indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
Ask the Expert: Why can't I win at tribal casino slot machines? (10/29)
Native Sun News: Event commemorates Sand Creek Massacre (10/28)
Erma Vizenor: Join tribes for protest at NFL game in Minnesota (10/28)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation helps build tomorrow's leaders (10/28)
Ruth Hopkins: Tribes need to raise awareness of breast cancer (10/28)
Navajo Nation election officials refuse to delay upcoming vote (10/28)
Senate candidates battle for Indian vote in South Dakota race (10/28)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe lays claim to former reservation in Ohio (10/28)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to investigate potential burial grounds (10/28)
Judge rules for tribes in Wyoming in dispute over diverted water (10/28)
Editorial: Delaware Tribe pursues return to homelands in Kansas (10/28)
Opinion: Cowboys and Indians come together on common cause (10/28)
Opinion: Help Moapa Band bring solar energy to more consumers (10/28)
Ex-employee sentenced for stealing from Passamaquoddy Tribe (10/28)
Chukchansi Tribe sends audits to NIGC as casino remains closed (10/28)
Little River Band still touting proposal for off-reservation casino (10/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe getting ready to debut golf course at casino (10/28)
Nisqually Tribe to launch part of $45M casino expansion project (10/28)
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.