Suggested Reading Black Elk Speaks and Articles Below

Black Hills Are Beyond Price to Sioux; Culture: Despite economic hardship, tribe resists U.S. efforts to dissolve an 1868 treaty for $570 million. [Bulldog Edition] Author: Frederic Frommer, Los Angeles Times Los Angeles, Calif. Aug 19, 2001

Crazy Horse Memorial: a bitter legacy for Lakota, Author: Tim Ogia, Indian Country Today, Oneida, N.Y., Sep 28, 1998

Termination by Bureaucracy by Valerie Taliman, Native Americas, Ithaca, Jun 30, 2002

29th Symposium of the American Indian by Elaine Schoeter, News from Indian Country, Hayward, Wis., May 31, 2001

Native declaration supported at World Parliament by Patricia Locke, News from Indian Country, Hayward, Wis., Sep 30, 1993

Articles

Black Hills Are Beyond Price to Sioux; Culture: Despite economic hardship, tribe resists U.S. efforts to dissolve an 1868 treaty for $570 million. [Bulldog Edition] Author: Frederic Frommer, Los Angeles Times Los Angeles, Calif. Aug 19, 2001

The quiet is broken by the territorial squeaks of prairie dogs. Buffalo lounge in prairies around the bend from pine-covered cliffs. This is land the Lakota Sioux call Paha Sapa, the Black Hills. To them, it is sacred and not for sale.

That's why the Sioux, among the poorest people in America, refuse the half-billion dollars offered by the U.S. government, which has claimed ownership of this land since 1877.

The Indians have a longer memory. In 1868, the United States signed a treaty setting aside the Black Hills "for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux." Then gold was discovered there, and Congress grabbed the land after negotiations to purchase it broke down.

A century later, in 1980, the Supreme Court awarded eight Sioux tribes $106 million in compensation--the 1877 value of $17.5 million, plus interest. This was payment for what the court called "a taking of tribal property."

The tribes refused to take the millions, insisting on the return of the land. Two political efforts to return federally held land failed in the 1980s.

The money sits in a government account, interest having swollen it now to $570 million. Still, the Sioux won't touch it. They say that would be a sellout of the Lakota nation, religion and culture.

Nowhere is the opposition more entrenched than the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, by some estimates the poorest place in the country. Home to the Oglala band of the Lakota Sioux, Pine Ridge has an unemployment rate of 85%.

The Oglala Sioux's share of the award is now worth $170 million. If they invested that, they could expect around $17 million a year in income without touching the principal. The annual budget for the reservation, by comparison, is $15 million.

It's money that could be used for housing, business development, job training and education, or even political pressure to get the Black Hills back.

Today, many people on the reservation live in trailers or shacks, drive rusted-out cars and have no place to work. Mangy dogs roam and forage.

The center of Pine Ridge village has a couple of gas stations, a Pizza Hut and a Taco John's, and little else. The reservation, covering 5,000 square miles, has nine villages but no banks, no car washes, no barber shops, no hotels.

Regardless of the obvious need, opposition to taking the money consistently runs over 90% in newspaper surveys, according to Tim Giago, publisher of the Lakota Journal.

Talk of the cash reminds the Sioux of the gold-seeking explorers who swarmed into the area seven years after President Andrew Johnson signed the Black Hills treaty.

The resulting military battles culminated in Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn in 1876.

"Ho-ka hey!" Crazy Horse yelled at that battle. "It is a good day to fight! It is a good day to die! Strong hearts, brave hearts, to the front! Weak hearts and cowards to the rear."

Congress responded by telling the Sioux: Give up the Black Hills, or lose federal food, medicine and blankets, rations pledged earlier to compensate for disrupting their hunting lands with westward expansion. Only 10% of the adult male Sioux population signed the treaty giving up the land, but Congress enacted it into law in 1877.

A federal judge, later echoed by the Supreme Court, castigated the government's deal, saying: "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing will never, in all probability, be found in our history."

The wind can whip across Pine Ridge at 50 mph, throwing stinging bits of dirt in your mouth and the corners of your eyes, hurling tumbleweeds, swirling the plastic bags, candy wrappers and six-pack cartons that litter many of the open fields.

But the landscape is also striking. Wide-open skies offer 360- degree views of prairies, rolling pine-covered hills and the Badlands, carved by wind and water over millions of years.

Try to figure the value of the Black Hills--called, in the Lakota language, the heart of everything that is: Wamaka Og'naka I'cante.

Tribal members have their own complex calculations of that value, but they don't involve dollars.

"A lot of white people perceive this as foolish pride," says tribal council member Craig Dillon. "But pride's all we have."

The SuAnne Big Crow Health and Recreation Center was named after a 17-year-old star athlete killed in a 1992 car crash. With only $32 in the bank, her mother, Chick Big Crow, started a foundation that built the center.

A converted plastics factory, the center includes a room with photos, trophies and jerseys of SuAnne, who exhorted her peers to avoid drugs and alcohol and once scored 67 points in a basketball game.

Chick Big Crow remembers the struggle to get funding early on. It's the kind of project that would have benefited from seed money from the Black Hills bounty. But she wouldn't have wanted it.

"How do you put a price tag on spirituality?" she asks.

A 16-year-old hanging out at the center's cafe, James Red Cloud, puts it another way.

"If we take that, we ain't got nothing left. No land, and nothing to fight over," he says.

A copy of the U.S. Constitution rests on the couch in Johnson Holy Rock's trailer. He also has copies of treaties and the Supreme Court's Black Hills decision.

Holy Rock, 82, wearing a belt buckle depicting an Indian warrior, has been involved in tribal government off and on for decades. On his wall is a framed photograph of him with President John F. Kennedy, at the announcement of the first public housing grant to the Oglala Sioux tribe.

"Housing was my priority," says Holy Rock, tribal president in the early 1960s. "Up to that point, people lived in car bodies and tin shacks."

Holy Rock raises livestock, and his front porch offers a view of rolling grasslands, cattle grazing by a reservoir and prairie dogs digging and chirping.

"I live in a natural atmosphere, so I have visitors, sometimes even coyotes," says Holy Rock, who was widowed six years ago. A limping German shepherd dog recently started coming around.

Holy Rock says the Sioux refusal to take the Black Hills money has been misunderstood.

"The money laying there, ready to be issued out--all we have to do is say, 'OK.' And yet, we've chosen to live in poverty . . . just poor, ignorant, heathen savages," he says.

"We have a different set of values," he continues. "We don't think of the air and water in terms of dollars and cents."

Holy Rock grew up in a log house with no foundation; when the house burned down, the family moved into a tent. He was 6 years old when he first started looking after his father's livestock.

Water was so scarce back then that when he and his horse would find some, they would drink out of the same hole. To this day, he considers water such a valuable commodity that he'll have only half a glass at a restaurant.

Things are not as bleak for Holy Rock anymore.

"I'm comfortable," he says. "I don't aspire to riches."

At Bear Butte, a sacred site in the northeastern Black Hills about 150 miles from Pine Ridge, prayer cloths of many colors are tied to the trees, placed there by Indians as a sign of their commitment to the creator. They blow in 40 mph winds like a psychedelic parade of low-flying kites. Offering pouches, filled with sage and tobacco, also hang from the branches.

A road at Bear Butte State Park marked "Authorized Vehicles Only" stops outside a field where several Sioux are building a fire to heat rocks for a sweat lodge. Once inside the tarp-covered lodge, they will pray, sing and use the stifling heat to cleanse their minds and bodies.

"The sweat lodge will teach you everything about life, about yourself," says one of the Lakotas, Izzy Zephier, 52. "It's like looking at a mirror, at reality, at truth. Your shield comes down."

Accepting money for this land is unthinkable, he says. "We would be telling God, 'This isn't yours. We're wheeling and dealing.' "

Charlotte Black Elk is a descendant of Crazy Horse's friend, Little Big Man, who in 1875 threatened to kill any man who advocated selling the Black Hills. Black Elk herself is so hard-core that she uproots nonnative plants from her property.

Had the Supreme Court made its ruling 25 years earlier, she says, the tribes probably would have accepted the money.

"Each generation has become much more radicalized," says Black Elk, a thin woman who looks younger than her 49 years. "When it came to my generation, we were, 'No, we'll never take the money.' "

That shift has been accompanied by a return to traditional religious practices.

"My parents' generation lived in a world where they were socialized Christians, and attempted to maintain as much of the tribal culture as possible," Black Elk says. "Whereas myself, I'm an orthodox Indian. . . . I have the religion that came with my culture and my blood and the land that I'm attached to."

Both her daughter and son have killed buffalo, which helps connect them with past generations that made hunting the center of society. "My daughter's generation is Lakota in a way that our people haven't been for 150 years," she says.

Black Elk lives in the reservation village of Manderson, a few miles north of Wounded Knee, site of the 1890 massacre of nearly 300 unarmed Sioux. Her house is surrounded by limestone buttes. Elk antlers and an elk head hang on her wall.

She is confident that the Sioux will one day own the Black Hills again.

Her 28-year-old nephew, D.J. One Feather, is not.

"Part of me says we should just take the money," says One Feather, a former reservation police officer.

Then why not do it?

"I guess it's pride, man," he says. "You're giving in to the white man. I hate using terms like that--us and them--but sometimes it's hard to get your point across without them. Hundreds of years of oppression--you're just giving in to it."

Bill Swift Hawk, a 62-year-old artist, has made it a vocation to take over places in the name of Indian power.

Thirty years ago, he joined in the American Indian Movement occupation of Alcatraz, the former prison island in San Francisco Bay. In 1981, he and others occupied Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills. Now, Swift Hawk is part of a group occupying the reservation's tribal government building.

Swift Hawk left Pine Ridge and spent his 20s and 30s in California, pretty much "drinking, partying and bouncing around." Sometimes he made money by shortchanging cashiers, rationalizing that he was getting his Black Hills share.

Alcoholism affects almost every reservation family, health officials say, yet there is no detoxification center, something the Black Hills money could pay for.

Swift Hawk quit booze 20 years ago, and moved back to Pine Ridge.

The activists occupying the government building began protesting alleged corruption in tribal government, which is millions of dollars in debt, and now call for a return to a traditional government, run by elders.

Inside, a shrine displays a copy of the 1868 treaty, promising the land "for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupancy of the Sioux."

Exchanging that for money is just not an option, Swift Hawk says.

"That's the center of our world."

Crazy Horse Memorial: a bitter legacy for Lakota by Tim Ogia

I can imagine Henry Standing Bear telling sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski that we also have our heroes. The year was 1948, and the Indian people of South Dakota -the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota - had been pushed so far into the land of "out of sight, out of mind" that everyone believed our heroes were all dead. A drowning man clutches at straws. The people of the great Sioux Nation were drowning.

We had lost our sacred Paha Sapa (Black Hills), and we had watched the mining companies raping our Makoce Ina (Mother Earth). We didn't have the manpower or the resources to fight back. Henry Standing Bear, like Black Elk before him, truly believed that the sacred circle had been broken and that we were a people without a future. Perhaps when we were all gone, he must have reasoned, the face of an Indian carved on a mountain would be all that remained.

Henry Standing Bear was wrong. Instead, we stood up and fought back.

In a decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1981, it was judged that the sacred Black Hills of the Lakota had been taken illegally. Said Justice Harry Blackmun, "A more ripe and rank case of illegal dealings may never be found in or history."

But instead of returning a portion of the hills as the Sioux people demanded, a court-mandated monetary settlement was made. To this day, although the people of the Sioux nation live on the poorest lands in America, they have not touched one penny of the award, and the original $105 million - under the management of the BIA - has grown to $500 million. The Sioux people sill say, "The Black Hills are not for sale."

The tribes of the great Sioux nation are also quite realistic. They are not asking for the return of 1.3 million acres of the original 7.5 million acres, and they are requesting only national forest land. No municipalities, no national monuments, and no privately owned lands, just national forest lands. They hope to turn the 1.5 million acres into the Great Sioux National Park.

The traditional and spiritual people of the Lakota look upon the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial as a desecration of their sacred lands. To them, it is like defiling Mecca, the Holy Land, or the Vatican. Such was not the case in 1948 when Henry Standing Bear believed all was lost. A new generation had yet to rise.

Crazy Horse, the magnificent warrior of the Lakota, was an Oglala like me. He never put his name on a treaty. He never sold out. He, it was said, never allowed his picture to be taken. He would never have allowed his face to be carved upon the side of a mountain in the beautiful hills he held sacred.

Charlotte Black Elk, the great-great-granddaughter of Black Elk (of the Black Elk Speaks fame) is bitterly against the carving. Oliver Red Cloud, the great-great-grandson of Chief Red Cloud, has spoken out strongly against the carving. He has said he truly believes it will not be completed because Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit) will never allow it to happen.

Lakota anthropologist Beatrice Medicine of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the tribe of Sitting Bull, is also vehemently opposed to the statue. She believes the mountain is more of a tribute to the sculptor than to the Indian. She calls the carving "a sacrilege that mars the beauty of the sacred Black Hills."

Avis Little Eagle, editor of Indian Country Today, denounced the carving as a "monument of exploitation." She wrote, "Many promises were made to the Lakota when Korczak began carving in 1948, but few of them have been kept."

The national media and even some publications that profess to be published for the benefit of the American Indian have climbed on the bandwagon to praise Ziolkowski's widow for her determined effort to continue the pursuit of her husband's dream. But nearly all of the traditional Lakota believe the promises made to them for a great Indian university and medical center will never be fulfilled. To Ziolkowski they were a dream, and to many Lakota they will always be just that, a dream.

We Lakota have heard white men make promises for 200 years, and we have also seen those promises turn into huge money-making projects. The white man made the money, and the Lakota were left with the promises. Such is the legacy of the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Termination by Bureaucracy by Valerie Taliman, Native Americas, Ithaca, Jun 30, 2002

Abstract:

The tribe's constitution, passed in 1970, states "membership shall include all persons with at least one-quarter degree Paiute Indian blood whose names appear on the official 1940 census...and descendants who possess at least one-quarter degree Paiute Indian blood." Just before the disenrollments, the council passed a resolution with a new interpretation of Article 3 of the constitution that reads: "The meaning of Paiute Indian Blood has consistently meant ancestry derived from Southern Paiute Blood." The council then retroactively applied the July 1999 resolution to members of the tribe listed on the 1940 census with "Indian blood" and subsequently removed the 14 tribal members.

"It's a very dangerous precedent to set for all of Indian Country The current leadership is trying to reduce the number of people eligible to share in the tribe's wealth and they're trampling over peoples' rights to do it," Stuhff says. He argues that sovereign immunity should never be used as a shield to prevent tribal members from seeking justice for the wrongs committed against them. Because federal courts have no jurisdiction over cases involving Indians' claims against their governments, tribal members must seek justice through tribal courts until all remedies are exhausted. Only then can they appeal to federal district court. "The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 was intended to give Native Americans the same constitutional rights as all American citizens, and the Paiute Tribe adopted the act when they organized their government," Stuhff says. Chappabitty agrees. "The Indian Civil Rights Act has turned out to be nothing more than a meaningless federal regulation that looks good on paper but in reality offers no recourse to correct illegal actions taken by our governments."

Critics of the Cherokee charge they have "diluted their Indianness," scholars of history, U.S. policy and traditional tribal customs see merit in casting aside blood quantum membership policies that inevitably may weaken Indian nations. "I come from a tribe that doesn't have degree of blood for enrollment," says Charlotte Black Elk, a scholar of Lakota oral history. "Our enrollment is based on ancestry, and even though the BIA doesn't like it, we set our own rules. Blood quantum is part of the whole American policy of genocide by bureaucracy. The history of U.S. government warfare that diminished our people was insidiously replaced by small pox blankets. I believe that using blood quantum, a pedigree, to establish who we are as Native people is akin to small pox blankets." Copyright Akwe:kon Press, American Indian Program, Cornell University Jun 30, 2002

Full Text:

Imagine receiving a letter in the mail one day stating that your tribal membership had been terminated -- effective immediately No more claims to tribal heritage, to land, to cultural identity And no avenue for appeal except the tribal council that voted for your termination.

That happened to 14 members of the Las Vegas (Nevada) Paiute Tribe who received letters in July 1999 notifying them they had been removed from the tribal roll because they no longer met the blood quantum requirement for membership. The tribal council had changed the enrollment criteria and retroactively applied new rules to longtime tribal members.

In a tribe of 54 people, almost one-fourth of the population was disenrolled in one day. Outraged, the disenrolled Paiutes accused the tribal council of violating their civil rights and illegally altering tribal records to disqualify them from membership as part of a long history of power struggles and ill will among various families within the tribe.

"When I got the letter stating I was disenrolled, I couldn't believe it," says Debra Faria, a 45-year-old mother of three and sister of former Paiute chairman Billy J. Frye. "I've been a Paiute all my life. It was the worst day of my life. It was like they took part of my heart and ripped it out."

Faria was shocked that the tribal council could change the official 1940 census roll to retroactively reduce her ancestors' blood quantum to disqualify her and her family from tribal membership. Two had served on prior tribal councils.

"They actually took a bottle of Wite-Out and changed the 1940 enrollment records," she says. "We're the original Paiutes raised in the Las Vegas Valley who started out very poor. When we began making money in the 1980s, others began to enroll. This is all about money and greed."

In 1940, the Las Vegas Paiutes were impoverished, with only 15 members and 10 acres of land. The tribe now distributes payments of up to $100,000 per year to tribal members from profits generated through its tax-free smoke shop near downtown Las Vegas and several other businesses. The tribe is also building a $170-million resort that includes a hotel/casino, four golf courses, a shopping center and time-share condos on 3,800 acres of land acquired in 1983 under the leadership of Faria's brother, chairman Frye (who was disenrolled posthumously.)

The "disenrolled" have spent nearly three years trying to reverse tribal council actions that have left them dispossessed. Without the $6,000 monthly per capita payments they once received, some have lost their homes and cars. What the future holds for their children is the question that troubles them most.

SOVEREIGNTY: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

The tribe's constitution, passed in 1970, states "membership shall include all persons with at least one-quarter degree Paiute Indian blood whose names appear on the official 1940 census...and descendants who possess at least one-quarter degree Paiute Indian blood." Just before the disenrollments, the council passed a resolution with a new interpretation of Article 3 of the constitution that reads: "The meaning of Paiute Indian Blood has consistently meant ancestry derived from Southern Paiute Blood." The council then retroactively applied the July 1999 resolution to members of the tribe listed on the 1940 census with "Indian blood" and subsequently removed the 14 tribal members.

But according to guidelines in the Bureau of Indian Affairs manual on tribal

enrollment: If the writers of the constitution wanted to enroll only Indians of a certain tribe's blood, they would have written it that way. If the tribe now wants to limit membership to Indians of specific tribal blood, the constitution should be amended. The manual notes that constitutions may be amended to state tribal blood instead of Indian blood, or to require a minimum of blood degree or to raise the blood minimum. However, in these cases, there is probably no legal way to take membership away from persons who are already members and who were enrolled before the constitution was amended. This amendment will affect membership decisions only from the date it is approved and becomes law.

BIA enrollment specialists state that while they assist tribes in the process of amending enrollment standards, they no longer exercise approval over disenrollments since the precedent-setting Martinez v. Santa Clara case in 1978 decided that tribes have ultimate authority over their membership.

Las Vegas attorney Michael Stuhff, who represents most of the disenrolled, has filed several lawsuits alleging the tribal council violated prohibitions against applying ex post facto laws and says his clients were not afforded due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and the Indian Civil Rights Act. He says his clients were subjected to "bills of attainder," laws selectively applied only to certain members of the tribe that divested them of property rights to which they are entitled. "In this case, sovereign immunity is being misused as a way to suppress tribal members' rights," Stuhff says.

In response to media inquiries regarding motives for the disenrollments, the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe issued a one-paragraph statement several weeks after the disenrollments: "All actions taken by the Tribal Council relative to disenrollments were in accordance with the tribal constitution and the tribe's law and order code. In each instance, the Bureau of Indian Affairs assisted in the process. Further discussion of the matter would not be in the best interest of any of the parties involved. Accordingly, the tribe will make no further comment at this time."

According to BIA officials in the Phoenix area office, about half of the 50 tribes in the Southwest region are currently examining enrollment standards and the problem of disenrollments is growing nationally. Comanche attorney Dennis Chappabitty, based in Sacramento, Calif., represents more than 50 disenrolled clients, including former members of the Berry Creek Rancheria and Tache Santa Rosa Rancheria in California, and the Wichita Indian Tribe of Oklahoma. He describes the disenrollment cases as "ugly" and destructive. "Some tribal governments are abusing sovereignty to hurt their own people," he says. "They are of the mistaken view that tribal sovereignty is a double-edged sword they can use to hack away at the rights of their tribal members."

Chappabitty says newfound gambling wealth and land claim settlements are driving many disenrollments. "They're kicking people out or rejecting applications for membership so they can increase their own share of the wealth. It's so extreme, outrageous and disrespectful to use tribal sovereignty to diminish your own tribe. Disenrollment can culturally destroy a person's mind and soul, and weaken us as Indian nations."

In the summer of 2000, 40 members of the Tache Santa Rosa Tribe were summoned before the tribal council to prove their heritage. Karen Hyatt, one of those in question, said as their names were read off, they were asked to leave the room. When they were allowed to return, 11 of them were told they were no longer tribal members. Hyatt -- whose great-grandmother helped the tribe obtain federal recognition back in the 1930s -- fought the disenrollment by appealing the decision to the tribal council, but has never received a written response. She also wrote to the BIA in Washington, D.C., which also failed to respond. Since her tribe has no tribal court, she has no other recourse for reinstatement, though she can prove she is one-quarter Santa Rosa. Hyatt believes the $2,000-per-month dividend checks generated by the tribe's casino is the key reason the tribal council cut her and several of her relatives from the rolls.

THE RIGHTS OF THE TRIBE V. THE RIGHTS OF ITS MEMBERS

When the disenrolled Paiutes were given a chance to verifiy their heritage before the tribal council at a hearing in October 2000, Faria provided her father's death certificate noting his Indian heritage and a copy of a 1940 tribal roll that lists her mother as five-eighths Paiute. Despite their documentation, all 14 were rejected by the new rules.

Faria recalled the heated controversy surrounding the mid-1980s enrollment of current chairman Curtis Anderson, and his brothers, Kenneth and Leroy, who relinquished membership in the Indian Peaks Band of Paiutes in Utah and successfully sued to enroll in the Las Vegas Paiutes. Now Curtis, Kenneth and nephew Michael Anderson serve on the seven-member council that voted to disenroll many descendants of the 1940 roll.

"It's a very dangerous precedent to set for all of Indian Country The current leadership is trying to reduce the number of people eligible to share in the tribe's wealth and they're trampling over peoples' rights to do it," Stuhff says. He argues that sovereign immunity should never be used as a shield to prevent tribal members from seeking justice for the wrongs committed against them. Because federal courts have no jurisdiction over cases involving Indians' claims against their governments, tribal members must seek justice through tribal courts until all remedies are exhausted. Only then can they appeal to federal district court. "The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 was intended to give Native Americans the same constitutional rights as all American citizens, and the Paiute Tribe adopted the act when they organized their government," Stuhff says. Chappabitty agrees. "The Indian Civil Rights Act has turned out to be nothing more than a meaningless federal regulation that looks good on paper but in reality offers no recourse to correct illegal actions taken by our governments."

Navajo attorney and judge Albert Hale suggests that tribal governments must examine the possibility of waiving sovereign immunity in certain cases to allow lawsuits in tribal courts by citizens who have legitimate grievances. "It's important to have a forum for meaningful judicial review of policies that negatively impact our people," he says. "Tribes need to make sure there are checks and balances to safeguard people's rights. Like state and federal governments, the Navajo Nation has waived sovereign immunity in limited cases to allow individuals and businesses to bring lawsuits against the Navajo Nation. In fairness, tribes should waive sovereign immunity to enforce rights afforded by the Indian Civil Rights Act."

Meanwhile, on October 10, 2001, Debra Faria was banished from the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe for rallying tribal members to vote in favor of reinstating the disenrolled, and appealing the tribal council ruling, which was later overturned. The tribal council then retained new lawyers to fight the ruling of their own tribal court, even going so far as to say the courts had no jurisdiction to review actions of the council.

On February 19, 2002, the appellate court remanded the case back to the tribal court with very specific instructions: the tribal court must examine the 1940 base roll to determine if any base enrollee was listed as "Southern Paiute." If not, then Resolution 99018 -- the basis for the disenrollments

-- is unconstitutional and the original ruling would be upheld. A copy of the 1940 base roll shows no one listed as Southern Paiute.

The disenrolled are waiting to see if their tribal council will abide by tribal law.

CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDIES

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan has fought a highly publicized membership battle over the last five years. The dispute began in 1998 when the tribal council was accused of expelling deceased ancestors in order to exclude their descendants from sharing in profits from its Soaring Eagle casino and other tribal enterprises. The 2,700-member Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, with a reported $700 million in its coffers, has made per capita payments of up to $6,000 per month to its members, with total annual payments exceeding $52,000.

As happens in reservations communities, certain families gained control of the tribal government and the enrollment process, and an application of some 380 new members was undertaken in 1982. Questions arose about who was really a Saginaw Chippewa and who had the right to vote in tribal elections.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe traces its roots to three bands of Chippewa that once occupied most of the southern and northeastern portions of Michigan's lower peninsula: the Saginaw, Swan Creek and Black River. The bands were involved in nearly 30 treaties with the U.S. government, but were defrauded of much of their land between 1850 and 1860 in allotment schemes and gradually lost most of the land base promised in treaties. By the turn of the century, the individual bands owned very little trust property. To regain land and access to federal programs, the Saginaw Tribe agreed to reestablish their government on May 6, 1937 under terms of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. Members of several bands were placed on one land base, and, in the process, some tribal members were left out.

In the 1990s, the issue of who was actually Saginaw Chippewa drove an effort to reform the tribe's constitution and clarify membership and voting issues. The tribe's constitution committee worked to promulgate constitutional policies that would resolve some of the longstanding problems. Public hearings were held, new enrollment and election ordinances were adopted, and some progress was made. But after the committee submitted its draft to the BIA, efforts smiled at the federal level and that contributed to problems in tribal elections.

The turmoil reached the highest levels of the Interior Department in February 1999 when the tribal council voted to invalidate the 1982 tribal membership resolution, a move that had the potential to remove more than 300 people from tribal rolls. The action was viewed as a means of overturning a January 1999 primary election that would have removed the sitting council from power. BIA recommended that the tribe hold another tribal election but failed to assist with a constitutional election and once again results were overturned.

Then-BIA Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover made a decision to appoint the top 10 vote-getters in a primary election to comprise a new tribal council, an action that violated the tribe's constitution, according to the Saginaw Chippewa Appellate Court, because it broke new ground in recognizing individuals who had not won in a general action. A series of lawsuits challenging BIA intervention and questioning tribal authority then ensued.

The Saginaw Chippewa appellate court eventually ruled that the tribal council should remain seated and cautioned that an "appeal to the United States government exemplifies both the negative impact that historical federal policy has had upon Indian tribes," and would promote tribal reliance on a paternalistic BIA.

In the fall of 2001, a federal judge ordered the Secretary of Interior to conduct an election for a proposed new tribal constitution intended to reform membership problems and create a balance of power. Tribal officials say such an election can only take place after work on the constitution is complete in another six months. Many tribal members say they are now ready to work toward changing their constitution.

SHARED LAND, SHARED BLOODLINES

The federal government's role in forcing people from disparate heritages onto a shared land base has caused problems elsewhere in Indian Country. Two years ago, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma voted to strip "black Seminoles" of membership in the tribe under the guise of a broad reorganization of its government structure. But black Seminoles, as they call themselves, say money is at the heart of the issue, referring to a $56 million land claim settlement Congress paid the tribe in the early 1990s to compensate them for lands taken in Florida in the early 1800s.

After their forced removal from their Florida homelands in the 1840s, the blood Seminoles and their black slaves were forced to settle in Oklahoma, intermarrying over many generations. Black Seminoles say they too owned land in Florida and deserve a portion of the $56 million payment to the tribe, but many blood Seminoles disagree.

A 1976 history of the Seminoles prepared by the BIA concluded that in the 1700s, some of the blacks became free under the Seminoles and continued "very close relationships" with the tribe in the 1800s. But the report also said the former slaves did not own land in Florida at the time the federal government seized it in 1823. However, an 1866 treaty between the federal government and the Seminoles recognized the black Seminoles as members of the tribe. Some blood Seminoles argue that the federal government forced them to accept blacks as members of the tribe.

The status of who is a Seminole has resulted in two federal lawsuits and larger questions about who decides who is an Indian. Clearly, the federal government's intervention has shaped complicated legal battles and challenged the sovereignty of the tribe's right to determine its membership. The 15,000-member Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, backed by Department of Justice lawyers, deny that they have subjected the black Seminoles to discrimination. Chief Jerry Haney characterized the issue as political in nature, not racial. He says Interior lawyers agreed with the tribe that the $56 million was intended to compensate tribal members for land stolen and "the blacks were not landowners." It is up to the black Seminoles to prove their ancestors had Seminole Indian blood in 1823.

Following the referendum vote to remove the black Seminoles from tribal rolls, the Interior Department reviewed the action and deemed the disenrollments illegal. Interior said it would not recognize any tribal government that did not include the black Seminoles who have been allowed to serve on past tribal councils. The tribe responded with a federal lawsuit against Interior, challenging federal intervention and interference in their right to decide their membership.

While the cases are pending, the shared history of the black and blood Seminoles has changed forever. Donnell Davis, an 18-year-old black Seminole, told the New York Times, "It takes your pride away. You know they don't want you to be part of them. They tell you you're nothing to them."

INDIAN BY FRACTION

The thorny issue of blood quantum is central to the controversies surrounding who is a "bonafide Indian" and who is not. Historians and traditionalists alike argue that the blood quantum standard is a U.S.-government-imposed method that was always meant to reduce Native numbers and, subsequently, aboriginal claims to millions of acres of land, sacred sites, precious water rights and natural resources.

The practice of using blood quantum to establish racial composition of human beings was traced back to 1705 when Virginia colonists sought a means to deny civil rights to Native Americans, black slaves and mulattos, who were seen as inferior, according to Lenape author and scholar Jack Forbes. The U.S. government later used Virginia's model to define who was eligible to receive land under the General Allotment Act passed by Congress in 1887. In order to free up some 150 million acres of land collectively held by Indian tribes at the turn of the century, the government devised a scheme to allot individual parcels of land to "eligible" Indians -- those who possessed "not less than one-half degree of Indian blood." This excluded untold thousands of Native people, many of whom refused to participate in the allotment.

Using a narrow definition of eligibility and ignoring tribes' inherent rights to determine their own members, the government's late 1890s official count of Indians was estimated to be little more than 237,000, Forbes says. Once each enrolled Indian had received his land allotment, albeit in "trust status," which varied from 40 to 160 acres, the rest of Indian territory

-- more than 100 million acres -- was converted to "surplus lands" available to non-Indian homesteaders, military outposts and private businesses.

Pursuant to treaty obligations, the federal government owed permanent monetary commitments to enrolled Indians for a range of services that included food rations, annuity payments, education and health care. As tribes began to renew their strength in numbers after the turn of the century, the government once again began to explore cost-cutting measures to reduce its financial obligations to Indian people.

Through the combined force of the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), the Termination Act and other legislation, the federal government has effectively kept Native Americans at less than one percent of the U.S. population. Forbes notes that 1969 Bureau of the Census methods forced mixed-blood indigenous peoples to choose whether they were American Indian, Hispanic or African. This process "erased" some 15 million people of mixed-Native ancestry by 1980 when census figures estimated the Native American population at 1.4 million. Forbes argues that if all persons of Native ancestry identified themselves as Native, the 1990 Native population would have been almost 30 million.

Blood quantum appears to be another reductionist tactic used by the federal government to reduce the numbers of federally-recognized tribal members entitled to services paid for in perpetuity with Indian lives and land. Historian Patricia Nelson Limerick said it well in the book The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West: "Set the blood quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indians, let intermarriage proceed as it had for centuries, and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. When that happens, the federal government will be freed of its persistent "Indian problem."

QUALITY V. QUANTITY

Most tribes determine their membership by one of four methods: birth to an enrolled mother or father, descendancy, blood quantum or residency. Many tribes adopted the one-quarter blood criteria proposed by the 1934 IRA constitutions, others like the Quintah-Ouray Utes require as much as five-eighths and the Cherokee follow lineal descent from the 1906 Dawes Commission Rolls. In some tribes, adoption was allowed and even encouraged, but many tribes have moved away from liberal adoption policies. The Navajo Nation prohibited adoptions in 1934, noting the only way to become a Navajo was by birth.

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma -- once drastically reduced in numbers by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 -- set a precedent when it rejected blood quantum requirements in its 1975 constitution and defined its citizens as those who could prove Cherokee ancestry. This increased the tribe's numbers from about 10,000 in the 1950s to more than 220,000 today and increased federal funding and political control over their former homelands.

Critics of the Cherokee charge they have "diluted their Indianness," scholars of history, U.S. policy and traditional tribal customs see merit in casting aside blood quantum membership policies that inevitably may weaken Indian nations. "I come from a tribe that doesn't have degree of blood for enrollment," says Charlotte Black Elk, a scholar of Lakota oral history. "Our enrollment is based on ancestry, and even though the BIA doesn't like it, we set our own rules. Blood quantum is part of the whole American policy of genocide by bureaucracy. The history of U.S. government warfare that diminished our people was insidiously replaced by small pox blankets. I believe that using blood quantum, a pedigree, to establish who we are as Native people is akin to small pox blankets."

Black Elk makes the distinction that she is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, not a member. "To say that I am a member of an organization that has a pedigree diminishes who I am, who my nation is," she explains. "Euro-Americans, because they left their countries, wanted citizenship of the land, saying if you were born here you' re eligible to be a citizen. It's living my culture, knowing my culture that makes me Lakota, not because I have a degree of Indian blood."

"Before white contact, our policy was one of inclusiveness," she adds. "Genetically, Lakotas knew it was important to marry out from our camps. We were always bringing in fresh blood. We brought in women for breeding purposes and we kept those children. And when the women chose to stay, we adopted them. It has always been our tradition to set our own rules. Historically, if we married only within our own people, we would have died out."

Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Morning Star Institute, says Native leaders must consider negative and positive impacts of blood quantum requirements on future generations, and think carefully about possible solutions. "Tribes have the sovereign right to define who their citizens are, but as individuals we have to take responsibility for who we choose to have children with," she says. "Parents who marry outside their tribes risk disenfranchising their children and grandchildren. It's an issue we must examine carefully and address for the sake our grandchildren and who we want to be as Indian nations."

The Onondaga Nation forced the issue in the 1970s when a growing trend of intermarriage emerged among the men in the community. The issue of allowing non-Indians to live on Onondaga land began to cause problems. "It was quite serious for us because the definition of our nation is carried by the women," says Oren Lyons, a traditional faithkeeper. "Under traditional law, the women carry the clans and the nation. If your mother is Onondaga, then you are. But if a man marries a non-Indian, then the children are what their mother is. The chiefs saw that the number of intermarriages would eventually reduce our numbers and decided to take the issue to the people."

As heated debates extended over several months, the chiefs listened and answered questions relating to traditional law. Nearly every family was affected and hard choices had to be made. "In order to keep the integrity of the nation, the people agreed that we would only have Indians living on the nation," Lyons says. "When you have non-Indians, they bring federal law with them because they are American citizens. So you have the question of jurisdiction and that's a direct challenge to our sovereignty. After three months, the consensus of our people was that they had to go." The evictions were carried out in the summer of 1974 after the school year ended. Most were peaceful, with the exception of one non-Indian woman who burned her house down. But it was the will of the people to honor traditional laws that govern Onondaga land and people.

"We're very conscious about teaching our children about their choices," Lyons says. "Love is love and it happens all the time, but there are consequences to our actions. And traditional law must be adhered to. At Onondaga, if you make the choice to marry a non-Indian, you have to leave the nation. That's the choice you make."

Many Native people see the need to keep bloodlines strong as a necessary obligation to ensuring their survival as distinct people, but strong bloodlines alone are no guarantee for cultural survival. Commitments to core beliefs are fundamental.

"Who we are as a people is not defined by what's on paper," says Alex White Plume, a Lakota traditionalist from Manderson, S.Dak. "It's the language, ceremonies and relationship to our Mother Earth that gives us our identity. It's living our lives according to the teachings that make us who we are. Once we lose these things, then we'll just be like brown white people."

29th Symposium of the American Indian, News from Indian Country, Hayward, Wis., May 31, 2001

"Embracing the Future with Wisdom From the Past," the 29th annual Symposium of the American Indian was held April 18-21 at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. The symposium traditionally begins with entertainment and culminates in a powwow. Numerous regional craftsmen, artists, and authors display their work, and a Native American fashion show is also held during the week.

The symposium originated in 1972, when a professor at Northeastern State University, Dr. Ruth Arrington, wanted to provide a forum of culturally relevant issues to the Native American students attending NSU. Nationally renowned speakers have been brought in over the past 29 years as well as traditional people from the local area and from the state of Oklahoma.

This year's keynote address was by Charlotte Black Elk, Oglala Sioux descendent of Nicholas Black Elk of Black Elk Speaks. Black Elk says we must look to our origins or the answers to contemporary problems. "Indian life has a structure for sovereignty, governing, and behavior," says Black Elk. "We must look beyond simply changing faces of our political leaders and return to our cultural ways, which consider the impact of our actions on the next seven generations."

In addressing holistic issues, Crosslin Smith, Cherokee medicine person and grandson of Chief Redbird Smith, also stressed the need for all to understand and return to old traditions, saying, "We are losing the meaning of what we do."

Smith spoke of the beginnings of the Stomp Dance which he described as a unifying activity where one should leave attitude, ego, and emotion behind to honor and be in unity with the spirits of all those around you and with the spirits of the old ones who lived before.

Other speakers included Dr. Nancy Maryboy, Cherokee/Navajo scientist at NASA; historical researchers Don and Paula Sanders; former principal chief of the Creek Nation, Dr. Bill Fite; lawyer and linguistic researcher Greg Bigler; Oklahoma Senator and artist Enoch Kelly Haney; Ruth Yellow Hawk; linguistic professor Dr. Akira Yamamoto; Kiowa storyteller Jake Chanate; NSU Professor Ben Kracht; Dr. Joseph Faulds; Wanda Holmes; D. J. Vanas; and Antonio Perez Mendez, Tseltzal healer and herbalist.

Funding for the symposium is through grants and fund raisers. Conference participants include both Native and non-natives from Oklahoma and surrounding states, who view the symposium as an opportunity to increase their awareness of Native issues. Students from the surrounding area are invited to participate in the symposium and to take part in activities such as storytelling, native games, music, and dancing.

Native declaration supported at World Parliament by Patricia Locke, News from Indian Country, Hayward, Wis., Sep 30, 1993

Abstract:

American Indians, who were not invited to the first parliament 100 years ago, were there in full force at the second Parliament which drew 7,700 registered participants from world religions including followers of Abraham Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammand, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Tail Feather Woman, Sweet Medicine, Changing Woman, Pahana, Dekanawida, Quetzacoatl, and Baha'u llah.

The Declaration of Vision, developed by a diverse group of American Indian spiritual leaders and participants, was read to the Assembly by Assembly members Charlotte Black Elk, Oglala, and Crow spiritual leader Burton Pretty On Top. Among those voting for approval was Archbishop Francesco Gioia, the official delegate from the Vatican.

World Parliament trustees who will help to form an ongoing Parliament group will also consider processes to implement the Indian Declaration of Vision recommended to it by the Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. Copyright Indian Country Communications Sep 30, 1993

Full Text:

Native declaration supported at World Parliament.

by Patricia Locke

Special to News From Indian Country

On September 4, 1993 at the parliament of the World's Religions held in Chicago, Illinois, the Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders approved the Declaration of Vision Toward the Next 500 Years from the Gathering of the 1993 United Indigenous Peoples.

Other than the comprehensive Declaration of a Global Ethic, the document produced by Native Americans was the only one accepted.

American Indians, who were not invited to the first parliament 100 years ago, were there in full force at the second Parliament which drew 7,700 registered participants from world religions including followers of Abraham Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammand, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Tail Feather Woman, Sweet Medicine, Changing Woman, Pahana, Dekanawida, Quetzacoatl, and Baha'u llah.

After the vote by the Assembly, a Christian lady told one of the 16 American Indian Assembly members, "I want you to know the hearts of all of us are with you. I hope our endorsement will help."

The Declaration of Vision, developed by a diverse group of American Indian spiritual leaders and participants, was read to the Assembly by Assembly members Charlotte Black Elk, Oglala, and Crow spiritual leader Burton Pretty On Top. Among those voting for approval was Archbishop Francesco Gioia, the official delegate from the Vatican.

Pretty On Top met with Archbishop Gioia on the evening of September 4th to discuss the Vision Statement and to begin a dialogue on a process to nullify the 1493 Papal Bull.

World Parliament trustees who will help to form an ongoing Parliament group will also consider processes to implement the Indian Declaration of Vision recommended to it by the Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders.

They will also consider an initial comprehensive nine page Declaration of a Global Ethic recommended to them by a majority of the Assembly members.

The Global Ethic provides a foundation for the American Indian Declaration of Vision. It chastises religions for using "Aggression, fanaticism, hate and xenophobia" to "inspire and legitimize violent and bloody conflicts."

It also warned of the collapse of the ecosystem and calls disarmament "the commandment of the times."

The document speaks of a "commitment to a culture of non-violence," a "commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order," a "commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness," and a "commitment to a culture of equal rights."

The American Indian Declaration asks: that a 1493 Papal Bull be revoked; that the myriad of Messengers of God to the peoples of the Western Hemisphere be acknowledged; for support in promoting, preserving and maintaining indigenous languages and cultures; for involvement in the world outcry against the continuing genocide of indigenous peoples; for the protection and return of sacred sites and traditional lands; for the reversal of environmental degradation that endangers traditional lifeways, and, repatriation of our ancestors and sacred objects from the holdings and museums of the world.