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Cherokee Freedmen restored to membership for now


The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has agreed to restore the citizenship rights of 2,700 African descendants pending appeals in the tribal court system.

The temporary injunction will allow the Freedmen to receive tribal services and to vote in a June 23 election. It only applies to a tribal court lawsuit and not to a federal lawsuit.

Tribal members voted March 3 to change the constitution in order to deny citizenship to the Freedmen. The move overrode a tribal court decision that said the Freedmen were members because their ancestors appeared on the Dawes Roll.

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith, who advocated for the removal, is facing re-election in June. One of his opponents is Stacy Leeds, the judge who wrote the Freedmen decision.

In the federal lawsuit, Freedmen descendants have asked the court to halt federal funding to the Cherokee Nation. The tribe wanted the case moved out of Washington, D.C., but the judge denied the motion, a lawyer for the Freedmen said.

Get the Story:
Are Cherokee leaders bowing to pressure? (The Oklahoman 5/15)
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Cherokee Freedmen: Tribe reinstates citizenship until appeals finished (The Tulsa World 5/15)
Tribe allows Freedmen temporary citizenship (The Tahlequah Daily Press 5/15)
Tribe to restore freedmen (The Muskogee Phoenix 5/15)

Cherokee Nation Documents:
Cherokee Nation's Attorney General Statement (May 14, 2007) | Temporary Court Order And Injuction (May 14, 2007)

Federal Court Briefs:
Motion for Preliminary Injunction (May 8, 2007) | Memorandum in Support (May 8, 2007)

BIA Letter:
Carl Artman to Cherokee Chief Chad Smith (March 28, 2007)

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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