- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — Cherokees should not forget the Trail of Tears and should be watchful of U.S. government policies that erode their nation’s sovereignty, the Cherokees’ tribal chief said.

In his State of the Nation address Saturday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said members must become involved in the U.S. political process to protect the sovereignty of the federally recognized tribe.

Mr. Smith, wearing traditional attire, addressed more than 1,000 people at the Cherokee Nation Courthouse during the 52nd Cherokee National Holiday.

“History does have a way of repeating itself, and we are once again at a point in history where impending doom lurks on the horizon,” he said.

Deputy Principal Chief Joe Grayson Jr. said Cherokees need to elect American Indians to state and federal office to protect their rights. “Right now, we don’t have any [representative] power at all,” he said.

About 4,000 Cherokees perished during their 800-mile forced march to Oklahoma in 1838 and 1839.

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