Citizen concerned about EchoHawk decision
By SARA HOKLOTUBBE Cherokee Nation citizen I am deeply concerned about the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk considering the placement of land into trust for the United Keetoowah Band within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. Federal courts have consistently and repeatedly acknowledged that the UKB does not have the same governmental or jurisdictional status as the CN within those boundaries. Nothing has changed since those decisions were made. The UKB has tried many times over the past three decades to circumvent legal decisions and have land put into trust for them. However, all students of Cherokee history know we only have to look to UKB v. Secretary of the Interior, Buzzard v. OK Tax Commission, and UKB v. Mankiller to see that the courts have consistently ruled that the 14-county area in northeastern Oklahoma is exclusively under the jurisdiction of the CN. The CN and the UKB are not on equal footing. The CN has continually been recognized as an inherent sovereign nation by federal law and treaties, and that fact was also acknowledged in Harjo v. Kleppe. In contrast, the UKB is a corporation organized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act in 1946. The Supreme Court ruling on Carcieri states that only tribes organized prior to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and 1936 OIWA have the right to have land placed into trust on their behalf. That decision alone should make this issue moot. If the UKB is allowed to claim territory within our borders, when will it stop? Will we allow other tribes to do the same? What about the Delawares and the Shawnees? What about the Choctaws who bought a racetrack within our borders right out from under our noses? Will we continue to give away our land base just as we have done over and over again since before the Trail of Tears? Will we forget the lessons of our past? To do so means we are condemned to repeat them. Will we forget the words sung on the long march to Indian Territory – One Drop of Blood and Orphan Child? Will we forget who we are? I hope not. The CN should take every step possible, including litigation in federal court if necessary, to prevent the placement of land into trust on behalf of the UKB within the boundaries of the CN. The federal courts have always maintained the Nation’s sovereignty. It is up to the Cherokee people and their elected officials to stand up to Echo Hawk and remind him that his position is that of a liaison between our great Nation and the United States. We do not fall under the BIA’s oversight in the same manner as those tribes organized under the OIWA. Does the BIA have the authority to place land into trust in Canada, or Mexico, or any other foreign nation? Of course not, and they don’t have the authority to do it within the CN either. They know it and we know it, and for us to act like we don’t know it means we roll over, play dead, and fall victim to their political intimidation. For centuries, the white government has tried to get rid of all Indian nations by using the European tactic of “divide and conquer.” They partly accomplished this when they recognized the UKB as a separate tribe in 1946. Sadly, the conflict between the two has been ongoing ever since. If the members of the UKB want to lay claim to part of the CN lands, then they should dissolve their corporate tribe and return to their parent nation – the great Cherokee Nation.
Sara Hoklotubbe is a CN citizen who grew up near Jay, Okla., and studied political science at Northeastern State University and the University of Oklahoma. She has completed the CN history course twice and credits that study with fueling her continued interest in Cherokee history today.