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'Authentic' status is necessary
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 02 July 2009

'Authentic' status is necessary

Cherokees of Alabama should abide by, appreciate, rules

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

‘You’re born what you are, the Creator made you."

    So said Bobby "Red Hawk" Sterling, chief of the group Cherokees of Alabama, when discussing whether his group should have the right to sell "authentic" native American crafts at the gift shop planned for the former River Trace Golf Club property in East Gadsden.

The Alabama Indian Affairs Commission said the group could not legally sell items, even those made by CoA members, labeled as "authentic" Native American goods because the group is not recognized as a tribe, a status change the group says it is pursuing.

While we welcome the CoA’s presence in Gadsden and its plans for investing in a development here, some of its actions are cause for concern. Signs posted at the property proclaim it a reservation although it hasn’t been declared one. A security vehicle is labeled "reservation" police.

The process for gaining status as a tribe is long and arduous. It should be. Groups that believe they are entitled to tribal status obviously get frustrated but if the process was easy it would surely be abused. Granting tribal status to marginally qualified groups would diminish that status for those truly deserving. Similarly, allowing "Indian-made" labels on items produced by groups that don’t have tribal status could lead to all sorts of problems. Without truth in labeling, you’d have "authentic" Indian items made in China.

Sterling says it should be easy to determine the group’s status. "If they want to see who is native, all they have to do is look at our roll numbers and check our history," he said. If the CoA has applied for recognition as a tribe, state and federal agencies are likely to do that and more. Until then, CoA should make every attempt to follow the rules that are in place.

Actions speak loudly

The adage about actions speaking louder than words was in play last week, when volunteers turned out in force for the United Way of Etowah County’s annual Day of Action. Fifty projects were completed at the 19 agencies that are part of United Way.

The volunteers didn’t let temperatures — hot by even Alabama standards for June — keep them from their appointed rounds. We know the United Way staff and board will join us in sending hearty thanks to all those who pitched in. Your actions speak volumes about the importance of United Way to this community.

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