Campbell: Congress destroying the Cherokee Nation
"The Cherokee Nation is involved in litigation with a group of individuals claiming to be descendants of slaves, known as Freedmen, who were held by 2 percent of Cherokees before 1863, when the Cherokees voluntarily emancipated them. The Cherokee people voted decisively in March 2007 to limit citizenship in the tribe to those who descend from Indians who were listed on a federal census taken in 1906. On its face, the fact that an Indian tribe would want to be comprised of descendants of Native Americans should not be surprising or controversial.

However, the Freedmen descendants, whose ancestors were listed under the non-Indian category of Freedmen on that same census, believe they should be citizens of the tribe under treaty obligations.

Members of the House introduced H.R. 2824, a bill to terminate the Cherokee Nation and eliminate nearly $300 million of funding, and related amendments to zero out federal funding to tribal citizens in all appropriations areas, such as healthcare (in the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, H.R. 1328) and housing (in the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act, H.R. 2786), to punish the Cherokee people for their vote.

I do not claim to know which party in this litigation is correct, and I do not take a side in this argument.

Neither should Congress. The case is being heard in tribal and federal courts. Those judges have all the facts and laws before them. Congress does not. Courts are the proper and fair venue for resolving these issues. Congress is not. Furthermore, congressional interference in an internal dispute would harm all Indian tribes and set a dangerous precedent."

Get the Story:
Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell: A move to destroy the Cherokee Nation (The Hill 4/28)

Cherokee-Related Legislation:
H.R.2786 | H.R.2895 | H.R.2824 | H.R.3002

BIA Letters:
August 9, 2007 | July 11, 2007 | 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)

Related Stories:
Artman's tenure marked by Freedmen dispute (4/30)
Artman resigns after a year as head of BIA (4/29)
Opinion: Cherokee Nation's boat of federal funds (4/25)
Cherokee Freedmen dispute a threat to NAHASDA (4/24)
Opinion: The history of the Cherokee Freedmen (4/23)
Rep. Frank backs Freedmen in Cherokee funding fight (4/22)
Freedmen issue weighs heavy on Capitol Hill (4/14)
Tim Giago: CBC goes after Cherokee Nation (4/14)
Cherokee tribes denounce Freedmen legislation (4/10)
Cherokee chief to address Freedmen at conference (4/7)
Black lawmakers press Senate on Freedmen (4/4)
Cherokee Freedmen dispute up for hearing (3/27)
Opinion: Being Cherokee more than the blood (3/26)
Lawmakers press Artman on Freedmen issues (3/19)
Freedmen protest outside of Rep. Boren's office (3/3)
Black lawmakers to meet with Artman over Freedmen (1/23)

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