indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Cherokee Nation chief addresses citizenship
Monday, July 9, 2007
Filed Under: National

Cherokee Nation citizenship is not based on blood quantum, Chief Chad Smith said on Saturday.

The leader of the second-largest tribe in the country said membership depends on having Cherokee ancestry. Citizenship is traced to the Dawes Roll, a federal census taken in the late 1800s.

"We don't care what color you are, what background you are, as long as you have a common Cherokee ancestor," Smith said at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. "So we don't have a blood quantum."

But blood has entered the picture with the recent disenrollment of the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former African slaves. In March, Cherokee voters changed their constitution to deny citizenship to anyone who can't prove they have a Cherokee, Delaware or Shawnee ancestor.

The Dawes Roll lists the Freedmen ancestors but it does not indicate their Indian ancestry. That means upwards of 3,000 African descendants won't be able to vote or receive tribal health, education and other services as a result of the vote.

Amid national controversy over the issue, the Cherokee Nation has temporarily reinstated citizenship to the Freedmen. They were able to vote in a June 23 election in which Smith won a third term as principal chief.

But to Marilyn Vann, the president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association, temporary citizenship isn't enough. She's the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that seeks to cut funds to the tribe until African descendants are treated like other Cherokee citizens.

"We will exercise the rights we have but not stop fighting for full equality," Vann said last month after a judge refused to halt the election.

The Interior Department doesn't plan on cutting funds to the tribe. But assistant secretary Carl Artman warned in a recent letter that the Freedmen were promised citizenship in an 1866 treaty.

"I recognize the Cherokee Nation as a sovereign nation capable of managing its government without oversight of the federal government," Artman said in the May 21 letter. "I also recognize that the United States 1866 treaty with the Cherokee Nation was somewhat unusual in its requirement that the Cherokee Nation recognize the rights of individual Freedmen in exchange for amnesty and the continuation of the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Nation."

The court case aims to resolve whether the Cherokee Nation can remove the Freedmen without violating the treaty. A federal judge has already ruled that the tribe can be sued, saying its sovereign immunity was waived by Congress through the treaty and by the Thirteenth Amendment the U.S. Constitution, which outlaws slavery.

Meanwhile, Rep. Diane Watson (D-California) has introduced a bill to cut federal funding to the tribe and federal approval of the tribe's gaming operation until the Freedmen are restored. The measure has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

Smith spoke at NMAI during the screening of "Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy," a documentary about the forced removal of Cherokee ancestors from their homeland in the Southeast to Oklahoma. Along with filmmakers Steven Heape, a tribal member, and Chip Richie, Smith took questions about Cherokee history and culture.

BIA Letters:
June 22, 2007 | May 21, 2007 | March 28, 2007 | August 30, 2006

Sovereign Immunity Court Decision:
Vann v. Kempthorne (December 19, 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:
Editorial: Cherokee Nation like an all-male country club (7/2)
NCAI opposes bill to cut Cherokee funding (6/27)
Cherokee Nation voters re-elect Smith (6/25)
Cherokee Nation faces funding cut amid election (6/22)
Letter: Cherokee Nation and treaty negotiations (6/22)
Rep. Watson to introduce Cherokee Freedmen bill (6/21)
UKB Chief: Cherokee Nation can't break treaty (6/20)
Blog: Cherokee chief offers Freedmen a deal (6/20)
Letter: Cherokee citizenship not about blood (6/20)
Editorial: No reason to remove Cherokee Freedmen (6/18)
Bill would cut funding to Cherokee Nation (6/18)
Chad Smith: Cherokee Nation exercises sovereignty (6/15)
Federal court won't halt Cherokee election (6/14)
Cherokee Nation defends upcoming election (6/12)
Letter: Change in leadership for the Cherokee Nation (6/12)
Chad Smith: Cherokee sovereignty at stake (6/11)
Cherokee Freedmen headed to court for injunction (6/11)
Editorial: The Shame of the Cherokee Nation (6/8)
Cherokee Nation to vote on constitution again (6/7)
Letter: A new leader for the Cherokee Nation (6/6)
Cherokee Nation wants election to go forward (6/1)
Cherokee Nation blasts BIA over constitution (5/23)
BIA rejects 2003 Cherokee Nation constitution (5/22)
Cherokee Nation worried about Freedmen fallout (5/18)
Cherokee Freedmen restored to membership for now (5/15)
Cherokee Freedmen protest ouster from tribe (5/14)
Cherokee leader: Freedmen case not winnable (5/11)
Cherokee Freedmen back in court over ouster (5/11)
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribe threw away late veteran's memorabilia (10/31)
Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election (10/31)
Richard Peterson: Sen. Begich supports Alaska Native issues (10/31)
NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention (10/31)
Red Lake News: Tribe welcomes Sen. Tester and Sen. Franken (10/31)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Texas couple accused of selling fake tribal membership cards (10/31)
Moapa Band loses bid for $438M solar facility on reservation (10/31)
Passamaquoddy Tribe won't talk with tidal power developers (10/31)
Oregon tribe anticipates May 2015 opening for Class II casino (10/31)
Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work (10/31)
Editorial: Off-reservation gaming project unfair to other tribes (10/31)
Opinion: Menominee Nation exploits loophole to pursue casino (10/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
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.