[Foundation-l] Native American Tribes Policy

Jeffrey V. Merkey jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com
Tue May 15 17:47:58 UTC 2007

I started a policy which was subsequently rejected by Wikiality based 


The basic problem here is that non-Federally recognized groups claiming 
to be Indian Tribes can expose the Foundation and Wikipedia to 
considerable liability and negative publicity.   By way of example, when 
James Mooney was indicted in Utah for impersonating an Indian not only 
was he charged, so was the person running his websites and posting the 
false information.  Mooney was indicted for 19 first degree felony 
counts for operating a CEE (Continuing Criminal Enterprise) for the 
purposes of distributing peyote.  The Southern Cherokee Nation (which is 
not a real tribe) under currently operating illegal riverboat casinos 
and using their claims of being a Federally recognized tribe to justify 
their activities. 

Wikipedia needs to exclude these fake tribe from the project.  Any of 
these tribes can bring legal action against the Foundation, as can the 
Federal Government if fake groups are allowed to claim they are indian 
tribes, then use Wikipedia as a basis to claim credibility and break the 
law.  This can have two possible outcomes.   The genuine tribes (who 
have Federal support and Federal funding) can withdraw financial support 
from the project and/or Wikipedia can be exposed to negative publicity 
and loss of public trust by the legitimate tribes, as well as being 
exposed to Federal Prosecution if these groups use the project to 
violate US laws. 

I am of Cherokee, German, and English ancestry, but I do not claim I am 
a citizen of Germany or the UK., even though I am of these bloodlines as 
well as Cherokee.  The same applies to Native Tribes recognized by the 
US Government.  These tribes are sovereign governments, and members are 
citizens.   For someone who claims Indian ancestry to set themselves up 
as a tribe purports claims they are citizens of a non-recgnized 
sovereign.   It would be the same as for me to claim I am a German or UK 
citizen just because I have ancestry from these groups, which would be a 
false claim.  The same applies to Indian Nations.

I will be unable to garner support from the tribes to publicly support 
Wikipedia from other tribes if such a policy does not exist, since any 
fake group can claim they are an indian tribe when they are not.  Please 
read the text of the policy, and the Foundation needs to make a decision 
about this matter.  Tribes which are not Federally recognized in the US 
are NOT indian tribes, and numerous legal liabilities are created if we 
allow these groups to post false information into the project.


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