Opinion: Delawares may be next for disenrollment

The following represents the opinion of Steve Osburn, Cherokee Delaware, of Oklahoma.

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith's view of the Freedmen issue is very twisted. Most Cherokees know there are tribal members of mixed blood, and some of those happen to have Cherokee and Freedmen blood.

The government did not list the Freedmens' blood quantums on the Dawes rolls because of racism, but the fact that they were adopted by the Treaty of 1866 just like the Shawnees and Delawares were adopted via treaty means they are Cherokee tribal members.

The Delaware treaty even says Delawares will have the same rights as "Native Cherokees." But the Cherokee Nation does not give us those rights by refusing to let any Delaware hold office unless they also have Cherokee blood.

The Cherokee Nation treats it's adopted citizens like step children, although the Delawares paid into a Cherokee general fund, then also paid for the land (allotments) we purchased inside Cherokee Nation boundaries. We were also promised a "new reservation" but we never got one. Chad Smith denies these facts.

Some Freedmen are Cherokee citizens by blood and some by adoption only, but to try to exclude them from the tribe is abrogating the Treaty of 1866, and it makes me wonder if the Delawares will be the next target for disenrollment by Chad Smith.

10th Circuit Decision:
Cherokee Nation v. Norton (November 16, 2004)

Lower Court Decision:
Cherokee Nation v. DOI (7/23)

Relevant Documents:
Federal Register Notice/Ada Deer Announcement (September 1996)

Relevant Links:
Delaware Tribe of Indians - http://www.delawaretribeofindians.nsn.us Cherokee Nation - http://www.cherokee.org

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