COMMENTARY: What a difference 50 or 60 years can make…

by Jul 15, 2020OPINIONS


Observations and random thoughts




Skin color matters! It took the threat of the loss of corporate sponsorship to change a name that would not be changed. No, it ain’t Voldemort. In other words greenskins (not the Hulk) trumped the Redskins. I’ll actually, finally say that name now that it’s gone the way of gently used toilet paper. Or maybe it’s true when Ol’ Green Genes (thank you Stan Lee) bellows, “Hulk will smash!”  And…ta da! The racist slur used as the name of the Washington NFL team is history, dust, gone. I’m 64 and I never thought I’d still be walking the earth when this day arrived. Money talks, BS walks. Gone! See ya! Wooohooo!!!

A thought. If the former name of that team wasn’t racist why weren’t other teams named Blackskins…or Brownskins…or so on and so forth…you know what I mean. There weren’t any Zulus or Cartels cartoonishly depicted on any helmets and they were/are as fierce and “savage” as any Native tribe was supposed to be. Ask the British colonists or the Mexican government. The answer to that question is simple, at one point in time, we were nearly wiped out. The government system of decimation, assimilation and eradication had taken us to the brink. Reservation, relocation, termination. All were words used to describe solutions to the “Indian” problem. So, as a result, with us being the “vanishing race”, sports teams used Native stereotypical symbolism to depict our perceived savagery on the field. The only problem with that was, we didn’t die out and we’re still here. Y’all non-Cherokee can celebrate inside our comfortable climate controlled casinos. Mask required.

The irony of the government trying to wipe us off the face of the Earth for doing what they themselves would do in a heartbeat has never escaped me. We fought back against people determined to take what was ours and murder us in the process. There you have it. History in a nutshell. No statue or monument needed.

50 or 60 years. Once upon a time the Democrat party was the most reviled, backward political party in the country. It was the party of Andrew Jackson, George Wallace, Jesse Helm, Strom Thurmond, Lyndon Johnson, etc. Beginning in the time of Jackson the Democrats supported slavery and states’ rights, just another way of saying states had the right to own people in order to benefit the economy of those particular states. Slavery. Then the mid-60s happened. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas turned against the majority of Southern Democrats and vocally supported the Civil Rights Movement. That created the domino effect compelling the more virulent racists of his party to jump ship, change party affiliation and become Republicans. History, past and present. Again, no statue needed.

I have railed for years in written form in this paper about the inconsideration and insults heaped upon the EBCI by the fact that a portion of the reservation sits in a county named after Andrew Jackson, a vengeful, murderous, ignorant racist slave owner. I like the idea of rededicating the county after Chief Walter Jackson. As I’ve said before, we are the dominant economic force in western North Carolina and as such we need to exert some muscle and get this thing done. Or, as I’ve stated before, the portion of Jackson County that the Rez falls in be excised out entirely and re-designated as Sequoyah County.

In other news the Supreme Court has ruled that because Congress did not officially, therefore legally, dissolve the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw and Chickasaw reservations in Eastern Oklahoma, that land is now back under the jurisdiction of those tribes. The land decision includes portions of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second largest city. Amazingly a judge nominated by Donald Trump, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined the Court’s forward thinking justices in this landmark decision which has already thrown White Oklahoma into turmoil. The reverberations are being felt in such quarters as oil and gas developers and ranchers whose ancestors stole the five tribe’s oil and gas rights decades ago when the land was opened to the horde of squatters waiting at the border. There’s also a new question of taxation and the loss of the money to the state. I look at it this way. Payback is a mean, mean animal that may take a while to arrive but is always out there, lurking.

How about that? Done and not a mention of the mighty Mr. Trump golfing his big butt away while 135,000+ people have passed away during his inept handling of the pandemic. Ooops…! I look at it this way. It’s not his fault that we have a pandemic but his Administrations’ response to it has been absolutely pathetic. So, you know what to do. Vote!

Last and not least. I want to say thank you to the folks that have expressed good feelings and prayers to me and my brothers after our mother recently walked on. It’s been very, very tough but she would have wanted us to keep our heads high and so, we are. Complete with mask. Again, thank you!

Ledford is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians currently residing in Albuquerque, N.M.