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Cherokee Nation faces funding cut amid election


The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma goes to the polls on Saturday amid a Congressional attempt to cut an estimated $300 million in federal funding for the tribe.

The tribe will be voting on the principal chief, a deputy chief and 17 council seats. Also at issue is an amendment to remove federal approval of the tribal constitution.

In March, tribal voters amended the constitution to deny citizenship to the Freedmen, the descendants of African slaves. The move prompted Rep. Diane Waters (D-California) to introduce legislation on Thursday to cut federal funds to the tribe and federal approval of the tribe's gaming operations.

The money will be restored when the Cherokee Nation certifies that it is in compliance with an 1866 treaty that extended citizenship to the Freedmen. ""It particularly pains me, over 40 years after the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act, that legislation has to be introduced to compel the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to recognize the basic civil rights of the Cherokee Freedmen," Waters said.

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith, who is running for re-election and advocated for the removal of the Freedmen, called the bill a "misguided attempt" to harm the tribe. "Our citizenship policy remains the most inclusive in Indian country, requiring just one Indian ancestor on our base roll," he said [Statement].

The Freedmen appear on the Dawes Roll but it does not list their blood quantum. The Cherokee constitution only allows Dawes enrollees with Cherokee, Delaware or Shawnee blood.

Get the Story:
Lawmaker wants to eliminate funding for Cherokee Nation (The Oklahoman 6/22)
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Tribe to vote on two issues: amendment, new leaders (The Oklahoman 6/22)
Bill could halt U.S. funds to Cherokees (The Tulsa World 6/22)
Bill seeks to compel the Cherokees to recognize freedmen (The Muskogee Phoenix 6/22)
CN councilors voice concern over federal legislation (The Tahlequah Daily Press 6/22)
The Cherokee Nation's New Battle (Time Magazine 6/21)

BIA Letters:
May 21, 2007 | March 28, 2007 | August 30, 2006

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