Lobbyist: Indian Affairs meeting became 'mob scene'

NASHVILLE -- Charging that he has been subjected to "threats of physical violence" at public meetings of the state's Commission of Indian Affairs, a lobbyist for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation today called for the state to provide security at the agency's next meeting.

In his letter to state Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke, lobbyist Mark Greene said the "core issue is the inability or unwillingness of the current commission membership to distinguish between their responsibilities as state officials conducting meetings of an agenda of state government and their participation in a private political agenda."

He said one recent meeting "devolved into an ugly mob scene."

The commission is administratively attached to the state Department of Environment and Conservation.

Members of the commission are seeking to grant tribal recognition to a number of groups in Tennessee, including several to which commissioners belong.

Mr. Greene, on behalf of the Cherokee Nation, has worked against the commission in the General Assembly, has opposed the state officially recognizing the groups as Native American tribes or clans.

Speaking to Capitol Hill reporters, Mr. Greene said Indian Affairs Commissioner Jimmy Thigpen told him at a meeting last Saturday that "if this was a war party, you'd be shot"

"This was a state official in a state meeting saying that to a member of the audience," Mr. Greene said.

Indian Affairs Commission Tamara Hicks later told reporters that, "I believe we were discussing some history and there wasn't anything hostile said."

Asked what history was being discussed, she said, "Oh, just talking about years ago during war time how people would act or react during wartime, that sort of thing. There wasn't anything directed (at Greene)."

Lawmakers recently voted to block the Indian Affairs Commission's proposed tribal recognition rules, and the group is scheduled to go out of existence June 30 unless lawmakers vote to extend it.

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