Apr 2, 2013 7:40 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
Several Black Chitimacha Native American Indians are speaking out, claiming the Chitimacha Tribe is discriminating against them. It boils down to membership.
The Chitimacha Constitution says one requirement to gain membership into the Tribe is to provide legal documentation showing your ancestor is listed on the 1926 Annuity Roll or the 1959 Census Roll.
But Black Chitimacha say, some of their ancestors were not included in those records because they were Black, which now makes it difficult to gain membership into the Chitimacha Tribe.
"We consider ourselves the lost tribe of the Chitimachas," Clifford Collins said, who's requesting tribal membership approval.
Several Black Chitimachas say they're trying to find their way back, and become full members of the Chitimacha Tribe.
"We feel that it's time that the public realizes that the tribe has practiced discrimination, genocide, and racism against us, and it's time for it to end. By God this is the 21st century," Clifford's brother Chester Collins said.
Chester Collins and his brother say documents like a tribal census document from 1903, filed in St. Mary Parish Courthouse, show their ancestors are Chitimacha. But the document isn't recognized when determining tribal membership, and they say their ancestors were kept out because they were Black.
"Feel like a part of you has been stripped out. Something vital to you as a human being has been taken away has been stolen, been ripped from you. The fabric of your soul has been stripped away," Chester Collins said.
"You're caught between the cracks. It's like dual citizenship. You're Black and you're Indian, you know it's an emotional thing," Clifford Collins said.
The brothers say they and other Black Chitimachas are going to Charenton to apply for Chitimacha Tribe membership. If denied, they hope the tribe will change its Constitution and recognize their historical data.
"We just want our rights," Clifford Collins said.