Indian Times: Weekly Review

Jan 20, 2014

Contempt Charges Dropped Against Dusten Brown

Credit Susan Shannon

A South Carolina judge has dismissed contempt of court charges filed against the biological father of a young girl caught up in a custody dispute. The contempt case was dropped on Jan. 16 after Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation reached an agreement with Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who are the adoptive parents of 4-year-old Veronica.

Brown faced contempt charges after initially refusing to comply with a judge’s order to return Veronica to the Capobiancos. In 2013, Brown gave Veronica to the couple after Oklahoma’s Supreme Court lifted an order keeping her in the state. The Capobiancos are seeking more than $1 million in legal fees and expenses from Brown and the Cherokee Nation, of which Brown is a citizen. That case remains pending in Oklahoma court.

In a related story, The Cherokee Nation has passed a new law giving added protection to biological parents in adoptive and foster care cases. The Cherokee Nation tribal council passed the law last week that gives first preference in adoptive and foster care cases involving Cherokee children to biological parents deemed fit.

Next priority is given to a member of the child's extended family, other members of the Cherokee Nation or other Native American families in the placement of a child under the law. Chief Bill John Baker says the law will help ensure Cherokee children live in a "culturally appropriate" home.

Quapaw Tribe Signs Agreement With Arkansas National Guard

The Quapaw Tribe and the Arkansas National Guard have signed an agreement to protect the tribe's cultural and historical resources. The agreement will help the tribe protect and enhance sacred sites and resources of historical and cultural importance in the state of Arkansas.

The Quapaw Tribe lived in Arkansas for hundreds of years prior to its statehood. The agreement calls for the Arkansas National Guard to work with the tribe in developing and implementing the state's cultural resources management plan.

Quapaw Chairman John L. Berrey says the agreement is important because the area was the tribe's homeland before they were moved to northeast Oklahoma. Berrey says historical sites dating back hundreds of years that feature artifacts, villages, burial sites and more need to be protected.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe Remains Under Two Governments

Native American Times reports that despite election season ending for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, questions remain over who are the tribes’ legitimate leaders as an intra-tribal split continues.

Last week Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling confirmed that the federal government does not officially recognize the Eddie Hamilton government nor the Darrell Flyingman administration as the tribe’s legitimate authority at this time. Both were sworn in on Jan. 4 after each of the two factions within the tribes conducted fall 2013 elections.

Darling said that “Until the IBIA rules on the tribes’ pending appeal, the BIA will not recognize either administration as the government of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.”

No timetable has been given on when the Interior Board of Indian Appeals will rule on the appeal over who is the tribes’ legitimate authority. In November 2013, the Native Times was advised that seven cases are ahead of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’.

The tribe has been dealing with a leadership split for more than three years after a series of disagreements split the political partnership between now former governors Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell and Leslie Wandrie-Harjo.

Darling’s pronouncement is consistent with other recent actions by the BIA, including a late November 2013 decision to not allow a multi-million dollar draw down from the tribes’ lease fund account that would go towards per capita payments for tribal citizens. Ultimately, that per capita payment was funded through a loan from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tax Commission.

We hope to have a comment on the situation from claimant Governor Eddie Hamilton on the next Indian Times.

Te Ata Memorabilia Discovered In Museum Archives In New York

Indian Country Media Today reported that a new collection of memorabilia on Mary Francis Thompson, or as she was better known, Te Ata, was found in the library’s research area of the American Museum of Natural History in New York city.

The famed Chickasaw dancer, actress and performer who spread Indian culture throughout the U.S. and the world in the 20th century, met her future husband Clyde Fisher there. They married in 1933. Fisher was the first chairman of the Hayden Planetarium. It was there, in filing cabinets filled with photographs, letters, news clippings and telegrams that the married life of Te Ata was discovered.

A devoted spouse, she went with her husband on expeditions to South America and it is speculated she was one of the primary photographers on these trips. The American Museum of Natural History in New York now houses the unique Te Ata collection that details much of her life while married to Clyde Fisher. Thomas Baione, director of library services at the museum confirmed there were many items that either featured or mentioned Te Ata, including films.

Te Ata was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1958 and in 1975 received a "special recognition" award at the first Governor's Arts Awards ceremony. In 1976 she was named Woman of the Year by the Ladies' Home Journal magazine. She was named Oklahoma's first State Treasure in 1987. Te Ata died in 1995.


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