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Cherokee Nation allows Freedmen to vote in Saturday's election

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma agreed to reinstate the Freedmen at a court hearing in Washington, D,C., on Tuesday.

The Freedmen will be able to vote in Saturday's election for principal chief. Extended voting is also allowed for all citizens until October 8.

The agreement means the Obama administration will recognize the results of the election. The Bureau of Indian Affairs threatened the tribe after the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, were ousted in August.

The deal could also allow the tribe to receive federal housing funds. TheDepartment of Housing and Urban Development was withholding an estimated $33 million as a result of the dispute.

"We are still working out the final details, to be agreed upon among all the parties, but the key element is that the BIA should recognize our September 24 election," acting chief Joe Crittenden, who attended the hearing and sat at the defendants' table, said in a statement. "The Nation’s government-to-government relationship has been preserved, as well as our funding."

In total, 1,233 Freedmen descendants voted in the first election for chief. Their votes are enough to sway the close race between incumbent Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker.

Fewer than 300 votes separated the two candidates in the first election, which was held in June. Those results, however, were thrown out due to uncertainties.

The agreement also requires the Cherokee Nation to submit its election procedures to the BIA. An order is to be filed in court by 10am today.

Get the Story:
Freedmen citizenship restored and voting extended to Oct. 8 (The Cherokee Phoenix 9/20)
Cherokee tribe reaches agreement to reinstate 2,800 "Freedmen" (Reuters 9/20)
Cherokee Nation Makes Deal Allowing Freedman Vote (9/20)
Descendants of Cherokee freedmen to vote for chief (The Tulsa World 9/21)
Freedmen to vote for chief (The Muskogee Phoenix 9/21)
Deal reached to allow freedmen to vote in Cherokee Nation election (The Oklahoman 9/21)
Black Cherokees regain tribal citizenship (The Kansas City Star 9/21)

Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Decision:
Cherokee Nation Registrar v. Nash (August 22, 2011)

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Blog: Rush Limbaugh offers take on Cherokee Freedmen dispute (9/16)
Steve Russell: The circus that has become the Cherokee Nation (9/15)
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