LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Questions rationale behind being a sovereign nation

by Feb 5, 2021OPINIONS


I read the piece on the Constitution preamble.  Nice prose.  Yet, is the constitution what should be foremost at this moment in our tribal life?

I read a comment awhile back from Morgan Freeman. To paraphrase it,‘As long as we keep having black this and that, we will always be seen as black Americans and not as Americans’.

My dad died 20 years ago, and his estate is still open. In my opinion and in many cases of fact and deed it is due to the “sovereign nation” status of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).

In dealing with federal, state, and local governments in relation to getting his estate closed, I have been met with cooperation, understanding, and helpful suggestions. In dealing with tribal bureaucracy with these same issues, I have been met with just the opposite. Except for a few individuals who have tried their best within the constraints of tribal bureaucratic procedures keeping them from doing the right thing, we have been denigrated at every turn. The tribal bureaucratic view of help amounts to “passing the buck” to another entity. As a last-ditch effort to get the government to see our plight and how it came about, we had to file suit against that very government that is supposed to be working in our best interests. Not the other way around. 

I agree a constitution would be in the best interest of every member of the EBCI. I read an article that put the voting process for a constitution into context.  The numbers of tribal members who have voted in any given election would not be enough for approval.  Apathy? Maybe. However, it also could be deeper issues that might cause such low turnout for such an important event.

How long have we tried to develop a constitution? Perhaps instead of continuing to beat a dead horse, we need to embrace that which is here in front of us. In my particular situation, we have found we have more rights and recourses as a citizen of a 330 million population country than we do as a member of a 15,000 population “sovereign nation”.

We should be proud of our ancestors and not forget what happened. I understand there are details within the notion of a “sovereign nation”, yet as long as we continue to push for that over and above the greater good, we are continually going to be seen as a lower class of Americans. Our title says it succinctly, the EBCI is a Band – part of a whole and not a sovereign nation that, in fact cannot and should not, have to stand alone.

I’ll let those of you that say I’m venting sour grapes do that. However, if you want to believe secondhand accounts instead of asking me detailed questions, that is on you. With all things being equal, as a people and as individuals, which “sovereign nation” do you want to belong to? As long as we keep pushing for this divisiveness, then we will reap what we sow.

Steve Beck