Six Groups Lose Status As Indian Tribes
Posted on September 07, 2010
Chris Graham/Columbia Daily Herald
Six groups lost their state recognition as Indian tribes after officials found the now-defunct Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs violated Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act.
An agreed order filed Friday by State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr., who is representing the disbanded Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs, and attorneys for the Cherokee Nation nullifies a June 19 decision made by the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs to grant state tribal recognition to six groups. The groups are Central Band of Cherokee in Lawrenceburg, Remnant Yuchi Nation, United Eastern Lenape Nation, Chikamaka Band, the Cherokee Wolf Clan and Tanasi Council.
The earlier decision gave the groups the right to apply for grants and receive insurance and healthcare coverage.
The court order settles a lawsuit filed by federally-recognized Cherokee Nation alleging the commission violated open meetings laws by deliberating in secret and not providing adequate notice about what would be discussed in its June meeting. The commission voted to recognize the groups days before the commission was set to dissolve.
Cooper released a statement Aug. 27 saying he found the allegations made against the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs to be true.
“These actions could be found by a court to constitute violations of Tennessee Open Meetings Act,” the statement reads.
The Central Band of Cherokee, which claims to have about 1,000 members in Middle Tennessee, has also failed to obtain federal status as an Indian tribe. Members of the group claim to be Cherokee Indians who hid in Lawrence County to avoid relocation to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears.
Joe Sitting Owl White, principal chief of Central Band of Cherokee, read from a prepared statement Friday in response to the court order.
“It is tragic that the leaders of the State of Tennessee is again committing treason against the State of Tennessee constitution, the United States Constitution and genocide on the U.N. law against genocide,” he said. “The tribes in Tennessee have treaties and what they are doing is treason ... We are asking that the U.S. Marshals step in and put a stop to what’s going on.”
White said several Tennessee chiefs would meet Saturday to discuss how to proceed and possibly appeal the state’s decision.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, declined to respond to White’s statement.
“We’ll let the ruling speak for itself,” she said.