Tennessee: Cherokee Nation files suit over Indian group recognition

NASHVILLE - Representatives of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma filed suit today to void a June 19 vote by the Tennessee Commission on Indian Affairs to recognize a half dozen groups as American Indian tribes.

Mark Greene, a lobbyist for the Cherokee Nation, said the complaint alleges the commission violated Tennessee's "sunshine" or Open Meetings Act.

The complaint, which lists Mr. Greene as plaintiff, says the commission, chaired by Tammera Hicks of Chattanooga, failed to give adequate notice of its intended action. It also alleges commissioners secretly discussed and agreed to the action before meeting, thus constituting legal grounds to void the formal grants of recognition.

The Indian Affairs Commission goes out of existence after today because lawmakers this year refused to extend its legal authorization beyond June 30. Part of that came about because of the ongoing battle over tribal recognition issues.