Monday, May 24, 2010

Indian Affairs Commission Goes on War Path Against Lobbyist

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 3:18 PM

cherokee.jpg
The "smelly link sausage" that he discovered in his seat was one of his first clues that he wasn't welcome at the meeting of the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs. One of the state's most influential lobbyists, Mark Greene, has lodged an official complaint about his ill treatment at the meeting, which he says escalated into a "mob-like atmosphere."

"If this were a war party, you'd be shot!" one commissioner supposedly told Greene.

"I found a smelly link sausage (at least I hope it was a sausage) wrapped in a napkin hidden in a stack of newspapers left at my seat when I returned from the lunch break," Greene says in a letter to Commissioner Jim Fyke of the state Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees the Indian affairs commission.

Greene represents the Cherokee Nation, which is fighting to stop the commission from recognizing remnant tribes. State recognition gives authentication for arts and crafts they make and could mean substantial new sales.

At Saturday's meeting, "many of the pro-recognition crowd continually stared at me in a most aggressive manner," Greene writes.

"One individual, sitting 10 yards across the room from me, loudly complained to the chairman about my typing on my iPhone (which was set on mute) wanted to know what I was typing and insisted that it 'interfered with his concentration.'

"Repeated denunciations of the Cherokee Nation, personal attacks on Principal Chief Chad Smith and myself were met with loud applause during the public comments section. It was apparent that the chair had completely lost control of the meeting, which had clearly turned into a free for all and was rapidly evolving into an angry mob.

"I sat quietly and tried not to provoke the unruly crowd until Commissioner Jimmy Thigpen suggested to me 'if this were a war party, you'd be shot!' This was just too much and I then stood up and objected and soon demanded that the meeting be adjourned, which quickly happened."

Greene goes on in his letter to demand security at the next meeting. He just finished distributed his letter to the reporters dozing off in the press room this afternoon. Asked what kind of security he'd like, Greene replies, "Oh, how about the National Guard?"

Update: Commissioners deny hostility.

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