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Old 03-09-2006, 11:48 AM   #1
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Freedmen are Cherokee Citizens...

Cherokee Nation accepts Freedmen citizenship ruling
Thursday, March 9, 2006

The Cherokee Nation will abide by a court ruling that reaffirmed the citizenship rights of the Freedmen, the tribe's top legal official said on Wednesday.

In court, the tribe argued that the Freedmen, the descendants of African-American slaves who were made members of the tribe after the Civil War, weren't entitled to citizenship unless they could demonstrate Indian blood.

But the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, the Cherokee Nation's highest court, rejected that view. In a 2-1 decision issued Tuesday, the court said the tribe's constitution that was adopted in 1975 didn't include an Indian blood requirement.

"There is no ambiguity to resolve," Justice Stacy L. Leeds wrote. "The words 'by blood' or 'Cherokee by blood' do not appear."

Therefore, any Freedmen descendant who can show that an ancestor appeared on the late-1800s Dawes Commission roll is entitled to citizenship, the court said. Diane Hammons, the tribe's general counsel, said the tribe will begin accepting such enrollments.

"We are a strong tripartite government that respects the rule of law," Hammons said. "Our court has announced its decision, and we accept that as the law of the land."

The decision is the first major victory for the Freedmen, whose numbers are made up of African-American citizens of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Creek nations. The Freedmen have suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, with the federal government and the federal courts refusing to get involved out of deference to tribal sovereignty.

"It is a great day for the Cherokee Nation to take the lead regarding the rights of the Freedmen descendants," said Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee who traces her ancestry to the Dawes Rolls and serves as the president of the Descendants Of Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes.

It is unclear how many Cherokee Freedmen are eligible for enrollment in the tribe. In the late 1800s, approximately 3,500 Cherokee Freedmen were placed on the Dawes Roll. Vann's organization estimates that 45,000 descendants are alive today. The Cherokee Nation currently has more than 200,000 members.

Vann is a plaintiff in a separate case in federal court that challenges the Bureau of Indian Affairs for allowing Cherokee Freedmen to be excluded from a 2003 constitutional election. Freedmen who could not demonstrate Indian blood weren't allowed to vote, according to the lawsuit.

The constitution didn't make any changes to the status of the Freedmen -- it was the tribal council that restricted their rights through legislation, the court noted in its decision this week. "The council is empowered to enact enrollment procedures, but those laws must be consistent with the 1975 constitution," the JAT wrote. "The current legislation is contrary to the plain language of the 1975 constitution.

The 2003 constitution remains in legal limbo, however, because it includes a provision that strips the BIA of its review and approval authority. The agency has withheld approval of the document for more than two years out of concern that Freedmen may have been disenfranchised.

The BIA's stance has drawn considerable opposition from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, who had registered strong objections and planned to bring a delegation of tribal dignitaries, including former chief Wilma Mankiller, to Washington to lobby the Bush administration back in the summer of 2003.

The meeting never happened but Smith as recently as last month sought approval to file a lawsuit against the BIA for the delay. The request was rejected by the tribal council.

Separately, the tribe is seeking to intervene in Vann's lawsuit, citing the need to protect its sovereignty. Vann's attorneys in Washington and in Oklahoma filed a brief last month opposing the request.

Despite the Cherokee Nation's official response to the JAT decision, an attorney who represented the tribe said he disagreed with it. In a story published in the Oklahoman today, Todd Hembree said it was "undoubtedly one of the biggest decisions ever handed down" by the court because it will affect the tribe's budget and the services it provides.

"We only have a finite amount of money, and you can only divide the pie so many time," Hembree was quoted in the story as saying.

Tune in to WBAI radio at 11am Eastern Standard Time for a discussion on the Cherokee Freedmen victory.
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Old 03-11-2006, 11:45 AM   #2
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Here is another write up on it.

"Cherokees Recognize Descendants Of Freedmen," Rod Walton, Tulsa World
(Oklahoma), February 8, 2006, A1. Copyright 2006 The Tulsa World.

["TAHLEQUAH: The Cherokee Nation's highest court ruled on Tuesday that descendants of black freedmen must be recognized as citizens of the tribe.
The 2-1 decision by the Judicial Appeals Tribunal sets aside a previous opinion against the freedmen and strikes down a 1992 Cherokee Nation
Council law limiting citizenship to those who are 'Cherokee by blood.'
Those supporting petitioner Lucy Allen, the daughter of freedmen,celebrated the court as striking a blow against racism. 'It's been a long time coming,' said David Cornsilk, a Tulsa Cherokee who served as an advocate in court for Allen. 'They were saying she was not a citizen.'
Others, however, countered that the tribunal's decision may have unintended fiscal consequences. They fear the Cherokee Nation's ability to deal with as many as thousands of new members who may not only get to vote, but have access to health care, housing and other services. 'It could be a nightmare in the long run,' said Tahlequah attorney Nathan
Young III. 'I don't see it as a racial issue, but see it as trying to expand already stressed-to-the-limit programs.' The high court's majority opinion ruled that the Cherokee Nation Council erred because its 1992 statute limiting membership contradicted the 1975 tribal constitution.
That constitution set no limits on membership according to blood quantum, but instead ruled that all eligible descendents of those included on the Dawes Commission rolls would be considered part of the tribe, the ruling read. 'Providing proof of Cherokee blood is clearly one way to become a
member,' Justice Stacy L. Leeds wrote in her majority opinion. 'It is not the only way to prove membership.' Black freedmen included free blacks and former slaves who settled in the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes following the Trail of Tears. Those freedmen were listed with the Cherokees in the 1866 Treaty with the U.S. government, the ruling read.
'For almost 150 years, the Cherokee Nation has included not only citizens that are Cherokee by blood, but also citizens who have origins in other Indian nations and/or African and/or European ancestry,' Leeds wrote.
Three of the other Five Civilized Tribes who settled in the area now called Oklahoma -- including the Chickasaws, Creeks and Choctaws -- have constitutional language limiting membership to a minimum blood quantum,she pointed out. The Cherokees have the right to amend their own constitution in the future to include that limitation, Leeds noted."]
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Old 03-13-2006, 02:41 PM   #3
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It doesn't matter what color they are. Allowing a flood of people into the Cherokee tribe will definitely clog up the already over populated urban health clinics.

Because of the low blood quantum, "one-drop noncultural Cherokees" make up more than one-third of patients seen in Indian Health Clinics!

Its frustrating to know that people only want to be Cherokee for the "free services" they think they will be entitled to.

Perhaps major constitutional reform is needed to amend the requirement for Cherokee membership to at least 1/8 degree of blood quantum?

Or perhaps the Cherokee Nation should shoulder the financial burden it causes by it's large membership to both tribal and urban health clinics?


Whatcha' think?
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:07 PM   #4
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"free services"

WhoMe
"Its frustrating to know that people only want to be Cherokee for the "free services" they think they will be entitled to.
Or perhaps the Cherokee Nation should shoulder the financial burden it causes by it's large membership to both tribal and urban health clinics?"

Whome.....you make a good point.
How ever I am not looking for nor planning on getting nothing for free. Don't trust dem doctors.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:13 PM   #5
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claiming that ur ancestors were cherokee doesn't hold water in my opinion..i don't think that just because someONE from long ago was enrolled should count..it should come down to ur parents...defefinte changes should be made...
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe

Perhaps major constitutional reform is needed to amend the requirement for Cherokee membership to at least 1/8 degree of blood quantum?

Or perhaps the Cherokee Nation should shoulder the financial burden it causes by it's large membership to both tribal and urban health clinics?


Whatcha' think?
Maybe this country should just go socialized medicine.
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:08 PM   #7
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Maybe this country should just go socialized medicine.

....... Or learn how to make traditional medicines?


Willow, Sage and Cedar teas cure a lot of ailments!
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:49 PM   #8
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BB,
I would look carefully at socialized medicine before adapting it. When I was in the UK I heard some complaints about it from friends. I do admit that I did hear one good thing about it, no cost, but other than that nothing but complaints. Also look at Canada's system and the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision saying that their system is killing people.

I admit healthcare reform is needed. I got the bill for my wife and newborn yesterday and freaked out, and I have insurance. Luckily the hosp. has a deal where you save 20% if you pay in fulll within 30 days. That helped, but still.

I personally like the idea of those medical spending cards, you put X amount on the card pre tax and you have a year so spend it. This year it was easy spending, but I would love to see it waived.

As for the topic of freedmen and the Cherokee, I have mixed emotions on it. One thing is that Cherokees did own slaves and did fight for the Confederacy during the US Civil War. Grant you the majoprity of Cherokees didn't want to be involved and the Confederacy did apply pressure, the last unit to surrender to Union forces was under the command of a Cherokee BGen. Sorry gotta go more later.
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe

Perhaps major constitutional reform is needed to amend the requirement for Cherokee membership to at least 1/8 degree of blood quantum?


Whatcha' think?
I don't think they would ever change their blood quantum to 1/8th because all hell would break loose. When the Cherokees were removed to Oklahoma in 1837 their sitting chief, John Ross, was only 1/8th! So there starts up the whole bq conversation again.

I'm sorta in the middle of this whole thing. Being a Black mixedblood, I get irritated when white mixedbloods with 1/128th bloods are accepted without question. I also agree that there are some folks, Black and White mixedblood, who will enroll just for "benefits", but shoot, the same thing has happened in California with Mexicans enrolling and subsequently being removed from California gaming tribes. There are still some folks out there who just want history corrected. The Dawes rolls were a sham, designed to benefit the State of Oklahoma, white homesteaders, and interweds more than Indians. At least some semblance of sovereignty was gained, but alas, in 2006, it still comes down to money.

So I guess we'll really know all parties' true intentions when all of the resources are drained. If folks are still proudly Indian then so be it, if not, we'll all surely hear about it.

For me, it's about self definition. I don't believe anyone has the right to tell me and my family who we are.
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
....... Or learn how to make traditional medicines?


Willow, Sage and Cedar teas cure a lot of ailments!

Yeah but you know how that dang FDA is! If it's found in nature they can't call it a drug. If they can't call it a drug, pharmaceutical companies, who are deeply in bed with the FDA, can't charge an arm and a leg!

dang it!
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:23 PM   #11
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Would the Metis nation of Indiana be able to access those services?
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:37 PM   #12
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Would the Metis nation of Indiana be able to access those services?

If a Metis from Indianapolis speedway can prove one of his ancestors was on the Cherokee Dawes roll. . .

Heck he/she is Indian!
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:21 PM   #13
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And on a side note....

Have any of you signed the IHS petitions? Perhaps Tahlequah should welcome the Freedmen back with a hug and a stack of IHS petitions saying, "Welcome Home. Now hit the ground running and get these signed so we all can keep what little is left."
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:29 PM   #14
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If a Metis from Indianapolis speedway can prove one of his ancestors was on the Cherokee Dawes roll. . .

Heck he/she is Indian!
dang whome , hywalker feverishly looking for his name now ayeeee, bet this is going to bestseller book of the century..
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:32 PM   #15
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dang whome , hywalker feverishly looking for his name now ayeeee, bet this is going to bestseller book of the century..
LOL heck i already found my last name in the dawes twice now. is there a chiefs job available?
lmao j/k about the jop op
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:41 PM   #16
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LOL heck i already found my last name in the dawes twice now. is there a chiefs job available?
lmao j/k about the jop op
the pays great i hear tho.....the same thing will happen now as with the casinos everyone will rush to get signed up and recognized to cash in on the take.....id like to know tho what have all these newly recognized tribes and ppl being doing for ndn people all these years b4 now? were they ndn when it wasnt cool to be ndn or money involved? seems money is THE motivating factor in far too many aspects of ndn world these days.....
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:17 PM   #17
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IHS and enrollment do NOTHING for ME because I do not live on the hellhole we call a "rez". Heck I might as well disenroll and stop Standing Rock and my corrupt relatives from using my name in their headcount to leech Federal dollars for programs I cannot use. I had a medical situation just before New Year's Eve, so as a precaution I was sent by ambulance to get checked out, and was released two hours later. I faithfully provided the Umatilla Tribal Fire Department and the hospital in Pendleton with my enrollment information and they said, "Yup! We'll just send it in to IHS"....

A month later, I get an ambulance bill for over $700 and an emergency room bill for over $1200, and was told in a phone conversation that my IHS claim was denied because the services were provided outside of my "coverage area". Two phone calls later, I finally learn that in the eyes of the Standing Rock tribe I am ineligible because I do not reside on the rez. And they didn't even call ME or send ME a letter saying this. And my uncle Milo is on tribal counci???
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wakalapi
IHS and enrollment do NOTHING for ME because I do not live on the hellhole we call a "rez". Heck I might as well disenroll and stop Standing Rock and my corrupt relatives from using my name in their headcount to leech Federal dollars for programs I cannot use. I had a medical situation just before New Year's Eve, so as a precaution I was sent by ambulance to get checked out, and was released two hours later. I faithfully provided the Umatilla Tribal Fire Department and the hospital in Pendleton with my enrollment information and they said, "Yup! We'll just send it in to IHS"....

A month later, I get an ambulance bill for over $700 and an emergency room bill for over $1200, and was told in a phone conversation that my IHS claim was denied because the services were provided outside of my "coverage area". Two phone calls later, I finally learn that in the eyes of the Standing Rock tribe I am ineligible because I do not reside on the rez. And they didn't even call ME or send ME a letter saying this. And my uncle Milo is on tribal counci???
heres a link to a very appropriate story....
http://www.nativetimes.com/index.asp...rticle_id=7641
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Old 03-15-2006, 02:24 AM   #19
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Here's a link to the Descendents of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes website, if you want to learn more about Freedmen.

www.freedmen5tribes.com
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Old 03-15-2006, 02:40 AM   #20
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Being Cherokee has never been about blood, but about the Nation. This is going to cause a lot of emotions before it's all over with, but we must remember that the BQ thing was not an invention of our's but of the whiteman. It is a sure fire way to terminate NDN's all together, something we all need to remember. I feel for all those who are going to be hurt by this, and all who said that many will enroll just for the free ride are correct. I would like to see people have to prove that they are active within the Cherokee community as a condition of enrollment. That would be a more traditionally correct criteria. Just my two cents, and it won't get you much.
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