Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. gave his thoughts during a Tribal Council meeting on the decision from the tribe’s Supreme Court Monday to strike “by blood” from the CN Constitution.
“You read this decision, you get a sense of fulfilling a promise that our ancestors made 155 years ago in the Treaty of 1866. I think a great nation ought to be a Nation of its word, and I think the decision today reflects that we are a Nation that keeps its word,” said Hoskin.
The decision goes back to 2017, when a federal court determined that descendants of Freedmen, slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation, have a right to tribal citizenship based of the Treaty of 1866. Attorney General Sara Hill requested the tribe’s Supreme Court address the decision and issue a ruling.
In doing so, the court denied a motion by tribal councilors to intervene in the 2017 case. It had originally ruled in 2017 that the 2007 amendment to the CN Constitution that limited citizenship within the Cherokee Nation to Cherokees by blood, Delaware Cherokees and Shawnee Cherokees was void. That led to the tribe accepting descendants of Freedman to register as citizens of the Cherokee Nation.
Regarding the motion to intervene and to file an Amicus Brief, from District 3 Councilor Wes Nofire; At-Large Councilor Julia Coates; and District 10 Councilor Harley Buzzard, it was denied for lack of standing and failure to follow the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Rules.
Nofire claimed it was Hoskin who initiated the court request, and voiced opposition to a budget modification that apparently gave way to a 140 percent salary increase for tribal justices.
“It is the supreme law of the land, written by the Cherokees who faced all sorts of adversities to protect the entire Cherokee people, and the chief just struck that out of their hands and slapped it out of their mouth,” said Nofire, who voted against the budget modification that passed.
Hoskin gave a rebuttal to Nofire’s accusation.
“I perhaps overestimated whether [Nofire] had actually read the decision, because his rendition of the facts are so far removed from reality that it’s difficult to know where to begin, not the least of which is that the court decision was made not on my action, but on the action of the attorney general,” said Hoskin. “I would encourage the gentleman to actually read the decision. It might be enlightening.”
The tribe received national attention recently after Hoskin said it’s time for Jeep to stop using its name for the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs. He reportedly said the vehicle company’s use of the name “does not honor us be having our name plastered on the side of a car.”
“The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture, and language and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness,” he said.
While it is unclear whether Jeep will discontinue the use of “Cherokee” for its best selling models, the company has expressed commitment to having open dialogue with Hoskin.
During his State of the Nation Address, Hoskin said that the tribe’s response to the recent snow storm is really just beginning, as many of its citizens experienced damage from the conditions.
Hoskin said many of the tribe’s citizens have received plumbing damage in the form of frozen or busted pipes, leaving them in a difficult situation.
“We will share more details about this program within the next day or so, but because of funds that the Council of the Cherokee Nation has already made available for the Cherokee people, we are going to dedicate $4 million through a program that can help address these plumbing problems,” said Hoskin.
Hoskin announced a new website is up and running, detailing where the funds received from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund went. People can take a look to see where that federal funding went by visiting respondrecoverrebuild.com.
Among new items on the agenda, the council approved resolutions confirming the reappointment of Betty Frogg, Eddie Morrison, and Jane Osti as advisory committee members of the Cherokee National Treasures Program. Another resolution was approved to confirm Lyndon Emberton as a board member of the Cherokee Nation Sequoyah High School Board of Education.
The next Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting is March 15, at 5 p.m. All meeting of the council can be viewed on the Cherokee Nation YouTube page.