Cherokee tribes come together at Tri-Council
BY SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
Cherokee One Feather
CHEROKEE, N.C. – History was made at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on July 13 as the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band Tribal Councils gathered for an official meeting for the first time.
“Completing the Circle of Fire” was the theme for the historic Tri-Council meeting.
“The removal in 1838 separated our people,” EBCI citizen Shawn Crowe, who served as emcee for the event, said. “Today is a historic event as all three now come together. It means a lot to see our people come together as one. We are not three separate entities anymore. We are now one.”
CN Principal Chief Bill John Baker, EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks and UKB Principal Chief George Wickliffe each addressed the crowd.
“At this Tri-Council, I know that our ancestors are looking down with great pride and great pleasure,” Baker said. “It’s important to join together as one and talk about all the things that mean the most to our people.”
“Our elders have always said we will come together again one of these days and the time has come, so let’s make it count,” Wickliffe said.
While Hicks added, “The fire is within us…I know we’re not always going to agree on everything, but there is a time to set things aside.”
However, the event was still a business meeting and the Tri-Council passed several resolutions. Lawmakers from the three tribes reauthorized the tribal amendments in the federal Violence Against Women Act and authorized the incorporation of Cherokee syllabary into the U.S. Library of Congress Romanization Tables.
Cherokee is the first Native American language to be entered for preservation and given computer access for public research. Dozens of documents on the history and language of Sequoyah’s 85-character syllabary, invented around 1821, are to be entered into the tables.
“Even though Sequoyah is not here, he is probably considered the most famous Cherokee that ever lived,” CN Tribal Councilor Joe Byrd said. “The syllabary remained intact over the Trail of Tears and now it can be preserved into the future.”
The Tri-Council also resolved to work to retain the Cherokee language and traditions, as well as approving a “consortium method” to fight diseases such as diabetes affecting the Cherokee people.
Several other issues were discussed, including intellectual property rights of Cherokee people. The councilors approved seeking a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the raising of ancient plants and for natural Cherokee medicine that has been part of the Cherokee tradition for hundreds of years. It would create a legal means to prevent non-Cherokees from misusing or falsely selling such products and would create a standard.
The 25 councilors also decided to hold a Tri-Council meeting each year with the hosting duties rotating yearly. CN officials agreed to host the 2013 meeting, while the UKB will host in 2014. The meeting will return to North Carolina in 2015.
Together, the three Cherokee governments represent more than 330,000 citizens.
– CN Communications contributed to this report
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Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory Jordan looks on as Jim Owle, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council chairman, reads during the Tri-Council meeting on July 13 in Cherokee, N.C. SCOTT MCKIE B.P./CHEROKEE ONE FEATHER