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Cherokee Tribal Councilor Representing North Tulsa Calls For Race Massacre Reparations

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Councilor Joe Deere
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Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Joe Deere (right) with 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivor Hughes Van Ellis, in a photo posted to Deere's social media on May 29, 2021.

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor representing the district that includes much of the historic Greenwood neighborhood destroyed in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre says he believes reparations are due to the attack's survivors and descendants.

Councilor Joe Deere welcomed attendees of the Black Wall Street Legacy Festival's main event on Sunday at the Oklahoma State University - Tulsa campus to the Cherokee Nation reservation.

"The land you stand on right now was established as the Cherokee reservation by a treaty with the federal government in 1833," Deere said. "It was our reservation in 1921, and it is still, today, our homeland."

"North Tulsa is Cherokee Nation," Deere said.

Deere said Native Americans "share a history of oppression" with Black Americans.

"We share the trials given to us by the colonizer mentality," Deere said.

"I support reparations for the descendants of the Tulsa Race Massacre. We can only benefit from creating community with each other here on the reservation -- this land, our people," he said.  "We have commonalities, from looking for deserved reparations to wanting safety for our children and the freedom -- political, social, economic -- to make decisions for ourselves."

Cherokee Nation spokesperson Julie Hubbard said Wednesday that the Tribe did not necessarily endorse Deere's support of reparations for massacre survivors and descendants and that Deere was speaking as an individual councilor.

"The Cherokee Nation believes a national dialogue on racial justice and justice for Indian Country is needed. We do share common roots and aims, and welcome this broader discussion in which reparations could be part of that dialogue," Hubbard said in a statement.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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