were daubed with clay. Hunting, fishing, and cultivating their fertile lands were their employment for they seldom made aggressive war. They were skilful artisans in making arms, houses, barges, canoes, and various ornaments. They made pottery for kitchen service, and some of it was very ornamental. Fortifications were constructed with moats, and walled towns and grand and beautiful temples abounded. They made mats of split cane, with which they covered their houses and upon which they sat. These resembled the rush carpeting of the Moors. In their temples, dedicated to the worship of the sun, were votive offerings of pearls and rich furs. They regarded the sun as the superior deity, and in all their invocations they appealed to it as to God. To it they made sacrifices of grain and animals. The chief, while he was alive, was held in the greatest veneration as priest and king. As a symbol of devotion to him of the entire strength of the nation, the sacrifice of the first-born male child was required, while the young mother was compelled to witness the slaughter of her child. Their marriages were attended with great displays of ornaments and flowers, and at the setting of the sun the bride and groom and their friends prostrated them-selves before that luminary and implored his blessing. Like the Iroquois, the civil power in their government was widely distributed; and, like the Iroquois, the Creeks were an exception, in their approach to civilization, to all the Indian tribes of North America. Such were the Creek (or Muscogee) Indians when first seen by Europeans.

The Cherokee Indians


Indian Territory Map

Map of the Indian Territory- Cherokee Nation Shown in the Upper Right of the Map

Cherokee Indians, a nation formerly inhabiting the hilly regions of Georgia, western Carolina, and northern Alabama, and called the Mountaineers of the South. They were among high hills and fertile valleys, and have ever been more susceptible of civilization than any of the Indian tribes within the domain of the United States. They were the determined foes of the Shawnees, and, after many conflicts, drove those tribes back to the Ohio. They united with the Carolinians and Catawbas against the Tuscaroras in 1711, but joined the great Indian league against the Carolinians in 1715.
When, early in 1721, Gov. Francis Nicholson arrived in South Carolina, he tried to cultivate the good-will of the Spaniards and Indians in Florida. He also held a conference with the chiefs of thirty-seven different cantons of Cherokees. He gave them presents, smoked with them the pipe of peace, marked the boundaries of the lands between them and the English settlers, regulated weights and measures, and appointed an agent to superintend their affairs. He then concluded a treaty of commerce and peace with the Creeks.
About 1730 the projects of the French for uniting Canada and Louisiana by a cordon of posts through the Ohio and Mississippi valleys began to be developed. To counteract this scheme, the British wished to convert the Indians on the frontiers into allies or subjects, and, to this end, to make with them treaties of union and alliance. The British government accordingly sent out Sir Alexander Cumming to conclude such a treaty with the Cherokees. It was estimated that they could then put 6,000 warriors in the field. In April, 1730, Sir Alexander met the chief warriors of all the Cherokee towns in council; informed them by whose authority he was sent; demanded from them an acknowledgment of King George as their sovereign, and a promise of their obedience to his authority. The chiefs, falling on their knees, promised fidelity and obedience. By their consent, Sir Alexander nominated Moytoy, one of their best leaders, commander-in-chief of the Cherokee nation. They brought a rude crown, five eagles' tails, and four scalps of their enemies to Sir Alexander, and desired him to lay them at the feet of the King when he should return to England. Six of the chiefs went to England with Sir Alexander, and, standing before his Majesty, they promised, in the name of their nation, eternal fidelity to the English. A treaty was drawn up and signed by the Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations on one side, to which the marks and tokens of the chiefs were affixed. The chiefs were amazed at the magnificence of the British Court and nation. They said: "We, came hither naked and poor as the worms of the earth; but you have everything; and we that have nothing must love you, and will never break the chain of friendship which is between us." They returned to Carolina with Robert Johnson, who came with a commission as governor.
For a long time the Cherokees and the Five Nations had bloody contests; but the English effected a reconciliation between them about 1750, when the Cherokees became the allies of the British against the French, and allowed the former to build forts on their domain. About that time they were at the height of their power, and inhabited sixty-four villages along the streams; but soon afterwards nearly one-half the population were swept off by the small-pox. The Cherokees assisted in the capture of Fort Duquesne in 1758.
While the Cherokees who accompanied the expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758 were returning home along the mountains on the western borders of Virginia and the Carolinas, they quarreled with the settlers, and several white men and Indians were killed. Some Cherokee chiefs were sent to Charleston to arrange the dispute, when they were treated almost with contempt by the governor of South Carolina. This was soon followed by an invasion of the Cherokee country by Governor Littleton (October, 1759) with 1,500 men, contributed by Virginia and the Carolinas, who demanded the surrender of the murderers of the English. He found the Cherokees ready for war, and was glad to make the insubordination of his soldiers and the prevalence of small-pox among them an excuse for leaving the country. He accepted twenty-two Indian hostages as security for peace and the future delivery of the murderers, and retired in haste and confusion (June, 1760). These hostages, which included several chiefs and warriors, were placed in Fort St. George, at the head of the Savannah River. The Cherokees attempted their rescue as soon as Littleton and his army had gone. A soldier was wounded, when his companions, in fiery anger, put all the hostages to death.
The Cherokee nation was aroused by the outrage. They beleaguered the fort, and war-parties scourged the frontiers. The Assembly of South Carolina voted 1,000 men and offered £25 for every Indian scalp. North Carolina voted a similar provision, and authorized the holding of Indian captives as slaves. General Amherst, petitioned for assistance, detached 1,200 men, chiefly Scotch Highlanders, for the purpose, under Colonel Montgomery, with orders to chastise the Cherokees, but to return in time for the next campaign against Canada. Montgomery left Charleston early in April, with regular and provincial troops, and laid waste a portion of the Cherokee country. They were not subdued. The next year Colonel Grant led a stronger force against them, burned their towns, desolated their fields, and killed many of their warriors. Then the Indians humbly sued for peace (June, 1761).
Cherokee Indians

Cherokee Indians

In 1776 the Cherokees seriously threatened the frontier of South Carolina. As these Indians had become the dread of the frontier settlers of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, these three States joined in the defense of South Carolina. Col. Andrew Williamson led an expedition into the Cherokee country, destroyed all their settlements eastward of the Appalachian Mountains, and effectually brought the natives to submission. This conquest was effected between July 15 and Oct. 11, 1776. A military work named Fort Rutledge was erected in the Cherokee country and garrisoned by two independent companies.
In 1781 the Cherokees having made a hostile incursion into the Ninety-six District, in South Carolina, murdered some families, and burned several houses, Gen. Andrew Pickens, at the head of about 400 mounted militia, penetrated into their country, and, in fourteen days, burned thirteen towns and villages, killed more than forty Indians, and took a number of prisoners, without losing a man.
By a treaty concluded at Hopewell, on the Keowee, between the United States commissioners and the head men and warriors of all the Cherokees, the latter, for themselves and their respective tribes and towns, acknowledged all the Cherokees to be under the protection of the United States. The boundaries of their hunting-grounds were settled; several mutual and pacific conditions were agreed upon; and a solemn pledge was made that " the hatchet should be buried," and that the peace reestablished should " be universal."
These Indians were friends of the United States in the War of 1812, and helped to subjugate the Creeks. Civilization took root among them and produced contention, a portion of them wishing to adhere to their former mode of living, while others wished to engage in the industries of civilized life. They were so absolutely divided in sentiment that in 1818 a portion of the nation emigrated to wild land assigned to them west of the Mississippi. The Cherokees, in turn, had ceded large portions of their lands, and their domain was mostly confined to northern Georgia. They were then making rapid progress in civilization; but the Georgians coveted their lands. The Cherokees were yet powerful in numbers, and were then considerably advanced in the arts and customs of civilization. They had churches and schools and a printing-press, issuing a newspaper; and they were disposed to defend their rights against the encroachments of their white neighbors.
President Jackson favored the Georgians, and the white people then proceeded to take possession of the lands of the Cherokees. Trouble ensued, and the southern portion of the republic was menaced with civil war for a while. The United States troops had been withdrawn from Georgia, and the national government offered no obstacle to the forcible seizure of the Indian territory by the Georgians. Some missionaries laboring among the Cherokees were arrested and imprisoned for residing in their country contrary to the laws of the State, and for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to Georgia. The Cherokees then numbered between 14,000 and 15,000 east of the Mississippi. The matter in dispute was adjudicated by the Supreme Court of the United States, and on March 30, 1832, that tribunal decided against the claims of the Georgians. The Georgians, still favored by the President, resented this decision. An amicable settlement was finally reached; and, in 1838, under the mild coercion of Major-General Winfield Scott and several thousand troops, the Cherokees left their beautiful country in Georgia with sorrow, and went to wild lands assigned them, well towards the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
In 1861, John Ross, the renowned principal chief of the Cherokees, who had led them wisely for almost forty years, took a decided stand against the Confederates. He issued a proclamation (May 17), in which he reminded his people of their treaty obligations with the United States, and urged them to be faithful to them, and to take no part in the stirring events of the day. But he and his loyal associates among the Cherokees and Creeks were overborne by the tide of secession and insurrection, and were swept on, powerless, by the current. The betrayal of the United States troops by General Twiggs into the hands of the Texas authorities left their territory on the side of that State open to invasion. False rumors continually disturbed them. Their neighbors, and the wild tribes on their borders, were rallying to the standard of the Confederates. The National troops in Missouri could not check the rising insurrection there. The chief men of the Cherokees held a mass-meeting at Tahlequah in Au-gust, when, with great unanimity, they declared their allegiance to the " Confederate States." Ross still held out, but was finally compelled to yield. At a council held on Aug. 20, he recommended the severance of the connection with the national government. Ross's wife, a young and well-educated woman, still held out; and when an attempt was made to raise a Confederate flag over the council-house, she opposed the act with so much spirit that the Confederates desisted.
During the Civil War the Cherokees suffered much. The Confederates would not trust Ross, for his Union feelings were very apparent. When, in 1862, they were about to arrest him, he and his family escaped to the North, and resided in Philadelphia for a while. In 1899 there were 32,161 Cherokees at the Union agency, Indian Territory, and 1,351 at the Eastern Cherokee agency, North Carolina.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pamunkey Tribe Files For Federal Acknowledgement

From Native American Law Blog:

October 22, 2010

Pamunkey Indian Tribe Files for Federal Acknowledgment

Got this a week ago, but have been on travel a bit lately:
Contact: Chief Robert Gray, 804.339.1629; Tribe's legal counsels: Mark C. Tilden, Tilden McCoy, LLC at, 303.323.1922, or David Gover, Esq. and Kim Gottschalk, Esq. at Native American Rights Fund at 303.447.8760.
Boulder, CO - After years of preparing the necessary historical, legal, genealogical and anthropological evidence to fully document its petition for federal acknowledgment, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, located on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, Virginia, filed its petition with the Office of Federal Acknowledgment, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on October 14, 2010. It is the only Indian Tribe located in the Commonwealth of Virginia to have filed a fully documented petition. Established no later than 1646, the Pamunkey Indian Reservation is located next to the Pamunkey River, and adjacent to King William County, Virginia. The Reservation comprises approximately 1,200 acres and is the oldest inhabited Indian reservation in America.
The history of the Pamunkey people is rich and well documented. In the course of collecting evidence for the federal acknowledgment petition, researchers compiled more than a thousand documents recording their existence from the period of first European contact through the present. These documents comprise official censuses, correspondence between the Pamunkeys and officials of the Commonwealth and U.S. governments, numerous newspaper stories, church and school records, books by prominent scholars, popular authors, and federal officials, memoirs and much more. Because of these rich resources, continuous, detailed genealogies have been created for the Pamunkey Tribal members, which trace their lineage back over two hundred years.
Notably, documents have been preserved both in the United States and England that show the continual existence of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe as an independent sovereign since the first visit of Capt. John Smith in 1607, when the English settled Jamestown. At this time, Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, ruled a vast empire which included the great and powerful Pamunkey Indians who were at the core of his empire. A Treaty relationship between the Pamunkeys and Great Britain in 1646, followed by the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677, is still honored between the Pamunkeys and the Commonwealth of Virginia. One expression of this continuing relationship is the annual tribute ceremony at Richmond, Virginia where deer and other wild game are presented to the Virginia Governor by the Pamunkey Chief and members of Tribal Council.

The Tribe has survived intact as an identifiable Indian tribe, although they are not yet federally acknowledged.  Tribal existence does not depend on federal acknowledgment. It is, however, necessary to establish a government-to-government relationship between the Tribe and the Federal government, which allows the Tribe access to federal services and benefits.  The Tribe’s petition documents their continued existence from 1789 to the present and their self-governance throughout this time, which meets the federal acknowledgment regulations.
The Pamunkey Chief and Tribal Council state that “Current Pamunkey Tribal members respect and appreciate what our ancestors have accomplished since first European contact, especially their sustained and successful efforts to maintain the lands, identity and sovereignty that have belonged to the Pamunkey Indians for thousands of years.  We believe that federal acknowledgment is the natural means to continue those traditions and honor the ancestors who have given us our birthright.  We look forward to the day our existence as an Indian Tribe is formally acknowledged by the United States.”
The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has represented the Pamunkey Indian Tribe in this effort since 1988, joined by the law firm of Tilden McCoy, LLC this year. For any questions, please contact Robert Gray, Chief, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, 804.339.1629 or; Tribe's legal counsels: Mark C. Tilden, Tilden McCoy, LLC at, 303.323.1922 or 1942 Broadway, Suite 314, Boulder, Colorado 80302, or David Gover, NARF,, 303.447.8760 or 1506 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302.
October 22, 2010 | Permalink

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

USDA Settles Native American Farmer Discrimination Lawsuit For $760 Million

From Native American Legal Update:

USDA Settles Native American Farmer Discrimination Lawsuit for $760 Million

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an historic agreement to settle a decade-long class action lawsuit known as Keepseagle v. Vilsack, wherein Native American farmers and ranchers alleged discrimination in the USDA's farm loan program dating back to 1981.
Under the agreement, the USDA will pay $680 million in damages to thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers and forgive up to $80 million worth of outstanding farm loan debt. The settlement also initiates new programs to improve USDA's farm loan services for Native Americans. Those initiatives include the creation of a Native American Farmer and Rancher Council, where top USDA officials and Native American advocates will collaborate to make USDA's programs more accessible for Native Americans farmers and ranchers, as well as enhanced delivery of technical assistance to Native American borrowers, the creation of sub-offices on tribal lands, a systematic review of the farm loan program rules to improve accessibility to Native Americans and other measures designed to improve the provision of farm loan services to Native Americans.
The Keepseagle lawsuit alleged that Native American farmers and ranchers were denied the same opportunities as white farmers to obtain low-interest rate loans from USDA. Congress has charged the USDA with serving as the "lender of last resort" for family farmers who can't obtain credit from commercial banks. According to an expert report prepared by a former USDA economist, Native Americans suffered actual economic losses amounting to $776 million between 1981 and 2007 as a result of receiving less than their fair share of credit opportunities from the USDA.
Lead plaintiffs Marilyn and George Keepseagle, ranchers in Fort Yates, N.D.,said "We have been waiting nearly three decades for this day to come. This settlement will help thousands of Native Americans who are still farming and ranching. But more important, through this settlement we will leave to our children and grandchildren a farm loan system far more responsive to our community than the system we inherited from our parents."
The settlement has three major components:
1) Payment of $680 million in damages to class members for the economic losses they suffered due to the denial of loans or loan servicing by the USDA.
2) The USDA will forgive up to $80 million in debt currently held by class members who succeed in obtaining damages. Once the Court gives preliminary approval to the agreement, the USDA will establish a moratorium on foreclosures, debt accelerations and debt offsets not already referred to the Treasury Department. The moratorium will last until the debt relief process has concluded and class members' debt has been forgiven. After the debt relief is provided, USDA will engage in a round of loan servicing for all class members who are delinquent on any outstanding USDA farm loan debt.
3) Changes to USDA's farm loan program to improve the delivery and responsiveness to Native American farmers and ranchers, including through the creation of the Native American Farmer and Rancher Council, a new federal advisory committee. The new Council will have 15 members, 11 of whom will be Native Americans or represent Native American interests and four of whom will be top USDA officials. Members will meet at least twice a year for the next five years to discuss how to make USDA's programs more accessible for Native Americans farmers and ranchers, including changes to Farm Service Administration (FSA) regulations and internal guidance. The Council will report its recommendations directly to senior USDA officials.
In addition to the Council, the USDA will: 1) create 10 to 15 USDA regional sub-offices that will provide education and technical assistance to Native American farmers and ranchers and their advocates; 2) undertake a systematic review of its farm loan policies to determine how its regulations and policies can be reformed to better assist Native American farmers and ranchers; 3) create a customer guide on applying for credit from the USDA; 4) create the Office of the Ombudsperson to address concerns of all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; and, 5) regularly collect and report data on how well Native Americans fare under USDA's farm loan programs.

Friday, October 15, 2010

U.S. Considers Endorsing U.N. Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

From Common

US Weighs Endorsing Indigenous Rights Declaration

by Matthew Berger
WASHINGTON - Just over three years after having voted against it at the United Nations, the United States is in the process of reviewing its position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The declaration lays out the fundamental rights and freedoms of the world's indigenous peoples, although it is not legally binding. It was originally opposed by just four countries - the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The latter two have since reversed their positions and, in March, Canada announced its intention to change its position. Around the same time, the U.S. also decided to undertake a review of its position.
The process of that review has been ongoing since then, but it heated up a bit this week in Washington, where a series of meetings between U.S. indigenous leaders, government officials and NGOs took place as the period of public input on the U.S.'s review winds down.
Robert Coulter, who participated in the drafting of the original declaration over 20 years ago and is now executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, an American Indian law and advocacy organisation, took part in the meetings Thursday.
Though he says the officials present would not divulge any concrete information on whether the U.S. will endorse the declaration nor when a final decision might be made, he did see an exceptional level of interest on the part of the U.S. government, with officials from numerous agencies present.
"They have been discussing the thing with us for over 20 years in Geneva, but this kind of consultation process is somewhat extraordinary," he told IPS Thursday. "The White House appears to be genuinely committed to the policy of consultation with indigenous leaders on all things but particularly on this."
The U.S. State Department, which is overseeing the review process, says President Barack Obama's administration was urged in 2009 by tribal leaders and other stakeholders to reexamine the U.S. position. On Apr. 20, the country's ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, announced they would do just that.
The review, the State Department said in a statement Thursday, "reflects [the Obama administration's] understanding of the importance of this document for many around the world and is consistent with President Obama's call for a new era of U.S. engagement globally."
Three consultations with U.S. indigenous leaders have taken place as part of this process, with Thursday's three-hour session marking the final one. Friday, NGO leaders and other stakeholders were having a consultation of their own at the State Department.
Coulter says this sort of careful, inclusive process is normal when the U.S. is considering supporting an international agreement, but, when it comes to indigenous issues, "We've never seen anything like this."
The declaration received overwhelming support from U.N. member countries when it went before the General Assembly in 2007, with 144 states voting in favour and only those four - notable because of their historical mistreatment of indigenous populations - voting against. Another 11 countries abstained, though two of those, Colombia and Samoa, have since endorsed it.
As a legally non-binding treaty, the declaration is seen mainly as a way to affirm the rights of communities whose rights have historically and repeatedly been violated. Many also see it as a way to help end discrimination and the exploitation of indigenous land without informed prior consent.
If the U.S. were to change its position and support the document, Coulter hopes the move will at least set a framework for discussing these issues.
"We know that this is not a binding instrument but that it is a serious instrument about human rights and that it will in effect set an agenda about the kinds of discussions and changes that have to be worked out in the future," he says. "It's an agenda for our future consultations about what improvements need to be made in U.S. law, what changes need to be made to fully respect our land rights.
"No one expects this to create any instant changes. The terms of the declaration could indeed be used in arguments or court cases, but courts are not obliged to apply the declaration," he adds.
In its comments to the State Department, the Indian Law Resource Center emphasised that the declaration would require no improvements to U.S. law concerning indigenous lands that are not already required by the U.S. constitution, and that the contentious principle of "free, prior and informed consent" included in the declaration would not give indigenous a people veto but, rather, require a process that must be followed before taking action that could be construed as an infringement of rights.
For its part, the State Department says it "recognises that for many around the world, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues."
Coulter also hopes the review process currently underway marks the beginning of an ongoing consultation to strengthen and improve the relationship between Washington and native nations in its own territory, such as Alaska and Hawaii.
But the implications might go even beyond than that. Under the Obama administration the U.S. has increased its awareness of its own human rights record, and endorsing the declaration may be another milestone in that effort.
"The U.S. endorsement would be perhaps the first concrete step the U.S. has taken to follow through on its professed attention to once again be a leader in the field of human rights and to subject itself to human rights scrutiny and accountability," says Coulter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Oneida Indian Nation Foreclosure case

From the Utica Observer-Dispatch and Native American Law Blog:

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Oneida Indian Nation foreclosure case


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NICOLE L. CVETNIC/Observer-Dispatch

A SavOn gas station, owned by the Oneida Indian Nation, is shown on the corner of routes 365 and Route 31 on Thursday in Verona. A draft state-Nation agreement, which includes a cap of 30,000 acres of land into trust and equity on prices and tax levels with neighboring businesses, is not enough, many local leaders said.


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The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday to hear the case in which Oneida and Madison counties are attempting to foreclose on Oneida Indian Nation-owned properties on which taxes haven’t been paid.
On April 27, a three-member panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower-court decision that said the counties could not foreclose on the properties because the Oneidas are protected by sovereign immunity.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in the case sometime between January and April, according to the Supreme Court public information office.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said he considers it good news because the issue will be resolved, but there still is uncertainty about how the Supreme Court will rule and what would happen next.
“It’s the double-edged sword to some extent,” Picente said.
In 2005, U.S. District Judge David Hurd barred Oneida and Madison counties from foreclosing on the Oneidas’ land. That decision was appealed in 2007 and upheld in the April 27 ruling, which said the counties don’t have the right to sue an Indian tribe unless Congress has authorized the lawsuit or the tribe has waived its legal immunity.
Jose Cabranes, one of the judges in the April 27 decision, wrote a concurring opinion at the time that addressed why he believed the Supreme Court needed to weigh in.
“The holding in this case comes down to this: An Indian tribe can purchase land (including land that was never part of a reservation), refuse to pay lawfully owed taxes and suffer no consequences because the taxing authority cannot sue to collect the taxes owed,” Cabranes wrote. “This rule of decision defies common sense. But absent action by our highest court, or by Congress, it is the law.”
Madison County Attorney S. John Campanie said the legal claim of sovereign immunity has been “the biggest impediment” to the collection of property taxes from the Nation lands.
Campanie said because the Supreme Court has agreed to take the case, there is some indication that the court believes the previous decisions need to be addressed. Madison County officials are encouraged by the decision and are “cautiously optimistic” about how the court will rule, he said.
“I think our hope remains that simply these taxes be paid,” he said.
Nation spokesman Mark Emery said in an e-mailed statement that the Supreme Court decision to hear the foreclosure case makes it four times “in 35 years that the counties’ fights against the Oneida Nation have led to the nation’s highest court.”
“There’s got to be a better way to resolve disputes between our respective governments,” Emery said. “We will respond to the case at the Supreme Court through the appropriate channels and hopefully look forward to bringing these issues to closure once and for all.”
But even if the decision favors the counties, further steps would likely be necessary – such as going to back to a lower court – before the counties could actually foreclose on Nation properties, Picente said.
The lawsuit deals with unpaid taxes from the 1990s and only directly affects some Nation land – not including the Turning Stone Resort and Casino, he said.
Picente, however, said he would assume that if the Supreme Court rules that the Nation isn’t protected from foreclosure by sovereign immunity, the decision would affect the ability of Oneida and Madison counties to foreclose on other Nation properties. Additionally, he believes it would impact similar situations across the state and country, he said.
“It has far-reaching implications,” he said.
Tuesday’s decision to hear the case means there are issues of law that the Supreme Court feels need to be ruled on, said Robert Batson, who teaches federal Indian law at Albany Law School and is the school’s government lawyer in residence,
“It’s always significant when the Supreme Court decides to take a case,” Batson said, adding that the case holds extra importance because it deals with the issue of sovereign immunity. “This will be a very interesting case to watch.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

American Indian Church Sues Federal Government Over Peyote Use

From The Utah Valley Daily Herald and Alliance Defense Fund:

American Indian church sues feds over peyote use

American Indian church sues feds over peyote use
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An American Indian church is suing state and federal police and prosecutors over the right of its members to use peyote in religious ceremonies, even if they aren't of Indian ancestry.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Utah's U.S. District Court on behalf of the Oklevueha Native American Church. It contends that federal laws that protect peyote use by American Indians should apply to anyone who belongs to the church.
The lawsuit seeks to block state and federal law enforcement from arresting or bringing criminal charges against church members who "fear reprisal from both state and federal governments for openly practicing their religion," court papers state.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Utah attorney general's office. Messages left with the federal agencies were not immediately returned on Thursday.
Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah attorney general said the office could not comment until after it had seen the lawsuit.
A plant with hallucinogenic properties, peyote is considered a sacred medicine by Indians. Court papers say it has been used by indigenous populations for thousands of years. Although considered a controlled substance, federal law allows for the use of peyote by Indians for religious reasons.
The Oklevueha church is a federally recognized American Indian church with roots in the Native American Church founded in 1918. Court documents say the faith has practicing members on many reservations and across 29 states, Canada, Mexico and Peru.
The lawsuit was filed in Utah because since 1999, church members here say they have been harassed, arrested and prosecuted for using peyote, court papers say.
Those cases include the 2000 prosecution of medicine man James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney on multiple felony charges, including drug possession and distribution for giving peyote to church members and others during religious ceremonies.
Mooney's conviction was thrown out by the Utah Supreme Court on appeal. The ruling from justices said an exemption in federal law that allows for peyote use should include all church members regardless of the aribitrary "blood quantum" standard _ the primary basis for determining who is a protected American Indian religious practitioner, the lawsuit states.
"It is time that such a basis be abolished in favor of extending full religious freedom and protection to the NAC as a broader based, American religious choice," attorneys for the Oklevueha wrote in court papers.
Lawyers argue in court papers that interest in American Indian religious practices has spread far beyond the boundaries of those with tribal ancestry. They also contend that proving the "blood quantum" standard is also increasingly difficult as "American Indians continue integrating with the broader American population."
Denying the exemption prohibits church members from practicing their religion, court papers say.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

An Indian Fighter Seeks His Destiny

From Vision To America:

An Indian Fighter Seeks His Destiny

By Gary DeMar
Published: September 3, 2010

In today’s publicity-seeking world, George Armstrong Custer would have felt right at home. Much of his reputation was formed by the media. Correspondents, who joined Custer on his military campaigns, helped establish his reputation with their positive reporting. With long blonde curls sprinkled with cinnamon oil, flamboyant dress, and large ego, Custer understood good public relations. His bravery, daring, and leadership skills helped the West Point graduate rise in the ranks during the Civil War. Appointed to the Seventh Calvary, Custer became the most famous Indian fighter in American history. But his boldness and daring would lead to the foolish attack at the Little Big Horn, where 2,000 Indians swept down upon Custer and his men. His final stand would bring him the glory that had eluded him throughout his short life

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

New York Residents Oppose Taxes On Native American Tobacco Products

From Personal Liberty Digest:

New York Residents Oppose Taxes On Native American Tobacco Products

September 2, 2010 by Personal Liberty News Desk

The Seneca Nation of Indians has filed a suit asking the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to block the state from taxing tobacco sales on the Nation’s lands.

In its quest, the community is supported by most New Yorkers, as a new Zogby International poll found that more than 68 percent believe State and Federal governments should honor Indian treaties that bar state taxation of their businesses.

"Once again the people of New York State have voiced their support of our rights as a sovereign nation," said Seneca Nation of Indians president Barry E. Snyder, Sr.

This is not the only outcry against New York state plans to ramp up taxes. For example, bagel sellers also expressed criticism over plans to enforce a sales tax for sliced or prepared bagels, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

"Instead of thinking what can be done to encourage small business owners, they are wasting their time and taxpayer money, harassing job creators to fund the state budget," said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at The Cato Institute, quoted by CNN.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jurisdictional Arbitrage, Native American Style

From Let a Thousand Nations Bloom:

Jurisdictional Arbitrage, Native American Stylefrom Let A Thousand Nations Bloom by Mike GibsonFrom Reuters:

New York’s Oneida Indian Nation moved a cigarette-manufacturing plant to their upstate reservation to shield smokers from steep taxes that Governor David Paterson has vowed to impose.

“By moving the plant to the Oneida homelands, the Nation is availing itself of a long-settled law that recognizes the right of Indian tribes to sell products they manufacture on their own reservations without interference from state tax laws,” tribe officials said in a statement.

New York for more than a decade has tried but failed to force Native Americans to collect cigarette and fuel taxes from their reservation stores. The tribes, who say they do not have to charge the levies because they enjoy sovereign immunity, face another test on September 1, when the state will begin requiring cigarette wholesalers to prepay the taxes before supplying reservation stores.

Michael Strong wrote about leveraging Native American sovereignty into a robust market in governance as part of our Independence Week blogging

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg Makes Racist Remarks About The Seneca Tribe

From The American Thinker:

August 21, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg's racist remarks about the Seneca tribe

Jack Kemp

Fox News reports that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the same person who was browbeating fellow New Yorkers about their "intolerant" opposition to a mosque near Ground Zero, has insulted the Seneca Nation tribes while complaining about not being fully taxed on sales of cigarettes. On a radio broadcast, the Mayor urged that New York Governor Patterson should grab "a cowboy hat and a shotgun" and get the money from the Seneca Nation.

The Seneca have replied by stating:

‘If it were any other race of people, he would really have been ridiculed over the words that he said," said J.C. Seneca, a Tribal Council member with the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The Seneca Nation passed a resolution Saturday condemning the comments. They said the mayor was taking "contradictory positions" by targeting the tribes while at the same time expressing support for constitutional protections of those looking to build a controversial Islamic center near Ground Zero.

"Mayor Bloomberg's cavalier attitude and inflammatory remarks, by which he encourages armed conflict as a means for resolution, evidences tremendous disrespect," the resolution said. "Mr. Bloomberg's hypocritical support of constitutional protections, only when they don't impact the New York City budget, coupled with his uneducated and uninformed statements on the issue, serve to fan the flames of aggression, and undermine the potential for peaceful resolution of these matters, while perpetuating a long dormant policy of Indian termination which dates back to the days of General Custer's failed battle of Little Bighorn."

The nation said that the mayor should resign "effective immediately" over his "inflammatory and racially insensitive" remarks -- or at least apologize.

The Seneca Nation also stated that they are considering filing a hate crime complaint with the US Justice Department.

Incredibly, Mayor Bloomberg is proving to have an elitist tin ear worthy of a Washington politician and is refusing to apologize for what I also would call racist remarks. And he is refusing to resign for these remarks, remarks far worse than anything Jimmy the Greek - or Dr. Laura - ever said, leading to the end of both their careers. One would think that if Mayor Bloomberg were an Oklahoma politician - particularly a conservative Republican - his political career would be over by now.

But there may be a silver lining here for New Yorkers, as the Mayor's ability to lecture his constituents on the virtue of tolerance has apparently just gone up in smoke.

Posted at 09:33 AM