[Foundation-l] Native American Tribes Policy

Philippe Beaudette philippebeaudette at gmail.com
Tue May 15 20:43:09 UTC 2007

I have to tell you, as a former employee of an organization that dealt with Indian Sovereignty on a daily basis, I'm loathe to recommend that Wikipedia get involved in the recognized/non-recognized battle.  Particularly given that tripes are having recognition stripped and given even today - just google "Tribe Sovereignty stripped" for some interesting reading.

There are too many uncertainties in this area, and frankly, I don't want to be the one (or suggest that anyone else is) to involve us in tribal policies.  I don't want to call the Chief/Chairman/Chief Executive of any of these tribes and say we're going to alter their article and this is why, and I think it's not good policy for us to get in the middle of this one.

Federal recognition does not equal validity.  Until the BIA is straightened out, and the Department of the Interior, and ancient treaties, this is a field full of landmines, and I think we're best to stay the heck off of it.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jeffrey V. Merkey 
  To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List 
  Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 12:47 PM
  Subject: [Foundation-l] Native American Tribes Policy

  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.


  foundation-l mailing list
  foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org

More information about the foundation-l mailing list