Let it go

Published 10:32 am Monday, December 10, 2012

To the Editor:

In clarification, nowhere in my response to Wayne Brown’s article do I state Meherrins are extinct. “Historical documentation noting Meherrin descendants cannot be found” means documentation connecting modern tribal members to person’s identified as historic Meherrin cannot be found. That does not mean they do not exist.  Historical records linking Chowanoke descendants to their Indian ancestors do exist. That statement is fact.

I won’t comment too much on the commission’s review of the petition submitted for state recognition other than to say one only needs to read the technical assistance letter Wayne received from the BIA to make a judgment on the difference in the standards applied.  In fact, that letter is public record and can be reviewed by anyone on the BIA’s website.

To address “tearing the tribe apart”, in today’s democracy when one does not agree with an elected official, you try to effect change in cooperation with that leader or governing body. If that is not possible, you simply wait and vote, if eligible, for another candidate.  To overthrow leadership because you do not like a person creates chaos. Most would agree our society would become unstable if this were permissible.

Likewise, when an organization’s governing body deems that a person’s actions are not warranted or legitimate, the proper thing to do is concede. However, rather than concede, Wayne Brown and his family chose to sue and subject the tribe to a five year lawsuit when a quorum of the Meherrin tribal council did not concur with his challenge to overturn the leadership of Chief Lewis. He tried legal means to force a union of two separate governing bodies in order to correct his petition for Federal acknowledgment, a petition that had many technical problems because it was biased according to the BIA. His governing body, formed by the Brown family as a separate group 20 years ago, submitted their intent to petition in 1995 after the Meherrin governing body had previously submitted one in 1990. He took advantage of a flaw in the Meherrin constitution to legally pursue control of the tribe.  He sued individual tribal members, which included the elderly and those who held no governing positions, but had volunteered many hours to benefit the tribe. They never understood why they were sued. In my opinion, this was wrong. Those actions are what led to further divide in the tribe. Where was the integrity?

Even though the lawsuit was deemed over by the Judge, Mr. Brown still persists in more litigation. He just can’t seem to let it go. Whether it’s engaging in his personalized versions of court results, or alternate versions of historical facts, he can’t seem to move forward and lead his group toward whatever future exists for them without continuing in his routine rituals to the courthouse.

He has a federal petition pending a decision that he should be more focused on.  After all, Hertford County’s rich Native American history is not limited to just one person.

Duvonya Chavis