Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
ads@blueearthmarketing.com   712.224.5420

Opinion
Opinion: Ouster of Freedmen is Cherokee business


"My name is Gayle Ross and I am an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. I want to respond to the remarks made by Marilyn Vann, but first I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak and to thank those who take the time to listen.

You may know that Ms Vann has conducted extensive campaigns of both legal and public relations attacks on the Cherokee Nation. She represents herself as a victim of "racism" and to do that, she finds it necessary to distort our history and the facts. I can no longer listen to her shrill, strident invective smearing the Cherokee Nation in the name of "her rights". There is too much at stake to stand silently by as she continues her attacks.

Ms Vann says Cherokee people were slaveowners and signed a Treaty with the Confederacy. What she hasn’t told you is the majority of Cherokee wished to be neutral or remain loyal to the Union. The treaty with the Confederacy was signed under duress while Southern troops occupied our country. It was repudiated in less than a year and many more Cherokees fought and died to end slavery than practiced it. President Lincoln assured Principal Chief John Ross that he understood the Cherokee situation and that the Cherokees would not be treated harshly, but our hopes of fair treatment died with him. The Treaty of 1866 was a "reconstruction" treaty demanding many concessions Cherokees felt were unfair. The United States responded by threatening to sign a Treaty with the very Confederate Cherokees who actually had taken up arms against them. The Cherokees had been willing to offer land and certain rights to their freed slaves. The United States included the article calling for the "rights of native Cherokees."

Ms. Vann did not tell you that freed slaves did not want tribal citizenship either. Congress, in 1865, sent Gen. John Sanborn to report of the status of the freed slaves of the Five Tribes and he reported that they wanted and expected the United States to procure a separate tract of Indian Territory for them. They wanted to own their own land rather than in common. They wanted autonomy under territorial law rather than tribal jurisdiction. The United States declined. Federal officials put Cherokees and Freedmen on the same path, knowing they wanted to go in different directions. It was a rocky road. The majority of Freedmen advocated allotment and the dissolution of the Cherokee government. Cherokees struggled to hold on to their land and their nation. Forty years later overwhelmed by forces from both within and without, our borders were obliterated and our government all but paralyzed. Freedmen interests were served. The United States’ interests were served. The Cherokee Nation was devastated."

Get the Story:
Gayle Ross: issue of Cherokee rolls is Cherokee business (The Native American TImes 3/22)

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

Related Stories:
Opinion: Outrage over ouster of Cherokee Freedmen (3/22)
Marilyn Vann: Loss of Cherokee Nation citizenship (3/21)
Website Review: The revolt of the Black Seminoles (3/20)
Column: Freedmen still slaves to Cherokee Nation (3/19)
Opinion: Cherokees have a right to oust Freedmen (3/19)
Opinion: Cherokee Freedmen play the race card (3/19)
Opinion: Racism exists within Cherokee Nation (3/15)
Congressional Black Caucus backs Freedmen (3/14)
aTim Giago: Cherokee Nation votes out Freedmen (3/12)
Opinion: Cherokee Nation ignores own treaty (3/12)
Opinion: Cherokee Nation takes the lower road (3/12)
Chad Smith: Cherokee Nation tolerant of many (3/9)
Column: Cherokee Nation loses moral ground with vote (3/9)
Editorial: Ouster of Freedmen a low point for Cherokees (3/8)
Freedmen to challenge ouster, Cherokee funding (3/7)
Commentary: Cherokee blood spread far and wide (3/7)
Slate: What's so good about being Cherokee? (3/6)
Cherokee Nation kicks out Freedmen descendants (3/5)
Cherokee Nation heads to polls to decide on Freedmen (3/2)
Chad Smith: Cherokee Nation not based on race (3/2)
Editorial: Ouster of Freedmen a sign of elitism, fear (3/2)
Voice of America: Cherokees to vote on Freedmen (2/27)
Judge won't halt Cherokee Freedmen vote (2/22)
Freedmen in court to halt Cherokee Nation vote (2/21)
Freedmen ask federal court to halt Cherokee election (2/5)
Cherokees in California want to be part of community (01/16)
Ouster of Cherokee Freedmen an issue in California (1/15)
Election to oust Cherokee Freedmen delayed (1/3)
Cherokee Freedmen win ruling against tribe (12/20)
Cherokee Chief: Tribe to vote on Indian blood (12/06)
USA Today: Tribes remove thousands from rolls (11/29)
Cherokee court hears dispute over Freedmen vote (11/27)
Cherokee court to consider Freedmen referendum (11/20)
Freedmen descendant sues over citizenship change (11/03)
Cherokee Freedmen to challenge removal (10/10)
Cherokee chief calls vote on removing Freedmen (10/9)
Cherokees defend right to kick Freedmen out of tribe (09/21)
Cherokee chief rejects need to approve constitution (09/11)
Cherokee Nation questioned on Freedmen vote (9/7)
Petition to oust Cherokee Freedmen submitted (08/15)
Petition seeks vote on ousting Cherokee Freedmen (07/31)
Cherokee Nation to vote on blood quantum change (6/13)
Cherokee Nation council debates blood quantum (6/12)
Cherokee Nation's top court approves constitution (6/9)
Cherokee committee approves membership proposal (05/16)
About 800 Cherokee Freedmen enrolled since decision (05/01)
Cherokee chief sued over vacant legal position (04/13)
Cherokee chief criticized for stance on Freedmen (4/6)
Two Creek Freedmen apply for citizenship after ruling (03/22)
Creek Freedmen see opening in citizenship dispute (3/21)
Cherokee chief calls for an 'Indian' Nation by blood (3/20)
Cherokee chief criticized for stance on Freedmen (3/17)
Cherokee chief wants Freedmen out of tribe (3/15)
Editorial: Victory long overdue for Cherokee Freedmen (3/10)
Cherokee Nation to enroll Freedmen descendants (3/9)
Cherokee Freedmen win tribal citizenship lawsuit (3/8)
Cherokee chief wants to sue BIA over constitution (02/15)
Freedmen descendants shut out of Cherokee Nation (11/22)
Trial concludes in Freedmen membership case (09/15)
DNA tests being used to bolster Indian heritage claims (08/30)
Ex-Cherokee councilors fined for Freedmen support (08/23)
Freedmen descendants use DNA to show Indian blood (06/03)
Column: Civilized Tribes owe reparations to slaves (03/11)
Cherokee Nation seeks role in Freedmen lawsuit (02/21)
Cherokee leaders blast Coburn for 'divisive' remarks (9/17)
Cherokee Freedmen caught in high-level dispute (8/20)
Cherokee Nation chief sworn in for another term (8/15)
Seminole Freedmen rebuffed by Supreme Court (06/29)
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)
Seminole's Chief Haney restored to power (5/7)
Black Seminole appeal planned (5/1)
Black Seminoles dealt setback (4/30)
Opinion: Seminole Nation always black (4/22)
A fight over funds, race (4/4)
Seminole Head Start funds OKed (2/6)
Seminole changes sought again (1/16)
Ousted Seminole leader sues tribe, BIA (12/14)
Black Seminole issue still divisive (10/29)
Suspended Seminole Chief to sue (6/27)
Seminole Chief Haney suspended (6/26)
Race part of Seminole dispute (1/29)
Seminole voters approve changes (7/7)
Seminole vote may affect Freedmen (7/7)