Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney in Native Condition. Discussion »
Mike Raccoon Eyes
SAN FRANCISCO - As a Cherokee Native Advocate and a writer about Indian Country for many years, I have many grave concerns about human and civil rights abuses of both the Canadian and United States governments, that are direct violation national and international accords that both countries have signed in regards to First Nations Indigenous Peoples.
I have written and lectured extensively about the "New Indian Wars," This essay is a close examination of Cherokee resistance, self-defense and sovereignty.
Rolling Thunder, a Cherokee Doctor and activist, once stated:
“I am not good material to be dictated to by any white man as to what I can do and where I can go on my land!”
In the 1830s then United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, ruled the Cherokee were a sovereign nation. They had offered a brilliant legal defense in the issue of sovereignty. As Clyde Warrior once noted; "The Cherokees are a very legal-minded people. They want to try everything that is right and proper. Because they believe that if they do everything that is legal and proper that justice will prevail."
Warrior made this comment in 1966, resulting in a trial of full-blood Cherokee man named John Chewie. Who was to stand trial at a county courthouse in Jay, Oklahoma for charges of illegally hunting deer on traditional Cherokee land held in trust by the federal government by Oklahoma state authorities.
While the trial was starting 400 full-blooded Cherokee men armed with hunting rifles, shotguns and hand pistols surrounded the county courthouse and were duly prepared to defend the life of Chewie and Cherokee sovereignty.
“What the Cherokee fail to see is that the American system, nothing is done legally, honestly or truthfully.”
In the late 1830s the "Indian Killer," President Andrew Jackson defied the US Supreme Court ruling and started a new policy of relocation, along with racial and ethnic cleansing. The Cherokee would be the very first victims of this 100 year policy that would forever change the Indian Country.
Almost 100 years later, Adolph Hitler would use the same exact blueprint of relocation, concentration camps and ethnic cleansing in what he termed the Final Solution. Hitler had studied and read carefully, how the Indian Killer had instituted the "Final Solution" for the Cherokee.
For the full and mixed blood Cherokees in the high hills of eastern Oklahoma on the fringe of the Ozarks and through the traditional homelands of Appalachia have been and still entrenched in an appalling culture of cycle of poverty, hopelessness and violence. In rural Cherokee Country conditions have not improved for the past 100 years. People face daily starvation, with a back drop of high unemployment or no jobs. Drug and alcohol addictions and domestic violence is out of control. Illiteracy and high school drop outs exceeds the national average.
This is how it always has been in rural Cherokee Country for the past 180 years to the present! A violent time bomb ready to explode! The factors of historic poverty and the issue of Cherokee sovereignty has always been a keg of dynamite that was then and still is ready to blow among rural Cherokee Country.
By the late 1960s, in rural Cherokee Country in east Oklahoma starvation was out of control. According to historical sources entire villages and hamlets were suffering on massive level. Traditional full-blood Cherokee men decided to respond to the challenge and violating both federal and state laws, began to hunt deer on traditional Cherokee land.
The full-bloods met in secret to address the issues of starvation and Cherokee sovereignty - the right to hunt on their own Cherokee land. Hundreds of men formed the "Five County Cherokee Movement." They drafted their own Cherokee Declaration of Independence in the winter of 1966. "We meet in a time of darkness to seek the path to the light. We come together, just as our fathers have done, to do these things we the Five County Cherokees are one People. We stand united in the sight of our Creator. We are joined by love and concern for each other and for all men "
"We offer ourselves as a voice of the Cherokee People. For many years our People have not spoken and have not been heard. Now we gather as brothers and sisters We insist on equality under the laws of the United States. We act now peaceably but firmly to carry out THE WISHES OF OUR PEOPLE We do this for the benefit of all Cherokees. We do this as a good example to all men. Already we have gathered to protect our rights to harvest fish and game to feed ourselves and children "
So in the winter of 1966, the Movement became a high mark for the advancement of Cherokee sovereignty. Hundreds of men were hunting in the old traditional Cherokee land in the high hills of east Oklahoma. Movement men including John Chewie hunted in small bands to bring deer to the dinner table. The State of Oklahoma Department of Wildlife arrested and charged John for possession of deer meat out of season and having no license to hunt , when he was 'caught' by game wardens.
When Movement men had received word of his arrest and pending trial, his brothers quietly encircled the small town of Jay and the courthouse where Chewie's trial would take place. Movement men brought their rifles, shotguns and pistols; about 400 in number to defend John's life and Cherokee sovereignty if need be. Chewie had become the shining icon to Indian Country for the issue of Native sovereignty to hunt on native lands that were claimed by federal and state jurisdictions.
Fearing both violence and bloodshed, the State of Oklahoma legal system decided to pass John's case on to the federal court level in order to avoid an armed confrontation with the Movement men.
Not only had the Five County Cherokee Movement been heard and spoken, it had won the first round in its advocacy for Cherokee sovereignty and the long hard road for the advancement for more human and civil rights for Indian Country!
Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney is of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, out of Quallah, North Carolina. He is Native Advocate for more human and civil rights for Indian Country for the past 25 years. He is the San Francisco Bay Area delegate for the Inter-Tribal Council of California. He is a writer and author on traditional and contemporary issues of Indian Country, as well gives inspirational motivational talks about the spiritual empowerment of Native Peoples. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
posted September 6, 2011 10:10 am edt
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