State recognition rules a subject of dispute in Tennessee
Six groups are expected to apply for recognition through the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs.

But with the commission set to expire in June 30, there's a dispute over the rules that were established for the petitioning groups. It's not clear what the groups will be able to do if they gain recognition through the commission.

Two bills in the state Legislature that could resolve the issue by setting up a permanent process for state recognition. Some members of federally recognized tribes are opposed to the idea.

"The idea of state-level recognition for what are essentially social clubs — people who may have Indian ancestry but are not Indians — is offensive to me," Melba Checote Eads, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation who has lived in Tennessee, told The Tennesseean.

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma also opposes state recognition, citing several groups that claim to be Cherokee. "There is a slippery slope that can happen when you recognize a tribe," former Cherokee chief Ros Swimmer said at a hearing least week, the Tennesseean reported.

Get the Story:
Tribe identity splits Native Americans (The Tennesseean 3/21)

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Editorial: Lawmakers shouldn't decide recognition (5/28)
Cherokee Nation blasts Tennessee 'culture clubs' (5/27)
Editorial: Reconsider Tennessee recognition bill (5/26)
Muscogee Nation opposes Tennessee recognition bill (5/20)
Cherokee Nation lobbies against 'Cherokees' (5/13)