indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Justice Antonin Scalia dies with Indian law cases on the docket (2/13)
Lakota Country Times: Native youth work to bring relatives home (2/12)
Native Sun News: Young runners invited to compete in Australia (2/12)
Mark Trahant: Native voters are true outsiders in 2016 elections (2/12)
Lorraine Loomis: Help treaty tribes with salmon recovery efforts (2/12)
Vincent Schilling: I'm not ashamed to be a sexual assault victim (2/12)
Tara Houska: Stop stealing cultural traditions from Native people (2/12)
Burns Paiute Tribe to help assess damage from armed takeover (2/12)
Obama weighs tribal request for Bears Ears National Monument (2/12)
Study looks at rates of binge drinking among Native Americans (2/12)
President of Navajo Nation to sign bill for veterans department (2/12)
Winnebago Tribe faces opposition to Nebraska gaming initiative (2/12)
Kialegee Tribal Town stays quiet as failed casino sits unfinished (2/12)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community eyes off-reservation casino (2/12)
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation sees gaming revenue gains (2/12)
Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead (2/11)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Town repays Oneida Nation with racism (2/11)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (2/11)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe battles opponents at every turn (2/11)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law based on invented realities (2/11)
Native basketball tournament bars player who lacks Indian blood (2/11)
Armed occupation of wildlife refuge in Oregon ends with arrests (2/11)
Native activists ask Obama to help with liquor sales in Whiteclay (2/11)
South Dakota lawmakers kill bill to support return of land to tribes (2/11)
Miami Nation agrees to forfeit $48M from online lending business (2/11)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation creates $1.2M endowment at ASU (2/11)
Colville Tribes issue citation for death of rare owl on reservation (2/11)
Fort Independence Indian Community cheated by former partner (2/11)
Paskenta Band donates $125K to buy new vehicle for firefighters (2/11)
Man pleads guilty for dealing meth on Mescalero Apache Nation (2/11)
Public high school gives up racist mascot in response to new law (2/11)
Morongo Band and San Manuel Band question fantasy sports bill (2/11)
Former Sac and Fox Nation casino employee charged with theft (2/11)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians celebrates 3rd birthday of casino (2/11)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation again told it can't accept casino bids (2/11)
Editorial: Measure stops Lytton Band from pursuing new casinos (2/11)
Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (2/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (2/10)
Lakota Country Times: Indian lawmakers oppose drug testing bill (2/10)
Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story about treaty-making in US (2/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in state of emergency (2/10)
Chase Iron Eyes: Real sovereigns don't disenroll their own people (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: African and Native Americans fought for their survival (2/10)
Albert Bender: Tribes should reclaim land from unratified treaties (2/10)
John Lavelle: Supreme Court weighs key tribal sovereignty issue (2/10)
Women take top three leadership positions at Menominee Nation (2/10)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | 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.