Court strikes down freedman disenfranchisement by Cherokees


Cherokee court rules against Cherokee freedmen amendment- excerpt:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A Cherokee Nation court on Jan. 14 overturned an amendment to the tribal constitution that denied citizenship to non-Native American descendants of tribal members’ former black slaves.

Tribal District Court Judge John Cripps ruled that a 145-year-old treaty between the tribe and the U.S. government provided that “freedmen” and their descendants were to be citizens of the Cherokee Nation, so the amendment passed in March 2007 was “void as a matter of law.”

Native American tribes are allowed to determine membership based on blood or lineage, “unless it is restrained from such determination by limitation of treaty or statute,” Cripps wrote in the four-page ruling. “Such is the case in this instance.”

Diane Hammons, the tribe’s attorney general, said the tribe respectfully disagreed with the decision. The tribe is based in Tahlequah, in northeastern Oklahoma.

“We believe that the Cherokee people can change our Constitution, and that the Cherokee citizenry clearly and lawfully enunciated their intentions to do so in the 2007 amendment,” Hammons said. “We are considering all options, including our right to appeal to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.”

Tribal spokesman Mike Miller said Principal Chief Chad Smith wouldn’t have any comment.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen Association, said the group was happy with Cripps’ decision. The organization represents descendants of former slaves of the Cherokee Nation and other tribes.

“We feel saddened that so many resources and so much effort has been used to dis-enroll the freedmen people, but we are grateful that there are some officials of the tribe that are willing to study the law and fairly interpret it, and are willing to advise tribal leaders to abide by it,” Vann said during a telephone interview Jan. 14.

Some Cherokees and members of other tribes in the southeastern U.S. were slaveholders, and they allied with the Confederacy during the Civil War in the 1860s. After the war ended and slavery was abolished, the Cherokee Nation and the federal government signed the Treaty of 1866, which said the freedmen and their descendants “shall have all the rights of native Cherokees,” the ruling noted.

The issue has been debated and litigated over the years, and two lawsuits are pending in federal court in Washington.

Jan. 14′s decision came in the case of Raymond Nash, a non-Native American descendant, and more than 200 others who received notices after the amendment passed that their citizenship was being terminated. There were so many who challenged the election outcome that the court appointed a lawyer to represent them and treated all appeals as a class action, said attorney Ralph Keen, who represented the group.

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To limbo, but not to limbo – limbo in the Nola

Traditionally, limbo dance began at the lowest possible bar height and the bar was gradually raised, signifying a emergence from death into life. In its adaptation to the world of entertainment, troupes began reversing the traditionally order, and Julia Edwards added a number of features that are now considered standard, such as human ‘bars’, formed by the limbs of other dancers, and the use of fire in the performance of limbo. Limbo dancers generally move and respond to a number of specific Afro-Caribbean drum patterns. As Limbo gained popularity as a tourist activity and a form of entertainment, pop music emerged using Caribbean rhythms to respond to the emerging craze in the United States (one major example is the song “Limbo Rock” recorded by Chubby Checker), from which emerged the popular quote that is associated with limbo that says “How low can you go?”. Limbo was also brought into the mainstream by Trinidadian Calypsonian, Brigo (Samuel Abrahams) with his popular soca song “Limbo Break”.

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Limbo is unofficially considered the national dance of Trinidad and Tobago, which refers to itself as the land of limbo, steelpan (steel drums) and calypso. After a preparatory dance, the dancer prepares and addresses the bar, lowering and leaning back their body while balancing on feet akimbo with knees extended backwards. The dancer is declared “out” and loses the contest if any part of the body touches the stick or pole that they are passing beneath, or if the hands touch the floor. When several dancers compete, they go under the stick in single-file; the stick is gradually lowered until only one dancer, who has not touched either the pole or the floor, remain.

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Rev Giddens Part 2- MLK tribute at old schoolhouse

This brief tribute was given by Rev. Frank Giddens on the AKA Martin Luther King Day of Service remodeling project, at the Old Schoolhouse. He noted the hard times of old and mentioned sacrifice- life often involves sacrifice and suffering to make a better way. He also referenced an old scripture- putting your hands to whatever you were given to do with might.

Not trendy messages to be sure, but sorely needed in many places. Click video to see Giddens’ speech. Above is a picture of he and his wife Essie, the first schoolteacher at the Old Schoolhouse.

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What is All Kids Are First?

 Daytona Beach News-Journal Article- 2007

All Kids are First, Espanola, Florida, is a small non-profit school operation that seeks to promote educational engagement among at-risk youth, including youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It uses experimental methods including technology and modern media, joined to old school values. All kids, with or without autism can learn and have their horizons broadened. We seek to  encourage them to have community pride, motivate them to fulfill their dreams, inspire them to succeed, open up new vistas and opportunities for insight, and build a sense of belonging and self-worth.

All Kids are First is here to provide access to a range of encouragement- here to inspire, and empower. We are here to emphasize student success, and embrace excellence and make our children to be the best they want to be. We all would like to see success. Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it will be achieved. Dream great dreams, and make them come true. Do it today. You are very unique. In all the history of the world there was or is or will be anyone else like you. What you believe yourself to be, you are.

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