Lawmakers press Artman on Freedmen issues

Four members of Congress met with assistant secretary Carl Artman last week to discuss the status of Freedmen in the Cherokee Nation and the Seminole Nation.

Rep. Diane Watson (D-California), Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Mel Watt (D-North Carolina) took part in the meeting. Watson said they are concerned about the temporary status of Freedmen in the Cherokee Nation.

The tribe has enrolled about 2,800 Freedmen descendants. But they face removal pending a tribal court ruling on their citizenship.

The Seminole Nation has enrolled some Freedmen as well. But some say they aren't receiving services afforded to other tribal members.

Watson is sponsoring a bill to cut federal funds to the Cherokee Nation, as well as any other tribe, unless the tribe Freedmen stay enrolled. Conyers, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Frank, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have used their positions to pressure the tribe.

Watt is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose members oppose disenfranchisement of the Freedmen.

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Congress seeks BIA freedmen clarification (The Tulsa World 3/19)