One day, some Cherokee children were playing outside, when a rattlesnake
crawled out of the grass. They screamed and their mother ran outside. Without
thinking, she took a stick and killed it.
Her husband was hunting in the mountains. As he was returning home that night,
he heard a strange wailing sound. Looking around, he found himself in the
midst of a gathering of rattlesnakes, whose mouths were open and crying.
"What is the matter," the man asked the snakes. The rattlesnakes
responded, "Your wife killed our chief, the Yellow Rattlesnake today. We
are preparing to send the Black Rattlesnake to take revenge."
The husband immediately accepted their claim and took responsibility for the
crime. The rattlesnakes said, "If you speak the truth, you must be ready
to make satisfaction." The price they demanded was the life of his wife
in sacrifice for that of their chief. Not knowing what else might occur, the
The rattlesnakes told the man that the Black Rattlesnake would follow him home
and coil up outside his door. He was to ask his wife to bring him a fresh
drink of water from the spring. That was all.
When the man reached home, it was very dark. His wife had supper waiting for
"Please bring me some water," he asked her. She brought him a gourd
from the jar, but he refused it.
"No," he said. "I would like some fresh water from the
His wife took a bowl and stepped outside to get him some fresh water. The man
immediately heard her cry. He went outside and found the Black Rattlesnake had
bitten her and she was already dying. He stayed with her until she was dead.
The Black Rattlesnake then crawled out of the grass. "My tribe is now
satisfied," he told the husband. He then taught the man a prayer song.
The Black Rattlesnake told him, "When you meet any of us hereafter, sing
this song and we will not hurt you. If by accident one of us should bite you,
sing this song over the person and he will recover." And the Cherokee
have kept this song to this day.
homeless last month, now has a home and
now awaits the return of her daughter.
THE NAIL IN THE FENCE
There once was a little girl who had a bad temper. Her mother gave her a
bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper, she must
hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the girl had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the
next few weeks, as she learned to control her anger, the number of nails
hammered daily gradually dwindled down. She discovered it was easier to
hold her temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the girl didn't lose her temper at all. She
told her mother about it and the mother suggested that the girl now pull
out one nail for each day that she was able to hold her temper. The day
passed and the young girl was finally able to tell her mother that all
the nails were gone. The mother took her daughter by the hand and led her
to the fence.
She said, "You have done well, my daughter, but look at the holes in
the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in
anger, they leave a scar just like this one." You can put a knife in
a person and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say
"I'm sorry", the wound is still there. A verbal wound is
as bad as physical one.
Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage
you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they
always want to open their hearts to us.
Submitted by Marty
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BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS RECOGNIZES CHEROKEE ELECTION...
BLACK CITIZENS FORBIDDEN RIGHT TO VOTE
By Jon Velie, Attorney at Law
In a reversal of it’s earlier position, the Bureau of
Indian Affairs has recognized an election that forbid the Black Citizens of
the Cherokee Nation to vote for it’s tribal leaders and on a Constitutional
amendment that would remove the President of the United States authority to
approve Cherokee Constitutional amendments. The decision is in the face of
earlier agency decisions, Treaty rights, recent federal decisions and a
Supreme Court decision.
An unsigned August 6, 2003 BIA memo reversed the signed
July 25th memo from Regional Director, Jeanette Hanna of the Muskogee,
Oklahoma office In the earlier memo, the Bureau stated that the 1970 Principal
Chiefs Act mandated the Nation to submit election procedures prior to the
election. The Cherokees did not present the procedures and held an election
and precluded the Black Cherokees from voting. The second memo ignored the
statute and the earlier position and recognized the election even though
approximately 25,000 Black Cherokees, also known as Cherokee Freedmen, were
not allowed to vote.
The Black Cherokees citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is
protected by the Treaty of 1866 between the United States and the Cherokee
Tribe. Recent litigation occurred regarding a similar situation with the
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. When the Black Seminoles were ousted from the
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma in one election and precluded from voting for
Chief of the nation in a subsequent election, the Bureau of Indian Affairs
took the position that the United States could not recognize the
administration that claimed victory because the election did not permit the
Black citizens of the Nation to vote.
The B.I.A. cut off federal funds to the Seminole Nation as
it reasoned could not provide them to an illegal government. The B.I.A.
currently does not recognize the Seminole government elected under the illegal
election. The cases that stemmed from the B.I.A’s determination to enforce
the Treaty Rights of the Black Citizens were Seminole Nation of Oklahoma v.
Norton, 206 F.R.D. 1(D.D.C. 2001) (CKK) and Seminole Nation of Oklahoma v.
Norton, 223 F. Supp. 2d 122 (D.D.C. 2002). These cases said in short,
the Treaty of 1866 ensured Tribal Citizenship of the Black Seminoles and the
B.I.A.’s determination to not recognize the Tribe when citizens were not
entitled to vote was appropriate.
The B.I.A. has flipped it’s reasoning a number of times
regarding the Cherokee April 24, election. A March 15, 2003 letter signed by
then Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb, stated in
pertinent part, that the Cherokee Nation could remove the clause from it’s
Constitution requiring United States Presidential approval for amendments to
the Cherokee Constitution, provided the Cherokee Freedmen are entitled to vote
in the election. An April 23, memo also signed by Mr. McCaleb, stated that he
did not actually sign or authorize his signature of the March 15, memo and
removed the provision that the Black Cherokees needed to be able to vote in
the Cherokee election.
The current situation means that Bureau of Indian Affairs
has breached it’s duty to uphold the United States Treaty of 1866 as
recently interpreted by the Seminole decisions. The effect of the
determination strips the Black citizens of the Cherokee Nation from voting for
their leadership and on a very important Constitutional amendment that would
take out U.S. oversight.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has breached its duty as
trustee by recognizing an administration elected in opposition to relevant
United States law, and has acted in direct opposition to the Seminole
decisions, a 1942 Supreme Court decisions that mandates it to protect the
Tribe as trustee, Wheeler v. Dept. of Interior, 811 F. 2d. 549 (10th Cir.
1987) that the B.I.A. it cited in the July 25 letter requiring mandate
compliance with the 1970 Principal Chiefs Act, has made numerous inconsistent
decisions in this matter and is acting inconsistently with its current stance
in the Seminole Nation.
Jon Velie, Norman, Oklahoma attorney for the Cherokee
Freedmen states, “The BIA decision to recognize an election that forbid the
participation of approximately 25,000 voters based on a racist policy is a
giant leap in the worst direction. It undermines the basic tenet of democracy
of both the Cherokee Nation and the United States of America. It exposes
sovereignty for the Cherokee Nation and all Native Nations as it begs for
litigation on whether treaties must be obeyed, it takes the decision of who
rules away from the people and it exposes the actors of both governments as
sleezy, backroom political puppeteers.
Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee Freedmen, says, “The stripping
of my vote and identity as a Cherokee fills my heart with sorrow and rage. How
can the United States recognize my Tribe’s government and fund millions of
dollars of aid to it, when it denies me my most precious asset, the right to
vote for my elected officials and decide major Constitutional reform. I not
only feel less of a Cherokee today but less of an American.”
Jonathan T. Velie
210 East Main Street, Suite 222
Norman, Oklahoma 73069
Gathering of Eagles - Spiritual Event - August 23-24
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Sponsored by Debra & Warron Big Eagle (firstname.lastname@example.org
Kit Fox Warriors
By Dorreen Yellow Bird
(Black Hills, South Dakota, near old cabin of Sitting
For several years, I have been aware of a group that
comes each year to the Sitting Bull Camp in South Dakota where I
camp. This year, I became acquainted with this society called Takola
Akicita (Kit Fox Warriors).
They are a Native and non-Native society that
seemed to be a bridge between ceremonies of the Native Americans and
non-Natives. Society members come from all over the nation - big
cities such as Dallas and New York. Places where the spirits of
individuals are in masses, and they live shoulder to shoulder.
When they arrive in South Dakota, they begin to spread out and breathe
deeply. The road to the camp starts with gravel, then turns to a
graded dirt road that is best traveled before any rain softens the
tracks into deep and mushy mud. From there, the road gets primitive
and turns into a two-wheel prairie dirt road.
Finally, after what seems like miles across the rough prairie road, the trail
drops off into a deep valley. Standing on top of the high cliff, you can
see the Grand River winding among ash, willow and cottonwood trees. Nestled
in the trees below is the old log cabin of Sitting Bull. It is where he
lived after returning from Canada. It is the place where he died at
the hands of tribal police. They were afraid the old man might incite another
incident such as the Little Big Horn.
It is here where the camp was established many years ago. I have made the journey
to this camp for 11 years now. When I was there, it was in the low
100s one day. The next day, the valley reached about 110 degrees. The
grass was hot to the touch, and the sand burned your feet. It was like
dancing on a stove stoked with hot, burning wood. Those days of
too much heat rewarded us with cool evenings and a magnificent sunset
of deep reds and purples. The early evenings were topped with the
howling and yapping of the coyotes and a full moon.
I arrived Friday. Camp was just beginning to bustle. People were building fires
and setting up their camps. The smell of burning woods, sweet grass, sage
and cedar were mixed with the smell of coffee and stew cooking over an open
As I sat there resting after putting up my tent, I saw a man scooting across
camp in a wheelchair. He was looking for volunteers to help with camp.
His name is Jimmy "No Legs." I was shocked at first and thought they were
impolite calling him "no legs." He lost his legs in Vietnam, I was told.
During the next six days at Sitting Bull, he was everywhere - taking down
and putting up. He was more active than men with two legs. His last name
is Dawson, and his Indian name is Red Hawk, but everyone calls him Jimmy No
Legs, and he doesn't mind, one of his relatives told me. That name was
given to him by his 2-year-old nephew.
He is a member of Takola Akicita. They mainly are Vietnam veterans like their
founder, Sam DeCory. He began the society in the 1980s, with the help of
"Grampa" Fools Crows, a Pine Ridge Lakota. DeCory incorporated other
war veterans and expanded the group to included non-Natives. These non-Natives follow
the "Red Road" or the Way of the Pipe, which means they live a good and honorable
Their role is to protect the people, environment, land (especially the Black
Hills) and follow the ways of the Sacred Pipe, Jace DeCory told me. She
is Sam's widow. He died last year. The women also have a society called
Katala Okalaki kiciyewinyan which means "protects the camp when
the men are away." They are advised and mentored, she said, by
elders Nellie Two Bulls and Florine Debray.
There have been stirrings in Indian Country this year that could disturb the
society because the Takolas includes non-Natives. Meetings about protocol
for ceremonies were held by spiritual leaders of Indian Country including
Arvol Looking Horse, keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Peace
Pipe. Those protocols suggest that non-Natives' role in ceremonies should
be limited or banned.
I wondered how it would affect the Sitting Bull
ceremony this year. But the leaders of the camp held firm
with their ways. It has been the policy of the leaders at this
camp that skin color is not a consideration. The Creator looks at
people like water, they don't have a color, one of the leaders told us.
The Takola Akicita take a respectful,
helping role in these ceremonies and seem to be a bridge between
the non-Natives and Natives.
Yellow Bird writes columns Tuesday and Saturday. Reach her by phone at 780-1228
or (800) 477-6572, extension 228, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
TN Indian Affairs (tn-ind) mailing list News, information &
discussion re. Native Americans in Tennessee. [send admin requests
& comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org]
LEARN TO SPEAK CHEROKEE... EASY
Learn the Tsalagi language the easy way... The See, Say, Write method
Cassette Tape and 211 page Book are designed to have you speaking Cherokee
quickly and easily.
Reserve your set of Chief Jim Gray Wolf Henson’s Cherokee language tapes and
Send $40. Check/money order to MAIC, PO Box 476, Hot Springs, AR 71902-0476
MARS IS COMING!!
This should be a sight to see! And a long wait till next
Mars. Never again in your lifetime will the Red Planet be so spectacular!
This month and next,
Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the
closest approach between the
two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this
close is in 2287. Due to the way
Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can
only be certain that Mars has
not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as
long as 60,000 years.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within
34,649,589 miles and will be
(next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will
attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will
appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification
Mars will look as large as the full
moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot.
At the beginning of August Mar will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and
reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at
nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky
at 12:30 a.m. That's pretty convenient when it comes to seeing
that no human has seen in recorded history.
So mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow
progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share
with your children and grandchildren. No one alive today will ever see
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