This Land
July 29, 2019 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, an Oklahoma journalist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, the This Land podcast provides an in depth look at how a cut and dry murder case opened an investigation into half the land in Oklahoma and the treaty rights of five tribes and how this unique case could result in the largest restoration--or the largest loss--of tribal land in US history.

On June 22, 1839, my great-great-great grandfather John Ridge was pulled from his bed, dragged into his front yard, and stabbed 26 times. His assassins stomped his chest until it caved in. They did it because John Ridge had signed Cherokee Nation’s removal treaty, a document that promised our tribe uninterrupted sovereignty over a quarter of the land in what is present-day Oklahoma. That promise was not kept.

"This Land is an incredible story that spans generations of my family and will delve deep into how one unique murder case could have a profound impact on the rights of five tribes in Oklahoma, including mine," said Nagle.

Mother Jones interview:
  • "You’re used to hearing how tribes lost land to arrows and guns. I’m going to tell you how my tribe lost land to bureaucracy and corruption. And in some ways, it’s even more infuriating."
  • "invisibility is the modern form of racism against Natives."
  • We used to not be in a box. We used to have this whole continent, but now we have this little box . . . And then what happens, over and over again, is either that box gets smaller, or the United States says, "You know what, we gave you that box, but now we changed our mind, and you don’t even get that box."
  • In a rare move, the Supreme Court recently deferred ruling on Carpenter v. Murphy and will hear it again this fall. What does that postponement mean for the case?
posted by flug (14 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
I think there's (more than?) one display on this treaty/individual's actions/death in the National Museum of the American Indian. I could be remembering wrong from my visit there a few years ago but it was one, of many, of the informational exhibits that outlined the betrayals of tribes, even as the tribes in question continued to operate in good [but ever decreasing] faith.

These treaties and subsequent rulings/betrayals are so interesting to me, and especially relevant since I'm First Generation Poarch Creek*, but I find them almost completely unapproachable because, as a law abiding but cynical person,

A) they are simply too painful to consider when I attempt to put myself in the shoes of the tribal leaders/chiefs that were forced (or outright tricked) into choosing the worst of two evils only to see that even that deal wasn't worth the paper it was printed on as soon as it didn't benefit the US Government/citizens adequately (or in this case, even sooner) and

B) they are (well, short of the present administration's machinations perhaps) such obvious examples of the fact that any trust people not in positions of power put in the letter of the law being a ward against harm or a promise of equality is inherently mislaid and is fraught right out of the gate.

Perhaps B is just a rewording of A in a more general sense, but the point is that this topic shakes me to my core and until reparations are made (hint: never) it's pretty much impossible for me to go into without walking away quick, fast, and in a hurry, often softly weeping.

Thanks for posting.

*Full disclosure: The Muscogee Nation in the links the OP posted is a major opponent of many of the things our tribe is doing/has done. To be blunt, my ancestors and theirs were the same people, mine just dodged the Trail of Tears and faced different, if less deadly perhaps, consequences in the following years. I fully respect their objections, as do many of our tribal members, if not the leadership. Also, never read comments on
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:06 PM on July 29, 2019 [19 favorites]

In the sense of "shut up and listen" about understanding other people and cultures even within your own country, you could do a lot worse than to bring Native America Calling into your daily podcast listening schedule. I listened to it for many years while out on delivery routes, and found it to be deeply educational (if a bit confusing at times due to being outside their culture). The only reason I stopped listening to it is my local public radio station that was carrying it live moved it to another time on another station and not-live. I've made at least one post here on the Blue, if not several, based on things I first heard there.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on July 29, 2019 [7 favorites]

Thank you for posting - digging in now!
posted by esoteric things at 9:01 PM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Because I love reading a good court filing, here's the filings in Carpenter v. Murphy at SCOTUSblog.
posted by mikelieman at 4:27 AM on July 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thank you for sharing, flug. I do worry about what the rehearing means for the case, especially after Senator Hirono’s questioning of Brett Kavanaugh, which revealed his willingness to rule on tribal matters from a position of total ignorance.
posted by sallybrown at 7:21 AM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really, really, REALLY appreciated This Land; I feel like it's one of the podcasts that I have learned the most from! Thanks for the post.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2019

I'm on episode 3. This is fascinating.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:40 AM on July 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I appreciate Crooked Media running this podcast series. I learned a lot.

I hope the delay means the justices wanted to make sure they understood the issues before they made a ruling.
posted by nangar at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2019

This FPP and mikelieman's comment above made me realize how little I know about the recent Native American cases before the Supreme Court, so I did some reading and learned a few things this morning:

A key thing to note about Carpenter v. Murphy is Justice Gorsuch's recusal - he won't be participating in the court's decision-making for this case, resulting in an even number of justices (possible 4-4 deadlock) and no possibility of a 5-4 swing vote. As Mother Jones noted in Dec. 2018: "Justice Neil Gorsuch, the only justice with a solid background in tribal law and who tends to side with tribal interests, recused himself because he served on the 10th Circuit court while it was hearing the case."

- Via NPR, March 2019: "On this conservative court, Gorsuch has been one of the most conservative voices. But in cases involving Indian treaties and rights, he is most often counted among those sympathetic to Indian claims." [...] "He is, after all, the only westerner on the Supreme Court; indeed, prior to his 2017 appointment to the court, he served for 11 years on the federal court of appeals based in Denver — a court that covers six states and encompasses 76 recognized Indian tribes."

- Via Slate, "Why Gorsuch Keeps Joining the Liberals to Affirm Tribal Rights":
Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the Supreme Court’s liberals in a 5–4 decision bolstering the rights of American Indians under 19th-century treaties. The court’s decision in Herrera v. Wyoming is not earth-shattering, but it is noteworthy, rejecting an old theory of state sovereignty in favor of American Indian treaty rights. And coming on the heels of Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den—in which Gorsuch joined the liberals to affirm states’ obligations to the tribes they displaced—Herrera reveals a court shifting left on tribal disputes. Thanks to the conservative justice’s vote, American Indian plaintiffs are enjoying an unusually good term at the Supreme Court. What’s behind this curious alliance?

The most obvious answer is that Gorsuch is simply more sympathetic to tribal rights than his conservative colleagues. And if that is indeed the case, then it should come as no surprise. As a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch consistently ruled in favor of tribes’ right to govern their own affairs and rely upon promises made by the state and federal governments. For that reason, multiple tribes endorsed Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
- From Gorsuch's concurring opinion (joined by Justice Ginsburg) on the Yakama Nation case (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., SCOTUSblog info here):
Really, this case just tells an old and familiar story. The State of Washington includes millions of acres that the Yakamas ceded to the United States under significant pressure. In return, the government supplied a handful of modest promises. The State is now dissatisfied with the consequences of one of those promises. It is a new day, and now it wants more. But today and to its credit, the Court holds the parties to the terms of their deal. It is the least we can do.
Not what I expected from a conservative SCOTUS justice at all. Without Gorsuch at the bench for Carpenter v. Murphy, it's even less clear how things might go from here.

For more commentary, The Oklahoman has some input from experts such as the senior counsel for the Chickasaw Nation and former attorney general of the Seminole Nation.
posted by rather be jorting at 12:05 PM on July 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Listening to the first This Land episode now and almost smacked my keyboard away when I heard Nagles describe what the white woman at the social justice conference told her:
One time I was at this social justice conference and a white woman walked up to me and said, "I thought we killed all of you." She said it as if she was just making conversation.

The cruel irony of being Native American in 2019 is we survived genocide only to be treated as if we're invisible. But we're still here. And now is the time to pay attention.

Soon, the Supreme Court could order the largest restoration of Native land in U.S. History, and if we win, the land my ancestors died for could be acknowledged as Cherokee land for the first time in more than a century.
posted by rather be jorting at 4:06 PM on July 30, 2019

I'm almost done catching up on all the episodes - the podcast is very compelling. There's a good mix of historical context and current cultural context as well.

A couple episodes I found especially notable:

Episode 3 (The Opposition) made me yell quite a bit in the car yesterday. The episode details a lot of scare tactics, leverage of stereotypes, and gross exaggerations/misconceptions utilized by those opposing Native interests in cases before the Supreme Court. It's eye-opening.

Episode 8 (The Next Battleground) focuses on adoption of Native children, coercive practices used to pressure mothers into giving up their children for adoption, and specifically the Baby Veronica case (see SCOTUSblog for even more info).
posted by rather be jorting at 3:09 PM on July 31, 2019

I'm in the middle of reading a book about Ned Christie, a nationalist/traditional Cherokee politician in the 1800's who essentially was branded an outlaw because he didn't want to part of an investigation for a murder of a U.S Deputy on Cherokee land. One of the things that really struck me about the book is how white people used their privilege to completely screw over the Native population (I know, shocking!):

1. White men marrying native women to get on Native rolls and access to the shrinking reservation land,
1a. encouraging assimilation and using political means to dilute and weaken the traditional Tribal governments,
1b. outright stealing land but it's ok, because of Manifest Destiny!
2. When in trouble, navigating the two legal systems for favorable treatment (US Courts vs. Tribal Courts),
2a. Getting a pass by the local law enforcement, who then unfairly punish the Native Americans for the same infraction.
3. Using medical and cultural genocide tactics to remove Native prisoners away from their family and local population, and refusing to let Native institutions take care of their own because they would let them off "easy"
4. Literally fake news- news articles that just repeated each other without actually interviewing local people, and playing up the "wild west" and outlaw personas to sell papers

Each of the factors keep compounding and playing off each other, which magnifies each individual's action. I know that's the essence of how the white population built the US on the backs of BIOPIC populations, but this book describes each papercut in a pretty visceral way, and consistently repeats it. After 2/3rds of the way through the book, it makes sense that Christie wouldn't want to subject himself to white justice, since it would be rigged from the start. It's not a perfect biography, but there is a rawness in the language that really exposes how much the Native Americans were/are screwed over.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:01 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Cherokee Nation has decided to, for the first time, exercise their treaty right to appoint a representative to the US Congress. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is agreed.

If anyone expresses the slightest opposition to a nonvoting member it will serve as a giant red flag. That is literally the least that can be plausibly construed from the language of the treaty. Anything less is essentially making the argument that we should not abide by the rule of law.
posted by wierdo at 8:53 PM on August 25, 2019

I somehow managed to forget to include a link. Oops.
posted by wierdo at 10:38 PM on August 25, 2019

« Older The VR illusion that makes you think you have a...   |   Merriam-Webster -- Words We're Watching: Furry And... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments