DeBunking of Dr. Richard Allen (PHD) Piece that
appeared in the August edition of the CNO Rag!

By: David Cornsilk

August 2006

Below is an opinion piece issued by longtime CNO employee Richard Allen in support of his own bread and butter. His position is a gravy job and of course he wants to protect it. Attacking the UKB, where his own family has very strong ties, exposed Richard's opinion for what it truly is, an effort to confuse and enflame the uninformed, which of course, favors the leadership of the CNO. His OP-ED piece follows with my comments inserted:

     The Cherokees: one people, separated by politics and spirituality

By Richard Allen
Cherokee Nation Policy Analyst

Richard said:
Recently, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma has issued articles and ads that distort historic fact.

David replies:
In his opening remark, Richard sets the stage for the reader to make the assumption that what is presented will be historic fact, as opposed to what has been published by the UKB. Unfortunately, very little of what was written presents any historic facts to dispute the claims of the UKB.

Richard said:
For example, the UKBCIO suggest it is descended from the western Cherokee otherwise known as the "Old Settlers." This distinction between the eastern Cherokee and the western Cherokee came about in the early 1800s to distinguish between the Cherokee Nation in the east and the contingent of Cherokees who had moved from within the Cherokee Nation to Arkansas.

David replies:
So far so good. History is correct, but still not mention of any facts which might tend to refute the UKB claim of being the historic successors of the Old Settlers aka Western Cherokee Nation. read on.

Richard said:
The UKBCIO should not be confused with the Keetoowah Society, as it tacitly asserts that "traditional Cherokees are Keetoowahs." The Keetoowah Society is an ancient spiritual society that maintains an identity separate from the political identities of the Cherokee Nation and the UKBCIO. (See related letters below.) The Keetoowah Society may include within its membership those Cherokees who may be either Cherokee Nation citizens or UKBCIO members.

David replies:
One must wonder how Richard Allen made the leap from discussing the history of the Western Cherokees to claiming that the Keetoowah Society and the UKB are not one and the same thing. He is correct that they are not the same. The Keetoowah Society is a spiritual movement, not political. Its members, as Richard points are, may be members of the UKB, CNO, both or neither. In order to make this conclusion significant, Richard would have to bring out some historic fact which would tend to prove that the Keetoowah Society is the historic successor to the Old Settlers. They are not. Certainly, many members of the Keetoowah Society are descendants of Old Settlers, but so are many members of CNO and the UKB. The UKB has never claimed to be the Keetoowah Society any more than it has claimed to be the Cherokee Baptist Association, even though most of its principal officers have been members and pastors there. Richard is simply trying to confuse the reader into thinking the UKB has made this claim because they use the word "Keetoowah" in their title, similarly to the Society. However, we Cherokees are all Keetoowah. That is our traditional spiritual name. And in case anyone has wondered why the UKB has used the term "United" in their title, the answer is simple. When the full blood Cherokees sought federal recognition, many of the communities were divided and bickered with one another. But all considered themselves to be Keetoowah and incorporated that word in the title of their small organizations. The federal recognition of the Band brought all of those local governments under one umbrella, thus uniting them.

Richard said:
The Cherokee people have a well-documented history. In 1817, a treaty was made between the United States and the whole Cherokee Nation ceding land in the east in proportion to land acquired in Arkansas for the benefit of those Cherokees who had or who would move there. The western Cherokee resided in Arkansas about 30 years before making treaties in 1828 and 1833 in which they agreed to move from Arkansas into Indian Territory. The eastern Cherokee were forced into the Indian Territory as a result of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Upon arrival of the eastern Cherokee, the western Cherokee were then identified as the "Old Settlers."

David replies:
Good history, but has nothing to do with whether the Old Settlers aka Western Cherokee Nation is now constituted in the United Keetoowah Band. But you have to know the history to know the truth, so far so good.

Richard said:
After the forced removal of the eastern Cherokee into the Indian Territory, there were two Cherokee entities that had treaties with the U.S. government that had placed them in the same territory.

David replies:
Now we are getting to some meat and potatoes. There were two entities with federal treaties. Ask yourself this one question and the answer will later become clear: "If there were two entities with treaties, where did they both go?"

Richard said:
Author Emmett Starr informs us in his "History of the Cherokee Indians" that upon arrival in the western Cherokee Nation, John Ross settled near Park Hill, along with many other newly arrived Cherokees who camped nearby. Ross understood the necessity to unify the Cherokee people under one government. Starr notes the earliest written communication from Ross' camp was dated April 23, 1839, and addressed to the western Cherokee. Ross stated: "Although many of us have, for a series of years past, been separated, yet we have not and cannot lose sight of the fact, that we are all of the household of the Cherokee family, and of one blood - let us kindle our social fire, and take measures for cementing our reunion as a nation, by establishing the basis for a government suited to the condition and wants of the whole people."

David replies:
Most certainly, there was a need to bring all of the Cherokees together under one government. That has not changed today. George Wickliffe, chief of the UKB has extended a hand of friendship and cooperation to Chad Smith. In return, Smith has slapped that hand away by attacking the UKB at every turn. Smith's goal is the utter destruction of the UKB. There is no comparison between the gestures for unison from Ross Camp, and the vile attacks on the full bloods by Chad Smith. But again, history is history, and the offer of John Ross to achieve unity is significant to the history of the Old Settlers, and thus the UKB.

Richard said:
Ross reminded the western Cherokee that they met in council with the eastern Cherokee on Dec. 8, 1836, and that the western Cherokees unanimously agreed "to cooperate and unite in a joint effort to negotiate a treaty with the United States for the best interests of the whole Cherokee people." He concluded: "Let us never forget this self-evident truth; that a house divided against itself, cannot stand; or, united we stand, divided we fall."

David replies:
It was clearly the understanding of the Western Cherokee leaders, that the new immigrants would meld into the society already existing in the west. The chiefs of the Western Cherokee Nation believed that they had agreed to a unification of the Cherokee people under the government then existing in the west, not a usurping of their own authority. Elections were only a year away, it would have been easy for the Cherokee emigrants to search out homesteads, establish themselves and then elect whomever they wanted for leadership. But politics being what it was and still is, the majority of the emigrants wanted John Ross as the chief of the whole nation. Because they had a majority, the emigrants used their political power to overwhelm the Old Settlers and supplant their government with that of the emigrants.

Richard said:
On July 12, 1839, the eastern Cherokees and the western Cherokees came together in an Act of Union: "(T)he people composing the Eastern and Western Cherokee Nation, in national convention assembled, by virtue of our original unalienable rights, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree to form ourselves into one body politic, under the style and title of the Cherokee Nation."

David replies:
Yes, under some duress, the Western Cherokees agreed to join with their Eastern brethren. But did they disappear? Again, ask yourself the question, where did they go?

Richard said:
On April 15, 1858, Budd Gritts, head captain of the Keetoowah Society, in Howard Q. Tyner's master's thesis, "The Keetoowah Society in Cherokee History," said the Keetoowah Society was formalized under bylaws. It was apparent to the Keetoowah Society that the U.S. was divided and that the Cherokee Nation would be affected.

David replies:
It is at this juncture in history that the Old Settlers become the Keetoowah Society. While not all Old Settlers were eligible for membership, because they did not speak Cherokee, the Society at that time was comprised of both traditional and Christian Cherokee speaking, mostly full blood people. Because the Keetoowahs has come west prior to the Trail of Tears, had been a major force among the Western Cherokee Nation and the leadership of the newly organized Keetoowah Society was comprised of that political group, and they claimed an historic connection to the Western Cherokee Nation's treaties, lands and annuities, the newly formed Keetoowah Society became the historic successor to the Western Cherokee Nation and its treaties.

Richard said:
"(T)he men were becoming reckless and seemed to be taking sides with the South, but the leading cause was those who owned Negro slaves," Gritts noted.

David replies:
Ok.

Richard said:
The Keetoowah Society reacted to circumstances within the Cherokee Nation: "(O)ur Keetoowah forefathers - loved and lived as free people and had never surrendered to anybody. They loved one another for they were just like one family, just as if they had been raised from one family. They all came as a unit to their fire to smoke, to aid one another and to protect their government with what little powder and lead they had to use in protecting it," according to the Keetoowah Society bylaws of April 29, 1859.

David replies:
Again, ok.

Richard said:
The Keetoowah Society declared over and again that they were prepared to protect the Cherokee Nation.

David replies:
The Keetoowah Society did work to protect the government that had been forged by the union of their former government, the Western Cherokee Nation, with the government of the Eastern emigrants. Why wouldn't they, much was at stake and they were true patriots. The UKB has done the same. They have, for years defended the status of the true Cherokee Nation authored by the Constitution of 1839. They have fought against the interloper government created by Ross Swimmer and now headed by UKB-hater Chad Smith known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma or CNO. In 1968, members of the UKB resisted the tyranny of then Cherokee Nation principal Chief by filing suit (Groundhog v. Keeler) against him, claiming that he was violating the valid Constitution of the Cherokee Nation. That does not sound like the actions of a people trying to destroy the Cherokee Nation. Those are the actions of a people who recognize that the Cherokee Nation still exists and want to enforce its laws. Those are the actions of Keetoowah patriots who continue to recognize that the Cherokee people are one, under the governance of the Act of Union and the Constitution of 1839. It is the fraudulent government of the CNO which threatens everything Cherokees hold dear. That interloper government, with its willingness to hand over to the state of Oklahoma the sovereignty and rights of all of the Cherokee people, is the true danger to the continued enjoyment of sovereignty by the Cherokee people.

Richard said:
"The name Cherokee was in danger. The Cherokee Nation were about to disintegrate. It seemed intended to drown our Cherokee Nation and destroy it-. We must love each other and abide by treaties made with the Federal government-. Second, we must also abide by the treaties made with other races of people. Third, we must abide our constitution and laws and uphold the name of the Cherokee Nation - we must endeavor to strengthen our society. Our society must be called Keetoowah."

David replies:
This statement speaks for itself. The United Keetoowah Band has done nothing but seek to protect the rights of the Cherokee people. They have sought to strengthen the Cherokee Nation and protect it from the corrupt leadership of the Keeler/Swimmer/Mankiller/Smith regime. They have fought to hold onto the traditional lifeways of the Cherokees. They have sought only to strengthen our society under the traditional name of Keetoowah.

Richard said:
In 1861, the Keetoowah Society resolved that "if any urgent and important message from the Chief of the Cherokee Nation should be received by Head Captains to be looked into, it shall be the duty of the head captains to send out the message to all parts of the Cherokee Nation."

David replies:
The above resolution shows a stark contrast between the old chiefs of the Cherokee Nation, who worked with the Keetoowahs and the current chief, Chad Smith, who refuses even to speak to them.

Richard said:
The Cherokee Nation did become embroiled in the American Civil War on both sides and the Keetoowahs did fight for the north. After the Civil War, the Keetoowahs became more political and their leadership had control of the Cherokee Nation government. In the 1890s, there was a split within the Keetoowah Society's organization based on spiritual and religious differences. However, the Keetoowah Society (Nighthawks), as we know it today, is a spiritual organization that retains the 1859 bylaws.

David replies:
The split Richard eludes to is an important moment in the history of the UKB and the Keetoowah Society. While Mr. Allen glosses over this split as spiritual and religious, the fact is the split was political. The leadership of the Keetoowah Society began to move in different directions. In the 1890s, the full bloods lost total control of the Cherokee Nation government. The last of the National Party Chiefs was put out of office by the southern thinking, Treaty Party mixed bloods. Those Cherokees who sought only to live a spiritual life, free from politics, withdrew and refused to get involved in what they saw as a hopeless political fiasco. Other members of the Keetoowah Society saw things differently. They wanted to continue to play a role in the politics of the Cherokee Nation and continued to put forward National Party candidates, some who were elected, others were not. But no National Party candidates for chief were ever elected again. The split in the Keetoowah Society brought about a religious arm, operating at ceremonial grounds around the Cherokee Nation and rejecting politics; and a political arm delving into tribal politics and the electoral process.

Richard said:
The UKBCIO is a political entity that emanated from within the Cherokee Nation. The UKBCIO was recognized by federal legislation in 1946 and chartered in 1950. So, the UKBCIO is 56 years old. Within the last few years, it has redefined its identity several times. The current UKBCIO administration claims a membership of about 10,000 who meet the one-quarter degree membership requirement and based on this, they state: "traditional Cherokees are still Keetoowah."

David replies:
Again, Richard glosses over the political history of the Keetoowah Society. In 1905, when everyone believed the Cherokee Nation was being destroyed, the political branch of the Keetoowah Society applied to the federal courts for recognition and a federal charter. This charter was granted and the separation of the political arm of the Keetoowah Society became complete. The religious organization of the Society continued to function independently of the all other entities, concerning itself only with the religious and spiritual life of the Nation. On the other hand, the now federally chartered Keetoowah Society Incorporated, set out to represent the full blood Cherokees in their relationship with the federal government, specifically the BIA. While the history of the spiritual arm of the Keetoowah Society remains a mystery to most non-members, the history of the political arm of the Keetoowah is well known and the documents are public record.

Richard said:
The Cherokee Nation has more than 40,000 citizens who are one-quarter degree or more Cherokee blood and if one were to base the strength of tradition on blood quantum, the Cherokee citizens of the Cherokee Nation are traditional Cherokees or in the ancient rhetoric they, too, are Keetoowah.

David replies:
Richard is simply playing a math game here, but it fails miserably. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma boasts a members of 260,000 members. If only 40,000 of those are 1/4 or more, then 220,000 members are less than a quarter. You do the math, percentages don't lie, the CNO is not a traditional organization. On the other hand, the UKB boasts a members of about 10,000, and nearly 100 percent of them are 1/4 or more. Their chief speaks Cherokee, as do many on the Council. Nearly 40 percent of the members continue to speak Cherokee in their homes. While the spiritual Keetoowah Society still refuses to take part in politics, many of the Society's members are members of the UKB. In fact, after the Keetoowah Society leaderships refusal to join in the organization of the UKB back in 1946, Chad Smith's grandmother, Rachel Johnson Quinton, was instrumental in getting many of the Nighthawk Cherokees to join the UKB. They appear on the amended base roll.

Richard said:
The Cherokee Nation has an open enrollment for citizenship based on ancestry enrolled by the Dawes Commission. The UKBCIO excludes those who do not meet the one-quarter degree or more membership requirement.

David replies:
The Cherokee Nation (not CNO) is made up of all the Cherokee people, including the Cherokees by blood (of any degree), Shawnees, Delaware, Freedmen and adopted Creeks. The CNO admits to membership anyone who can prove to the Dawes Roll (although they have excluded the Freedmen for 20+ years). With a membership of over 250,000, and most of those being less than 1/4, or basically caucasian, does it not stand to reason that the full blood Cherokees not only need, but deserve their own representation? I doubt that anyone could make a sound argument that the needs of the full bloods, with language issues, cultural issues, poverty issues, education issues, don't need some form of separate assistance. The full bloods have become a minority in their own Nation. I would never say that a Cherokee of the nth degree should be cast out. I have supported the rights of the Freedmen for over 25 years. But I also believe that the UKB has a purpose that is essential to the survival of the Cherokee people and more particularly the full bloods. I know Richard agrees with that. I have listened to him talk about the mixed Cherokees. He's not fooling me for an instant. He's Cherokee in his heart, but he's letting his pocketbook do the talking right now.

Richard said:
Many Cherokee children are born at the W. W. Hastings Hospital, some are less than one-quarter and born to a UKB parent(s). Therefore, the child is not eligible for membership in the UKBCIO. Are those grandchildren who do not meet the one-quarter degree requirement of the UKBCIO enrolled as citizens of the Cherokee Nation?

David replies:
If a member of the UKB marries outside the tribe, they make that choice of their own free will. They know the consequences for their children if they are less than 1/4 blood. Certainly, that child can become a member of the CNO. I have said for years that the members of the UKB should ALL be members of the CNO. After all, the CNO is nothing more than the vehicle whereby all of the Cherokee people, including the members of the UKB popularly select the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. The CNO is not a tribe, it is merely an organization designed to assist the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in carrying out elections. All descendants of the Dawes Roll Cherokees should have the right to vote for the office of Principal Chief, including the membership of the UKB.

Richard presents:
Letters regarding independence of Keetoowah Society and Redbird smith Nighthawk Keetoowah Society from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma

Reprinted from the Cherokee Advocate Special Edition, April 1991

Letter from the Keetoowah Society

Jan. 30, 1991

To All it May Concern:

I am William Smith, Chief of the Keetoowah Society. The Keetoowah Society is a religious society made up of traditional Cherokees; this organization has often been referred to as the keepers of the sacred fire or the Keetoowah Nighthawks. I am writing this letter because of the statements and rumors that the United Keetoowah Band leadership represents the traditional Keetoowah Society.

The Keetoowah Society is a spiritual movement of the Cherokee people founded on the culture and tradition of the Cherokee people before the Trail of Tears. It was reorganized and we function presently under our 1859 Constitution. We practice our beliefs as a religion. Unlike the United Keetoowah Band, we are not a political organization or movement. We do not foster division among our people or the outside world. Certainly, we do not approve of using the Keetoowah name for commercial activities, bingo and smoke shops. We are the keepers of the tradition, culture, language and spirit of the Cherokee Indians.

I have told other Cherokees that United Keetoowah Band is not the Keetoowah Society and that the United Keetoowah Band should remove the Keetoowah name from its organization. I have also told leaders of that organization that the division that they promote among the Cherokee people is not in keeping with Keetoowah ways and is just wrong. As it was before the Trail of Tears and as it is today, there is only one government for the Cherokee tribe and that is the Cherokee Nation. The United Keetoowah Band and the Keetoowah Society have never been governments of the Cherokee people.

This statement is made for the record so that all may know the truth about the Keetoowah Society and that Keetoowah Society has nothing to do with the leaders of the United Keetoowah Band who are misrepresenting the ways of the Keetoowah. I have enclosed a video tape documentation of the Keetoowah Society titled "Spirit of Fire" to let you know more about our organization and to show the authenticity of this statement. ('Spirit of the Fire,' produced by KJRH-TV and broadcast in 1984, is available for viewing at Cherokee First in the Tribal Complex.)

William Lee Smith

Chief, Keetoowah Society, Vian, Okla.

David replies:
It is not nice to speak badly of the dead, so I'll just say this, the letter you have just read was NOT written by William Smith. It was written by Chad Smith and signed by William. Close to the end of his life, William Smith was unable to write. Chad used William for political gain. As far as I know, William Smith and his immediate family are the ONLY Smiths who give any kind of recognition to Chad Smith as a Smith. The statements in this letter, while basically true, do not give the full picture of the long-standing and historic relationship between the Keetoowah Society, the spiritual branch, and the United Keetoowah Band, the political branch, of the same organization. They are twins, born of the same mother, The Western Cherokee Nation.

Letter from Redbird Smith Nighthawk Keetoowah Society

Jan. 24, 1991

To Anyone Concerned:

Redbird Smith's Nighthawk Keetoowah Society Inc. is an organization separate and apart from the United Keetoowah Band. We are not involved in the current dispute between the United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

We are a cultural and spiritual organization. We do not operate businesses and do not get involved in the politics of these organizations.

We are for unity and against division of the Cherokee People.

Hickory Starr

Principal Chief

R. Bruce Ross, IV

Chief of the Clan Council

David replies:
And they are separate and apart from the Keetoowah Society and separate from the Four Mother's Society and separate and apart from the Cherokee Baptist and Methodist Associations. That proves nothing about the UKB and says nothing about the historic splits that have taken place across the board among the Cherokees that has created all of these organizations. It is our generation that must bring them all back together. And it won't be accomplished by talking about who they are not. We can only bring all factions of the Cherokee people back together by talking about who we all are, Cherokees of the Keetoowah, one people united by politics and spirituality.