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Both sides claim victory in Freedmen case

TheCherokee Nation, of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Freedmen both declared victory after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Tuesday in the controversial case.

The tribe declared that the court dismissed the Freedmen's lawsuit. Chief Chad Smith said the decision protects tribal sovereign immunity.

Marilyn Vann, the lead plaintiff in the case, also called the decision a win. She said the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former African slaves, can seek to protect their rights under an 1866 treaty.

In the 26-page decision, the court ruled that the tribe cannot be sued without its consent. But tribal officials can't hide behind sovereign immunity for alleged violations of the treaty, the court said.

Vann initially sued the Interior Department after the Freedmen were not allowed to vote in a tribal election. The tribe then stripped the Freedmen of citizenship in another election.

Get the Story:
Court keeps Freedmen lawsuit alive (The Oklahoman 7/30)
Freedmen, tribe alike see victory in ruling (The Tulsa World 7/30)
Appeals court: Freedmen can sue tribal officials (The Journal Record 7/30)
Cherokee Freedmen Claim Legal Victory (The Northwest Arkansas Morning News 7/30)

D.C. Circuit Decision:
Vann v. Kempthorne (July 29, 2008)

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