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Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 19:04:49 -0700
From: Gary Ridge
Subject: Tribal Response to Congressman Coburn

This is an official response to the slanderous statement made by Oklahoma Congressman (outgoing Republican) Tom Coburn of Muskogee Oklahoma. Congressman Coburn referred to the Southern Cherokee and City of Webbers Falls as "Parasites".

The Southern Cherokee Nation entered into treaties with the United States and as such have certain rights in common with other tribes in the Arkansas River. They plan an economic development venture in the Webbers Falls area, which will include legal riverboat gaming.

The part of the Arkansas River in question is Indian Country and "is not now and has never been" owned by the State of Oklahoma and by Federal Laws and Treaties "remain outside the jurisdiction of the state".

Although the Southern Cherokee Indians reside in several states, as do members of all other tribes, including Oklahoma and Missouri, they are not a "Missouri group" nor do they plan to "Flout" the laws of the United States or any state as Rep. Tom Coburn has alleged to the press. They do plan to exploit the laws and treaties of the United States for Tribal Benefit as well as for the benefit of the City of Webbers Falls.

We are not aware that Las Vegas has riverboats with full-blown Las Vegas style casino gaming as Coburn's cry wolf news release indicates, but he should apologize to us and the citizens of Webbers Falls for labeling our efforts "parasites'.

Las Vegas has spent millions of dollars in TV. Commercials and countless dollars attempting to woo religious groups (christian coalition) and law makers to oppose Indian Gaming Nationally. They failed in California where the people by ballot amended the State Constitution to support the Indians in their economic development ventures. We Southern Cherokees have no connections whatsoever in Las Vegas, Atlantic City mob and could care less about their concerns.

Moreover, the City of Webbers Falls is the Historical Home and Headquarters of the SCN. The SCN is purchasing land in the area and is committed to assisting the City in beneficial development of their area, and have pledged water works, fire suppression and police equipment, a library and a new city hall and have violated no laws whatsoever.

The SCN is not a law violator. Representative Coburn has not done his homework, but needs to pay closer attention to the small town needs in his district all along the Arkansas River.

No Indian gaming casino in the country can rightfully be labeled "parasite" and such malarkey borders on libel and slander. The truth of the matter is that Indian citizens today are all citizens of the United States.

The Indian Citizenship Act of June 2. 1924 (43 Stat. 253) granted all Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States citizenship, "but" reserved to the Indians their rights to share in "all" tribal and other property (8 U.S.Code 1401(b)).

While the "other property" clause has not yet been fully enumerated, it applies to Indian property rights in Federal Lands that no other citizen can have, and are vouchsafed them by contracts called Treaties. Rights of Indian cannot be fully understood until it is realized that many of the important rights Indian Citizens have flow from State laws in the States in which they reside.

Rights of Indians include "Vested Rights" under Federal Laws and Treaties which are a portion of the Supreme Law of the land and , the U.S, Constitution cautions the judges in each state to abide by the laws and treaties of the Untied States, including State Enabling Acts.

For instance, the State of Oklahoma Enabling Act, which allowed Oklahoma to become a state, required a Disclaimer over Indian Lands and in some cases, over Indians. Civil rights laws, Federal and State, protect Indians and non-Indian citizens. Rights of Indians have been identified with civil rights of Indians by the Indian Civil Rights Acts of 1968.

The forebears of non-indians received lands taken from Indian Tribes under treaties and settled on the land. The rights Indians have are "Pre-existing rights", but today, are "protected" by various civil rights enactments and the Constitutional Bill of Rights, the same as non-Indian rights.

In addition, Tribes retain all the aspects of Sovereign Nations "except" where they have expressly been required to give them up under Treaty and Act of Congress.

Hateful words in the press, especially where basically untrue, labeling Tribes law-breakers and parasites, leave much to be considered and Representative Tom Coburn of Muskogee Oklahoma, should realize that, at least, it is hard enough for Indian Tribes to obtain financing without cry wolf misrepresentations.

The City of Webbers Falls has welcomed the SCN plan for economic development in their area and has done so by Resolution. The small surrounding towns feel that it is a wonderful opportunity to enhance tourism. The Resort Development planned by the SCN is not only about Indian Gaming. He owes us an Apology.

Gary Ridge
Principal Chief
Southern Cherokee Nation
PO BOX 777
Webbers Falls OK 74077



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