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In The Hoop
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2001

Welcome to In The Hoop, Indianz.Com's occasional column about assorted Indian issues.

Hail to the Chiefs
At least someone is talking to tribal leaders. Too bad it's just the pretend White House.

If you didn't catch last week's episode of the award-winning NBC program The West Wing, you missed a good one. In what was called "Indians in the Lobby," Canadian aboriginal actor / media magnate / Indianz.Com camera avoider Gary Farmer and actress Georgina Lightning, also Canadian, played two Stockbridge-Munsee (Wisconsin) tribal officials who were upset that their land-into-trust application was stalled at the Department of Interior for 15 years.

"Fifteen years?" exclaimed White House press secretary C.J., played by Allison Janney. Yes, they said, refusing to leave the lobby (hence the title) until someone talked to them.

Lo and behold, though, no one was in town, being Thanksgiving eve and all. Even the show's fake Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs wasn't around, so it seems the episode was based on some sort of fact.

But in what is truly fantasy these days, the writers of the show actually sought tribal input. The National Congress of American Indians was more than happy to oblige, said president Sue Masten, who is also chairwoman of the Yurok Tribe of California.

"We are pleased that NCAI was approached to advise NBC in the writing of this script, because the issue of land -- our traditional homelands -- is of paramount importance to Native people," she said.

But who gave NBC the idea to do a tribal show? Well it appears two ex-Bureau of Indian Affairs officials who shall remain nameless broached the subject with the show's producers during the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

Look for a Republican-led Congressional investigation as a result!

Swimmer Surprises
When Secretary of Interior Gale Norton went on Native America Calling last week publicly proclaiming the "amazing set of qualifications" of her new Indian in the cabinet Ross O. Swimmer, she probably wasn't referring to the former Cherokee leader's troubles back in Tahlequah.

Swimmer used to be president of his own institution, the First National Bank of Tahlequah. But it also turns out the former Assistant Secretary was so good at banking that he used his position as head of Cherokee Nation Industries to lend $550,000 in tribal money to a company whose finances he never bothered to check out.

"I was looking to them to repay," Swimmer told The Cherokee Observer back in October 1995. "These guys had put together a business but were new and had no track record."

He added: "I'm not happy with the deal. I made mistakes."

Swimmer resigned under pressure less than a month later. Surprise!

In Your Hoop
Are you a tribal leader or Indian who remembers Swimmer from his days back during the Reagan administration? If so, email In the Hoop and tell us your favorite Swimmer surprise.

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