An Encounter with the Tree Police
I'm not a tree hugger. I don't know how sick the Woodward Park trees are, and I don't know the cost of treating them. But my mother the "tree lady" is right: We should try to preserve our old trees, we shouldn't just replace them with easier ones. Otherwise, we risk turning our parks into lands of "happy little trees", like television presenter Bob Ross used to paint.
Interim city arborist Mike Perkins should be the first one to agree. Certified Arborists have their own kind of Hippocratic oath: Tree removal should be a last resort, only after maintenance fails. To a true arborist, each tree down is a failure.
But after only two weeks in his new position, Mr. Perkins decided that he couldn't find the money to pay for treatment. So he started to pick Woodward Park bare. I don't know how hard he tried to find the money to save those trees, but he couldn't have tried very long.
I'm not an activist and I didn't want to get involved. My mother's home faces the park. On Thursday, April 12, I dropped by to visit her at lunchtime. But she wasn't home, and I saw that the ribbons were down again. I knew she was getting discouraged, so I replaced ribbons around three trees marked for removal.
A man approached, tore off the ribbons, handed me some papers and said, "You might want to look at this before putting up any more ribbons." I asked his name, and he said, "I'm the one in charge of this park." I asked his name again, and he gestured to my mother's house and said, "She knows who I am." Well, I didn't. So I asked him again. He said his name was Mike. Then on the fourth try, I got his last name: Perkins himself.
I read what he handed me. Five pages of Tulsa law, with three parts highlighted; the first part asserted the city's authority to remove trees, the second part warned that it was illegal to interfere, and the third part laid out the consequences: $100 fine.
I've never been arrested, and I don't plan to be, but I don't think anybody has ever been arrested for tying a ribbon around a tree. So I put them back up, sat on my car and waited.
After five minutes, Mr. Perkins returned. He tore them down again.
So, I put three more ribbons up, sat back on my car and... well, it was lunchtime. I didn't have all day for this.
At first I was amused by the whole thing. Was Mr. Perkins actually going to call 911, and ask them to arrest me? Or was this just intimidation? Then it hit me: This wasn't originally meant for me. I held in my hands a threat of arrest that was prepared for my mother.
She didn't chain herself in protest, build a tree house or drive spikes into the trunk to break chain saws, like an Oregon logging activist. All she did was tie ribbons on trees, to call others' attention to what we were about to lose. And he tried to bully her into keeping quiet.
As of April 13, there's a moratorium on tree cutting in the park, but the mayor's office says "no decision has been made" about the trees' fate. I expect they'll come up with reasonable guidelines for removal. But after they lift the moratorium, will it again be up to Mr. Perkins to decides when those guidelines have been met?
If Mr. Perkins wants happy little trees, he should get a copy of Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting. It will lift his spirits. And in a better mood, he might stop threatening our trees - and the residents who want to protect them.
I know a young Cherokee girl who drank herself into darkness and while driving killed another young girl. I know a young Cherokee man who after his third failed marriage, drank himself into darkness and went to work as a nurse, and was fired. He works at odd jobs now and again. I know a young Cherokee man who has days that he can't cope and cries himself to sleep or drinks himself into a darkness that last for days. But, let's focus on the Freedmen!
I respect many of those involved on either side of the issue consuming my people; but, I don't respect their choices. To choose the expulsion of others from our Nation, while there are issues far reaching and that have plagued not only the Cherokee, but many indigenous Americans - alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, poverty and many other social and cultural devastations is irresponsible of those chosen to lead and sad that it is the primary concern of citizens.
And then to base a point, or argument, on the fact that "you" never knew a Freedmen, a black, somehow belittles the issue. Not knowing, or admitting ignorance, of Freedmen or sharing culture with them on your level or in your neighborhood really misses the point and side steps the issue facing us. I remember black people coming to our ceremonial ground when I was a child. I didn't know what a "Freedmen" was then. I never thought anything about them. They were just other people coming to our "Ground," there to dance and worship like all of us.
I never saw many of those who are playing the "don't share our culture" or "didn't share our traditions" argument at the Stomp Grounds or in my community. Does that somehow qualify them as individuals who should be removed from citizenship in our Nation? You didn't, and don't, share "my" culture. We, the Cherokee, are a diverse and blended people.
To attack an individual fighting for beliefs and understandings that they hold and ignoring the issue(s) is only a distraction tactic that will not work, and should not work. My Nation has taken a road that should not be traveled. And, for good reason? To hide one's fears and ethics in a shroud of indignation toward others is a sad place for any individual, but a crime for a Nation and its leaders. We have embarked on the greatest threat to our sovereignty in our modern Nation's history, and for what? And, where is the voice of the Cherokee people?
Past treatment of Native Americans is a black eye for U.S. history. Unfortunately, many of the misunderstandings and stigmas formed during those times survive today. It is our duty as open-minded people, individuals seeking enlightenment and education, to combat such labeling. We have a hard time of doing that when there are those of us focusing on such trivial matters as who we should throw out of the Nation. A strong Nation is built upon principles such as inclusion and not exclusion.
Let's focus on the important things. Remove those who don't share what we believe to be "Cherokee." And let us not waste valuable time on the trivial things. Specifically, don't develop and strengthen native consciousness and fellowships; training and developing native leaders; and do not encourage contributions to the life of the Nation and the world. Key to the important issues facing Cherokees today is ignoring contributions that Cherokee culture and spiritual expression bring to the whole of society, with the ignorant idea that following a white path, a path of enlightenment and goodness woven throughout our lives, could bring a wholesomeness and goodness to our lives.
Cherokees are traditionally an oral people, which means that a lot of our best work is inside our best people. Let us ignore those things in our children, while we formulate the criteria for expulsion of a few, who "just happen to be" black.
The intent I have often had was to build a conduit to enable those good words hidden away in the hearts and minds of talented Cherokees to flow out and be shared with the world. I'll forget all those lofty ideas and concentrate on removing the few "I" don't believe belong.
And, I hope we will not waste time focusing on the Cherokee community, and any hope of finding and helping to set free those voices in Cherokees, specifically the young, or that elder who lives in substandard housing, or the diabetic who will have a leg amputated, maybe both.
The Cherokee have found vehicles for examining their life, their communities, their spirituality and culture in the most honest, searching way, and from that decided our energy is best spent focusing on false blood quantum's and expulsion of the Freedmen. While the Cherokee inheritance in life is filled with many good and noble things, it also includes challenges that include high rates of alcoholism, substance abuse and poverty and low levels of education, but let us keep our focus - We must amend our constitution, bring it to a vote, remove the Freedmen.
We are wrestling with the inheritance that has come from culture clash, cultural misunderstanding and the sense of depression that comes about in a people that are regarded as persons of conquest, but keep the Cherokee focus. The mascot issue in which many sport teams use nicknames and images of Native Americans that degrade their culture that's not as important as removing the Freedmen.
Now, my attempt at sarcasms will end.
Within the Cherokee community it is increasingly challenging for me to understand our division, our priorities, and our leaderships lackluster faith in all that is good about people. In history, people came to the Cherokee with the message that "if you don't look like us, talk like us, live like us, accept all of our values, then you are not fit to come to share the bounty and equality of life, liberty and happiness." The challenge has been to "unwrap and offer of ourselves to those who have shared the most horrific time of our ancestor's lives, they were there on the Trail, they were there laboring for us, and then with us, in government, in culture, in life - now why can we not focus on the future and give up of our lives as embracing, celebrating and walking within our own most Cherokee culture."
When all people are able to celebrate who they are without feeling ashamed of any part of how the Creator created them, then we have made an amendment to our Cherokee constitution that not only works, but saves generations from the evils a world and people can inflict upon each other. Why can't we focus? We don't have the leadership to take us there.
I would like to respond to Allison Moore's letter to the editor Vol:16 #29 (12-28-2006 to 1-3 2007) concerning her love and feelings towards the Muslems, here in Tulsa and else where. Like all Muslem writings, she is true to form
by lying about almost everything she wrote. The only truth she wrote was that 16 years ago she gave up her religion, if she had one. Turned her back on her family and friends and joined the largest cult in the world.
As stated, she follows the dictated pattern of all Muslems world wide. That pattern is to try and convince every non muslem, that Muslems are peaceful people and are the innocent victims of the non Muslems. The first lie she wrote was how upset and concerned the American Muslems
were about the event on 9/11. The American Muslems praised Allah when this happened.
It is impossible for the radical Muslems to operate in this Country without the help of all the Muslem Mosques. I also doubt that she has any Christian friends. If she does she is a sinner and not a true follower of the Koran. She writes that here in Tulsa the Muslems have been chased in their cars, have had their grocery carts rammed, and their head scarfs pulled off their heads. As a Tulsa Law Enforcement person, I have never heard or seen any
reports made by a Muslem of such an assault.
However, her lies get worse. She wrote about an internment camp built at the cost of 386 million dollars
just to intern Muslems. What a bunch of Bull. What is a bigger lie, was when she had the nerve to write that in California a radio station suggested that all American Muslems be forced to wear a Star of David on the clothes so they could be identified. That statement would be funny, if it wasn't so sad. That was a bold face lie. Don't she know that the National News services would have a field day with that.
She and her letter are so stupid and so full of lies that I can't give it any more credit by bringing out her other lies. I will however respond to her statement about Muslems being profiled at the American airports. Who attacked America on 9/11?
Everything she wrote is a lie, and I suggest that every reader go to a local book store and read up on the Muslems. Find out for yourselves.
Greetings! Thanks for publishing my letter! (UTW, You asked for my English Degree in your editor's note this week. This will take you to an image shack pic of it. My copier is out of ink...so i couldn't copy it here at home. HYPERLINK "http://img230.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img034ez3.jpg"; http://img230.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img034ez3.jpg
Yep, I have an English degree. I know, I know. Big deal. But you asked for it! By the way, in my letter, I said Dr. Demming was a good start in approaching the subject of climate change. But I kept researching him, and I found this website: HYPERLINK "http://www.exxonsecrets.org/em.php"; http://www.exxonsecrets.org/em.php
If you skip the intro and then click on "Inhoffe hearing Dec 06," you will see a nice chart of how Deming and Inhoffe are playing for the same team. Dr. Deming works for the conservative think tank "The National Center for Policy Analysis." The chart shows how Dr. Demming and other
Climate Change skeptics are funded by Exxon Mobile. I find how you imply wanting experts to comment on social issues over economists as being anti-democratic a little disturbing, and well, silly. "If all we were
allowed to do was hear form the experts, it wouldn't make for much of a democracy..." Well, how about this. How about JUST ONE expert who isn't in the pocket of an oil company? Just one? Please? Pretty please?
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