COMMENTARY: A stolen legacy, 72 years of 0ppression

by Aug 12, 2022OPINIONS0 comments


United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians elder


This is in response to the editorial that was published in the July 20-26 edition of the Cherokee One Feather, “What’s in a name? We should be the Eastern Cherokee Nation”.

Your words are well written, strong, and clear that the Eastern Cherokees have persevered and have prospered. I hope your suggestion for a name change is considered. You referred to Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr’s editorial in the Tahlequah Daily Press published June 9-10, 2022, where he implied that EBCI and UKB, are unified under the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO). I responded by sending a Letter of the Editor and posted on social media.

I wish for all my Eastern Cherokee brothers and sisters to know the truth of our plight, which has been distorted by CNO propaganda. CNO has no claim to the treaties of the Western Cherokee, also known as the Old Settlers, who migrated to the West in the late 1700 and early 1800’s. The history outlined below will clarify the CNO and UKB status.

Treaty of 1817 – The Western Cherokees, also known as the Old Settlers, traded lands in Georgia for lands in Arkansas. They were traditionists with strong beliefs and a rich culture and were far from disorganized.

Treaty of 1828 – The Western Cherokees, once again crowded out by white settlers, traded lands in Arkansas for lands in Indian Territory, the present Cherokee Reservation. The land conveyed was 7 million acres of land., which was promised to the Western Cherokees forever.

1835 – New Echota Treaty – The phrase “Forever” contained in the Treaty of 1828 lasted until 1835 when the government granted the same land to the forcibly removed Cherokees.

The Keetoowah Society leadership remained strong throughout both migrations. The Western Cherokees welcomed the new arriving Cherokees to the Cherokee Reservation. In 1839, when the act of union was signed, it was a document created by Chief Ross, who wanted to be the Chief of all the Cherokees, not unlike PC Hoskin Jr. The Western Cherokees and Eastern Emigrants agreed to it at the time, and the 1839 Cherokee Constitution was adopted. There were many conflicts as PC Hoskin Jr states, but there was no unity, and the disputes were finally somewhat resolved by the Treaty of 1846.

The Treaty of 1846 united the Western Cherokees and Eastern Emigrants and the duplicate land conveyances in the 1828 and 1835 treaties became moot. Treaty of 1866 – The Cherokee Nation’s alliance with the confederacy during the civil war, caused the calamity that befell the Historic Cherokee Nation and forever changed its face. The government made this treaty to grant amnesty and also defined the Nation’s citizenry, which would include other races and tribes. Cherokee Nation, with its constituents as such cannot trace back to any treaty beyond 1866.

History clearly shows that CNO is not a party to the act of union in 1839, which Principal Chief Hoskin Jr is celebrating the event by holding a Lunch and Learn event with the CNO employees and publishing an editorial in the Tahlequah Daily Press. CNO is a new creation since 1976 and the constituency has changed in accordance with the treaty of 1866. They cannot go “back to the future” except to 1866. In the 1999 Constitution, they have overruled, superseded, and repealed the provisions of the Cherokee Nation 1839 Constitution and the provisions of the 1976

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. I don’t believe it is within CNO’s purview to overrule, supersede, and repeal the Cherokee Nation 1839 Constitution. Furthermore, the act of union holds no significance to any group of Cherokees today, except for CNO, who may be uncertain of their history or has an intent to distort Cherokee history.

This year’s theme for the Cherokee National Holiday during Labor Day is “Forging a Legacy, 70 years of Cherokee Fellowship.” They were federally recognized in 1976, and I count 46 years in their existence. Clever history revisionism. “Forged in Stolen Legacy.” The Treaty of 1866, the Curtis Act of 1898, 1901 Act, Dawes Act, Allotment Act, and the 1906 Five Tribes Act, dismantled the Oklahoma Tribal Governments, the Five Civilized Tribes, and abolished their court systems.

1946 and 1950 – The Western Cherokees/Old Settlers, along with the by blood Eastern Emigrants became federally recognized by Congress in 1946. They ratified its constitution and bylaws, and federal corporate charter in 1950, reorganizing as the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB). Western Cherokee are consumed into UKB, and Western Cherokees and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma are not synonymous.

The years between 1906 and 1950, the defunct Cherokee Nation remained disorganized, and the President would appoint a chief as needed to conduct business. After 1950, when the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians became organized under congressional authority, the Cherokee Tribe, as referred to by the federal government, rode on the backs of the UKB’s Federal Corporate Charter, taking every advantage of the rights, privileges, and power afforded to the UKB. When CNO received federal recognition, they threw out the UKB from their offices, which can only be defined as a hostile takeover.

The Cherokee Tribe, citizenry of the 1866 treaty were unable to reorganize under the IRA/OIWA because they did not meet the requirements of the 1/2 blood requirement or living on reservations or trust allotments in 1934.

In 1970, the Chief’s Act was passed authorizing the five tribes to select their own chief, and thus began the work for CNO to gain federal recognition.

1976 Cherokee Constitution. – Interior Secretary Thompson and Ross Swimmer signed the 1976 Constitution, achieving federal recognition for the Cherokee Tribe. They were created to continue on as a Cherokee Tribe, but not the Historic Cherokee Nation, only as much as the benefits of the Treaty of 1866 afforded them. PC Hoskin Jr would have us believe it was miraculously revived.

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) was the official name until they changed it to Cherokee Nation in the Federal Register, no doubt to lend credence to their claim of their superiority over the other tribes. Their claim to sole jurisdiction of the Cherokee Reservation is false. Ross Swimmer incorporated the tribe as an Oklahoma Corporation.

How sovereign and superior is that?

One would ask, how did they gain such wealth and power? Two examples are provided, but there is much more.

CNO submitted applications for lands into trust using authorities such as their own tribal resolutions, the IRA, (that they didn’t organize under), and The Indian Reconsolidation Act, and the BIA signed approved them.

In 1975, after the passing of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, (ISDEAA), CNO began to lobby for the contracts that were provided for in this Act, exerting their political influence, and the Interior and other agencies granted the contracts to the affluent Cherokees. CNO has availed themselves of the rights, privileges, and power outlined in the IRA, OIWA, ISDEAA, UKB Constitution, and UKB Corporate Charter. The UKB is defined by its Constitution and Corporate Charter. CNO remains an undefined government except as a body politic.

A number of UKB citizens/members reported to the Interior the oppressive and suppressive acts committed by CNO and certain individuals at the BIA, Eastern Region. There has been no response.

You have raised an important issue of the name. The suggested name for EBCI, the Eastern Cherokee Nation is fitting and likewise for the UKB, a name change is in order, either Western Cherokee Nation, or Keetoowah Cherokee Nation, derived from Kituwah. The Cherokee Nation (of Oklahoma) should revert to that name, as their Cherokee Nation Entertainment, LLC and Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC are registered in Oklahoma.

Thank you for allowing me to share the UKB history and express my thoughts.


Editor’s Note: References were provided to the One Feather by Ms. Locust, including the “UKB Constitution”, “UKB Corporate Charter”, “Act of Union 1938”, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians by Stacy Leeds, Burning Phoenix by Alagon Slagle, and Scorched Earth by Ramona Ukestine.