Opinion: Freedmen were never Cherokee citizens
"James Dellinger and Phil Brand must believe if they tell a lie long enough, people will believe them. In their article, "Don’t Free Hawaii!" they have used erroneous information to bolster their argument against not only the Native people of Hawaii, but Native people everywhere.

It may come as a shock to these two writers, but not everyone in the world wants to be a white American. The American Indians led the fight against terrorism in 1492. They were driven by force to give up their homelands to satisfy the greed of the encroaching white settlers. The tribal governments eventually had to enter into treaties with the United States, but their tribal sovereignty remained intact. That government-to-government relationship still endures today.

The Hawaiians weren’t so lucky. If Dellinger and Brand really believe that the Hawaiians welcomed the overthrow of their government by the United States with open arms, they are sadly mistaken. The Akaka bill would restore Native Hawaiians only part of their sovereignty. It is long overdue and needs to be passed.

However, in their argument against Hawaiian sovereignty, Dellinger and Brand introduced inaccurate information, specifically about the Cherokee Nation and their relationship with the Freedmen. Freedmen are black descendants of former slaves. The Freedmen were never “registered as tribal members during the early 20th century...” They were given land rights in Indian Territory after the civil war by the Treaty of 1866, not tribal citizenship rights. They were free and immediately became U.S. citizens.

Since 1975, the Cherokee Constitution has based its citizenship requirement on lineage from an Indian ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls. It wasn’t until March 2006, that a Cherokee Supreme Court Judge with political aspirations ruled that the language of the Cherokee Constitution needed clarification, thus allowing non-Indian Freedmen to enroll in the tribe."

Get the Story:
Sara Hoklotubbe: Native Truth (The Hawaii Reporter 5/20)

Cherokee-Related Legislation:
H.R.2786 | H.R.2895 | H.R.2824 | H.R.3002

BIA Letters:
August 9, 2007 | July 11, 2007 | June 22, 2007 | 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)

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