The Bureau of Indian Affairs was the biggest bully created by the government until the creation of the IRS. The BIA hasn’t been in the news much in recent history but that could change with one of their latest initiatives. The BIA has told the Cherokee Nation that they must let descendants of some slaves become members of the Cherokee Nation. There were a few tribe members that owned slaves but the Cherokee Nation itself did not own slaves. At the end of the Civil War all slaves were freed. According to treaties with the Cherokees, the tribe is recognized as a sovereign nation by the United States government. So why is a government agency telling a sovereign nation that they must give citizenship to a certain group?
What do you think would happen if one of our government agencies told Spain that they must give citizenship to all descendants of people that were once slaves of the Spanish? It would be safe to assume the Spanish would give a diplomatic version of the middle finger.
That is essentially what the Cherokee Nation is telling the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk said:
“The department will not recognize any action taken by the nation that is inconsistent with these principles and does not accord its freedmen members full rights of citizenship.”
Acting Chief S. Joe Crittenden responded by saying:
“The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the (Bureau of Indian Affairs), we will hold our election and continue our long legacy of responsible self-governance.”
Of course, we all know the record the United States government has when it comes to keeping the treaties it has signed with Native American tribes. They will play nice until they discover something that they want that a tribe possesses. Then they will force that tribe to move or give up their possession(s) with little, or in most cases, no compensation at all.
It looks like that is exactly what the Cherokee Nation is doing!