Rep. Cole charges 'blackmail' in Freedmen dispute
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), the only Native American in Congress, is accusing colleagues of "legislative blackmail" as the dispute over the Cherokee Freedmen heats up on Capitol Hill.

Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, responded to recent comments by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Frank said he will oppose a bill to reauthorize the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act if it doesn't address the citizenship of the Cherokee Freedmen.

"This is legislating with a gun to the head of the Cherokee Nation," Cole told The Tulsa World.

Cole said the courts should resolve the issue of whether the Freedmen, who are descendants of former African slaves, are entitled to Cherokee citizenship. Frank, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, believe a treaty protects the Freedmen.

Meanwhile, the National American Indian Housing Council is warning that the NAHSDA won't be passed this year due to the controversy. "This would be an unfortunate outcome for the hundreds of thousands of American Indian and Alaska Native low-income families that would be unwitting victims in a controversy involving one Indian tribe," Chairman Marty Shuravloff wrote in a letter.

Get the Story:
Cole charges 'blackmail' over Indian housing bill (The Tulsa World 4/24)

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)

Related Stories:
Opinion: The history of the Cherokee Freedmen (4/23)
Rep. Frank backs Freedmen in Cherokee funding fight (4/22)
Freedmen issue weighs heavy on Capitol Hill (4/14)
Tim Giago: CBC goes after Cherokee Nation (4/14)
Cherokee tribes denounce Freedmen legislation (4/10)
Cherokee chief to address Freedmen at conference (4/7)
Black lawmakers press Senate on Freedmen (4/4)
Cherokee Freedmen dispute up for hearing (3/27)
Opinion: Being Cherokee more than the blood (3/26)
Lawmakers press Artman on Freedmen issues (3/19)
Freedmen protest outside of Rep. Boren's office (3/3)
Black lawmakers to meet with Artman over Freedmen (1/23)