When the U.S. Government (read: planned genocide) "Dawes rolls" were established in the 1890s, during a period when it was U.S. policy to assassinate Native American spiritual leaders, many or most traditionalist Cherokee religionists, out of fear, either evaded enrollment, or were chased away from enrollment by U.S. Cavalry Troops (and/or "Cherokee Lighthorse" Police ) at gunpoint; e.g. Original Keetoowah Society (The Cherokee Religion) spiritual leader Redbird Smith was jailed for a time for refusing to enroll. After that, Cherokee religious ceremonies went "underground" and were held in strict secrecy.
Native American religion was "legalized" by the Federal Government in the mid 1970s. Since the awful "Dawes Rolls" time, and up until fairly recently, the prevailing attitude amongst many/most Cherokee religionists has been "We don’t need a card to prove we are Cherokee… and besides, we don’t want to voluntarily paint a target on our back for the next time they decide to start killing us."
A few years ago, the original Sacred Fire, (which was obtained in the mid 1800s by Redbird Smith from Natchez ceremonial grounds in Mississippi) was moved by the late Walker Calhoun (and other Original Keetoowah Society religious authorities) to the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. After briefly residing there, it was moved to private property.
Political attacks (divide-and-counquer, slur, innuendo, business as usual) have recently been perpetrated against Cherokee religionist elements, which are isolated from each other (both geographically and socially) due to a self-imposed secrecy that began 100 years ago. Thanks to advent of The World Wide Web in the mid 1990s, these isolated elements have been finding each other, and working together… and making plans to retain our (Creator endowed) Human Rights of "Freedom of Conscience" and "Freedom of Religion."
Now, shortly after Native American Indian Religion was "legalized," Yonega politicians, no doubt inspired by federally recognized Cherokee factions, (read: Indian gambling cartel payoffs) are publicly saying "Hmmm… shouldn’t it be illegal to even CLAIM to be an American Indian unless recognized by the federal government?"
In the late 1990s, Anthropologist/Ethnologist Tim Jones PhD (White House fellow, National Science Foundation) estimated that there are 6,000,000 to 10,000,000 descendants of the few Cherokee that survived the (British military biological weaponized blanket) smallpox epidemic in the early 1700s. Out of those millions, ONLY around 300,000 Cherokees are "recognized" (licensed) by the U.S. Federal Government. Another 10,000 (or more) Cherokee are "state recognized" and TENS OF THOUSANDS of so-called "BIA Category 4" (less than fully documented) Cherokee clamor for the ability to simply associate with their Cherokee kinfolk without fear of being politically (or even physically) attacked without ability to seek protection or redress.
Thankfully, President Obama has recently seen to it that new rules were established within the B.I.A. for so-called "Federal Recognition," or more properly "Services from the Secretary of the Interior" and the attendent "civil" (man made) rights and federal legal "protections."
Friends, I have been asked to travel 250 miles to near Ashville, NC in order to attend a nationwide plenary gathering of Cherokee religionists, to participate in discussions as to what avenues may be opening up to us… and what measures might be taken.
I have had no personal income since 2008. My wife’s bank account currently has $35.76.
I MUST attend this meeting. I would be representing the interests of the (Republic of Mexico) federally recognized Cherokee Nation of Mexico and other Cherokee religious interests. I am an Alabama "state recognized" Cherokee Indian.
I NEED TO LEAVE MY RESIDENCE IN EAST TENNESSEE AT NOON OF FRIDAY, AUGUST 14TH, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.
So, IF you feel the prompting of Spirit to offer assistance, (EVEN A DOLLAR OR TWO!) please make a tax-free offering at http://NativeAmericanChurch.us/index.html
This is your chance to help save an indigenous spirituality that has existed for well over 13,000 years!
Chiya Sagonigei a/k/a Will Blueotter
International Communications Director
Cherokee Nation of Mexico