indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Falmouth Institute Online Training
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Ousted Cherokee Freedmen seek DOI action against tribe
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Filed Under: Law

The Cherokee Freedmen went back to court this week to prevent the Cherokee Nation from ousting them from the tribe.

In a brief filed on Wednesday, the Freedmen asked a federal judge for a preliminary injunction. They want the Bush administration to halt federal funds to the tribe, to invalidate the election that ousted the Freedmen and to sever the government-to-government relationship with the tribe.

The brief cited a recent letter from assistant secretary Carl Artman in which he questioned the tribe's March 3 vote to deny citizenship to the descendants of African slaves. But the Freedmen say the Interior Department isn't taking action to protect the Freedmen.

"The federal defendants, for their part, have done nothing," attorneys for the Freedmen wrote.

The plaintiffs, led by Marilyn Vann, also asked the court to stop the tribe from denying the Freedmen their "full citizenship rights." They are hoping for action before an election scheduled for June 23.

"The Cherokee Nation has taken the audacious step of disenfranchising its most vulnerable citizens by enacting a constitutional amendment n blatant violation of the Thirteenth Amendment and its treaty obligations," the brief stated.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has declined to comment on the dispute, citing the ongoing litigation. A spokesperson for the agency said the election is still being reviewed, the stance taken in Artman's March 28 letter.

Meanwhile, the Cherokee Nation's enrollment department has begun to inform Freedmen descendants that they no longer eligible for citizenship based on the results of the election. The Cherokee Nation's health department also has told Freedmen they won't be able to access services at tribal facilities in the future.

"The Cherokee Nation will continue to provide health care services to you for a period of 90 days," the tribe said in a March 28 letter.

Separately, the tribe has asked for the case, known as Vann v. Kempthorne, to be dismissed. Alternatively, the tribe wants the lawsuit to be heard in Oklahoma rather than Washington, D.C.

Judge Henry H. Kennedy in Washington added the Cherokee Nation to the suit over the tribe's objections. In a ruling last December, he said the tribe's sovereign immunity was abrogated by an 1866 treaty in which the tribe accepted the Freedmen as citizens and by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery.

Kennedy, however, refused to halt the March 3 election out of respect for tribal sovereignty and the democratic process. He said the Freedmen failed to show how they would be harmed because it wasn't certain that Cherokee voters would approve the citizenship referendum.

At the same time, he left open the possibility that he would act if the Freedmen were ousted. He retained jurisdiction over the Cherokee Nation, which the tribe can dispute now that it is a party to the case.

The dispute has generated controversy in Indian Country and in Washington. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, some who have been supportive of sovereignty, have blasted the Cherokee Nation for holding the election and have asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to cut federal funding.

At the Federal Bar Association's Indian law conference last month, Vann defended her lawsuit amid accusations that it will negatively impact tribal rights. She said Kennedy's ruling at most applies to three tribes who signed treaties that required them to end slavery after the Civil War.

"For 99 percent of the tribes, anything the federal court does on this case is not going to affect your situation at all," she said, referring to tribal enrollment disputes that have cropped up across the nation, particularly in California.

"This is the tribe of our ancestors, this is our bloodline, these are our legal rights," she added.

Court Briefs:
Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 8, 2007) | Memorandum in Support (May 8, 2007)

BIA Letter:
Carl Artman to Cherokee Chief Chad Smith (March 28, 2007)

Sovereign Immunity Court Decision:
Vann v. Kempthorne (December 19, 2006)

Jim Cason Letter:
Cherokee Nation Constitution (August 30, 2006)

Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal Decision in Freedmen Case:
Allen v. Cherokee Nation (March 7, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Cherokee Nation - http://www.cherokee.org
Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes - http://www.freedmen5tribes.com
Freedmen Conference - http://www.freedmenconference.com

Related Stories:
Freedmen ouster stirs passions at law conference (4/26)
Cherokee Nation considers anti-Freedmen funds (4/18)
Cherokee Nation chief took money from Abramoff (4/12)
Freedmen protest removal at BIA office in Oklahoma (4/11)
Rolo: Cherokee Nation blasted for ousting Freedmen (4/4)
Graham: Cherokee Nation tarred with 'racist' label (4/2)
Cherokee Freedmen protest ouster from tribe (3/28)
Opinion: Ouster of Freedmen is Cherokee business (3/23)
Opinion: Outrage over ouster of Cherokee Freedmen (3/22)
Marilyn Vann: Loss of Cherokee Nation citizenship (3/21)
Website Review: The revolt of the Black Seminoles (3/20)
Column: Freedmen still slaves to Cherokee Nation (3/19)
Opinion: Cherokees have a right to oust Freedmen (3/19)
Opinion: Cherokee Freedmen play the race card (3/19)
Opinion: Racism exists within Cherokee Nation (3/15)
Congressional Black Caucus backs Freedmen (3/14)
Tim Giago: Cherokee Nation votes out Freedmen (3/12)
Opinion: Cherokee Nation ignores own treaty (3/12)
Opinion: Cherokee Nation takes the lower road (3/12)
Chad Smith: Cherokee Nation tolerant of many (3/9)
Column: Cherokee Nation loses moral ground with vote (3/9)
Editorial: Ouster of Freedmen a low point for Cherokees (3/8)
Freedmen to challenge ouster, Cherokee funding (3/7)
Commentary: Cherokee blood spread far and wide (3/7)
Slate: What's so good about being Cherokee? (3/6)
Cherokee Nation kicks out Freedmen descendants (3/5)
Cherokee Nation heads to polls to decide on Freedmen (3/2)
Chad Smith: Cherokee Nation not based on race (3/2)
Editorial: Ouster of Freedmen a sign of elitism, fear (3/2)
Voice of America: Cherokees to vote on Freedmen (2/27)
Judge won't halt Cherokee Freedmen vote (2/22)
Freedmen in court to halt Cherokee Nation vote (2/21)
Freedmen ask federal court to halt Cherokee election (2/5)
Cherokees in California want to be part of community (01/16)
Ouster of Cherokee Freedmen an issue in California (1/15)
Election to oust Cherokee Freedmen delayed (1/3)
Cherokee Freedmen win ruling against tribe (12/20)
Cherokee Chief: Tribe to vote on Indian blood (12/06)
USA Today: Tribes remove thousands from rolls (11/29)
Cherokee court hears dispute over Freedmen vote (11/27)
Cherokee court to consider Freedmen referendum (11/20)
Freedmen descendant sues over citizenship change (11/03)
Cherokee Freedmen to challenge removal (10/10)
Cherokee chief calls vote on removing Freedmen (10/9)
Cherokees defend right to kick Freedmen out of tribe (09/21)
Cherokee chief rejects need to approve constitution (09/11)
Cherokee Nation questioned on Freedmen vote (9/7)
Petition to oust Cherokee Freedmen submitted (08/15)
Petition seeks vote on ousting Cherokee Freedmen (07/31)
Cherokee Nation to vote on blood quantum change (6/13)
Cherokee Nation council debates blood quantum (6/12)
Cherokee Nation's top court approves constitution (6/9)
Cherokee committee approves membership proposal (05/16)
About 800 Cherokee Freedmen enrolled since decision (05/01)
Cherokee chief sued over vacant legal position (04/13)
Cherokee chief criticized for stance on Freedmen (4/6)
Two Creek Freedmen apply for citizenship after ruling (03/22)
Creek Freedmen see opening in citizenship dispute (3/21)
Cherokee chief calls for an 'Indian' Nation by blood (3/20)
Cherokee chief criticized for stance on Freedmen (3/17)
Cherokee chief wants Freedmen out of tribe (3/15)
Editorial: Victory long overdue for Cherokee Freedmen (3/10)
Cherokee Nation to enroll Freedmen descendants (3/9)
Cherokee Freedmen win tribal citizenship lawsuit (3/8)
Cherokee chief wants to sue BIA over constitution (02/15)
Freedmen descendants shut out of Cherokee Nation (11/22)
Trial concludes in Freedmen membership case (09/15)
DNA tests being used to bolster Indian heritage claims (08/30)
Ex-Cherokee councilors fined for Freedmen support (08/23)
Freedmen descendants use DNA to show Indian blood (06/03)
Column: Civilized Tribes owe reparations to slaves (03/11)
Cherokee Nation seeks role in Freedmen lawsuit (02/21)
Cherokee leaders blast Coburn for 'divisive' remarks (9/17)
Cherokee Freedmen caught in high-level dispute (8/20)
Cherokee Nation chief sworn in for another term (8/15)
Seminole Freedmen rebuffed by Supreme Court (06/29)
Cherokee Freedmen sue BIA for disenfranchisement (8/12)
Court tackles Seminole dispute (9/24)
The Seminole Nation's hanging chad (8/8)
Resolution of Seminole dispute sought in court (5/28)
Court decision rocks Seminole Nation (5/8)
Seminole's Chief Haney restored to power (5/7)
Black Seminole appeal planned (5/1)
Black Seminoles dealt setback (4/30)
Opinion: Seminole Nation always black (4/22)
A fight over funds, race (4/4)
Seminole Head Start funds OKed (2/6)
Seminole changes sought again (1/16)
Ousted Seminole leader sues tribe, BIA (12/14)
Black Seminole issue still divisive (10/29)
Suspended Seminole Chief to sue (6/27)
Seminole Chief Haney suspended (6/26)
Race part of Seminole dispute (1/29)
Seminole voters approve changes (7/7)
Seminole vote may affect Freedmen (7/7)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Governor carries on divisive tactics (4/17)
Navajo president criticizes NIGA for withdrawing from event (4/17)
Crystal Willcuts: NFL trickster speaks with a crooked tongue (4/17)
Opinion: NFL team owner flashes money to defend racial slur (4/17)
Ten reservations account for biggest share of Cobell buyback (4/17)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes megaloads through reservation (4/17)
Lynn Valbuena returns to chairman post at San Manuel Band (4/17)
Yale University museum accused of stealing Tlingit artifacts (4/17)
Navajo Nation Council speaker still on leave amid court fight (4/17)
BIA asked to invalidate Shinnecock Nation's new constitution (4/17)
Sen. Warren addresses Native American controversy in book (4/17)
Race relations council looking to boost efforts in border town (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (4/17)
Opinion: University must eventually eliminate Ute nickname (4/17)
9th Circuit hears dispute over Redding Rancheria gaming site (4/17)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe set to launch new poker games on May 2 (4/17)
Judge hears arguments in lawsuit against Jamul Band casino (4/17)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks qualify for Class III gaming in Florida (4/17)
Opinion: Gaming interests prepare for next attack on Florida (4/17)
Native Sun News: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
First member of Pascua Yaqui Tribe signs to play basketball (4/16)
Navajo Code Talker Samuel Smith passes away at age of 88 (4/16)
Dean Chavers: Indian journalism owes big debt to Tim Giago (4/16)
Nicholet Deschine: KTNN accepts 'hush money' for racial slur (4/16)
Jack Duran: Grindstone Rancheria finally gets a seat at table (4/16)
Dry Creek Rancheria to hold disenrollment hearings this week (4/16)
Hate group plans to protest at Alaska Native Heritage Center (4/16)
Colorado House passes bill to expand Indian tuition program (4/16)
Ute Tribe signs five-year agreement with University of Utah (4/16)
Mississippi Choctaws on track to open health facility in 2015 (4/16)
Judges from Turtle Mountain Band threatened with removal (4/16)
City in New York to drop legal battles against Oneida Nation (4/16)
Quinault Nation to reopen lake on reservation to non-Indians (4/16)
Virginia tribes question interpretation of treaty fishing rights (4/16)
Lawsuit claims remains were removed for Jamul Band casino (4/16)
Mescalero Apache Tribe completes refinancing of casino debt (4/16)
Cherokee Nation Council passes gaming regulation measure (4/16)
Mashantucket Tribe working on casino deal in Massachusetts (4/16)
Opinion: Another futile lawsuit against Poarch Creek casinos (4/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.