Opinion

Courtland Milloy: Cherokee Nation seeking to exclude Freedmen






Freedmen descendants protest outside a Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Oklahoma. File photo from Marilyn Vann, the president of the Descendants Of Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes

Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy covers the Freedmen dispute involving the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma:
The case, Cherokee Nation v. Raymond Nash, is an unvarnished attempt to disenfranchise blacks and says much about the nation that encompasses it. It’s a lot like what’s happening with the move to suppress the black vote through voter ID laws or question the citizenship of the president in a way that would never have been done if he was white.

The outcome hinges on how U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan interprets an 1866 treaty between the Cherokee Nation and the United States. The agreement, in essence, is an Indian version of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1866, guaranteeing the rights and protection of freed slaves.

The Cherokee Nation, which was actively involved in the slave trade, later signed a treaty stating: “All freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as all free colored persons . . . and their descendants, shall have all the rights of native Cherokees.”

Those colored men became the Cherokee Freedmen.

What’s to dispute?

Get the Story:
Courtland Milloy: The Cherokees: One nation, divisible? Judge will decide if black members can be expelled (The Washington Post 5/7)

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Cherokee Freedmen eager for court hearing in citizenship case (03/10)
Obama supports Freedmen in dispute with Cherokee Nation (02/03)
Judge sets oral arguments in Cherokee Nation Freedmen suit (9/18)