Opinion

Steve Russell: The circus that has become the Cherokee Nation





"When does a tribal supreme court decision affect all of Indian County? Not often enough, in the sense that the mechanisms of tribal law application beside but not within the state and federal systems are a work in progress with which we can help each other. Too often, in that a blunder in tribal court can have consequences that spill outside the homelands of the affected tribe.

The Cherokee Supreme Court just rendered a poorly reasoned decision that may or may not stay confined within the Cherokee Nation, so consider this comment an early tsunami warning.

For those who have not followed the circus the Cherokee Principal Chief election has become, there were a number of ballot countings, including one directly supervised by the Supreme Court in a stunning trespass outside the judicial function. The several counts produced conflicting results, with vote margins ranging from one to 266. It was the kind of election you shove in the face of people who don’t want to vote because “ my one vote does not matter.”

Why the differing numbers? Think back to the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, where the recount gave us the phrase “hanging chad.” No, I’m not setting up a bad pun on the current chief’s name."

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Tsunami Warning From the Cherokee Nation (Indian Country Today 9/15)