indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Seminole Freedmen lose another court appeal
Thursday, September 11, 2003

A federal appeals court on Wednesday handed the Seminole Freedmen another setback in their bid to gain access to all the rights and privileges of tribal membership.

The unanimous decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a federal judge who determined that the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma should be part of the suit as an "indispensable party." But since the tribe has sovereign immunity, it cannot be joined without consent, the court ruled.

The three-judge panel also refused to order the Bureau of Indian Affairs to issue Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIBs) to the Freedmen. The court said the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their avenues before the agency.

The decision, written by Judge Harris L Hartz, is the latest in a series of defeats for the Freedmen, descendants of Africans who were made members of the tribe by a post-Civil War treaty. They have been trying to obtain benefits and services accorded to all other Seminoles.

The primary issue in the case is a $56 million judgment fund created by Congress for lands the Seminole Nation lost in Florida. Although Congress placed no limit on who would be eligible to use the money, the tribe excludes Freedmen from educational, social service and elder programs supported by the fund because the Freedmen were not tribal members when the land was lost in the early 1800s.

Freedmen with CDIB cards are eligible for the programs. But some are not able to obtain them even if they have Indian blood due to the way the BIA set up the membership rolls after the 1866 treaty. The roll for Freedmen members does not list blood quantum -- the key criteria for the CDIB -- while the roll for other Seminoles does.

"A member of the tribe can obtain a CDIB card by proving a specified relationship to a person listed on the Seminole Blood Roll," the appeals court wrote yesterday. "A person who proves the same relationship with respect to a person listed on the Seminole Freedmen Roll, however, is not entitled to a CDIB."

Denial of services isn't the only challenge the Freedmen have encountered. In 2000, tribal voters approved changes to the Seminole constitution that denied membership to the Freedmen, who were then denied the right to vote in a subsequent election.

The BIA refused to accept the results of the election, and held back federal funds while two factions, but not the Freedmen, battled for control of the tribe. The dispute ended when a federal judge in Washington, D.C., effectively reinstated the Freedmen's membership.

"Here, the nation has blatantly disregarded its own constitution and sought to exclude long-time members of its own tribe from seeking office, and participating on the general council," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton wrote last September.

The Freedmen of the Cherokee Nation are in a similar situation and cannot vote in elections unless they demonstrate Cherokee blood. They are suing the BIA to reinstate their rights and are represented by the same lawyers in the Seminole case.

Get the Decision:
Davis v. U.S. (September 10, 2003)

Relevant Documents:
Seminole Treaty of 1866

Relevant Links:
Estelusti Foundation - http://www.estelusti.com
African Native Americans - http://www.african-nativeamerican.com

Related Stories:
Cherokee Freedmen caught in high-level dispute (08/20)
Tribes not always following treaties on Freedmen (08/18)
Cherokee Freedmen sue BIA for disenfranchisement (8/12)
Court tackles Seminole dispute (9/24)
The Seminole Nation's hanging chad (8/8)
Resolution of Seminole dispute sought in court (5/28)
Court decision rocks Seminole Nation (5/8)
Black Seminole appeal planned (5/1)
Black Seminoles dealt setback (4/30)
Black Seminole issue still divisive (10/29)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lawmakers once again seek fixes to 'broken' Indian Health Service (5/25)
Bureau of Indian Affairs opens listening sessions on reorganization (5/25)
Kevin Washburn: Indian Country feels the pain with Donald Trump (5/25)
Yakama Nation landowners weigh offers as buy-back winds down (5/25)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe cannabis consultant found not guilty (5/25)
Secretary Zinke plans to work with tribes on drilling push in Alaska (5/25)
Republican candidate to replace Ryan Zinke charged with assault (5/25)
Democrats drop Andrew Jackson from name of event in Arkansas (5/25)
Washoe Tribe celebrates 1st anniversary of unique gaming facility (5/25)
Trump administration ready to let Cobell program run out of funds (5/24)
Northwest tribes slam Trump's budget for cuts to Indian programs (5/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe finds one bright spot in Trump's budget (5/24)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe reports jury conviction of non-Indian offender (5/24)
YES! Magazine: Native birthing center maintains tribal traditions (5/24)
Peter d'Errico: Founding Fathers conspired to take land from tribes (5/24)
Eastern Cherokee chief questions fairness of impeachment hearing (5/24)
Another guilty plea in theft of gaming funds from Winnebago Tribe (5/24)
Tribes clear legislative hurdle in bid for new casino in Connecticut (5/24)
President Trump confirms Indian Country's worst fears with budget (5/23)
Office of Special Trustee pitches lower budget as 'taxpayer' savings (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Monuments to white supremacy harm our people (5/23)
Two more spills of oil from Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota (5/23)
Native woman in skirt and sandals wins ultramarathon in Mexico (5/23)
Brothers from Huichol Tribe murdered as drug war rages in Mexico (5/23)
Iowa Tribe misses deadline again to launch internet poker project (5/23)
Mississippi Choctaw citizens request vote on $25M casino project (5/23)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must wait to restart work on casino (5/23)
Documents show few meetings between Secretary Zinke and tribes (5/22)
Landowners on 2 reservations in Nebraska receive buy-back offers (5/22)
Human Rights Complaint: 'We are only letting the white people in' (5/22)
Mark Trahant: Funds for Indian health in danger under Republicans (5/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation school works hard to teach language (5/22)
Harlan McKosato: DNA tests can't reveal your unique tribal history (5/22)
Gyasi Ross: Fired FBI director made sure Peltier remained in prison (5/22)
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)
André Cramblit: Treasure your aunties and uncles for their histories (5/22)
Treaty tribes celebrate after court refuses to rehear salmon dispute (5/22)
Eastern Cherokee leaders open impeachment hearing against chief (5/22)
Top Interior pick contradicts Trump on 'race' and Indian programs (5/19)
Arne Vainio: Expressing gratitude for the people we have around us (5/19)
Lawmakers dug deep to help North Dakota with #NoDAPL response (5/19)
Quapaw Tribe secures EPA grant for cleanup of contaminated lands (5/19)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.