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For Immediate Release
(Oklahoma City, 01-17-04)
Contact: Anthony R. Douglas, 405/842-5920
Oklahoma State NAACP Elect Officers
The Oklahoma State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) elected new officers who will began their term in January 2004. The State NAACP held its 71st annual state conference December 5-6, 2003 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Among the priorities for the year were a voter registration campaign, education, health care, economic development, continued work to improve the criminal justice system, adoption of the resolution to support the Cherokee Freedmen litigation, and Internet safety for children. Keynote speaker for the State NAACP banquet was Sam Combs, president and chief operating officer for Oklahoma Natural Gas.
The new State President for the NAACP is Miller Newman from McAlester, Oklahoma. Newman plans to expand the membership base of the NAACP to include more people from all races and backgrounds. His major objective is to follow the organization’s agenda as set by the national leadership.
The new First Vice-President is Anthony R. Douglas a retired US Army Vietnam veteran, from Oklahoma City, Douglas was appointed by the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, to serve on the Oklahoma Advisory Board of the U. S. Commission of Civil Rights. Recently, Douglas completed the Oklahoma FBI Citizens' Academy. He also holds the position of Oklahoma State NAACP Chairman of Legal Redress committee.
The Second Vice-President is Ruford Henderson and Third Vice-President is Please Thompson, both from Tulsa, Oklahoma. State Secretary is Sandra Jackson-Oliver of Midwest, City, and returning to the position of Treasurer is Juanita Wiles of Midwest City.
At the NAACP State Conference, delegates adopted a resolution to support the Cherokee Freedmen litigation against the U.S. Department of Interior. The resolution also calls upon the current Cherokee nation leaders to uphold agreements made by previous tribal leaders as to the protection of tribal minorities with citizenship rights. Leaders of the Oklahoma State NAACP will present the resolution to the NAACP national leadership in the Spring of 2004 and work for the adoption of the resolution at the national NAACP conference in the Summer of 2004. The resolution is similar to one adopted by the national NAACP in 1992 in support of the Seminole Freedmen litigation.
More than a 100 people attended workshops at the conference on topics including education, health care, economic development, and Internet safety in schools. “While our primary mission is the focus of civil rights, we are also involved building better community relations as well,” said Douglas, who co-hosted a workshop with Bob Lewandowske a coordinator for the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program. The workshop on ISAFE, a nonprofit Internet safety awareness program, teaches students critical thinking and decision-making skills to recognize dangers online. The schools system in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is already using the program, and Lewandowske encouraged other Oklahoma schools to utilize the free program also.
Resolution - Support Black Cherokee Indian Freedmen Discrimination Litigation and Enforcement of Treaty Rights
WHEREAS, the NAACP, a national Civil Rights organization, is a leader in the struggle against racial discrimination suffered by oppressed people of color.
WHEREAS, people of African descent began to live in the Cherokee nation, an indigenous Indian nation, prior to the 19th century as slaves, free blacks, and in some instances tribal citizens
WHEREAS, the United States government and the Cherokee Nation, a federally Recognized Indian tribe based in the State of Oklahoma, agreed in a treaty ratified on July 27, 1866 that all individuals of African descent who had been enslaved by the Cherokees or who had lived as Freed blacks in the Cherokee nation prior to the Civil War were to be treated the same as native Cherokee citizens provided that they returned to the Cherokee nation within 6 months of the adoption of the treaty. These rights were also to be given to the descendants of these free black Cherokee residents and or formerly enslaved black Cherokee slaves.
WHEREAS, the Cherokee Nation formally adopted these former slaves through amendments to its own 1839 Constitution in November 1866,
WHEREAS, the Black Cherokees prior to the 1980s held elective offices and were awarded cash payments and land on the same basis as other Cherokee citizens based on rulings of the Federal Courts.
WHEREAS, the US Government Dawes Commission made “final” citizenship rolls of Cherokee citizens between 1898 and 1906, segregating the citizens with African ancestry from other tribal citizens who did not have African blood, and did not designate degrees of Cherokee blood for these “Freedmen” Indians having African blood.
WHEREAS, the US Department of Interior and US Congress began to set up programs including health care and education which were made available to Indian tribal members and descendants of tribal members but from which they barred “Freedmen tribal members” based on the fact that the Dawes Commission did not record degrees of Indian blood for “Freedmen” tribal members.
WHEREAS, the Cherokee nation in 1975 established a new Constitution which did not bar the Freedmen from citizenship nor bar other adopted classes of tribal members enrolled by the Dawes Commission and which required it to follow all the laws of the United States.
WHEREAS, the Cherokee nation tribal council adopted laws during the 1980s which barred the Cherokee Freedmen from voting and obtaining tribal membership although other classes of citizens who have the status of ‘adopted citizens’ (the Delaware and the Shawnee bands of Indians) were not barred from tribal membership or voting.
WHEREAS, the NAACP adopted a resolution in 1992 supporting the rights of Black Seminole Freedmen in their fight to be recognized as tribal members with the same rights as other Seminole tribal members.
WHEREAS, the US government Department of Interior backed by District of Columbia Court Decisions in 2001-2002 did not recognize tribal constitutional amendments or tribal leaders where Seminole Freedmen were not allowed to vote
WHEREAS, the Cherokee Freedmen, having been denied the right to vote in tribal elections held in May and July of 2003, petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs not to approve a constitutional amendment or to recognize tribal leaders due to their inability to participate in the elections.
WHEREAS, the Department of Interior, after first recognizing the rights of the Cherokee Freedmen to vote, then almost immediately repudiating its position to support the Freedmen has been sued for Discrimination by Cherokee Freedmen on August 11, 2003
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: that the NAACP calls open the US Congress, the Department of the Interior, and the US Justice Department to end discriminatory treaty of Black Indian “freedmen” as to participation in Federal programs such as education and health care which are available to other tribal members or descendants of tribal members who did not have African blood.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the NAACP calls open the US Department of the Interior to not recognize as legitimate those constitutional amendments and elections of tribal officials in which the Cherokee Freedmen were not permitted to vote.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon member branches to inform themselves concerning the freedmen issues and to support local efforts of the freedmen to call attention to their rights and gain their rights through such methods as marches, forums, boycotts, etc
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP calls upon the current leaders of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to honor agreements made by previous Cherokee leaders as pertains to the Cherokee Freedmen in areas such as voting, tribal membership, and participation in other tribal programs as it has done with the adopted Delaware and Shawnee citizens who were brought into the Cherokee nation by similar treaty after the treaty of 1866 (14 Stat. 799).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, the Oklahoma State Conference of NAACP Branches requests National Board approval of appropriate and serious form of direct action both locally and nationally to support the right of the Indian Nations for their self determination. However, such self-determination must include the protection of the rights of tribal minorities which minority rights have been agreed to by previous tribal governments in agreements with the US government, which that appear to have a historical pattern of practicing and perpetuating racial profiling against African-American Indians.
71st Annual Convention Oklahoma State Conference of NAACP Branches