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Indian Times: Indian Country Loses Friend In Sen. Inouye (Dec 21, 2012)

This week on Indian Times…Joy Harjo Performs at Tel Aviv University in Face of Anti-Israeli Boycott…US Court of Appeals will allow Cherokee Freedman to sue Chief and Indian Country Loses a great friend in Senator Daniel Inyoue. (pictured at left with Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller in Tahlequah, Oklahoma)

Indian Country Today Media Network and the Jerusalem Post,  reported that American Indian writer and musician Joy Harjo stood firm in her decision to perform at Tel Aviv University in Israel last week despite being urged to boycott in support of those protesting the country’s continuing bombardment of Palestinians. Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and also of Cherokee descent, landed in Tel Aviv for a December 10th performance she had booked months earlier.  Upon arrival she found emails from colleagues and friends asking her to honor the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Harjo wrote on her blog just hours before being scheduled to take the stage that she“will perform at the university as I promised, to an audience that will include Palestinian students,” and she said “The students have written in support of me being here. I will let the words and music speak for that place beyond those who would hurt and destroy for retribution, or to be right. It is my hope that my choice will generate discussion and understanding for many paths to justice.”  When she booked the lecture months ago upon being invited, Harjo said she was unaware of the boycott. She said she actually shared the concerns of her fellow artists and scholars but felt that to boycott would implicate all Israelis.  She wrote on her facebook page. “My trip was posted here for a month. A person made it their campaign to question my integrity and notify others without speaking with me. I am a Mvskoke person living on occupied lands. I am in support of human rights. My music and poetry take me into the world to speak and sing a compassion that is still beyond me. I am learning yet.” Harjo is also working on a show commissioned by the public theater in New York to reinstate indigenous people to the story of the origins of blues and jazz. After Israel, she’s heading to New Orleans for research, which will also help inform the album she’s working on.  “There are so many incredible stories that need to be told,” she says. “That should be the focus; on people’s stories rather than trying to silence anyone.”

Descendants of slaves owned by members of the Cherokee Nation can sue the current chief in an attempt to restore their tribal memberships, a federal appeals court ruled last week. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a lower court's ruling that the case could not proceed because the tribe was not a defendant in the case and couldn't be compelled to abide by the court's ruling.  The Court wrote that "Applying the precedents that permit suits against government officials in their capacities, we conclude that this suit may proceed against the principal chief in his official capacity, without the Cherokee Nation itself as a party," the court wrote.  The court noted that an 1866 treaty granted the former slaves known as Cherokee Freedmen all tribal rights, including the right to vote. But in 2007, the tribe approved an amendment to its constitution requiring all tribal citizens to have a Native American ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll, thus rescinding the tribal membership of about 2,800 Freedman descendants.  The Freedmen claim the chief – and through him the sovereign tribe – broke federal law by not honoring the treaty.   Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said the tribe is pleased that the appellate court reaffirmed in its ruling that the nation is a sovereign government and went on to say that  “Removing the Freedmen from the tribe was not a racially motivated decision, but one of a tribe's sovereign ability to determine who is a citizen.  It's not asking too much that in order to be a citizen of an Indian tribe, that you be Indian. We believe that's very important, and so did the Cherokee people, and we intend on representing their will in this case."

 U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii died on Dec. 17 at age 88, with his wife and son by his side at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  The National Congress of American Indians released this statement:  “Senator Inouye was one of the most honorable and courageous men modern Indian Country has known. He was a distinguished warrior, and he served his country and people with dignity and a strong sense of advocacy. As a member and chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs he championed the rights of Native peoples, and we will always remember him for holding the line on numerous issues critical to cultural protection and tribal sovereignty. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. This country has lost a true patriot and statesman,” the NCAI statement reads. Inouye was honored by the NCAI in 1999 with the NCAI Leadership Award for his service to Indian Country.  He served in the military during World War II and earned the Medal of Honor for combat in Italy. He served with ‘E’ Company of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a group consisting entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Inouye lost his right arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy, on April 21, 1945. Inouye was a second-generation Japanese-American. His role as the first Japanese-American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, and later the first in the U.S. Senate, blazed a trail for the record number of Asian Americans now serving in Congress



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