FROM THE ARCHIVE

Race part of Seminole dispute

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JANUARY 29, 2001

When members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma last summer voted to change their membership requirements, they effectively excluded future descendants of African members of the tribe, underscoring a dispute many say is centered on race.

In a treaty negotiated with the United States after the end of the Civil War, the tribe agreed to make Africans and descendants of Africans members of the tribe. But one issue separating the "Black Seminoles" from the other members is access to certain federal funds -- only those who can prove they have Indian blood can receive money from a judgement fund the tribe won as a result of their removal from Florida.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Department of Interior by some Black Seminoles and a separate one has been filed by the tribe.

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Who Is a Seminole, and Who Gets to Decide? (The New York Times 1/29)
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