Rep. Watson: Obama wrong on Cherokee Freedmen
"Without a clear understanding of the issue, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has weighed in on the side of the Cherokees by publicly opposing my legislation, H.R. 2824, which suspends U.S. relations with the Cherokees until the rights of Freedmen are restored. Sen. Obama also takes exception to a recent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in which the caucus declares its opposition to Native American housing legislation if it does not include a provision that would prevent the Cherokee Nation from receiving any benefits or funding under the bill if the Freedmen are expelled from the tribe.

Thirty-five CBC members signed the letter, including its chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.).

Sen. Obama’s argument mirrors the Cherokees’ justification for Freedmen termination. He declares that the Freedmen issue is a matter of tribal sovereignty and should be arbitrated in the courts and not Congress. But what Sen. Obama fails to understand is that the Freedmen issue is about treaty rights, not tribal sovereignty. What Sen. Obama probably has not been told is that the Cherokee Freedmen issue tracks the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma’s attempt in 2002 to terminate its Freedmen that was squashed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs when it halted all federal funding to the tribe and suspended the Seminoles’ federal gaming authority.

The Cherokee Nation, as many of the other slaveholding Indian tribes, fought on the side of Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1866, the U.S. and the Cherokee Nation signed a treaty to reestablish relations between the Cherokee Nation and the United States. The 1866 treaty forms the new foundation for Cherokee sovereignty that continues to this day."

Get the Story:
Rep. Diane Watson: Sen. Barack Obama and the Cherokee Freedmen: Politics as usual (The Hill 5/14)

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:
Cherokee chief praises Obama as 'good president' (5/12)
Opinion: Freedmen victimized by Cherokee Nation (5/12)
Obama wants courts to resolve Freedmen dispute (5/9)
Letter: A solution to Cherokee Freedmen issue (5/8)
Appeals court hears Cherokee Freedmen dispute (5/7)
Appeals court to hear Cherokee Freedmen case (5/6)
Campbell: Congress destroying the Cherokee Nation (5/2)
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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