By Gavin Off
Freedmen, who are typically African-Americans and descendants of Cherokee slaves, had been denied citizenship in a 2007 amendment to the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.
"We have received the district court decision with which we respectfully disagree," said Hammons in a press release.
"We believe that the Cherokee people can change our constitution, and that the Cherokee citizenry clearly and lawfully enunciated their intentions to do so in the 2007 amendment."
But being Cherokee isn't about being a certain ethnicity, said Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee freedman who has helped lead the fight for recognition. She said being Cherokee is about being a part of a government and added that slaves of white Americans were considered Americans after they were freed.
In addition to the roughly 2,800 freedmen who already have Cherokee membership, an estimated 25,000 more could apply, Vann said.
"It's not red or brown," Payton said. "It's green."