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Law
Cherokee Nation's top court approves constitution


The Cherokee Nation's top court has approved the tribe's new constitution even though it may lack federal approval.

According to the Associated Press, the court said the tribe doesn't need to wait for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the new constitution to become effective. The tribe's old constitution contained a clause that required federal approval.

According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the BIA approved the tribe's 2003 referendum in which the majority of voters accepted the new constitution. The release cited a letter from former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb, who is Chickasaw.

But an issue has arisen because Cherokee Freedmen, the descendants of former slaves, weren't allowed to vote in the 2003 referendum. The Cherokee Nation's top court has since ruled that the Freedmen are entitled to citizenship, regardless of Indian blood, if they can trace their ancestry to the Dawes Roll.

The tribe has since moved to amend the constitution once again, this time to base citizenship on the Dawes Roll, but to require Indian blood.

Get the Story:
Tribunal approves Cherokee constitution (AP 6/8)
Press Release: Cherokee Nation’s New Constitution Takes Effect (CNO 6/7)

Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal Decision in Freedmen Case:
Allen v. Cherokee Nation (March 7, 2006)

Relevant Links:
Freedmen Of The Five Civilized Tribes - http://www.freedmen5tribes.com
Freedmen Conference - http://www.freedmenconference.com

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