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Law
Cherokee Nation heads to polls to decide on Freedmen


Members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma head to the polls tomorrow to decide whether to deny citizenship to the Freedmen, the descendants of former African slaves.

The tribe's top court ruled last year that the Freedmen are entitled to citizenship because their ancestors appear on the Dawes Roll. The court said the tribe's constitution doesn't contain an Indian blood quantum requirement.

The vote seeks to change the constitution to require all tribal members -- whether of Cherokee, Shawnee, Delaware, Freedmen or other ancestry -- to prove they have Indian blood.

A "yes" vote means a yes to change the constitution. A "no" vote rejects the proposed change.

Since the court ruling, more than 2,000 Freedmen descendants have received citizenship. They are far outnumbered by the 45,000 registered voters in the tribe.

A federal judge refused to halt the election but has asserted jurisdiction over the tribe. He has said the Cherokee Nation has a history of "marginalization" of the Freedmen.

Get the Story:
Tribe to vote Saturday on freedmen (The Tulsa World 3/2)
Cherokee Nation Special Election (KOTV 3/2)

Court Decision:
Vann v. Kempthorne (December 19, 2006)

Cason Letter:
Cherokee Nation Constitution (August 30, 2006)

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

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

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