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Old 09-01-2008, 08:25 AM   #1
Josiah
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Congressman Sullivan introduces bill to re-establish Delaware Tribe

Update to the Delaware Tribal legacy:


By Will Chavez
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Congressman John Sullivan (R-Okla.) introduced legislation on Aug. 1 that would help the Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma re-establish its recognized status with the United States.

The Delaware Tribe has been in a long-running dispute with the Cherokee Nation over its status. The CN maintains it has jurisdiction and control over federal money via a long-standing treaty with the U.S. government.

When the Delaware lost federal status in 2004, they lost their funding for programs and services. The Delaware Tribe has also always disputed what the CN and U.S. governments owe it for giving up land in Kansas and becoming wards of the CN.

The Delaware have claimed in the past that the CN also excluded them when the CN provided national funds to Cherokee citizens, claiming they should have received funds since they are legally considered CN citizens.

Sullivan’s bill is expected to provide for the settlement of these claims.

“After three years of working with the Delaware tribe, the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. Department of the Interior, I am pleased to introduce legislation which will help restore the rightful federal recognition of the Delaware Tribe,” Sullivan said in statement. “In addition, my legislation also incorporates mechanisms for the Delaware Tribe and the Cherokee Nation to resolve their economic and jurisdictional issues in northeastern Oklahoma amicably. I applaud the cooperation of these two tribes in reaching this historic agreement.”

The Delaware Tribe had federal recognition until it was terminated by the DOI in 1979. The DOI rescinded that decision in 1996 and restored direct government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Delaware Tribe. The CN unsuccessfully fought the DOI’s action in federal court, and the Delaware Tribe was recognized from 1996 until 2004 when a 10th Circuit Court decision ended the tribes’ federal recognition.

The U.S. Solicitor General stated to the U.S. Supreme Court that the 10th Circuit decision resulted in the need for Congress to pass legislation restoring the Delaware Tribe’s full standing with the U.S.

Principal Chief Chad Smith thanked Sullivan for his efforts to settle the dispute.

“We thank Congressman Sullivan for working to bring forward a bill that will preserve Cherokee Nation sovereignty while still allowing the Delaware to re-organize their tribal government. I especially want to thank Chief (Jerry)Douglas for his efforts on behalf of his people and his hard work to make sure that this bill is introduced,” Smith said.

The Delaware Tribe and the CN entered into an agreement in 1867, which allowed the Delaware to be absorbed into the CN for “general governmental purposes.” Delaware citizens have long maintained the agreement also allowed them to preserve its distinct tribal organization and maintain its own tribal laws and customs while at the same time obtaining for its members the right to equal treatment as Cherokee citizens.

The Delaware Tribe over the years has kept a functioning government in the form of a business committee and a general council, and in 1958 the tribe formalized its government bylaws, which were approved by the DOI.

Delaware Chief Douglas said Smith and Sullivan have been instrumental in assisting with getting the legislation drafted and introduced before Congress.

“I certainly don’t want to minimize the cooperation and assistance from the members of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. We are pleased and appreciative of the spirit of cooperation between the two tribes, Delaware and Cherokee, which has enabled us to arrive at a point that legislation to restore our federal recognition has been reached,” he said. “We are looking forward to working with members of Congress and particularly the Oklahoma delegation in getting this bill moved through both houses.”



Sullivan introduces bill to re-establish Delaware Tribe
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