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Native-Themed License Plate Could Allegedly Promote Pantheism

Carol Berry
6/14/13

 

An Oklahoman who felt an American Indian image on his car’s state-issued license plate violated his civil rights received a positive hearing from two of three federal appeals court justices in Denver June 12.

Keith Cressman objected to a depiction on the Oklahoma license plate of a sculpture by the late Allan Houser, noted Chiricahua Apache artist, of “Sacred Rain Arrow,” which shows a man shooting an arrow skyward to convey peoples’ prayers for rain during a drought.

“Pantheism, polytheism, and/or animism,” to which Cressman does not subscribe, are promoted by the license plate, he contends in court records.

Cressman said that the image could constitute Oklahoma’s endorsement of a non-Christian religion and that requiring him to show it on his license plate is in violation of his constitutional free speech and religious rights. The image is symbolic speech with which Cressman does not agree, but which he must display, the court acknowledged.

His initial civil rights lawsuit over the issue was filed in 2011 against Oklahoma public safety and tax commission officials, but it was dismissed in 2012 by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, so he brought his case before a three-justice panel of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in a split decision reversed the lower court’s ruling and reinstated the lawsuit.

Although Cressman “sufficiently alleges that others will perceive that the image conveys the message to which he objects,” the majority ruled, Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr., writing in dissent, said it’s implausible that others would regard the image as an ideological message rather than a historical or cultural one.

“Native American culture is an integral part of the history of Oklahoma,” Kelly said. “Oklahoma has decided to acknowledge its history by portraying a Native American cultural image on its license plate and promoting ‘Native America.’”

Cressman had sought ways to avoid displaying the license plate’s image, but it is unlawful to conceal parts of the standard Oklahoma license plate, while the specialty plates he finally purchased that do not carry the image are more expensive, creating a “monetary injury,” the court ruled.

The lawsuit, Cressman v. Michael C. Thompson, in his official capacity as Secretary of Safety and Security and as the Commissioner of Public Safety for the state of Oklahoma, et al., was filed June 11 without the dissenting statement, but was re-issued June 12 with the dissent attached.

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
This is just another racist bigot activist hiding behind freedom from religion people. They go all across the country looking for fights against anything or anyone they deem as infringing against their rights to keep religion away from them. These folks are a minority group of trouble-makers always stirring up trouble. If this fool doesn't like that tag then he can feel free to get another design. Oklahoma DOES offer other tag designs as well as most other states out there. I bet those good folks in Oklahoma would be glad to exchange his tag for free. Enough of these trouble makers out here always roaming about trying to stir up trouble!

Patrick McGowan 's picture
Patrick McGowan
Submitted by Patrick McGowan on
I thought one of the reasons this country was founded was for religious freedom.

jabber's picture
jabber
Submitted by jabber on
it would appear that the lad needs to work at a more constructive line of work. In my mind their are two States you don't mess with, and Oklahoma is one of them.

TONI A. MEDAWIS's picture
TONI A. MEDAWIS
Submitted by TONI A. MEDAWIS on
That's fine and dandy what the Man! thought about the license plates of OK. Back in the l980z....I visited OK for a year and I thought it was so very cool that the State of OK had images of Native culture on their license plates! Then I heard only NATIVE OK. RESERVATIONS! were going to have them and then I see one of these plates up here in MI. and thought.....how cool is OK. they still have a Native image on it! <3'd Mr. Hauser works all My! Life! and its too bad that One or a Few have to spoil the 'Wonderfulness of being l00% Anishnawbek in the 21st Century!!!!' UP! w/ Native Nations having their OWN LICENSE PLATES! W/ WHAT WE! WANT ON THEM!!!!! .... kttch-migwettch! U.S.A.!!!! STILL DAMN PROUD OF U!!!!!!!!!!!!

Robert Swift Arrow Rose's picture
Robert Swift Ar...
Submitted by Robert Swift Ar... on
The STATE OF OKLAHOMA lost a case in the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the Tracking system, License Plates, and Taxes. Our Sovereign Immunities as Native peoples being original inhabitants of the soil are relevant and were upheld in this case, but the full force of this case was never seen as a full service DMV in Indian Territory-Indian Country, maybe now it will. OKLAHOMA I believe is just profiting off of the images of Indian People, and yes the image maybe very nice, although did any Native peoples receive compensation? I don't think so, and if the man doesn't like the image then leave Indian Country, since if you are not our Friend and ally by Treaty,...then you're not suppose to be here at all. He is now in violation of the Treaty of Peace And Friendship for creating propaganda against Native peoples, Treaty of Guswentah. Treaty of 1791, Treaty of 1815, and probably many more, Live here in peace with us,.....or go home. Sgi Wado Nvwatohiyadv "Thank you" and Peace To All Our Relations.

Robert Swift Arrow Rose's picture
Robert Swift Ar...
Submitted by Robert Swift Ar... on
The STATE OF OKLAHOMA lost a case in the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the Tracking system, License Plates, and Taxes. Our Sovereign Immunities as Native peoples being original inhabitants of the soil are relevant and were upheld in this case, but the full force of this case was never seen as a full service DMV in Indian Territory-Indian Country, maybe now it will. OKLAHOMA I believe is just profiting off of the images of Indian People, and yes the image maybe very nice, although did any Native peoples receive compensation? I don't think so, and if the man doesn't like the image then leave Indian Country, since if you are not our Friend and ally by Treaty,...then you're not suppose to be here at all. He is now in violation of the Treaty of Peace And Friendship for creating propaganda against Native peoples, Treaty of Guswentah. Treaty of 1791, Treaty of 1815, and probably many more, Live here in peace with us,.....or go home. Sgi Wado Nvwatohiyadv "Thank you" and Peace To All Our Relations.

mik's picture
mik
Submitted by mik on
I know how he feels...for years we had to endure "In God We Trust" or buy specialty plates to get around this endorsement of another religion. I opted to buy the specialty plates.

Farley Horsechief's picture
Farley Horsechief
Submitted by Farley Horsechief on
Why! Is it when our so called White Brother uses words that disguise his real feelings toward people of color. This makes me question his heritage maybe he wanted sit on top of Capital Dome? There seems to be a never ending line of knuckle heads with nothing better to do than think they are entitled to something!

clifford clark's picture
clifford clark
Submitted by clifford clark on
All I can say is if he don;t like it move back to where he came from,I;m tired of all the shit that's said about Indians and America.

clifford clark's picture
clifford clark
Submitted by clifford clark on
All I can say is if he don;t like it move back to where he came from,I;m tired of all the shit that's said about Indians and America.

Vicki Kordell's picture
Vicki Kordell
Submitted by Vicki Kordell on
Interesting. Florida has numerous different plates. Too many to count. Maryland has at least 4 plates. I know other states have several different plates that they can choose from. Why doesn't OK have a couple different plates? so they can choose? Wish Maryland had the Sacred Rain Arrow. I'd be proud to have it on my plates.

Mew's picture
Mew
Submitted by Mew on
This guy is absolutely pathetic. Just use the license plate and stop being a big baby about what's on the picture. They aren't forcing a religion onto you, just an image portraying the people our ancestors slaughtered in order for us to live here. I think they deserve a little recognition now and then after everything that has been done to their people in the past. Is the guy complaining a Christian? I wonder how often he supports forcing his religion on others, and then he's complaining about this one.

Bill c.'s picture
Bill c.
Submitted by Bill c. on
He must be related to the person that complained about prayer in public schools

vernon, hj's picture
vernon, hj
Submitted by vernon, hj on
get a life I don't consider you a christian to belittle the native american symbal on our tags if you don't like it move.

The Political Pragmatic's picture
The Political P...
Submitted by The Political P... on
This is the king of hypocritical b.s. that drives me wild. I'd be willing to bet that same person sees absolutely nothing wrong with a football franchise calling themselves "The Redskins".

bwaikiki's picture
bwaikiki
Submitted by bwaikiki on
Must be in denial about guilt he feels when encountering treatment of American Indians and tribute to them.

Sammie's picture
Sammie
Submitted by Sammie on
SO yet another bigot wanting to make everyone believe what HE believes and all other groups and religions are wrong? Go let him cry elsewhere.
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