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2015 Native American News Archive

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Are Dream Catchers Losing the Native Tradition?

Though some tribal members say they see no problem with the practice, others regard the marketing of dream catchers as another example of their culture being picked apart.

When Millie Benjamin was growing up, she spent her nights sleeping under a dream catcher, a traditional Indian object believed to ward off nightmares.

Benjamin drew comfort from her dream catcher. These days, though, she shakes her head to see them worn as earrings, hanging from car windshields and even sold as key chains in convenience stores.

“It has gotten out of hand. It’s disrespectful for our people. It means something to us, it’s a tradition,” said Benjamin, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Benjamin isn’t the only American Indian dismayed by the marketing of dream catchers. Though some tribal members say they see no problem with the practice, others regard the marketing of dream catchers as another example of their culture being picked apart.

Cherokee Chief not ready to end fight to keep out Freedmen

The chief of the Cherokees is advocating the tribal council reverse the highest tribal court’s ruling that freedmen were illegally denied tribal citizenship.

Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Freedmen to let judge decide citizenship

n 2007, Cherokee Nation citizens voted to kick out descendants of Freedmen and other non-Indians. The dispute has been in and out of the courts ever since.

The Cherokee Nation and descendants of black slaves once owned by its citizens, now known as Freedmen,  are asking a federal court to sort out their longstanding dispute over tribal citizenship rights.

The rare, seven-page request by both parties filed Friday in a Washington federal court follows more than a decade of nasty legal battles between the descendants, known as Freedmen, and the Cherokees over whether the Freedmen should have citizenship rights in Oklahoma’s largest tribe.

Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation, gave them and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees.” There are around 3,000 Freedmen descendants today.

“The parties to this action, in the interest of reaching a final resolution of this longstanding dispute, have agreed to jointly petition this court to resolve by summary judgment the core issue in dispute in this action — whether the freedmen possess a right to equal citizenship in the Cherokee Nation under the Treaty of 1866,” the filing explains.

Attorneys also included a proposed schedule on when the court might begin accepting documents in the case, suggesting opening motions due by Nov. 29 and oral argument in April 2014.

“This is very important to us; this is our identity, who we are,” said Marilyn Vann, president of the Oklahoma City-based Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes. “These are our ancestors that came on the Trail of Tears, and to now have people say you’re not a part of us, get out, we feel outraged.

“We are looking forward to our day in court,” Vann said.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said on Sept. 16 that after “years of litigation and legal expenses, it appears that we will finally be able to ask a judge to decide the main issue of this case which is, ‘What, if anything, did the Treaty of 1866 grant the freedmen and their descendants?’”

While many white Americans owned black slaves until after the Civil War, so did some Cherokee citizens –  but the practice generally ended with the 1866 treaty that afforded freed slaves the same rights as native Cherokees.

Leaders of the Cherokee Nation one of the largest and most influential American tribes, have been trying to change that policy by declaring that the descendants should not be considered Cherokee Nation citizens unless they can show proof of Indian blood.

Cherokees must recognize Freedmen, tribunal rules
Cherokees to Vote: Can Freedmen be Native American?
Cherokees Vote Out Slaves’ Descendants
Customs agents lack cultural awareness and respect for Indian tribes along the US-Canadian border
Government returns confiscated eagle feathers to tribal religious leader after 9 years
Heroin ring indicted on Minnesota reservations
Medford ceremony kicks off Native American peace gathering
More Than 100 Native American Tribes Consider Growing Marijuana
Native Actors Walk off Set of Adam Sandler Movie
Native american bone marrow donors needed
Off reservation Santee Sioux members seeking voting rights
Oregon State Board of Education rules Indian Mascots have to go
Pope plans to make California priest a saint: Is he a Saint or sinner?
Pueblo family forced to bury twice
Senator McCain’s record on Indian gaming is complicated
Tribal court rules in favor of “Freedmen”
Tribes prohibiting gay marriage
Tribes Win Landmark Child Welfare Case
Utah’s Navajos are leading a push to create the Bears Ears National Conservation Area
Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian tribe granted federal recognition