Tag Archives: Native Americans in the United States

Gov’t offers $680 million for Indian farmers …as reported by AP – Reminder


WASHINGTON — The government is offering American Indian farmers who say they were denied farm loans a $680 million settlement.

Unlike a second round of the black farmers suit that is now pending in Congress, the American Indian money would not need legislative action to be awarded.

The two sides agreed on the deal after more than 10 months of negotiations. The government and the Indian plaintiffs met in federal court Tuesday to present the settlement to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

The agreement also includes $80 million in farm debt forgiveness for the Indian plaintiffs and a series of initiatives to try and alleviate racism against American Indians and other minorities in rural farm loan offices. Individuals who can prove discrimination could receive up to $250,000.

A hearing on preliminary approval of the deal is set for Oct. 29. Sullivan indicated he was pleased with the agreement, calling it historic and coming down off his bench to shake hands with lawyers from both sides.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West and Joseph Sellers, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, both said they were encouraged by the judge’s positive reaction.

“Based on the court’s comments, we’re optimistic,” West said after the hearing adjourned.

The lawsuit filed in 1999 contends Indian farmers and ranchers lost hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades because they were denied USDA loans that instead went to their white neighbors. The government settled a similar lawsuit filed by black farmers more than a decade ago.

“Today’s settlement can never undo wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in past decades, but combined with the actions we at USDA are taking to address such wrongs, the settlement will provide some measure of relief to those who have been discriminated against,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Claryca Mandan of North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes, a plaintiff in the case, stopped ranching after she and her husband were denied loans in the early 1980s. She said she was pleased with the settlement.

“This is a culmination of 30 years of struggle,” she said

And Republicans continue to interfere and hurt POC who own land

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.

July 4th & some News …

 In the summer of 2010 with a major vote looming we were asked to see our government’s deficit as something comparable to any person who is financially under water with some hard decisions that will hurt many but had to be made. We all know deals were made in the 11th hour and though folks hated what happened i wish people would open their eyes and acknowledge what would have been the alternative with a fresh set of eyes and information. 

The Republican Party that was your father’s generation is no longer able to or wants to debate negotiate for  …

 “The good of the many outweighs the good of the one.” … or few

So, now it is the summer of 2011, with another major vote looming that could either sink us into the ditch that President Obama pulled us out.  The Government asked us to be patient, ask ourselves how long it would take to get out of debt given the severity and trust that we will prevail. Neither the problem nor the solution that branches out globally can happen in just 24 months. In addition, we have a Political Party who practices exclusion with obstructionist behavior, some conservadems and not enough mainstream democrats seem willing to vote or fight for the people. It is not lost on most of us how many obstacles the Democratic Party is fighting like that 60-vote rule which has tied the hands of progress for the last 2years, Republicans threatening to bring the whole system to its knees by filibustering on every JOBs bill put on the Floor of Congress while the Democratic Party has promised not to buckle under pressure. It is one year later and the BS continues and the 11th hour is here.

The 4th of July weekend for many is just another day, some use it to contemplate on what Independence Day means to them, some partake in public services while others are thinking about war and the intent for independence and the power that it gives.  It feels more like our independence is being compromised every time the Republicans fail to do the right thing for their fellow Americans each and everyday. The 4th is also a time to think about war and how unimaginable what our Soldiers actually go through but it seems like a dose of hell daily. I can only image what Military families experience but we civilians definitely should be aware of their sacrifices and be grateful. It is a feeling civilians in war-torn countries feel, victims of dictatorship and  war correspondence cover. So, as we all celebrate our own style of independence give a shout out to those you know, love and miss who serve and protect us.

In other disturbing news that happened right about now back in 2010 and is resurfacing as the Republican Party plows through State Jobs,worker rights and State Parks – in State after State. Apparently, in a procedure that is not getting much news coverage but gained some steam after Governor Dave Freudenthal threatened the sale of the Grand Teton. Now, there are reports that the Governor of Florida wants to privatize some if not all State parks which if you do some research will find that most if not all belonged to the Native Americans and maybe it is just me but this seems like a reckless and disrespectful move.  It was disappointing to read how the federal government sets aside land and then while we real people look the other way sells it, privatized for things like mining and or logging which we all know has a whole lot of negative backlash let alone not at all environmentally responsible.  Yes, the government took land from the first nation’s people saying one thing doing another back in the day actually wanting to buy sell and or trade it to the highest bidder knowing the value will increase but stop and think about how words and deeds done in the best interest of our countries first people became corrupted. Yes, history repeats itself… like the land set asides in Texas and Florida that they said was placed in a trust for Native Americans only to find out that they can buy it back at fair market value…. dang, If I understand what I read, Congress voted to take land and sell it back at a profit was unbelievable, seemed unchallenged and done quietly. In my opinion, a trust should be a positive thing but reading how some guy voted into a public servant position, probably has no American Native background throw around his plan to sell the land as, “Trash land” to other non-native folk. I do not know what happened after 7/4/2010 but it was clear the interior Department, Bureau of land management and the State fought over control of first nation land and not one mention of first nation being represented at the meeting however the 800 thousand acres taken is impressive …No?  Today, the NPS is entrusted with land holdings that have transitioned into plenty of things such as state and national parks made for everyone to use but the fact is these parks are or pieces of them suffer from fires, pollution, crime and are not as green as they should be. In the case of Wyoming, reports are that the Governor is trying to sell pieces of the parks away. I was surprised and disappointed to find that the Gov. of Washington privatized so much of our forests and some water ways in 2005. The forests and waterways in our Evergreen State belonged to native americans and though the intentions went from bad to a supposed good idea of  stewardship and production of our own sustainable products our forests seem abused and mishandled. There was a report of a loss of over 700 thousand acres to big corporate developers, right of ways and agriculture since 1978. I gotta ask when will  Republican Governors and unfortunately some from the Democratic Party currently shutting down their own governments, planning to privatize parks,  public service organizations and jobs and totally responsible for leaving huge deficits with supporting Republican legislators refusing to balance the books learn.

I always say get nervous when people talk States Rights and depending on the issue the impact will hurt and be felt by those covered under the term “protected class.”

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”  –George Bernard Shaw

Other News …

Essence Music Festival comes to smooth


Lack of rain is keeping the mosquito
count down this year

Casey Anthony Trial: State’s Rebuttal

Libya wants volunteers to fight

Exxon Pipeline Oil Spill Cleanup

Big Banks Easing Terms on Loans Deemed
as Risks


Chief Justice, Dalai Lama on C-SPAN

Discussions on immigration, foreign policy also among Fourth of July highlights


Highlights From BookTV

special Fourth of July programming


Senator Akaka introduces bill for financial literacy counseling | Hawaii 24/7


Bill Clinton Backs U.S. Tax Holiday on Foreign Profits, With Caveats – Bloomberg