the original 1983 legislation that started the
Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs (& 1984 amendment),
and the original 1982 "Proposal for the Creation of
the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs
(Needs Assessment, Purposes, and attachments).


Public Chapter No. 425

House Bill No. 959

By Covington

Substituted for: Senate Bill No. 474

By Moore, Williams

An Act to create the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee:

Section 1. There is hereby created and established the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs. The commission shall be administered under the direction and supervision of the Department of Human Services.

Section 2. The purposes of the commission shall be to deal fairly and effectively with Indian affairs; to bring local state and federal resources into focus for the implementation of continuation of meaningful programs for Indian citizens of the state of Tennessee; to provide aid and protection for Indians as needs are demonstrated; to prevent undue hardships; to assist Indian communities in social and economic development; and, to promote recognition of and the right of Indians to pursue cultural and religious traditions considered by the to be sacred and meaningful to Native Americans.

Section 3. It shall be the duty of the commission to study, consider, accumulate, compile, assemble and disseminate information on any aspect of Indian affairs to investigate relief needs of Indians of Tennessee and to provide technical assistance in the preparation of plans for the alleviation of such needs; to confer with appropriate officials of local, state and federal governments and agencies of these governments, and with such congressional committees tat may be concerned with Indian affairs to encourage and implement coordination of applicable resources to meet the needs of Indians in Tennessee; to cooperate with and secure the assistance of the local, state and federal governments of any agencies thereof in formulating any such programs, and to coordinate such programs with any programs regarding Indian affairs adopted or planned by the federal government and the end that the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs secure the full benefit of such programs; to review all proposed or pending state legislation and amendments to existing state legislation affecting Indians in Tennessee; to conduct public hearings on matters relating to Indians affairs and to subpoena any information or documents deemed necessary by the commission; to study the existing status of recognition of all Indian groups, tribes and communities presently existing in the state of Tennessee; to establish appropriate procedures to provide for legal recognition by the state of presently unrecognized groups and to provide for official state recognition by the commission of such groups.

Section 4. (a) The Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs shall consist of two (2) non-Indian members appointed by the Governor and three (3) Indian members selected by tribal or community consent from the Indian groups that are in the state of Tennessee. (b) Members appointed by the Governor shall serve for three (3) year terms, except in the first appointments, one (1) member shall be appointed for a one (1) year term and the other for a three (3) year term. Members representing Indian tribes and groups shall be elected by Indian residents of Tennessee and shall serve for three (3) year terms, except at the first election of Indian members, one (1) shall be elected for a one (1) year term, one (1) for a two (2) year term, and one (1) for a three (3) year term. Thereafter, all commissions will be appointed or elected to three (3) year terms. All members shall old their offices until their successors are appointed and qualified. Vacancies occurring on the commission shall be filled by the tribal council or governing body concerned, or by the Governor with non-Indian embers. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy shall be appointed for the remainder of the term of the member causing the vacancy. The Governor shall appoint a chairman of the commission, subject to ratification by the full commission. (c) Commission members shall be compensated in accordance with the comprehensive state travel regulations as promulgated by the Commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration and approved by the Attorney General.

Section 5. (a) The commission shall meet quarterly, and at any such time that it shall deem necessary. Meetings may be called by the chairman or by a petition signed by a majority of the members of the commission. Ten (10) days notice shall be given in writing to such members prior to the meeting date. (b) A simple majority of the Indian members of the commission must be present to constitute a quorum. (c) Proxy voting will not be permitted.

Section 6. The commission shall prepare a written annual report giving an account of its proceedings, transactions, findings, and recommendations. This report will become a matter of public record and will be maintained in the State Archives. It may also be furnished to such other persons or agencies as the commission my deem proper.

Section 7. Fiscal records shall be kept by the Commissioner of Human Services and will be subject to audit as authorized by Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 8-4-109 or licensed public accountant. The audit report will become a part of the annual report and will be submitted in accordance with the regulations governing preparation and submission of the annual report.

Section 8. The commission may, subject to legislative or other funds that would accrue to the commission, employ and executive director to carry our the day-to-day responsibilities and business of the commission. The executive director, also subject to legislative or other funds that would accrue to the commission, may hire additional staff and consultants to assist in the discharge of his

responsibilities, as determined by the commission. The executive director shall not be a member of the commission, and shall be of Indian descent.

Section 9. The Tennessee Code Commission is requested to codify Sections 1 trough 8 of the Act as a new chapter in Title 4 of the Tennessee Code Annotated.

Section 10. This act shall take effect July 1, 1983, the public welfare requiring it.

Passed: May 12, 1983

[signed] Ned R. McWherter, Speaker of the House of Representatives

[signed] John Wilder, Speaker of the Senate

Approved this 26th day of May, 1983

[signed] Lamar Alexander, Governor


Public Chapter No. 825

House Bill No. 2192

By Yelton

Substituted for: Senate Bill No. 1923

By Moore

An Act relative to the selection of members of the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs; and to amend TCA, Section 4-34-104.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee:

Section 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 4-3-104 is amended by deleting subsections (a) and (b) in their entirety and substituting the following language:

(a) The Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs shall consist of five (5) members appointed by the Governor at least three (3) of whom shall be persons of not less that twenty-five percent (25%) Native American lineage.

(b) Member shall serve for three year terms, except in the first appointments the Indian members shall be appointed for terms of one (1), two (2), or three (3) years each. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy shall be appointed for the remainder of the term of the member causing the vacancy. The Governor shall appoint a chairman of the commission, subject to ratification by the full commission.

Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

House Bill No. 2192

Passed: May 8, 1984

[signed] Ned R. McWherter, Speaker of the House of Representatives

[signed] John Wilder, Speaker of the Senate

Approved this 25th day of May, 1984

[signed] Lamar Alexander, Governor

November 29, 1982


To: Mr. Phil Armor
      State Planning Office

From: Ray Emanuel, TIC [TN Indian Council]
          Mr. Fred Cloud, Executive Director
          Human Relations Commission

RE: Proposal for the creation of the Tennessee Commission
        of Indian Affairs

  1. Needs Assessment
    1. Native American population characteristics in Tennessee
    2. Brief History of Indian programs in Tennessee [? no such section]
    3. Why Indian Commission is needed

  2. Purposes of the Indian Commission

Native American Indian Association of Tennessee

Ph: 615/ 726-0806

Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
211 Union Street - Stahlman Bldg., Suite #404
Nashville, Tennessee 37201

"Indians Working for Indians"

[page 1]

I. Needs Assessment

A. Native American population characteristics in Tennessee

The Indian population in the state of Tennessee is multi-tribal and scattered. There are Indians in both the urban and rural environments and most are at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. The Indian people are caught between two societies. With no reservations in the state the Indians are disconnected from their traditional society, yet they are not able to integrate into the society at large. They are disconnected from their historical society and from the dominate contemporary society in which they live. They have been overlooked and ignored by the state and have survived without the education or job skills necessary o integrate and are faced with severe social and health problems. The Indian society does not fit in and has no place to go.

The Indian people have no focus of identity, little means of identification with their past and limited means of acquiring the education and job skills needed to move into the mainstream. These problems are felt by every native American in the state. As a group they have no voice and no political or social clout.

The Indian people need and deserve to do more than survive at the lower edge of society. They must be provided with the opportunity to choose as better way. They must be able to do more than survive.

[page 2]

According to the 1980 census figures there are 5,103 Native American residents in Tennessee. The Tennessee Indian Council had estimated the Native American resident in Tennessee to be between eight (8) and (10) thousand. Because many Native Americans are outside the institutional structure of the state, the census figure is, in all probability, somewhat low.

Table 1

1980 Census Figures for Native Americans by County

 1. Anderson 164
 2. Bedford 14
 3. Benton 9
 4. Bledsoe 8
 5. Blount 104
 6. Bradley 168
 7. Campbell 57
 8. Cannon 6
 9. Carroll 23
10. Carter 43
11. Cheatham 23
12. Chester 5
13. Claiborne 46
14. Clay 8
15. Cocke 26
16. Coffee 29
17. Crocket 10
18. Cumberland 22
19. Davidson 546
20. Decatur 12
21. DeKalb 9
22. Dickson 17
23. Dyer 38
24. Fayette 14
25. Fentress 11
26. Franklin 22
27. Gibson 26
28. Giles 6
29. Grainger 8
30. Greene 53
31. Grundy 5
32. Hamblen 67
33. Hamilton 312
34. Hancock 3
35. Hardeman 17
36. Hardin 6
37. Hawkins 61
38. Haywood 3
39. Henderson 10
40. Henry 31
[page 3] 41. Hickman 16
42. Houston 5
43. Humphreys 11
44. Jackson 1
45. Jefferson 46
46. Johnson 8
47. Knox 437
48. Lake 2
49. Lauderdale 133
50. Lawrence 22
51. Lewis 16
52. McMinn 68
55. McNairy 15
56. Macon 9
57. Madison 29
58. Marion 27
59. Marshall 13
60. Maury 43
61. Meigs 9
62. Monroe 11
63. Montgomery 196
64. Moore 5
65. Morgan 17
66. Obion 33
67. Overton 28
68. Perry 7
69. Pickett 16
70. Polk 13
71. Putnam 43
72. Rhea 45
73. Roane 39
74. Robertson 92
75. Rutherford 92
76. Scott 69
77. Sequatchie 17
78. Sevier 46
79. Shelby 766
80. Smith 12
81. Stewart 16
82. Sullivan 146
83. Sumner 100
84. Tipton 30
85. Trousdale 7
86. Unicoi 19
87. Union 17
88. Van Buren 4
89. Warren 30
90. Washington 89
91. Wayne 5
92. Weakley 29
93. White 9
94. Williamson 43
95. Wilson 67

[page 4]

Table II

Illustrates the counties with more than 100 Native American Residents

CountyNative American Population

There are 11 counties in the state with more than one hundred population of Native American residents.

The Native Americans in Tennessee are faced with problems in the areas of employment, education, health, and social services. the problems of employment and education are related. Without the basic educational framework of the predominant society the Indians experience difficulty securing employment or the training needed to acquire employment. There is also the corresponding educational need to learn about traditional Native American cultural heritage. The off-reservation Indians are between two cultures and not fully integrated into either. Educational opportunities should be available for them to enter the educational system and also learn about their own heritage and culture.

[page 5]

In the area of health there are always health problems associated with low income living standards. The cost of medical problems is itself prohibitive for low income families and many have never had doctor visits or physicals. This of course leads to high incidences of diseases such as hypertension and tuberculosis.

The Native American population is not recognized as a distinct entity by the social services bureaucracy. This problem is reflected in the attitude of the Native American population toward the representatives of the social services. Often time they will not receive social services for which they are eligible because they are not familiar with, or willing to deal wit the paperwork and interviews.

This population has suffered from discrimination in employment and education. These problems are inherent living with a cultural heritage different from the society at large in which they must survive.

The needs of Native American population can be summarized in four categories: 1) early childhood education, 2) employment, 3) Social Services representation, and 4) cultural revitalization. The Indian children experience difficulties with being thrust from the Native American culture carried within the family into the public school system. The cultural standard and expectations of the school system are different and often in conflict with their own. This could be alleviated by a program that recognize both cultures, and initiates the Native American children into the educational standards in a non-threatening manner. The employment program offered by the Tennessee Indian Council has helped many of the unemployed Native Americans find work and receive training in skills which could lead to permanent unsubsidized employment. This program needed to be continued to extend the training and upgrade the employment level of the population which is just arriving from the reservation.

[page 6]

These people need employment as the first step toward integration with their new community.

The Native American communities around the state have a long tradition of difficult and dehumanizing relations with social service agencies. This has resulted, in part, from lack of familiarity with the paperwork and regulations of social service agencies. The Indian communities need social service representatives who are themselves Native Americans. These representatives would provide assistance with gaining access to the services the people are eligible to receive.

Lastly, there is a great need for an organization that the Native American population could identify with, and use as a gathering place to reestablish their traditional culture. This would provide an atmosphere for cultural revitalization, with such things as traditional Native American arts and crafts, dances, language revitalization, and other traditional Native American practices. There is also a need for a location in Knoxville for Indians who have been living on a reservation and move to the metropolitan area. This could serve to provide housing, counseling and referral, to ease the transition from the reservation.

American Indian families in Tennessee are under frequent pressure exerted by conflicts between Indian lifestyle and perceptions deduced by the predominant society.

Indian families in the state of Tennessee are among the poorest, least educated, and least able to penetrate the maze of provider services. The intensity of white-black confrontations in Tennessee has made Indian people a distant third in terms of coping with educational systems, employment, health, etc.

[page 7]

To be Indian is to be different ... yet this difference is not irreconcilable in terms of growth and human development.

Indian families are close knit ... much respect is paid to roles played by grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. in the development of the child's personality. Most social agencies and workers are unfamiliar with the distinctive characteristics of Indian people.

There remains an unanswered response that Indians are being well cared for by the government ... this is not the actual situation ... while stories abound concerning the mythical medicine wielding powers of Indians, this stereotyping has done little to focus in the real problems confronting Indian families especially in rural and urban areas of America. In Tennessee, most Indians are rurally dispersed, while urban groups are multi-tribal. Very little is done in the public school system to foster a sense of well being or pride in the minds of Indian children ... text books and films continue to portray Indians as savage and inhuman. It would appear that any attempts to discover the roles and patterns or Indian family life, urban or rural, demands a more tan superficial interpretation of Indian people, and Indian people would be the likely sources for any information about Indian. The Tennessee Indian Council, Inc. in Nashville is the only statewide advocate for Indian people.

C. Why Indian Commission is Needed

This proposal has illustrated two basic points; first, there is a sizable Native American population in the state of Tennessee and second, the Indian population is distinct from the rest of the population and, as such, needs representative offices at the state level to help meet its service needs.

[page 8]

Because there are no Indian reservations in the state and because the Native Americans in Tennessee are residents of the state, the state and federal bureaucracy has not recognized the Native Americans as a distinct population with unique needs and problems. Further, with no reservations Native Americans in Tennessee are disconnected from the tribal society and whatever access the tribe provides to federal health, education and other services.

The Tennessee Indian Council was able to help the Native Americans reach out to receive state services. They also provided a broad range of services in job training, education, and cultural revitalization. However, as a private body the Tennessee Indian Council was at the mercy of the federal granting system and when CETA funding was no longer available the Indian Council was not able to continue providing such a broad range of services.

The Native American residents of our state deserve the chance to have equal opportunity with any other resident. To accomplish this, they cannot be assumed to be integrated into the mainstream. As Native Americans, they have been systematically ignored and overlooked with only a passing and usually derogatory reference in state history books. It is time for the state to recognize its Native Americans as a distinct population. A first step in this direction would be the formation of the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs.


The purposes of the Commission shall be to deal fair and effectively with Indian affairs; to bring local, state and federal resources into focus for the implementation or continuation of meaningful programs for Indians as needs are demonstrated; to prevent undue hardships; to assist Indian communities in social and economic development;

[page 9]

and to promote recognition the right of Indians to pursue cultural and religious traditions considered by them to be sacred and meaningful.

[end of typed report. attachments follow.]

[page 10 - attachment 1]

Who Is an American Indian?

Indians in America have been defined, redefined, labeled, and categorized since the time of our earliest contact with non-Indians, but the truth is that only a tribe can determine its own membership. An Indian is a person who is a member of an Indian tribe. There are legitimate Indian tribes that have not yet been recognized by the federal government, and we support their right to establish their credentials.

American Indians are the only ethnic group in America with "dual citizenship" and "dual entitlement." With dual citizenship, Indians are American citizens as well as citizens of their tribe. Because of Constitutional provisions, treaties, acts of Congress, and court decisions, tribal governments are sovereign units of government. Under dual entitlement, Indians are entitled to all of the services of the federal government as well as to additional services guaranteed by treaties.

[picture] Opposite: Comanche and Kiowa delegation in Washington, D.C., 1897

[page 11 - attachment 2]

Federal Register / Vol. 48, No. 150 / Wednesday, August 3, 1983 / Rules and Regulations

Indian means any individual who is - A member of a tribe, band, or other organized group of Indians. including those tribes, bands, or groups terminated since 1940 and those recognized by the State in which they reside:
(a) A descendant, in the first or second degree, of any individual described in paragraph (a) of this definition;
(b) Considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian for any purpose; or
(c) An Eskimo or Aleut or other Alaska Native.

(Indian Education Act, Section 453(a); 20 U.S.C. 1221h(a))

Indian Tribe means any federally or State recognized Indian tribe, band, nation, rancheria, pueblo, Alaska Native village, or regional village corporation as defined in or established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688), that exercises the power of self-government.

[page 12-13 - attachment 3]

United States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs

You Asked About ...

Indian Ancestry

Thousands of people throughout the United States have some degree of Indian blood. However, unless such an individual has at least one parent legally entitled to membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe, it is highly improbable that he can qualify for special Federal services available to Indians or share in assets owned by an Indian tribe.

Many people are descended from eastern tribes which disbanded before the present Government of the United States came into being in 1789. There are no existing Indian groups with which they can affiliate. Others, descended from western tribes, cannot substantiate their claims to membership in modern groups due to lack of early family records.

Contrary to popular belief, people do not receive payments from the Federal Government simply because they have Indian blood. Funds distributed to a person of Indian blood may represent income from his own property collected for him by an agent of the United States. Other disbursements to individuals may represent compensation for lands taken in connection with governmental projects, comparable to payments made to non-Indians for the acquisition of land for governmental purposes. Some Indian tribes receive income from the utilization of tribal timber and other reservation resources, a percentage of which they may distribute per capita among the tribal member[s]. Individual tribal members also share in the money paid to the tribes by the U.S. Government in fulfillment of treaty obligations. Money available for payments belongs either to the tribe or to an individual and is held in trust by the U.S. Government. Government checks are issued, therefore, in making payments to individuals and to the tribes.

To be eligible to receive payment from tribal funds, a person, in addition to possessing Indian blood, must be a recognized member of an Indian tribe whose money is being distributed. Generally, responsibility for establishing this membership lies with the tribe and the individual.

Some early records or censuses of Indian bands, tribes, or groups are on file at the National Archives and Records Service, Natural Resources Branch, Civil Archives Division, (Eighth and Pennsylvania Avenues N.W., Washington, D.C. 20408). These records, identified by tribes, are dated chiefly from 1830 to 1940. To search records, the Archivist must be given the name of the Indian in question (preferably both his English and his Indian names), his date of birth, and the name of his tribe. Names of his parents and grandparents should also be given. If ancestry is unknown, there are private research sources which are available. The creditability of these should be established by interested individuals before securing these service by contacting local offices of the Better Business Bureau (listed in local telephone directories).

The Bureau of Indian Affairs does not maintain comprehensive lists of persons possessing Indian blood. The burden of proof of Indian ancestry rests with the individual claiming possession of Indian blood. Copies of census and membership rolls often are on file in the Bureau's field offices throughout the country. A list of these offices is attached. If proof of membership in a particular tribe is desired, inquiry should be made to the appropriate Bureau office.


Area Offices
Aberdeen Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
115 4th Avenue, Southeast
Aberdeen, South Dakota 57401
(605) 225-0250
(Neb., N. Dak. and S. Dak.)

Albuquerque Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
5301 Central Avenue NE
1000 Indian School
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103
(Colo., N. Mex.)

Anadarko Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
PO Box 368
Anadarko, Oklahoma 73005
(Kans. and Western Okla.)

Billings Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
316 N. 26th Street
Billings, Montana 59101
(Mont. and Wyo.)

Juneau Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
PO Box 3-8000
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Minneapolis Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
331 South 2nd Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
(Minn., Iowa, Mich. and Wisc.)

Muskogee Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Federal Building
Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401
(918) 687-2507
(Eastern Okla.)

Navajo Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Window Rock, Arizona 86515
(Ariz., Utah and New Mex.)

Phoenix Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
PO Box 10
Phoenix, Arizona 85001

Portland Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
1425 NE Irving Street
PO Box 3785
Portland, Oregon 97208
(Ore., Wash. and Idaho)

Sacramento Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Federal Office Building
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento, California 95825
(916) 978-4705

Eastern Area Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs
1951 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D. C. 20245
(703) 235-2794
(No. Carolina, Florida, New York,
Maine, Mississippi, Rhode Island
and Louisiana)

Native American Indian Association of Tennessee, Inc.
230 Spence Lane, Nashville TN 37210-3623
615. 232.9179

home | Membership Application | Annual October Pow-Wow
Origins of TN Indian Commission | Native American protocol: on use of the title 'Chief'