August 26, 2011

Cherokee Supreme Court expels Freedmen

Cherokee Tribe Kicks Out Slave Descendants

Court stands by native American tribe's decisionThousands of black slave descendants who had the rights of Cherokee tribe members have now been stripped of these rights.

Their rights, received because the native American tribe had owned their ancestors, were revoked on Monday (August 22) when the Cherokee Indian Supreme Court in the US upheld the tribe's decision to formally remove their membership.

The court sustained the 2007 regulation made by the Cherokee nation to kick the so-called 'Freedmen' out of the tribe, overruling a previous vote made after the Civil War, which allowed the Cherokees to admit nearly 3000 African American slave descendants to the tribe.

In the 1830s, the Cherokee nation, which was driven out of much of the east coast by land grabbing white settlers, headed south in what is known historically as The Trail of Tears. Many of the tribe brought their slaves with them on the commute.

The news comes several months after a district court gave equal tribal citizenship rights to descendants, reportedly allowing the "Freemen" to be eligible for free health care and education in the US, amongst other benefits.

Reacting to the ruling, Freedman leader and plaintiff, Marilyn Vann, told the Daily Mail : "This is racism and apartheid in the 21st Century."

A spokesperson for the Cherokee's has not yet responded to the ruling.
This issue probably isn't over yet. Besides a federal lawsuit and an act of Congress, there are other potential challenges.

‘Preparing for the worst’

The Cherokee Nation is unsure whether Freedmen will sue to counter a ruling that strips their voting rights.

By Teddye Snell
Councilor Tina Glory-Jordan said she’s concerned that in the past, when the court disenfranchised Freedmen, the federal government triggered an automatic stoppage of housing funds.And:Cowan-Watts asked Stewart about the covenants the tribe holds with a number of banks, specifically the Bank of America, and asked what sort of impact the act could have on those covenants.Comment:  For more on the Cherokee Freedmen, see Court Grants Freedmen Citizenship and IndiVisible Responds to Freedmen Issue.


Anonymous said...

I find it disturbing how the Cherokee accept Anglo bloodlines, but do not accept slaves they owned and prospered from slave labor.

How is this not equal to Anglo Americans that wanted to ship African Americans back to Africa, deport all Latinos back to Mexico, deny Native Americans citizenship or deny women the right to vote?

You can hide behind soveriegnty all you want, but it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth and makes Cherokees a racist people?

dmarks said...

"How is this not equal..."

Step back and think a minute.

There's no reasonable interpretation of "equal" between the plight of Freedmen, who still enjoy full equal rights as United States citizens after being ejected from the Cherokee Nation... and every one of those other situations you compared it to, which are all much more severe.

Rob said...

Yeah, I don't think it's as bad as the cases you cited, Anonymous. But it's not good.

For more on the subject, see:

Protesters urge BIA to act

Freedmen, supporters say agency has duty to intervene after Cherokee ruling

Civil rights supporters rallied Friday outside the Bureau of Indian Affairs, protesting the federal agency’s failure to enforce the Cherokee freedmen’s citizenship rights granted by an 1866 treaty.

The protesters say the federal agency has a legal duty to protect federal treaty rights of tribal members and their descendants. Cherokee freedmen—former slaves of the tribe—were granted full citizenship in 1866.

Protesters said freedmen descendants are guaranteed by treaty those same rights of citizenship possessed by their ancestors. A constitutional amendment approved by Cherokee voters, however, requires freedmen descendants to prove Cherokee lineage by blood.