Indianz.Com > News > Trail of Tears and tribal treaty cited in threats against President Biden
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre Tuesday, June 1, 2021, at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz
Trail of Tears and tribal treaty cited in threats against President Biden
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

An Oklahoma man has been arrested and charged after citing the Trail of Tears and the Muscogee Nation’s Treaty of 1866 when making violent threats against President Joe Biden.

John Jacobs Ahrens, 58, was charged in federal court on Monday with one count of making a threat against the president of the United States. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma, he sent multiple messages about Biden and the U.S. Congress to the KOTV news station.

On May 10, for example, Ahrens threatened members of the legislative branch. According to the complaint, he wrote: “They have less than 48 hours to hand over my money or their children will start dying all over the country. I’m going to kill their children using the same law as the Government used to force our families on to the Trail of Tears.”

A month later, Ahrens send another threat, according to federal authorities. On June 10, he wrote: “I just sent an ultimatum to the White House.”

“America is going to get to see a sitting President get his head blown off right in front of them,” he added, according to the complaint.

A week after that, Ahrens brought up the Treaty of 1866. He made an unspecified demand for money.

“You have until Monday morning 8:00 am sharp to hand a check over to the State of Oklahoma, the Muscogee Nation and my family in accordance with a signed agreement as set forth in the Treaty of 1866,” Ahrens wrote on June 17, according to federal authorities.

The Muscogee Nation, the Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the Seminole Nation were forced to leave their homelands in the southeast by the U.S. government during the 1830, in a series of events known as the Trail of Tears. They were removed to Indian Territory, known today as the state of Oklahoma.

Biden visited Oklahoma on June 1. He traveled to Tulsa to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the May 31, 1921, massacre of Black residents of the Greenwood District in the city, which is located within the boundaries of the Muscogee Nation.

“Enough people who believed that America does not belong to everyone and not everyone is created equal — Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Black Americans,” Biden said at the Greenwood Cultural Center. “A belief enforced by law, by badge, by hood and by noose.”

The 1866 Treaty with the Creeks, like the treaties with the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Seminoles, was negotiated following the end of the Civil War. It requires the Muscogee Nation to recognize the Creek Freedmen, who at the time were enslaved within tribal territory, as full citizens.

Despite the provision in Article 2, the Muscogee Nation does not recognize the Freedmen descendants as citizens. Only the Cherokee Nation abides by its treaty, an obligation that was fulfilled following decades of controversy and litigation.

And while the Seminole Nation was prevented from disenrolling its Freedmen in the early 2000s, the tribe continues to restrict their participation in certain programs.

Shortly before Biden’s visit, the Choctaw Nation announced an initiative to restore the Choctaw Freedmen to citizenship. The Chickasaw Nation, which never fully implemented the Freedmen provisions of the Choctaw and Chickasaw treaty, has not made any public statements about the issue.

The leaders of the Muscogee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole tribes greeted Biden during his arrival in Tulsa and took part in the commemoration of the Greenwood massacre earlier this month Secretary Deb Haaland, who leads the Department of the Interior, has encouraged these tribes to “meet their moral and legal obligations to the Freedmen.”

A conviction of violating 18 U.S.C. § 871 is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and by a fine of up to $250,000.

“Making online threats to murder public officials and their families has consequences,” said acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “The arrest and filing of criminal charges is the first step in holding individuals accountable for their alleged actions.”

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