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Cherokee Nation without HUD funds amid Freedmen dispute

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma still doesn't have access to $33 million in federal housing funds.

The Obama administration blocked the release of the money after the tribe removed the Freedmen descendants from the rolls. But now that the Freedmen remain a part of the tribe under a court agreement, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is holding onto the funds.

“Despite the Cherokee Nation's compliance with this provision, disbursements from HUD remain temporarily suspended. Housing and Urban Development is still in the process of reviewing the statutory provision that places conditions on the funding agreement with the Cherokee Nation, which is related to Cherokee Freedmen citizenship,” Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden told The Cherokee Phoenix.

About 2,800 Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, are citizens of the tribe. Their status could be affected by the outcome of the principal chief race between Chad Smith, who was the incumbent, and Bill John Baker.

Smith opposes the Freedmen. "Who decides who the Cherokee citizens are is the Cherokee people themselves," he told The Los Angeles Times. "It's not about race."

Baker, a tribal councilor, has said he will respect court decisions regarding the Freedmen.

Get the Story:
HUD funds for Cherokee Nation still frozen (The Cherokee Phoenix 10/11)
Who is a Cherokee? Tribal election could be decisive (The Los Angeles Times 10/11)
Cherokee panel verifies absentee ballots ahead of machine count (The Tulsa World 10/11)
Slave descendants fight to stay in Cherokee tribe (AP 10/7)

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

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