Friday, April 18, 2008

The Caddo Nation and Identity Theft

Identify theft is sub-divided into four categories. Three of those categories are financial identity theft, identity cloning and business/commercial theft. Financial identity theft is using another’s identity to obtain goods and services. Identity cloning is using another’s information to assume his or her identity in daily life. Business/commercial cloning is using another’s business name to obtain credit or advantage in business dealings.

The crime of identity theft has been increasing in the past seven years, with some estimates quoting a figure of between five and nine million individuals becoming victims every year. This is most likely an inflated number, which might be closer to between 500,000 to 700,000 yearly. No matter what the actual number is, identity theft has become a daily subject in the media.

It shouldn’t become a startling revelation to anyone that many Indian tribes and the American Indian peoples have been victims of identity theft for several decades. This started in earnest around the middle 1970’s, increased substantially in the 1980’s, and continues to rise in a crescendo today. The fight against this identity theft has been mostly left to American Indian activists scattered around the country, without tribal backing of any note.

“Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality” passed at the Lakota Summit V in 1993 was a worthy attempt at addressing the multitudes of problems caused by exploiters, wannabes, and New Agers. But it soon was attacked by a cacophony by protestors, and with lack of tribal support fell into the dust bin of history.

Taking a leap light years ahead of other tribes, in 2001 the Tribal Council of the Caddo Nation in Binger, Oklahoma, took an unprecedented and valorous step to protect the Tribe and it’s members from identity theft. The Council passed a resolution to “protect for the Caddo Nation the proprietary ownership of it’s name, it’s cultural/tribal history and to protect the Tribe from illegal or unauthorized usage or sale of any written compositions, books or products that have been derived from any association, both known or unknown, with the Caddo Nation, it’s Tribal programs or it’s Tribal membership”.

Unlike many resolutions of all kinds, the Caddo meant for their resolution to actually have teeth to help the Nation. Nor did they put the resolution on the back shelf and forget about it. These teeth were bared in November of 2007 when the Nation addressed a Louisiana state recognized “tribe” calling itself the “Adai Caddo Indians of Louisiana”.

The 7 November letter to Mr. Rufus Davis, “Chief” of the “Adai Caddo” points out “Your Louisiana state recognition is based in part in that you and your tribe believe you are also “Caddo.” The letter then continues to describe the fallacy of that claim. Davis is further warned:

“You are hereby notified by the Caddo Nation Tribal Council (representatives of the federally recognized tribal government) that you should immediately cease and desist use of the federally recognized name “Caddo” in any and all of your media communications, including, Internet websites, advertising and marketing correspondences or other communicative correspondences to further the recognition of the Adai at either state or federal levels and as such, you shall from this time forward stop using the name “Caddo” in any further correspondence in regard to the “Adai Caddo Indians of Louisiana”.

“Should you continue using the name CADDO, a federally recognized name used only by the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, we will have no choice but to pursue legal remedies to the fullest extent available to us.“

Resounding Kudos to the Caddo Nation! If other Nations and Tribes would follow suit and become as active in protecting themselves from identity theft, perhaps the continued existence of the American Indian peoples might have some chance after all.

As with other states, it should be noted that Louisiana has not one iota of criteria for recognizing an Indian tribe. Any group can become a tribe merely by passage of concurrent resolutions in the State House and Senate. No proof of Indian identity or previous existence is required. Once again, large amounts of Federal Indian monies are diverted to support newly created “Indians”.

No study of the “Adai Caddo” organization would be complete without looking at their “ Adai Caddo Indian Nation Cultural Center”, which opened in July, 2004 - complete with teepees. The “Adai Caddo artifacts” contained in the Center are just as interesting. From the appearance of these “artifacts” I suspect that Mr. Davis or some his organizational members spent more than a few dollars on junk Indian crafts on E-bay.

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