Things That Matter

The Cherokee Nation Was Promised Congressional Representation Nearly 200 Years Ago And Now They’re Demanding It

Fact: the US was built on stolen land. Plain and simple.

When European colonists arrived in what is today the United States, there were already an estimated 10 million Native Americans living across the continent. They formed their own independent nations and were rich in customs, culture, and identity. 

As the US expanded its territory, it engaged in the wholesale slaughter of entire tribes. For those tribes that negotiated or worked with the US in some capacity, the government often signed treaties. These treaties basically promised the tribe would avoid slaughter if they relocated to new lands completely separate from their ancestral home. With at least one tribe, the Cherokee, their treaty also promised them representation in the US Congress.

It’s been almost 200 years since the US signed a treaty with the Cherokee people and the tribe is demanding the US fulfill one of its promises.

The Cherokee Nation announced Thursday that it intends to appoint a delegate to the US House of Representatives, asserting for the first time a right promised to the tribe in a nearly 200-year-old treaty with the federal government.

In a press release, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said, “As Native issues continue to rise to the forefront of the national dialogue, now is the time for Cherokee Nation to execute a provision in our treaties,” Chief Hoskin said.

“It’s a right negotiated by our ancestors in two treaties with the federal government and reaffirmed in the Treaty of 1866, and reflected in our Constitution. At Cherokee Nation, we are exercising our treaty rights and strengthening our sovereignty.” He added: ““The Cherokee Nation honors its treaties with the United States. Whether the United States will likewise honor its promises to the Cherokee Nation is a question that only its elected leaders can answer.” 

It was a historic step for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and its nearly 370,000 citizens, coming about a week after Chuck Hoskin Jr. was sworn in as principal chief of the tribe. The Cherokee Nation says it’s the largest tribal nation in the US and one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.

The move raises questions about what that representation in Congress would look like and whether the US will honor an agreement it made almost two centuries ago.

The Tribal Council has already sworn in it’s new delegates, including their representative to Congress.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.’s cabinet and Congressional delegate nominations were unanimously confirmed by the Council of the Cherokee Nation during a special meeting Thursday.

The council confirmed governmental cabinet positions including the Secretaries of State and Veterans Affairs, along with the Attorney General and Treasurer.

So who is their nominee to represent the tribe in Congress?

Before she became the Cherokee Nation’s vice president of government relations in 2014, Kim Teehee served as senior policy adviser for Native American affairs in President Barack Obama’s White House. Before that, she was already working in Congress as an adviser on indigenous issues.

“Kim Teehee will be a tremendous asset to our team as we work to strengthen and build on the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and tribal nations,” Obama said in a 2009 statement that announced her appointment at the time. “She is rightly recognized as an outstanding advocate for Indian Country, and she will provide a direct interface at the highest level of my administration, assuring a voice for Native Americans during policy-making decisions.”

“This is a historic moment for Cherokee Nation and our citizens. I am truly humbled Chief Hoskin has nominated me for this extraordinary responsibility,” said Teehee, the tribe’s nominee for the position. “I remain supportive of his vision for the future of our tribal government and grateful for the opportunity to serve the great Cherokee Nation.”

Although the tribe is moving to get what’s owed to them, no one is quite sure what the representation in Congress might look like.

Hoskin told CNN that the position might look similar to the nonvoting representatives from the District of Columbia or U.S. territories like Puerto Rico. Currently, the Cherokee Nation comprises 370,000 people worldwide, according to its website, and Hoskin said the tribe is in an “unprecedented” position of strength.

The Treaty of Hopewell laid out the congressional provision in Article XII, stating, “That the Indians may have full confidence in the justice of the United States, respecting their interests, they shall have the right to send a deputy of their choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.”

The tribe said that a third treaty from 1866 “reaffirms all previous treaties between the Cherokee Nation and the United States.”

For too long, US treaties with native tribes meant death, erasure, and lies. 

The history of treaties between the U.S. government and indigenous nations is a troubled one, often marked by breaches on the government’s side. 

Even when the treaties have been honored, they often resulted in tribal displacement.

According to Smithsonian magazine, the 1835 Treaty of New Echota (which the Cherokee Nation referenced in its announcement on Thursday) was used as grounds to remove the Cherokee from their lands along what became known as the Trail of Tears, a grueling journey that killed thousands. But the tribal leadership says that treaty and the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell granted the right to representation in Congress, a guarantee they now want to make good on.

Many on Twitter applauded the tribe’s decision to hold the US to it’s commitment.

What Do You Think? Did This Congressman Fart On Live TV?

Things That Matter

What Do You Think? Did This Congressman Fart On Live TV?

MSNBC Hardball / YouTube

Did Congressman Eric Swalwell fart during an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews? Twitter certainly thinks so and #Fartgate has taken political Twitter by storm. The theory appears to have begun when user Andrew Lawrence shared a 5-second clip of the representative with a single caption: “OMFG SOUND ON.” 

Swalwell appears talking as expected, but a couple of seconds in there is an unmistakably loud and distinct fart-like sound. Many believe the hot mic ended up snitching on Swalwell’s bowels but the congressman swears he did not fart. If you think the impeachment hearings are going to damage Trump’s reputation, imagine being known as the congressman who farted. 

#Fartgate was the top trending hashtag on Monday night.

“Chris, so far the evidence is uncontradicted that the president used taxpayer dollars to help him cheat an election,” Swalwell said from the Capitol on Hardball only to be interrupted by a fart sound on live television. 

The audible fart noise sounds so cartoonishly like a fart that it may as well have been a whoopie cushion toy. Most notably in the video, Swalwell seems to acknowledge the toot when he briefly pauses, therefore eliminating the possibility that the noise was added into the video later.  

Reactions on Twitter quickly poured in.

“I heard this live and thought it was my dog. It was not. Turn your sound up. No, really,” journalist Holly Figueroa O’Reilly tweeted.

Some took shot at Swalwell’s excuse for the unfortunate noise mishap.

“Swalwell pauses and flinches at the exact moment someone lightly drags a mug across a desk instead of just picking it up like a regular person What an insane attempt at saving Swalwell,” journalist Tim Pool wrote on Twitter. 

Swalwell says he didn’t even hear the fart. What is the truth? 

Buzzfeed political reporter Addy Baird texted Swalwell to comment on #Fartgate, the congressman denied even hearing the toot. 

“I’m really sorry about this but I have to ask if this was you or someone in the studio,” Baid said in a text to Swalwell. 

Baird told him he looked like he was trying to hold a laugh in during his brief pause. 

“It was not me!!!!!” He wrote back. “Ha. And I didn’t hear it when I was speaking,” adding “I def did not hear it.” 

However, in the age where some politicians cry fake news when confronted with the truth, many users did not believe Swalwell. 

“He paused his speech and ripped one. I can see why he’d not admit to it, but lol to anyone who thinks otherwise,” one user wrote. 

Hardball attempts to clear the air (jajaja). 

While MSNBC did not appear to respond to any of the media’s requests for comment, after deleting a cryptic tweet of the double Spider-man meme, they shared another one. 

“Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists – it was the #hardball mug scraping across the desk. Get yours today and let’s get back to the news!” The MSNBC show wrote on Twitter with a link to purchase the mug. 

People weren’t so keen on this theory. The hard ceramic bottom of a mug producing the sound of a fart as it scrapes against a sturdy news desk just did not seem feasible to the Twitter commentariat. 

“A farting coffee mug? Well that’s a new one. When I scrape my mug across the desk it sounds like a mug scraping across the desk,” Will Donnelly tweeted. 

Donelly also conducted a Twitter poll, which received 3,322 votes, asking users who they believe dealt it. 54 percent believed it was Swalwell, 31 percent Matthews, only 15 percent of users polled bought the coffee mug story. 

But Rep. Swalwell still claimed complete and total exoneration.

After Hardball’s tweet, the Democratic representative who is on the House Intelligence Committee and playing a role in the impeachment hearings took to Twitter to mock Trump and also claim victory. 

“TOTAL EXONERATION!” He tweeted — the same words Trump used after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. 

We may never know the truth about #Fartgate and that is so 2019. 

Ditch The Headdress, Read Up On Native Authors: Here’s How You Can Celebrate Native American Heritage Month Respectfully

Culture

Ditch The Headdress, Read Up On Native Authors: Here’s How You Can Celebrate Native American Heritage Month Respectfully

November is Native American Heritage month. And like most commemorative months dedicated to honoring the culture and history of an oppressed people in the U.S., Native American Heritage Month is an insufficient gesture. Added onto that, November is often a a time when stereotypes of Native people get reinforced. A month of supposed ‘appreciation’ and ‘honoring’ of oppressed communities, can easily turn into one replete with cultural appropriation and prejudice.

So we decided we’d round up a few things that you can do —and not do— to celebrate in a positive and healthy spirit. 

1. Don’t desecrate traditional, sacred Native objects by buying or wearing them as props.

More often than not, we find ‘Native’, ‘Tribal’, or ‘Navajo’ inspired goods in stores, what you might not know is that they could be sacred Native artifacts and spiritual items. Objects like the canupa pipe or a warbonnet —commonly known as ‘headdress’— are part of Native spiritual culture and they should never be worn as a costume.

For Native people, practicing their spirituality was illegal in this country, up until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978. Before then, Native people were beaten, jailed, and even killed for practicing their ancestral beliefs. What remains of tribal cultures customs, and ceremonies has been paid for in blood.

Among Native people, the warbonnet was only given to those who earned each and every eagle feather for their bravery, self-sacrifice, and great deeds of valor —doesn’t seem very appropriate to wear one as a costume or prop now, does it? Disrespecting the warbonnet is a terrible wrong and dishonors the likes of all who earned them with pride.

2. Don’t make children wear redface and reenact the re-telling of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving reenactments are a whitewashed version of early U.S. history. The retelling of this story only glorifies colonization when we all know that the truth isn’t so pretty. In actuality, an official “day of Thanksgiving kept in all the churches for our victories against the Pequots” was said to have been proclaimed by Massachusetts Bay governor William Bradford in 1637, celebrating the slaughter of up to 700 Pequot men, women, and children.

3. Don’t promote the fetishization of Native women.

We should all know this by now, but since not everyone acts like it, we’ll say it louder for the people in the back —Do not dehumanize women of color. We’re not your fetish and will not be devalued any longer. Reducing Native women to a fetish is oppressive and objectifying. It subjugates Native women while denying their agency.

Native women face higher rates of violence than the general population. A report last year by the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center found that more than half of Native women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and 96% of those who commit sexual violence against Native women are non-Native.

4. Don’t support racist mascots.

It’s 2019 and the sports team, Washington R*dskins, literally has a racial slur in its name. It mocks Native identity, it reinforces ignorant and racist caricatures of a whole culture.

5. Don’t pretend to know better than Native people on Native subjects.

I’d like to believe that Native people know more about being Native because well…they are Native, they’ve lived the experience daily. Native people know more about their heritage than non-Natives do and silencing their voices is equal to erasing them.

What’s more, don’t bother Natives on social media by sending them the worst instances of cultural appropriation and racial violence that you may stumble upon while scrolling. Natives who are present in online spaces see it often. Even if you mean well, for Native people, constant exposure to this sort of toxic environment is damaging and exhausting.

6. For the love of God, don’t buy culturally appropriative products from Non-Native vendors.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, do not buy Native imitations at places like Urban Outfitters or other stores who have actually been on trial for stealing names, references and designs from Native people.

Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, “it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.” Violators may face civil or criminal penalties of a fine up to $250,000 or five years behind bars. Before buying goods from a purported Native vendor, ask them if they are following this law, and what tribe they belong to. It is not offensive to ask a person who claims to be Native what tribe they hail from. Tribal identification is commonplace and accepted among Natives.

7. Do teach real Native history to children and read up on works by Native scholars and authors.

Introduce real and accurate Native history —including harvest feasts—into school events. Invite Native speakers, authors and scholars to speak to students about Indigenous peoples. It’s important that children see Natives as contemporary living people who are still here.

8. Do respect Natives’ beliefs.

It’s pretty easy; respect other people’s religion and belief systems as you would your own. There are many differences among tribes, but in general, they all share a reverence for the land, for animals and plants, for the bonds of community, for the wisdom of the elderly and for the contributions of their ancestors. Their beliefs and traditions might differ from what you grew up learning, but Native perspectives are just as compelling and valuable as everyone’s, and they should be respected as such.

9. Do respect and honor Native-Veterans.

Natives have served in the U.S. military at a higher per capita rate than any other ethnic group in the 20th century, and in the military actions following September 11, 2001, Native men and women veterans served at a higher rate than veterans of all other ethnic groups, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. As we remember those who have given their lives in service to our country while protecting the freedoms and ideals we hold dear, many of our fellow Americans remain unaware of the major contributions Native Americans have made to our nation’s armed forces.

10. Do buy authentic Native goods sold by Native artisans and businesses.

Stores like Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie, are taking valuable business away from actual Native American artists and small businesses. Support Native American creativity, history, and legacy, and help create a much-needed economic boost in Indian Country by shopping from small, authentic Native businesses. This site has enlisted Native-owned businesses you can shop from online —now you have no excuse.