68,842 bridges across America need work. So do America’s unemployed workers.


Tell Congress: These bridges need work, and so do America’s jobless workers.

In America, 68,842 bridges are deficient—and 282,672,680 vehicles cross
those bridges every day. Meanwhile, 9.1 percent of Americans are

With so many people out of work and so many bridges and other pieces of
critical infrastructure in need of work, there’s a simple solution:
Congress must pass legislation putting jobless Americans to work fixing
critical infrastructure—bridges, schools, roads, ports and more.

your members of Congress: America is ready to get to work on our
bridges, transit, rail, airports, highways, ports, schools and the rest
of our failing infrastructure

These projects don’t just create good jobs for the people who do the
original work—though that’s a big part of why they are important right
now. They also make our economy perform better in the long term by
increasing productivity. And they make America a better, safer place to

Immediate work on America’s
crumbling infrastructure is a start. But we also need to pass a fully
funded surface transportation reauthorization and start now on even
bigger projects—world-class communications and energy systems,
high-speed rail and other infrastructure we need to be competitive in
the 21st century.

Congress: We need to fix our broken infrastructure and get started on
even bigger projects, too—the world-class communications and energy
systems, high-speed rail and other infrastructure we need to be
competitive in the 21st century

I haven’t been to China, though I hope to go soon. But I am told that when you fly to Shanghai,
you land in a brand-new airport, you have high-speed broadband access
from the moment you arrive and you can get on a high-speed train in the
arrival terminal that will take you directly to downtown Shanghai at
speeds faster than 100 miles per hour.

This just isn’t available in any U.S. city. But we can change that. We
can meet these standards—and beat them. But only if our leaders rise to
the challenge.

Thank you for all the work you do.

In Solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka

President, AFL-CIO

P.S. In tough times, America has come together and put America back to work by building and rebuilding our infrastructure. But so far, the Republicans won’t do it.
That’s why we’re taking the pressure to every individual member of
Congress today—highlighting just how much work there is to be done and
how many jobless Americans are ready to get to work.

your members of Congress: America is ready to get to work. Let’s get
started on our bridges, transit, rail, airports, highways, ports,
schools and the rest of our failing infrastructure

To find out how many bridges need work in your state and your state’s unemployment rateclick here.


Pro-gay student assaulted by principal …Eden James,

Tell Monroe County officials to fully investigate a high school principal’s assault on student who wants a Gay-Straight Alliance              

Chris Sigler wants a Gay-Straight Alliance at his Tennessee high  school, but his principal says no. When Chris wore a shirt to school  supporting the club, that same principal allegedly assaulted Chris —  and neither the school nor the sheriff‘s office has fully investigated  the assault since it occurred last Friday.

Chris was taking an economics exam when Principal Maurice Moser  stormed into the classroom and ordered all other students to leave.  (Chris’s sister, who was in the same class, refused to go.) Principal Moser shoved Chris against the wall, repeatedly bumped his chest against Chris, and shouted, “Who’s the big man now?”

When the folks at the Tennessee Equality Project and the GSA Network  heard about Monroe County’s failure to investigate the assault on Chris,  they knew something had to be done. So  they started a petition on demanding a full investigation  into the principal’s assualt on Chris — and the creation of a  Gay-Straight Alliance club at Chris’s school. Please add your name to  their petition now.

Chris, who is straight, had been trying since August to create a  Gay-Straight Alliance at Sequoyah High School. Chris wanted to create  the club to provide support for gay students, including his sister,  Jessica, who is bisexual. But Principal Moser blocked Chris from  creating the group.

So Chris created a home-made T-shirt to support the club. The back of  his shirt read, “Gay-Straight Alliance: We’ve Got Your Back.” That was enough to provoke Principal Moser to assault his own student in the middle of an exam.

The principal’s assault on Chris warrants a full investigation from  the sheriff and the school district. And it’s evidence enough that  Sequoyah High School needs a Gay-Straight Alliance. Sign the petition on calling for a thorough investigation of the assault on Chris Sigler:

Thanks for being a change-maker,

Cherokee Freedmen Facts – by Marilyn Vann

Cherokee Freedmen Facts – by Marilyn Vann – President – Descendants of Freedmen

1) Who are Cherokee freedmen and their descendants?
Cherokee freedmen are people of African descent who have rights to Cherokee citizenship since 1866 (and in some cases
prior) based under a treaty between the US government and the Cherokee nation, the amended 1839 constitution and the
present 1976 constitution. The freedmen were either former slaves of the Cherokees or were free mixed black Cherokees who
generally did not have citizenship rights prior to 1866.

2) Who has the right to Cherokee citizenship now?
All persons who were listed on the Dawes Rolls and their descendants, during the early 1900s have the right to Cherokee
citizenship based on the 1976 constitution. The Dawes rolls of the Cherokee nation have several sections – Delaware,
Cherokee by blood, Cherokee Freedmen, etc.

3) Didn’t the Freedmen lose their tribal membership and voting rights for a few years?
In 1983, the freedmen people were voting against Chief Swimmer, the registrar sent out letters canceling their tribal
membership cards and the freedmen were blocked from voting at the polls. In 1988, under Chief Mankiller, the tribal council
approved the registration policy of requiring all tribal members to have a CDIB card to keep tribal membership. A tribal
court in 2006 ruled that the tribal council could not pass additional requirements to bar any segment of Dawes enrollees from
receiving tribal membership cards or voting.

4) If most of the freedmen have Cherokee blood, why cant they get a cdib card?
The current BIA policy is to only give the card based on the blood degree listed on the Dawes Rolls. The Dawes
Commissioners had the sole authority to place people on any part of the Dawes rolls they wanted to. Because Congress had
decided that people listed as Freedmen would have unrestricted allotments, Commissioners were encouraged to list as many
people as possible as Freedmen with no blood degrees listed rather than as Cherokees with blood degrees even if the person
was listed on previous rolls as blood Cherokee or received payments earlier from the US government as a Cherokee by
blood. An example was Perry Ross who had a Cherokee mother and black father. Perry Ross, was listed on the 1852 Drennan
Roll proving Cherokee by blood, received a 1908 Guion Miller payment for having Cherokee blood, but yet was listed as a
freedmen citizen on the Dawes Rolls. Some Freedmen did get CDIB cards in the past based on other records, but they
stopped giving them out. The tribe never kept degrees of blood records and anything on the Dawes Roll is just guesswork so
far as a true degree of blood. To determine blood degrees for freedmen one must look at Dawes testimony and other records.

5) Chief Smith and Councilman Jackie Bob Martin have called for a special election to see if the freedmen people
should keep their tribal membership rights. What’s wrong with that?
Whats right about it? There something wrong about trying to take away the rights of people who have had them for more than
100 years. The court held that the people had been wronged, and now, instead of accepting that, these people are to be more
wronged? Would you not fight a president who wanted to put the US citizenship rights of Cherokee people on a ballot to the
people? Whose next to lose rights? Also, the people who are being asked to vote on the freedmen citizenship rights are not
being told that the freedmen have had rights since at least 1866, have served on the tribal council, generally have Cherokee
blood, and voted between 1971 and 1983 (between 1907 and 1971 there were no elections at all). When did Cherokee people
ever kick people out of the tribe? And why kick out only freedmen who came before Delaware and Shawnee – all 3 have
treaty rights to citizenship? Does anyone sitting here wonder if the movement to kick out the freedmen is fear that they may
not vote for some people now serving in office? Hardly any freedmen will be able to vote in such election because of the
slow process to register tribal members and even freedmen people with old 1970s membership cards must reregister. Is this
justice? Is it right for Cherokee leaders to break the promises made to these people by previous chiefs such as Lewis
Downing and WP Ross – just as the whites have broken their word to the Cherokee people time after time? What if the white
people say, if the Cherokees can break their treaty at will, we will do so too and demand back the Arkansas Riverbed money?

6) Won’t the freedmen take away from the rest of the Cherokees so far as benefits?
The Chief and the tribal council can request additional funds from the US government and supposedly are working hard on
economic development. Stop and think – Would you want your US citizenship rights to be taken away because white people
don’t want you to have rental assistance or such the same as them? Freedmen wont cancel medical insurance to go to I H S.


7) Did Freedmen get the same rights as Cherokees by blood previously?
Yes, all citizens including freedmen received 110 acres of tribal land equivalent when tribal lands were allotted, they received
the 1912 payroll, and the per capita payment given out in 1962. Freedmen held office between 1866 and 1907 – One
freedman Frank Vann even served with Redbird Smith on the council. Another freedmen councilman was Stick Ross.

the state of relations between African Americans and Cherokee Indians …voting for a new Cherokee Principal Chief — a process that began September 24 and will collect votes through October 8.

MacArthur ‘Genius’ Dr. Tiya Miles Talks Cherokee-African American relations

Cherokee Indians disowning black tribe members forces look at slavery

Last week, University of Michigan history professor Dr. Tiya Miles was surprised when she got the call from the MacArthur Foundation that she would be a 2011 recipient of their highly coveted “genius” fellowship grants — a $500,000 no-strings-attached sum that is dispersed to fellows and stretched out over five years. The professor had been excavating many long-buried stories about the relationships between Cherokee Indians, enslaved African-Americans and free blacks over the the past few centuries in America. She is the author of several books, chapters and articles on the subject, including her first book “Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom,” which tells the story of a young African-American woman who was married into a Cherokee tribe, and also about how Cherokee women fought for her and her black children to have rights among the Cherokees. Miles plans to use the grant to further her studies, but delving into new subjects considering northern slave-holding states such as Michigan.

The award also came at an apt time given the citizenship status of black “freedmen” — the descendants of enslaved Afro-Cherokees — has been in question and was only just recently settled. Their citizenship will impact voting for a new Cherokee Principal Chief — a process that began September 24 and will collect votes through October 8.

The Loop 21 had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Miles, about the state of relations between African Americans and Cherokee Indians, the history behind it, and what the future brings.

Loop 21: The expulsion of the freedmen in 2007 — would it be accurate to describe that in terms of pure racism towards the descendants of slaves, or is it more complex than that?

Dr. Tiya Miles: I think that one aspect of this is a latent anti-black prejudice. And I have to say, Cherokees aren’t alone in this. What group in this country has not been affected by the anti-black prejudice that proliferates within our culture and has for our whole history? I think everyone is affected by this. And native people have really been targeted to be drawn into a heightened awareness of racial hierarchy and where they sit in that hierarchy. That’s an aspect people might not want to address directly. I think another issue is also a fear of depleted resources. This is a moment when everyone is concerned about economics and thinking about whether or not we’re going to see a double-dip recession, and how long the downturn will last. In this kind of environment I think people want to tighten their fist. And they want to think about how they can better their own small group. Perhaps to the detriment of minorities in that group — I think that’s going here too. And also the Cherokee Nation has legitimate reason to feel resentful — not to the descendants of freed people; I think they ought to be grateful to them since their ancestors helped build that nation — but resentful to the United States government. I think that the Cherokee’s feelings of resentment is legitimate when it’s directed toward the federal government, and I think it’s illegitimate when turned toward the descendants of slaves who helped the Cherokee nation to survive, who helped them to move across the Trail of Tears, who did the labor to make their journey that was awful, to make their journey less horrific, and who really built their wealth in Indian territory.

Loop 21: What are the moral problems with the Dawes laws that started this separation between Cherokee and black freedmen?

Miles: I think that most people who have looked at the Dawes laws and thought about them would acknowledge that these are really flawed lists of not only the Cherokee nation but also all Native nations. They are flawed in more ways than we can even talk about right now. First of all, Native people, for the most part, didn’t even want to be involved in the process. Of course that was a process started by the United States federal government to divide up tribal lands and individuals. This was a policy on the part of the government to break up native peoplehood, and to get them to feel like private property was all important to them, as opposed to communal property, or betterment of the entire group. From the very beginning this was something that native people protested and didn’t want. So it’s saddening that — and ironic — that right now in 2011 these lists that Native people didn’t even want to be involved in are now being used to legitimize things like taking away citizenship status from descendants of slaves — that’s only one part of the problem.

Loop 21: What other problems are there?

These rolls have no way of making a notation of the deep cultural relations between the freed people and Cherokees. These were black people who connected deeply with their Native American context. They thought of themselves as Cherokee men and women as opposed to thinking of themselves as American blacks. They even referred to black people who were moving in from the Southern states moving into Indian territory as “state Negroes.” They used this term as a way to distinguish between their own cultural context, which was the Native American one, and the cultural context of the Exodusters, people who were coming West, which was really an African-American one, one that connected them to a larger American context, not a Native American one. So these rolls have so many holes in them that it’s really a shame that we rely on them today to decide who should or should not be included in these nations.

Loop 21: Has there ever been a point in your research where you became so discouraged that you wanted to leave the subject altogether?
Miles: Yes, I’ve been discouraged. One time during a graduate seminar on Native American history, a colonial historian named James Merrell came to talk about his book about the Catawba Indians of South Carolina. I asked him about his research about blacks and Catawbas and he told us that he had been asked by the members of Catawba Tribal Council not to publish materials that gave evidence of black-Catawba intermarriage. I have to say, that to me was very disheartening to think that members of Native American nation would ever want to disavow that they had ever allied with or been intimate with African Americans when this was an important part of that history.  To me it was a signal that native people just like all people in this country have been caught up in the racial hierarchy. It was very disheartening, but it was also discouraging because it made me want to keep digging and keep finding the information and perhaps start to rebuild those bridges. But my mother in that moment helped me straighten my back and get back to work, by telling me that that maybe I didn’t choose this topic, maybe it chose me. And I do feel like all of these people who are doing scholarship or creative work and remembering the experiences of our ancestors are helping us to respect them  and bring back for them in their memory the regard that they should have had in their lifetimes but didn’t have in this country.

Loop 21: The U.S. Housing and Urban Development froze $33 million from the Cherokee nation. Did that move undermine Cherokee sovereignty?

Miles: I am no legal scholar, but my own personal opinion about this is that I would have been very disturbed if the U.S. Supreme Court came out and told the Cherokee Nation that you must do x, y and z. Because I think that would have definitely undercut Cherokee sovereignty. That’s not what happened, though. What happened was the U.S. government told the Cherokee government that they might be withholding funds. And that sounded to me like a nation-to-nation discussion, and that’s what sovereign nations do. So if China told the United States they were going to withhold funds from us would we say they are undercutting our sovereignty? Probably not. We’d be very upset, but we would say they have a right as a nation to do that. So while I think even though this whole situation and the way it was played out was ugly, and you have to admit that it was, it could have been much worse, if the United States government did in some direct way said you Cherokee nation must do x, y or z, but that didn’t happen. The Cherokee nation made a decision.

Loop 21: Was winning the MacArthur ever a dream or goal of yours when you were younger?

Miles: When I was much younger — and I have to say that I grew up in an amazing family that was really all about education — but even so I didn’t know that being a professor was a job that somebody could do! I didn’t know that until I went to college and one of my roommates was a child of professors. Let me tell you, I felt pretty intimidated then because I thought this was a whole world that I never knew about or had access to growing up. So even just to have this job being able to read, write and teach, think to me is a great privilege that I am very grateful for. In terms of the MacArthur Fellowship, of course, I knew that the people who had won it in the past, I was aware of it, but frankly I never thought I would be someone who would be considered for this. I was completely shocked when I got the phone call. I am so honored, I feel like the foundation and the anonymous nominators were just so generous to consider me for this.

Video: “It’s a pretty simple propositio​n” …Jamie Citron,

I wanted to make sure you heard about this: At the most recent Republican debate, the audience booed a gay service member who asked the candidates if they would try to undo the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And during the debate not a single one of the Republican candidates stepped up to support him, or even so much as thanked him for his service — even though he is fighting for our country every single day.

No member of our armed forces should face that kind of disrespect. So when President Obama spoke at the Human Rights Campaign‘s annual dinner this past weekend, he called out the Republican candidates for failing to stand up for all of our men and women in uniform. Check it out:

We should be proud of the work we all did to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” pass hate crimes legislation, extend benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and more. And the organizing work we’re doing now for 2012 will help us protect what we’ve won and keep moving our nation forward towards equality. As the President put it, “every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition.”

During his speech, he spoke of his commitment to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and making our schools safe for every student — just a few examples of the progress he’s been working for since before the 2008 campaign. He also said we have to keep working to ensure our families and our country as a whole prosper — creating jobs, bringing economic security to the middle class, and ensuring everyone has access to an affordable education affect LGBT Americans just as much as everyone else and are our fights, too.

This movement we’re building can break through the gridlock and inaction. We’ve already proved that.

Watch some highlights from the speech here, then ask your friends who care about equality to watch, too, and join up:

There’s a lot more to do. It matters that you’re in for the fights ahead.



Jamie Citron
Director, LGBT Vote
Obama for America