Proposed Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs
these minutes are not approved until they are reviewed and corrected by the TNIAAC board. PLEASE let us know if you have any corrections.

The March 8, 2003 meeting of the proposed TNCIA and the TN Indian Affairs Advisory Council (TNIAAC) met in Chattanooga. The meeting was called to order by tom kunesh, TNIAAC co-chair.

Proposed Commissioners and Advisory-Council members present were: Teri Ellenwood, tom kunesh, John Anderson, Cubert Bell Jr, Sandi Perry, Pat Girard, Ron Two Dogs, Trudy Austin, & Mike Mangrum. There were several visitors present also.

Teri presented information about an upcoming meet/greet in Kingsport to hopefully gain participation from folks in that area.

John Anderson presented information about things going on in the Chattanooga area. He talked about the long, hard, and finally successful battle to have Moccasin Bend declared a National Park area, John also said that it is hoped that local Indian people, as well as the Federally recognized tribes in the area will be involved in planning and implementing the interpretive center. He also reported that the Heinz corporation has withdrawn its interest in Little Cedar Mountain. The ongoing protection of these cultural sites was discussed. Corky Allen discussed the Intertribal Land Trust and the intention of obtaining land for re-interment of our ancestral remains. There are three components to this Land Trust: 1. A regional repository for human remains, 2. TVA must provide land for re-interment, 3. (I apparently missed the third oops)

Mike Mangrum is planning to meet with Senator Harper to discuss the proposed legislation sponsored by Senator Harper/Rep. Kernell.

Cubert Bell Jr. reported that John Franklin of Memphis State University will be taking soil samples from a trench excavated in the 1940s to determine the accuracy of dating that occurred at that time.

John Anderson used this meeting as an opportunity to recognize a group that does a great service to our community. The Native American Reserve Force (NARF) of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department is made up of volunteers who are deputized by the county to patrol and protect the areas such as Moccasin Bend. This force is unique - the only one of its kind anywhere. They have been active for nine years. There was discussion about how this could be started in other areas of the state. The NARF was presented with plaques in appreciation of their vital role in protecting our scared sited and burial grounds.

The new legislation HB1530 has been placed in committee (review) in the House, in Gov't Ops. in Senate. We will need to be ready to organize phone trees quickly when it moves. Teri suggested that each person call 5 people and so on. Also, in lobbying efforts it is important at this time to speak in a positive manner. Hopefully there will be handouts to provide legislators with ready information about why the bill needs their support. We hope to have our interests as Indian people in Tennessee foremost in their minds when the vote comes! The bill carries no budget request at this time.There also will be information to the effect that the proposed TNCIA has NOTHING to do with gaming.

Corky Allen (Yuchi) spoke to the group concerning NAGPRA and the Intertribal Land Trust mentioned earlier. Corky also brought a great deal of information concerning the presence of Muskogean peoples in the area now called Tennessee and discussed that several peoples did live side by side at various times throughout history. According to research there were at least 19 tribes affiliated in the Tennessee valley area. The fact that states are under NAGPRA as museums and are bound to look at tribal/cultural affiliation, not just geographical area in identifying "ownership" of remains. Tennessee presently looks at only geographical area.

Valerie Brestel-Ohle discussed with the group, the forming of a Indian Chamber of Commerce in Tennessee. The purpose would be to advertise Indian businesses and those that adhere to the federal standards for selling Native American made goods. Lawrence Sampson mentioned that there is a National Native American Chamber in Minnesota. The motion was made and seconded for Valerie, Corky Allen, and Lawrence Sampson to look into the forming of such a organization in Tennessee. The motion carried.

Valerie also brought before the group the idea of having a gathering for a fund raiser for the proposed TNCIA. This would include artists, living history, music etc. It is hoped that this can occur in early 2004. Ron Two Dogs motioned that we go ahead with planning/seconded (Teri, John Anderson) Motion passed.

Tom brought up the possibility of again trying for the Native license plates. We discussed making up plates showing historical Indian sites in Tennessee, such as Moccasin Bend-for a $1200 investment these could be for sale at powwows etc, to get a base to try for the state plates again. John Anderson pledged $50 to get started. Motion was made by Melba Checote-Eads, seconded by Trudy Austin to explore this possibility. Motion passed.

Tom discussed the upcoming elections for representatives from West, Middle, and East - each caucus will nominate 4 people. There are details on the TNNAC site, as well as qualification process. [www.tnnac.org]

The fact that the Kingsport area has a large Native population and needs to be represented was discussed further.

The current availability of scholarships for Indian students was discussed. It was suggested that Kevin Smith at MTSU be contacted concerning this.

Tom said that TNNAC will be taking nominations to serve on the state Archaeological Advisory Council, the state Historical Commission, the state Human Rights Commission and the state Arts Commission.

Melba invited participation in a race relations meeting in Nashville on March 27 at Fisk University. John Anderson and tom kunesh committed to go.

Next meeting will be June 14, 2003.

Meeting adjourned.

Submitted by Sandi Perry

  • text of Senate Bill 41 / House Bill 1617 under consideration
      - current status of HB1617 re. the TCIA:
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