the original 1982 "Proposal for the Creation of |
the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs"
(Needs Assessment, Purposes, and attachments).
November 29, 1982|
To: Mr. Phil Armor
State Planning Office
From: Ray Emanuel, TIC [TN Indian Council]
RE: Proposal for the creation of the Tennessee Commission
Ph: 615/ 726-0806
Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
"Indians Working for Indians"
Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
"Indians Working for Indians"
I. Needs Assessment
A. Native American population characteristics in Tennessee
The Indian population in the state of Tennessee is multi-tribal and scattered. There are Indians in both the urban and rural environments and most are at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. The Indian people are caught between two societies. With no reservations in the state the Indians are disconnected from their traditional society, yet they are not able to integrate into the society at large. They are disconnected from their historical society and from the dominant contemporary society in which they live. They have been overlooked and ignored by the state and have survived without the education or job skills necessary to integrate, and are faced with severe social and health problems. The Indian in society does not fit in and has no place to go.
The Indian people have no focus of identity, little means of identification with their past and limited means of acquiring the education and job skills needed to move into the mainstream. These problems are felt by every native American in the state. As a group they have no voice and no political or social clout.
The Indian people need and deserve to do more than survive at the lower edge of society. They must be provided with the opportunity to choose a better way. They must be able to do more than survive.
According to the 1980 census figures there are 5,103 Native American residents in Tennessee. The Tennessee Indian Council had estimated the Native American residents in Tennessee to be between eight (8) and (10) thousand. Because many Native Americans are outside the institutional structure of the state, the census figure is, in all probability, somewhat low.
1980 Census Figures for Native Americans by County
Illustrates the counties with more than 100 Native American Residents
The Native Americans in Tennessee are faced with problems in the areas of employment, education, health, and social services. The problems of employment and education are related. Without the basic educational framework of the predominant society, the Indians experience difficulty securing employment or the training needed to acquire employment. There is also the corresponding educational need to learn about traditional Native American cultural heritage. The off-reservation Indians are between two cultures and not fully integrated into either. Educational opportunities should be available for them to enter the educational system and also learn about their own heritage and culture.
In the area of health there are always health problems associated with low-income living standards. The cost of medical problems is itself prohibitive for low income families and many have never had doctor visits or physicals. This of course leads to high incidences of diseases such as hypertension and tuberculosis.
The Native American population is not recognized as a distinct entity by the social services bureaucracy. This problem is reflected in the attitude of the Native American population toward the representatives of the social services. Often time they will not receive social services for which they are eligible because they are not familiar with, or willing to deal with, the paperwork and interviews.
This population has suffered from discrimination in employment and education. These problems are inherent living with a cultural heritage different from the society at large in which they must survive.
The needs of Native American population can be summarized in four categories: 1) early childhood education, 2) employment, 3) Social Services representation, and 4) cultural revitalization. The Indian children experience difficulties with being thrust from the Native American culture carried within the family into the public school system. The cultural standard and expectations of the school system are different and often in conflict with their own. This could be alleviated by a program that recognizes both cultures, and initiates the Native American children into the educational standards in a non-threatening manner. The employment program offered by the Tennessee Indian Council has helped many of the unemployed Native Americans find work and receive training in skills which could lead to permanent unsubsidized employment. This program needed to be continued to extend the training and upgrade the employment level of the population which is just arriving from the reservation.
These people need employment as the first step toward integration with their new community.
The Native American communities around the state have a long tradition of difficult and dehumanizing relations with social service agencies. This has resulted, in part, from lack of familiarity with the paperwork and regulations of social service agencies. The Indian communities need social service representatives who are themselves Native Americans. These representatives would provide assistance with gaining access to the services the people are eligible to receive.
Lastly, there is a great need for an organization that the Native American population could identify with, and use as a gathering place to reestablish their traditional culture. This would provide an atmosphere for cultural revitalization, with such things as traditional Native American arts and crafts, dances, language revitalization, and other traditional Native American practices. There is also a need for a location in Knoxville for Indians who have been living on a reservation and move to the metropolitan area. This could serve to provide housing, counseling and referral, to ease the transition from the reservation.
American Indian families in Tennessee are under frequent pressure exerted by conflicts between Indian lifestyle and perceptions deduced by the predominant society.
Indian families in the state of Tennessee are among the poorest, least educated, and least able to penetrate the maze of provider services. The intensity of white-black confrontations in Tennessee has made Indian people a distant third in terms of coping with educational systems, employment, health, etc.
To be Indian is to be different ... yet this difference is not irreconcilable in terms of growth and human development.
Indian families are close knit ... much respect is paid to roles played by grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. in the development of the child's personality. Most social agencies and workers are unfamiliar with the distinctive characteristics of Indian people.
There remains an unanswered response that Indians are being well cared for by the government ... this is not the actual situation ... While stories abound concerning the mythical medicine wielding powers of Indians, this stereotyping has done little to focus in the real problems confronting Indian families especially in rural and urban areas of America. In Tennessee, most Indians are rurally dispersed, while urban groups are multi-tribal. Very little is done in the public school system to foster a sense of well being or pride in the minds of Indian children ... text books and films continue to portray Indians as savage and inhuman. It would appear that any attempts to discover the roles and patterns or Indian family life, urban or rural, demands a more than superficial interpretation of Indian people, and Indian people would be the likely sources for any information about Indian. The Tennessee Indian Council, Inc. in Nashville is the only statewide advocate for Indian people.
C. Why Indian Commission is Needed
This proposal has illustrated two basic points; first, there is a sizable Native American population in the state of Tennessee and second, the Indian population is distinct from the rest of the population and, as such, needs representative offices at the state level to help meet its service needs.
Because there are no Indian reservations in the state and because the Native Americans in Tennessee are residents of the state, the state and federal bureaucracy has not recognized the Native Americans as a distinct population with unique needs and problems. Further, with no reservations, Native Americans in Tennessee are disconnected from the tribal society and whatever access the tribe provides to federal health, education and other services.
The Tennessee Indian Council was able to help the Native Americans reach out to receive state services. They also provided a broad range of services in job training, education, and cultural revitalization. However, as a private body the Tennessee Indian Council was at the mercy of the federal granting system and when CETA funding was no longer available the Indian Council was not able to continue providing such a broad range of services.
The Native American residents of our state deserve the chance to have equal opportunity with any other resident. To accomplish this, they cannot be assumed to be integrated into the mainstream. As Native Americans, they have been systematically ignored and overlooked with only a passing and usually derogatory reference in state history books. It is time for the state to recognize its Native Americans as a distinct population. A first step in this direction would be the formation of the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs.
The purposes of the Commission shall be to deal fair and effectively with Indian affairs; to bring local, state and federal resources into focus for the implementation or continuation of meaningful programs for Indians as needs are demonstrated; to prevent undue hardships; to assist Indian communities in social and economic development;
and to promote recognition [of] the right of Indians to pursue cultural and religious traditions considered by them to be sacred and meaningful.
[end of typed report. attachments follow.]
[page 10 - attachment 1]
Who Is an American Indian?|
Indians in America have been defined, redefined, labeled, and categorized since the time of our earliest contact with non-Indians, but the truth is that only a tribe can determine its own membership. An Indian is a person who is a member of an Indian tribe. There are legitimate Indian tribes that have not yet been recognized by the federal government, and we support their right to establish their credentials.
American Indians are the only ethnic group in America with "dual citizenship" and "dual entitlement." With dual citizenship, Indians are American citizens as well as citizens of their tribe. Because of Constitutional provisions, treaties, acts of Congress, and court decisions, tribal governments are sovereign units of government. Under dual entitlement, Indians are entitled to all of the services of the federal government as well as to additional services guaranteed by treaties.
[picture] Opposite: Comanche and Kiowa delegation in Washington, D.C., 1897
[page 11 - attachment 2]
Federal Register / Vol. 48, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 3, 1983 / Rules and Regulations|
Indian means any individual who is - A member of a tribe, band, or other organized group of Indians. including those tribes, bands, or groups terminated since 1940 and those recognized by the State in which they reside:
(Indian Education Act, Section 453(a); 20 U.S.C. 1221h(a))
Indian Tribe means any federally or State recognized Indian tribe, band, nation, rancheria, pueblo, Alaska Native village, or regional village corporation as defined in or established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688), that exercises the power of self-government.
[page 12-13 - attachment 3]
You Asked About ...
Thousands of people throughout the United States have some degree of Indian blood. However, unless such an individual has at least one parent legally entitled to membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe, it is highly improbable that he can qualify for special Federal services available to Indians or share in assets owned by an Indian tribe.
Many people are descended from eastern tribes which disbanded before the present Government of the United States came into being in 1789. There are no existing Indian groups with which they can affiliate. Others, descended from western tribes, cannot substantiate their claims to membership in modern groups due to lack of early family records.
Contrary to popular belief, people do not receive payments from the Federal Government simply because they have Indian blood. Funds distributed to a person of Indian blood may represent income from his own property collected for him by an agent of the United States. Other disbursements to individuals may represent compensation for lands taken in connection with governmental projects, comparable to payments made to non-Indians for the acquisition of land for governmental purposes. Some Indian tribes receive income from the utilization of tribal timber and other reservation resources, a percentage of which they may distribute per capita among the tribal member[s]. Individual tribal members also share in the money paid to the tribes by the U.S. Government in fulfillment of treaty obligations. Money available for payments belongs either to the tribe or to an individual and is held in trust by the U.S. Government. Government checks are issued, therefore, in making payments to individuals and to the tribes.
To be eligible to receive payment from tribal funds, a person, in addition to possessing Indian blood, must be a recognized member of an Indian tribe whose money is being distributed. Generally, responsibility for establishing this membership lies with the tribe and the individual.
Some early records or censuses of Indian bands, tribes, or groups are on file at the National Archives and Records Service, Natural Resources Branch, Civil Archives Division, (Eighth and Pennsylvania Avenues N.W., Washington, D.C. 20408). These records, identified by tribes, are dated chiefly from 1830 to 1940. To search records, the Archivist must be given the name of the Indian in question (preferably both his English and his Indian names), his date of birth, and the name of his tribe. Names of his parents and grandparents should also be given. If ancestry is unknown, there are private research sources which are available. The creditability of these should be established by interested individuals before securing these service by contacting local offices of the Better Business Bureau (listed in local telephone directories).
The Bureau of Indian Affairs does not maintain comprehensive lists of persons possessing Indian blood. The burden of proof of Indian ancestry rests with the individual claiming possession of Indian blood. Copies of census and membership rolls often are on file in the Bureau's field offices throughout the country. A list of these offices is attached. If proof of membership in a particular tribe is desired, inquiry should be made to the appropriate Bureau office. |
the 1983-84 legislative proposal that created
the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs