After talking to many people both on website comments and on email, I’ve changed my mind on the issue of defunding the Chereokee Nation of Oklahoma.
I still strongly believe that CNO did wrong by voting to exclude the Freedmen, but I also can understand that at least some of the voters didn’t do so because of racism but because they feel strongly about the need for blood ties in the nation. I myself don’t agree with this perspective as I think culture is more important than blood — as a brother of 3 adopted siblings and 2 natural-born siblings, I think my adopted siblings are just as much kin as the natural-born ones are. To me the Freedmen are adopted Cherokee and should be treated as such.
That said, the issue of threatening to defund the CNO will be seen as a threat to the survival and continued existence of the nation by many, and will I think force folks into a corner in trying to defend a bad policy. I also think it isn’t fair, as other tribes have also excluded their Freedmen so to single out only the CNO isn’t right.
It seems like a better approach is to take the defunding issue off the table and to return to the negotiating table. There are lots of possible solutions if folks are creative enough. And I think in the long run the CNO (and other tribes) will have a richer and fuller culture if they accept the Freedmen as their adopted kin. But I think this has to be a matter of persuasion not coercion.