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tv   Cherokee Nation After The Trail of Tears  CSPAN  April 12, 2021 9:49am-10:51am EDT

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funding for "american history tv" comes from these companies who support c-span3 as a public service. next on "american history tv," a session from a conference titled "john marshall, the supreme court and the trail of tears." chuck whose skin juror your talks about the tribe's history following their removal from the southeast to present day oklahoma. he describes how the cherokee rebuild and strengthen their culture despite much adversity. it's now my great pleasure to introduce chief emeritus kenneth adams. as was mentioned earlier today, chief adams serves on preservation virginia's board of trustees, and it was at his urging that this similar podium came to be. chief adams served as a strong
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advocate for the federal recognition of the upper maddy pa nye. in the leadup to 2007, chief adams actively participated in the jamestown 2007 steering committee and the activities associated with the commemoration. and i can say that we spent a lot of time together at various events around the state. his leadership and persistence ensured that the commemorative events reflected the perspective of the indigenous people, their culture and their governance long before the ships arrived at jamestown, as steve pointed out. he brought the lack of a permanent memorial on the virginia capitol grounds, as did other tribal leaders, to the attention of governor cain and delegate peace, resulting in the formation of the virginia commemorative commission and the dedication of the mantle in 2018. chief adams has generously
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dedicated himself to numerous causes and organizations across the commonwealth and it's an honor to introduce chief adams. [ applause ] >> thank you, elizabeth, for those kind words. good afternoon. it's an honor to be here, to be part of this event. we started this about 15 months ago, 18 months ago, when we just briefed each other on what the possibilities were for us to have such an event as this. and we're fortunate to be able to have it in this special
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location today. i'm going to give you a brief history of the tribe from king william, virginia. as indians know and know very well, the doctrine of discovery is still very well alive in the united states. in some cases, it's very well alive here in virginia. indigenous people continue to suffer from the effects of the doctrine of discovery, which came about in 1452 or 1453 from the catholic church through the pope's edict to claim that all peoples across the planet were available to be taken or available to be killed, were available to be annihilated, and so it happened. and when the first british ships came to virginia in 1607, they
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knew full well, by planting the flag of great britain, that they were claiming this land for the united kingdom. england, as it was known then. and yesterday today, we still, some of us, still suffer from the effects of the planting of the english flag in 1607 at jamestown. when the british first came, they were hungry. they didn't have any food. so what did they do? they started going out and locating the indian towns, the small indian towns, and stealing their corn, stealing their fields of corn. and the ones they didn't steal, the corn they didn't steal, they destroyed so that the indian people that were living there, they became hungry themselves. and as steve mentioned, shortly after the british came, on one
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of those trips they went to the town on the james river, just below jamestown, looking for food. and the goal was to take the corn from those people, which is what they did, and burned what was left. and as they were going back to jamestown, the kids that they had captured, the children they had captured, were thrown into the water. as the articles read, their reads were blown out, their brains were blown out from the men on the ship. they were taking the wife of the king, as they referred, back to jamestown with them. they took her ashore, and according to the article, ran her through with a sword because they had had enough fighting for one day. they didn't want to take her back because they alluded to the fact that they would be burned at the stake. so instead of doing that, they
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ran her through with a sword. but they basically annihilated the tribe in 1610. that process of annihilation and that process of stealing from the indians that started in jamestown in 1607 through 1610, that process continued from virginia all the way to the west coast. in other words, in 100 years after landing, 90% of the population of indigenous people in virginia was gone. 90%. 300 years after landing, 90% of the entire indigenous population of this country was gone. 90%. imagine that. imagine what would happen today if 90% of a population of a
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nation was destroyed, was annihilated. we would be shouting from the rooftops. wasn't much shouting then, except for the shouting that came from the indians. but at that place when the british came, they eventually ended up at a place, a place for leaders, a place for chiefs, on the york river. not far from jamestown. but that was+++d
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from where it was at that time. if you follow the river north and west, it divides into two rivers. the river on the left is the pamunkey people and on the right is the mattaponi people. the pamunkey people still reside on a reservation which was established in the early 1600s, possibly the oldest reservation in the country. the mattaponi reservation was affirmed by the assembly in 1658.
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one of the oldest reservations in the country. and in 1670, the largest concentration of indians in the entire commonwealth of virginia was at a little town, which is where my people live today. we still live in the same vicinity that's designated on the map in 1670. we got there in some ways because of removal. because in 1640s, after the second indian uprising in virginia against the british, all of the local tidewater indians were moved west and north to a place called king william county. and king william county was where the two reservations are today. at one time there was another reservation there, around 1670s to 1690s, and they eventually moved back to their original
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place where they reside today in charles city county. but that reservation land that the large concentration of indians in 1670 on the august herman map of 1673, shows the largest concentration of indians in the commonwealth of virginia. i, myself, years later, years later, lived to witness a separation of my family as they were forced out of the commonwealth of virginia in a education. three of my family members went to oklahoma right there next to cherokee land in creek territory in oklahoma. i served on the board for years. my family members had to actually leave the commonwealth of virginia in order to get a high school education back in
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the '40s and 1950s. several of my family members were forced to go to michigan to live with families in michigan to complete high school. another piece of that whole puzzle is this thing called the racial integrity act. this racial integrity act also caused a serious disruption in virginia among indian communities, because the general assembly approved a law that indicated that there were no indians living in virginia, they were either colored or white. so what did it do? it just ripped the hearts out of people and said, basically, you cannot even document on your records, not0cñ■ even your reco birth certificates, marriage licenses, you cannot document that you're a native american in this state. that started in 1923.
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and because of that, my uncles and grandparents and great uncles, they documented on their draft certificate. the draft certificate, they were documented as indians. but yet when they went to join the service, the service said, no, you can't do that. so they actually left the state in order to register as indians when they were drafted. that's just a brief piece of the history of the upper mattaponi. this history is the same for the other indians in virginia. but my time is up. it's my pleasure, chief adkins, you need to step this way, please. [ applause ] >> i'm just bringing him up on
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stage because i have some other work to do. i'm going to introduce chief hoskin as our really special speaker this afternoon from the cherokee nation of oklahoma. principal chief chuck hoskin jr. was-elected to serve as principal chief of the nation with more than 80,000 citizens in 2019. prior to being-elected. he served as the cherokee nation secretary of state. as principal chief, he increased minimum wage at cherokee nation and cherokee nation businesses, and secured the largest language investment in the tribe's history to expand the cherokee language, education and preservation. chief hoskin also appointed today tribe's first delegate to the u.s. congress, doubled funding for tech education and established the housing, jobs and sustainable communities act
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to repair hundreds of homes for cherokee elders, as well as community buildings across the jurisdictions. additionally, as cherokee of state, hoskin worked to secure funding from the federal government to fund a $1 billion joint venture investment in better health for all cherokees. he has also served as cherokee nation's strongest advocate on sovereignty protection. i like that very much. he formally served as a member of the council of the cherokee nation, representing district 11 for six years and served his two final years as deputy speaker. on the council he worked with fellow council members to start building homes for cherokee nations, increase education funding and sponsored legislation to expand health care service through casino
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dollars. chief hoskin has testified on behalf of the cherokee nation and serves on multiple boards and commissions, including the united states health and human services secretary's tribal advisory committee. chief hoskin is from venita. i hope i said that correctly. where he lives with his family. he and his first lady, january, are parents of two children, tristan and jasmine. he graduated from the university of oklahoma and university of oklahoma college of law and is a member of the cherokee nation and oklahoma bar associations. chief hoskin, we welcome you to this stage and this community. [ applause ] >> i have one controversial word
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i have to say. as i was researching the history of virginia many, many years ago, there was one brief little corner way down in southwest virginia that it appeared -- i'm not going to disagree with anyone, but it appeared that there were cherokee people that lived in one little small area of virginia. very small. but, chief hoskin, since the cherokee did live in virginia, according to my little recognition, welcome home. [ applause ] >> we have a gift for chief hoskin from the virginia indians and the preservation of virginia.
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[ applause ] >> what a wonderful opportunity it is to be before you. i am so honored that the cherokee nation has been asked to be a part of this. i think it speaks highly of the history association and virginia preservation that you would include the indigenous aspects of the history of this great state and this great country. so i do thank you all for being here. she was mentioned, but i do want to recognize in the audience a
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lady that i would not be here without her, and that's the first lady of the cherokee nation, january, in the front row. [ applause ] >> it is quite something to be talking about history, cherokee history and law, in front of scholars and noted historians, including my friend, jack baker, and my former law professor, lindsey robertson. so next month the symposium will be on everything that chief hoskin got wrong about history and law. it should take most of the day. and being in the audience and then being in front of professor robertson, it kind of feels like old times, except there will be no test. he's saying there will be a test, so we'll get through it. so i'm going to pick up where jack baker left off, and i'm going to attempt to get to the right slide. there's our great seal of the
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cherokee nation. september 6th, 1839. we'll talk about that in a moment. of course, the cherokee nation, we say we've existed from time and memorial, but there's a date on there and there's a reason for that. that is when we got back together, because we talked about removal. one thing that is worth touching on is before the trail of tears, there was an earlier migration of cherokees and when we got to what was our new home, there was quite a bit of fighting and controversy. you hear about people being at each others' throats and it means in a figurative sense, well, cherokees were literally at each others' throats. but we had to get back together, and the fact that we did is the reason i'm here today. and quite honestly, john marshall and his decision might be the reason i exist. who knows what would have happened in the cherokee people and my ancestors. i certainly wouldn't be here as the chief of the cherokee nation, i believe, had it not
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been for that decision, which is a bedrock of federal indian law that stays with us today. so i'm so honored to be here with you for that reason. so the dark chapter of american history leading up and including the trail of tears is something that this country ought to remember. and i think jack baker did a great job of talking about it in very personal terms and how it affected his family and how it affected other cherokee. we have to remember there was a time in this country where the government of the united states thought it was a good idea to round people up into cages. that wasn't a good idea then, it's not a good idea today. but we ought to always take those lessons from our history. but if you think about what happened and you think about the great destruction that befell the cherokee nation and you think in human terms, we lost a quarter of our population. a quarter of our population,
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4,000 men, women, children, grandmas, grandpas, grandbabies, wiped off the face of the earth. and then you think further about the fact that it necessarily ripped our economy apart. i mean, before removal, remember what was happening. it was touched on before. we had adapted and strengthened ourselves as a nation to deal with what was happening in terms of the encroachment of settlers, to deal with the governor of the united states in a fairly rapid period of time, getting a written constitution. sequoia was mentioned. the great genius gave the cherokees something that was more powerful than any shield or sword we could have ever wielded and that was the ability to communicate with each other. and then translating that to english, communicating with the world. there was a great resistance by the cherokee people before removal. we weren't simply removed because the president of the united states said so or because a minority faction of cherokees signed a treaty. we stood our ground. john ross stood his ground and
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went to washington, d.c. to plead his case to resist removal, and if not, ultimately defeat it to make it as good as it could be for his people. and that took a great deal of effort. i think that that period of time and the period that follows, which i'll get to, did something, shape something, built something in our national character that stays with us today. people of tremendous grit and determination to have resisted, to have overcome, and as we got to our new home in what is today northeast oklahoma, we had a lot of work to do. so we had to rebuild. keep in mind what we were rebuilding. they were rebuilding the great cherokee democracy that existed before removal. we, again, had a system of laws and we had a system of justice based on the rule of law and a constitution. i think it says something about the cherokee people that when we were removed and we rebuilt, and
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you saw that date in 1839, that's when we got back together, the act of union of the cherokees that had moved out before and the treaty party and the ross party, all at odds with each other. we found it in ourselves to rise above that, after some lives were lost, but we still rose above it, and got our government back together. it strikes me that even though justice in this country let us down, we still believed in it and we still thought that's what we ought to do and that would be what would be best to rebuild a great society. we still believed in democracy, so we invested in that, in addition to investing in a system of law and justice. and look what else we did. this is the cherokee female seminary. now, that building, that institution, is the first institution of higher learning for any woman of any race west of the mississippi in the history of this country.
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and it happened because the cherokee people believed in education. we didn't just believe in that form of higher education. a free system of public education in what is now oklahoma, long before there was an oklahoma. 1841 we passed an act establishing free public education. why did we do it? well, for the same reason, i think, most of the rest of society does it, because you want to invest in the future. but i also think that our people and our possessions, we had lost so much blood and treasure, that we knew this was going to be our home forever. it was promised to us. it was going to be our last stand. we ought to make the most of it. how do you do that? you look beyond what's happening right in front of you and you look towards the horizon. investing in education is a way to do that. now, you would predict that a people who were forcibly removed across the country, rounded up in stockades at the hands of an
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unjust article, at the hands of a federal government that ignored its own supreme court, and had its economy, the cherokee economy ripped apart, our way of life ripped apart, lost so many people, you would think it would take years and years, perhaps generations, before we could rebuild, if we ever did. in fact, you might predict that that people would not sustain themselves. and i suspect there were people in this country that figured the cherokee problem would be solved not just by moving them, but by moving them to their demise. i think people probably thought that, some people did. and what is remarkable to me, and this is why i think the chapter that happens after removal is something that people in this country ought to know, really as much as they ought to know about removal. this is why i think it's amazing and people ought to know about it, we did all of this within about a decade. so within a decade we're saying
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there ought to be a free system of public education and a system of higher education for men and women, we're saying we have to rebuild a system of commerce that we can build up our economy again. we were saying these things. we were saying that we ought to invest in a system of government that was a democracy and based on the rule of law and we ought to have a constitution. we did all of this within a short period of time. i think it's remarkable. and, again, i think it's what fuels leaders of the cherokee nation today, thinking back to our ancestors. as rough a day i might have as chief of the cherokee nation, it was nothing compared to what john ross went through. i have to remind myself about that from time to time. so i mentioned reunification. i can't stress enough the divisions within the cherokee nation. so it wasn't just that we were removed and we had to pick ourselves back up. it was that we were removed and we were split apart. john ross, the elected leader of
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the cherokee nation, had been overrun, his government overrun because the united states believed that it ought to execute a treaty with a minority faction. can you imagine if that happened today, the president of the united states doesn't like the way negotiations are going with france over some trade deal. and he says forget the president of france, we're going to deal with the other french and we'll strike a deal and everyone will think that's okay. that's what happened in this country 180 some odd years ago. then you have the cherokees who had moved out before and they said we're governing ourselves. we have our own government. how they came together, honestly, i think is remarkable and every time i read about it i'm still struck by the level of compromise. and i think it's another lesson for cherokees today. from time to time it can get pretty rough. i've been involved in politics a long time and quite honestly,
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mainstream politics don't have anything on travel politics in this guy's opinion. i think there is a lesson to be learned and it's something that i tried to take with me when i took office as chief, which is that there are plenty of things that divide cherokees, and just like everyone else, there's things that divide us. if we focus on those things that unify us, and if we look to the horizon like the cherokees after removal did, then we can put enough of that aside to do something that's bigger than our individual selves and it's good for our future. we ought to do that in this country, i think. so reunified. you see john ross, and that's probably closer to the 1860s and then stan whitey, probably when he was on in years.
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so these represent two factions of cherokee political life that would continue on through the 19th century. john ross, quite an amazing person. stan whitey, i'll mention this in a minute, one of the most stubborn cherokees that have ever been born. this man was a confederate general and he kept fighting the war after it was over. he didn't surrender. there's a streak of stubbornness among some cherokees. not you or i, jack, we're quite reasonable gentlemen. but there is. these represent two factions that would carry through and you get to the civil war, which has been mentioned. now, the cherokee people were split concerning the civil war and some of those reasons probably had something to do with what split the united states. there was slavery in the cherokee nation before removal and after removal. i want to touch more on the
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institution of slavery in the cherokee nation in a bit. there were other things that split cherokees apart on the civil war. john ross wanted to stay neutral and he urged his people and his council to stay neutral. why did he do it? because he believed, not just for respect for the united states, but that, look, we are a recognized sovereign. who are we recognized by? the united states. who are we party to a treaty with and multiple treaties with? the united states of america. what happens to the cherokee nation if we side with the confederacy that has split from the united states? what are the consequences? the confederacy did a great deal of courting of the cherokees. they offered essentially a better deal. it didn't help anything that the united states wasn't really keeping a lot of its promises during this time period. i don't know if you can imagine that, the united states and indian tribes, but it happened.
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and so the government of the cherokee nation, wanting to remain neutral, was feeling a great deal of pressure from people who said, look, the united states is not really living up to its word and it looks like these southerners may have an edge and the southerners are offering us so much. they're offering us treasure and land and control. maybe we have a better deal with that. and so the folks who largely decided with the confederacy sort of lined up with stan whitey. now, stan whitey lines up with the treaty party and ross, of course, lines up with the ross party. so that split continues. ultimately john ross signs an agreement with the confederacy, okay, which is a remarkable shift in what's happening in cherokee government, in about 1861. i'm always looking at jack to make sure i've got this date right. 1861 i think is when he signed it. there was a great deal of resistance because the civil war is building up even more 1861. he designs it, and even then he
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just thinks it's the best way to keep the cherokee nation whole and intact because of the tremendous amount of pressure. ultimately that pressure is too much and it starts to rip us apart again. now, we lost a lot of blood and treasure and life in the removal and we ought to always remember that. we lost more life in the civil war. we probably lost more in terms of property destruction in the civil war. certainly the political divides reopened during the civil war. and so it sort of was repeating itself. so this nation that had gone through so much, that had built up so much and had started to invest in a future so it could keep its home forever -- and keep in mind the treaty said we would have it forever. there's a land patent signed by martin van buren. if you read the language, it says the land is ours forever. so we're starting to get ripped again. the future is not looking so
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bright, even though we had invested in the things that i think a great society ought to invest in for a sustainable future. so the civil war, again, is ripping us apart. a lot of destruction, a lot of the communities that we built. i mean, those communities, if you're from oklahoma or you go back there, you look at this map and you're seeing communities that still stand today. but much of it suffered a great deal of destruction. i'm getting ahead of myself. i've jumped all the way to 2020 from the 1860s. let me focus for a moment. here we go. so we get through the civil war with all its destruction. somehow we get back together. and this has been mentioned, but the united states says if you're going to rejoin the family of
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governments in the united states, if you're going to get your recognition back with the united states, you're going to sign a new treaty. that's where we have the treaty of 1866, the last treaty that we have with the united states, still in full force and effect. this treaty did some things and it's been mentioned. we had to give up some things. one of the things we had to give up that hastened our demise was our ability to keep the railroads. i'm from a little town called venita. somebody knows where venita is. by the way, this is the washington, d.c. cherokee organization here. they've come all this way. what a great thing. [ applause ] >> if you look at venita and i grew up there, railroads were the way it is. there were two railroad tracks that crossed right there. venita was founded in 1871, and after the civil war settlers
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start going in. what happens to cherokees when settlers start going in? i seem to remember something about that in the state of georgia. it's the same old story, and really the story of indigenous people all over the continent, you might say all over the world. outsiders, in this case more white settlers wanting what we had, the pressure of western migration, the philosophy, notwithstanding what john marshall might say, that the whole country, the continent, most of the continent belongs to the united states and it's white settlers. so that pressure started to come to bear on the great cherokee nation. but we still did a great deal of rebuilding. you will see a capitol building, our old capitol building that became our supreme court building, and you'll see our old supreme court building and a prison, those buildings and others were built after the civil war. so we start to rebuild again, even after this treaty, even after the civil war, we start to
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reinvest again in what it means to have a great society. we reinvest in education. the seminaries burned and we rebuild them. we start to develop commerce again. we start to improve infrastructure around the cherokee nation so that we're more connected. we tried to, once again, keep our foothold in an area that the united states said would always be ours. they said it would always be ours. but all of that pressure came to a tipping point. now, there was a quote up there earlier, i think during jack baker's presentation, where we were talking about the point of a bayonet. cherokees rounded up at the point of a bayonet. you could say we lost a great deal at the point of a bayonet before removal. it was the point of a pen, it was federal law at this point that would probably do, in some ways, more destruction to the cherokee nation than removal
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ever could in terms of our institutions. and so in 1887, you have the general allotment act, which was to allot tribal lands. didn't get to cherokee lands just yet, but it was more than just the cherokee nation. in other words, the network -- cherokee nation, they held their lands in common. the general allotment was to individualize the land holdings instead of communal land holdings. 1898, the united states passes the curtis act and it really suppresses our government. i will never say they extinguished our government, but suppressed it, abolishing courts and our council. the writing was on the wall at that point. and so after those acts passed, and then the cherokee people actually had to vote on it, but by that time all this pressure is being brought to bear.
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even elected chiefs of the cherokee nation are telling their people, it looks like we're going to have to accept statehood, it looks like our government is never going to be the same. that's essentially the message tribal chiefs at the turn of the 20th century are telling their people. what a dark time in cherokee nation. think about a people that went through so much, the folks that are dealing with this in the late 19th century, have grandmas and grandpas and great grandmas and grandpas that can tell them about how they rebuilt, how they were going to stand their ground and live there forever, and they're looking at these federal statutes that are going to result in the almost extinction of the cherokee nation. almost. we'll get to that. so land gets allotted. a small things happen, the state of oklahoma is created imposed
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over so many tribal lands. the allotment issue is interesting because the land that was allotted was still held, i think professor robertson touched on, it was still held in this restricted status. as you get into the 20th century that becomes a problem for the new state of oklahoma and companies that want the land and land owners that want the land, the oil industry and others, because if it's held in restricted status, you can't lease that unless the governor of the united states says so. but if you can get its restriction out of there, well, it's fair game. it loses its special status. so here is the next thing that happens that i think is of great significance. in 1947 a law called the stigler act was passed, and it says if you're in restricted land and you fall below a half blood quantum, then it loses its stats forever. that law and other pressures meant from 1907 to now, we've lost more than 90% of our
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restricted land. so the destruction of the cherokee nation's land base really continues into the 20th century, and to add insult to injury, i told you the government of the united states had suppressed and really dismantled so much of cherokee government, but they had to have a chief to deal with. so through much of the 20th century, chiefs of the cherokee nation were not elected by their people. they were appointed by the president of the united states. now, my grandfather, most of his lifetime, he was born in 1906, dies in 1996, as proud a cherokee as i have ever known. most of his life he never got to think about voting for a chief, let alone imagine that his grandson might be chief someday. so during that time period, the great cherokee democracy is effectively dormant. why does the president of the united states appoint a cherokee chief? usually it's to sign a document. jack, i think if we look at these documents we might not have got the best end of the
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bargain on that with these appointed chiefs. but i do think it's significant that the government of the united states continues to recognize the cherokee nation in some form or fashion, even the so-called chiefs for a day. that i think is important, even today. because, look, that's what john ross was trying to preserve when he was facing the civil wars. we have this government-to-government relationship with the united states. that's what john marshall was talking about in his decision, the relationship between the government of the united states and the indian nations and cherokee nation. so that, i think, is still important, as offensive as it is, to think about our democracy dismantled and chief appoint d, this continual relationship with the government of the united states is absolutely critical, critical to the cherokee nation, and that's why throughout history it's ebbed and flowed, but we kept it. if we hadn't kept it, i wouldn't
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be up here as chief today. so what are we doing today? well, that is a picture of our $200 million health center. it's the largest health center in the united states for native americans. but that was just opened last year. so how did we really get here from a pointed chiefs during the 20th century, to now you're looking at an elected chief. and i have the pleasure of working with a council that's an elected council and we have a functioning judiciary, a supreme court, and district courts. how did we get there? in the 1960s there's more of a push for rights for a lot of folks in this country that ought to have had rights and had their rights suppressed, but indigenous rights, in 1971, i think, the principal chiefs act is passed. it recognizes the rights of the five tribes. they were mentioned earlier, including the cherokee nation, to elect their own chiefs. elect their own chiefs for the
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first time in decades and decades. the cherokee people could, once again, elect their own chief. i was looking at some cherokee historical society archives the other day, and in the cherokee national historical society, there is a council book the very day that the appointed council of the cherokee nation, we started to appoint our own council, left their seats. this is in the minutes. who took their seats? the elected members of the council, elected chief, democracy is back in the 1970s. and i'll tell you what has happened since then, we've been on a trajectory of progress and prosperity, and the lesson also for me is this, and the lesson for the country is this, is that when the government of the united states takes its thumb off the cherokee nation, and when it gets us exercise our sovereignty, when it lets us exercise our god-given right to self-identify and govern ourselves, we do incredible things. and it's not just the cherokee
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people who benefit, all of our friends and neighbors benefit. so there is the health care facility. it's the crown jewel of the largest tribal health system in the country, but it generates thousands of jobs in northeast oklahoma. if you take that out further, you can look at all of our government programs and businesses and you see that we employ about 11,000 people, making us one of the largest employers in northeast oklahoma. we support about 20,000 other jobs. now, a lot of our jobs directly are in in casino gaming. it was mentioned that in 1988 the national indian gaming regulatory act was passed. a lot of tribes were engaged in casino gambling and congress said we've got to do something about this. they basically said some gaming okay, you get to be doing las vegas-style gaming, you better have an agreement with the state in which you're operating. it's been very good to the cherokee nation and all of our friends and neighbors, because
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this building, so many of the programs that we've talked about, the ability of a chief of the cherokee nation in 2019 with the council, as i did last year to boost our minimum wage up to $11 an hour. i don't know what it is here. back in oklahoma it's $7.50 an hour, unless you work for the cherokee nation, and then it's $11 an hour with full benefits. the fact that we can take $16 million to save the cherokee language and keep it from going extinct. that's in large measure because we've been allowed to engage in business activities, most notably casino gaming. how we can invest in elders homes. it was mentioned we passed a law to fix up elders homes. we're putting about $30 million into that. again, it's the revenues that we generate. and this isn't to begrudge any tribe that has the ability to give out checks to their citizens. some tribes do. cherokee nation, we have 380,000 citizens. i think if we cut a check, it would be about 75 cents apiece and that would be a coupon or
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something at our casino. but we don't do per capita payments. what we do is we invest in our people and the communities in which they live. and i mentioned several of those investments. right now 5,000 cherokees are going to college on a scholarship, funded again by those business activities. we're putting people through career training. we're going into -- there was a map earlier that showed all those little towns that cherokees created. some of them are still small and some are struggling. some of those towns you saw on that map are towns that the rest of the world forgot about. and you have them here, too. they're all over the country. they're little towns and they haven't grown. but the cherokee nation never forgot about them because we founded them. so we're going into those towns and helping with infrastructure, helping with attracting companies to come in and do business there. we're doing this not just to send money to our people or to have programs that help our program directly, even though that's important. we're doing it because we have the same philosophy today that
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we had after removal, which is that oklahoma, what is now oklahoma, is our home forever. it's our home forever and we're going to make the most of it and we're going to invest in our communities and we're doing that in such a remarkable way. that is why i think the cherokee story is such a story of grit and determination and it's something that i think kids in this country ought to know not just because they ought to know the history of indian tribes in this country. they ought to know stories of people who overcame things, they ought to understand the dark parts of american history, and then they ought to celebrate those great things. if you come and see this building and you see what's going on and you see people learning their language again and you see elders getting their homes repaired and you see young people who are going to be doctors in that building tomorrow because we have the first med school in the history of indian country right next to that building, you say that is something to celebrate. the cherokee nation is something to celebrate. and i think we ought to
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celebrate it all over this country and you all are helping celebrate it here. now, let's go back to that treaty that was imposed on the cherokee people and removed us, notwithstanding what john marshall said. well, that treaty is a dark spot in american history. it's a source of pain for the cherokee people, when i think about it, when i hear jack baker talk about what happened to cherokees and the death and the suffering. so that is, i think, both a symbol of injustice and it was an injustice. but it's the law of the land. and if you go to the next treaty, the treaty of 1866, the last treaty we have, it incorporated all of that treaty, except it was inconsistent with the treaty of 1866. it's still the law of the land. i need to get to my final point. but the treaty of 1866 said that those slaves and their
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descendants were free and they should have the same rights of native cherokees. now, it took about 150 years for the descendants to achieve their equality and their citizenship in the cherokee nation. but i'm proud that in 2017 the descendants are equal with all cherokees and, folks, we are a stronger indian nation because of it and i'm proud to be chief while it's happening. [ applause ] but back to the treaty, a source of pain for the cherokee people. down deep in that treaty is something that we're seizing upon today, and i'll read you the relevant language. it was mentioned just a moment ago. it says, it is stipulated that the cherokees shall be entitled to a delegate in the house of representatives of the united states whenever congress shall make provision for the same. now, i didn't know anything
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about that until i was a delegate to our constitution convention in 1999. and it was brought up during then and we enshrined it in our constitution. but it's been over 180 years since that language was put in the treaty and the governor of the united states has never come knocking on our door saying send your delegate. so in 2019 i appointed someone to be the first delegate to the house of representatives and our council unanimously approved it. here is what else i did. back home, if you want to get something done, if you need real wisdom, if you need real hard work, then you ask a cherokee woman to do it, if she'll do it, and then you get out of her way unless she asks you for help. so i appointed not only the first cherokee, but i appointed a cherokee woman to be the delegate. and they're not going to know what hit them when she gets there. [ applause ]
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>> but she is completely suited for this position. she worked for the president of the united states, she's worked in the congress. but this is what i think about that. i think we've got to fulfill that. we've got to get congress to see her, and if we don't do that, then we will not have been successful. but i feel a little successful so far, and here's why. think back to john ross going to washington, d.c. after this treaty, the same treaty i'm talking about is imposed on the cherokee people. and i picture him sitting across from these federal officials, pleading his case, this treaty is unjust. you can't do this to the great cherokee nation. and i imagine them looking across, notwithstanding john marshall's decision, looking across at him and saying, chief ross, the treaty is the law of the land and you will abide by it. now, i got to go to washington, d.c. last fall and sit across from federal officials and say the treaty is the law of the
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land and you will abide by it. i said it nicer than that. [ applause ] >> so there is some measure of justice in asserting these treaty rights and asserting this particular treaty right out of a treaty that was unjust is a measure of justice for us. now, i can't impress upon you enough that me being up here, me being able to speak for the cherokee nation, me being able to represent a nation that has a government-to-government relationship with the united states, is owed in such large measure to the choice that john marshall made. he could have gone down a different path. he could have gone down the path of the dissenters and those that said that manifest destiny and european discovery, that ought to override everything and the indian people weren't worthy of recognition. but he didn't do that. and there's a lot of reasons he didn't do it, and i'm glad he
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didn't, because i'm glad i'm here and i'm glad i was invited. it's been such a pleasure. thank you, all, very much. [ applause ] >> any questions? >> thank you. this isn't an earth-shattering issue, but what is the current thinking among the cherokees and other tribes concerning the use of indian heritage and history in our sports teams? >> i think it's inappropriate and shouldn't happen and i think depictions of native americans as mascots are abhorrent, they
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shouldn't happen. i think we ought to be on a path in this country where we're not doing it. this country won't fall apart if the washington redskins are no longer called the washington redskins, but we will be a better country for it. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. i appreciate all that you're doing in leading your cherokee nation. i wanted to know if you have any thoughts on reparations for african-americans whose ancestors were enslaved here in america? >> yeah, i think that's a great question. it's the question of the day and i don't have an answer to the question as chief of the cherokee nation. i will tell you this, as chief i do feel a particular obligation that the descendants of slaves who are equal cherokee citizens
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today not only are equal on paper, but that we embrace their story and that we embrace them to make sure they have opportunities to share in all the prosperity that we have today. and that includes opportunities for education and health care and housing, jobs, all of that sort of thing. so that's why we are at cherokee nation, is quality of opportunity and also legal equality, which we've achieved. we want to make sure we have legal equality. so it's a good question. i don't know the answer in terms of how the cherokee nation should focus on it. i think the right way for us to do it is to make sure today -- keep in mind, we're only about 40 some years into the prosperity we have today. we ought to make sure we're sharing it all equally with citizens. >> hi. i just wanted to know how you
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see law enforcement changing, especially with the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, and how complicated it is for what indians did do on reservations versus off reservations, and do you see that changing for the better? >> it may change in a major way in oklahoma. there's a case that some know about, and maybe all have heard of, called the murphy case. and the issue there actually deals with a creek citizen who committed a crime and was tried in state court and put in the state prison. his lawyer said, wait a minute, the creek reservation never went anywhere in 1907 when the state of oklahoma was created, and if he's right, then that probably means the cherokee nation reservation never went anywhere. there's another case that's working its way up, too. that will be decided soon. so the lay of the land is possibly going to shift in a huge way, in other words, that
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cherokee nation -- i don't know if i can get back to the map here. so that's part of the cherokee nation, but it goes up further. but if you look at it today, you see tulsa over on the left and then you see creek territory there. if you look at that today and you looked at what is actually trust land or restricted land, where the current law would say who has jurisdiction, it's a patchwork. i told you 90% some odd of the land has been gone since then. if the murphy case and the mcgurt says says the reservations never went away, suddenly that whole thing is back conceivably as a reservation. but in so far as today is concerned and this modern era, one way we handled it back home is through cross-deputy agreements, and that's not the case all over the country. there are some cases where the tribes and local law enforcement, not only is it not a good relationship, sometimes
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it's hostile. but it's still an issue in oklahoma, i think we're in the top ten states where we have cold cases of indigenous women going missing and other people. so we push legislation in the state legislature to have better coordination with the state bureau of investigation. oftentimes there are questions over jurisdiction. a lot of folks victims of these crimes are living in the shadows and when they go missing, there's not necessarily -- there's some barriers, perhaps, to quick action, or they may live in sort of on a remote area where a lot of law enforcement says, look, this is trust land over here, it's a matter for the cherokee nation law enforcement or the fbi. so we're making some efforts. it's a complicated issue. i would say compared to other parts of the country, in oklahoma we have a pretty good working relationship and a way to handle that. and then when the supreme court cases come, all of that may be completely changed. okay, the you, all.
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[ applause ] >> well, i just want to end by thanking all of our speakers. i've lost the microphone. i want to thank all of our speakers today. this has been a tremendously inspiring day, i think. i also want to thank our sponsors, once again, and all of you for taking your time out on a saturday to come and be part of this experience. i think we all have a lot more to learn, many more perspectives to look at. and i'm reminded that john marshall in his richmond home was famous for hosting lawyer dinners at his house. he would gather not people that always agreed with him or that he necessarily knew the subject matter they might bring up. but he would surround himself with people that made him think. and i think that's exactly what we've done today.
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john marshall would be proud. thank you. [ applause ] weeknights this month we're featuring "american history tv" programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight, the space shuttle's 40th anniversary. on april 12th, 1981, space shuttle columbia lifted off from florida's kennedy space center with two crew members aboard. in celebration of this feat, we start with the 1979 nasa film "where dreams come true" when highlights the contributions of women and minorities to nasa and much of the work relates to the space shuttle program, then two years away from its first mission. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern, and enjoy "american history tv" every weekend on c-span3.
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"american history tv" on c-span3. every weekend documenting america's story. funding for "american history tv" comes from these companies, who support c-span3 as a public ■ next on "american history tv" -- indians. she tells how the indians were formally moved to the west. ms. davis is author of "untang ling a red, black and white heritage." we show this in the museum of african-american life and


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