Monday, June 4, 2012

A Statement From Cherokee Solidarity

I've received the following statement from a Massachusetts resident who is Cherokee:

I would like to first make it clear that I am not speaking for any group, organization, tribal government or political party.  I am speaking as an indigenous person who is a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  I would like to make it abundantly clear that I am not a paid operative from out of state hired by Scott Brown or anyone affiliated with him or the Republican party as Kevin Franck, Communications Director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party has charged.I understand that the emotions of partisan politics run deep.  What I do not understand is why Governor Deval Patrick, Democratic Senate Nominee Elizabeth Warren and their supporters dismiss the concerns of Native American Peoples as "unimportant".  Our concerns have equal value to any other resident of this state and this country.  The repeated vilification of concerned Indigenous Peoples has the potential of creating a hostile atmosphere toward our community at large. Indian People and our supporters are being declared as unimportant, insignificant rabble-rousers as a whole regardless of our individual political affiliations (for example I am a Democrat).

I do not understand why Senator Scott Brown has ignored accusations directed against Native Americans, that we are working for him.  Senator Brown is equally culpable for the hostility directed at Indian People.  Senator Brown, please man up and let the public know we are not your pawns.

I spent much of today on the phone with friends who are members of a variety of tribes and residents of Massachusetts.  Some are now uncomfortable to leave their homes for fear of harassment or worse because of the repeated vilification and blatant lies being told by Democratic operatives.  Some of my friends are the adult children of Residential School survivors, they are people who are subject to racist comments far too often in a supposedly liberal state.  They are people who are aware that extreme violence toward Native Americans happens far more often that the dominant culture thinks or wants to know about.  These are people who do not have the privilege of hiding their indigeneity.  Historical trauma is a part of our lives. 

Indigenous People who are talking about the issue on the internet are being repeatedly harassed, told to shut up and are being cautioned not to blog about the issue.  This is OUR issue.  We have every right to address it.

I implore Governor Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Kevin Franck and Senator Scott Brown to please stop with your cavalier behavior.  Indian People should not be treated as wards of the state who lack the ability to think or act for ourselves.  This is now going beyond a party trying to protect their candidate's future and a politician's desire to maintain his seat.  This is teetering on race baiting. 

My Comments:

I do have to agree with the author especially on one point that I must admit I hadn't considered; Senator Scott Brown should come out and show support for Native Americans. There is a tremendous void within our culture to recognize the discrimination that Native Americans have and continue to endure.

With this issue created by the Elizabeth Warren controversy, I urge Senator Brown and others to make an effort to understand what they are saying and why this is an issue and why this has caused so much pain for Native Americans.

Full disclosure: I am a Scott Brown supporter and intend to vote for him in November. The reason I have paid so much attention to the Elizabeth Warren issue is because to me, this is a character issue. There is more than enough evidence that Ms. Warren received preferential treatment as a minority that she was not entitled to legally or morally. I certainly do not expect Harvard University or the University of Pennsylvania to come out and admit they hired Warren based on her so-called heritage although it does seem to be the case.

That said, Ms. Warren's claims of being Cherokee are a major insult to not only Cherokees, but all Native Americans. She has based her claim on stories her family told her. From all the revelations she's come out with about her family (which I will not go into detail here at this time) that is not the best point of reference for Ms. Warren to rightfully stake her claim as a Native American.

Given that Ms. Warren, a native Oklahoman, has had plenty of time in her lifetime to reach out to Cherokees in her home state and has failed, speaks volumes.

Native Americans are fiercely protective of their heritage and rightfully so. Their intent is to keep their nation alive and to prosper for present and future generations. That is not too much to ask given the history of how their ancestors were treated by our government not too long ago.

We would all like to think that we as a nation have come a long way to include those of all races, creeds and religions. That said, recognition to the plight and treatment of Native Americans has been sorely lacking.

This is not just about prejudice or racial stereotyping, it's about RECOGNITION.

It is time for Americans to educate themselves about Native Americans and understand why this is a major issue.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion I honestly think white America wishes the indigenous peoples of this country would disappear. Even in 2012 Native Americans are looked down upon and considered a nuisance rather than the national treasure they are. It has been my experience that the majority of white people who falsely claim Native American heritage are the ones who hope to benefit from the association.