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Opinion
Marilyn Vann: Loss of Cherokee Nation citizenship


"My name is Marilyn Vann I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. I am descended from Cherokee Freedmen and Cherokee by Blood ancestors. My citizenship status was stripped March 3, 2007. By the vote of my people under the urging of my government, my Nation has violated the Treaty of 1866 and placed the government-to-government relationship with my tribe as odds with the United States. In doing so, my nation has stated it had the right to violate treaties, placing the powers of all Tribes in peril of judicial precedent that could reduce tribal sovereignty. My Chief, Chad Smith has defended the actions of stripping my citizenship and that of other Freedmen based upon a number of untruths for the purpose of gaining support in Indian Country. I have read numerous editorials in support of my people and for that I am very grateful. However, I have read other opinions supporting the Cherokees position by reasoned people. Some of these opinions were based on not having all of the facts.

The Cherokees are seeking support in Indian Country on this issue, using two arguments, Tribes should support the decision to terminate the Freedmen based on sovereignty and the Trail of Tears provides some sort of license to eliminate US inspection.

Tribes should understand the Cherokee Nation is asking for support of it’s position that it can violate the Treaty of 1866 with the defense of sovereign immunity. It should be understood how dangerous this argument is for Tribes. While treaties do not give sovereignty to Tribes, sovereignty is inherent; they serve as supreme recognition of a nation’s power in the eyes of another.

Tribes have utilized US Courts to enforce treaty rights to restore rights to land, water and rights against the United State. Imagine how the precedent will be used by crafty U.S. Attorneys if the Cherokees are successful in relieving their treaty rights under with the defense of sovereign immunity. Do you want the U.S. to claim sovereign immunity against your Tribe when defending your treaty rights? It is simply not in the best interest of a Tribe to argue against treaties."

Get the Story:
Marilyn Vann: Cherokee Freedmen loses membership March 3 (The Native American Times 3/20)

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

Jim 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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