"Members of the Snowbird community have long maintained traditions, strong Cherokee bloodlines and the language. It’s represented in Tribal Council together with the Cherokee County community, a community that’s largely nontraditional. Tribal members in Cherokee County who can speak the language can probably be counted on one hand. The two communities are vastly different — geographically and demographically.
Some residents of Snowbird are arguing for separate representation. They have a valid point. Are North and South Carolina represented together in the Senate? Are the United States and Canada represented together in United Nations? What is the rationale for representing these two communities together in Tribal Council?
One will undoubtedly point to the Eastern Band of Cherokees’ Charter and Governing Document as justification for this disenfranchisement. This document was adopted illegally in 1986, particularly since the Eastern Band of Cherokees
did agree to the terms of the Indian Reorganization Act
, which calls for specially called elections, conducted by the Interior Department
, to adopt or amend constitutions or governing documents. The charter was adopted through a Tribal Council resolution.
Snowbird is right in its quest, and there is no justification to oppose it. If other communities should follow the examples set by Snowbird, if they’re successful, then so be it. Would it be so bad to increase the number of council members, especially if it could possibly improve tribal members’ representation?"
Get the Story:
Joseph Martin: Each Cherokee community deserves fair representation
(The Asheville Citizen-Times 5/15)