Freedmen protest honoring of Cherokee Nation chief
The Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association held a protest outside an Oklahoma hotel as Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith was being recognized as "Ambassador of the Year" by Red Earth.

Protesters said Smith doesn't deserve the honor because he has opposed the inclusion of the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, in the tribe. Smith supported a tribal vote that blocked the Freedmen from citizenship.

"He has shown racism. He has shown discrimination. Why should a man like this be recognized by any organization?" said Marilyn Vann, the Associated Press reported.

Smith said citizenship is open to anyone who can demonstrate they have an Indian or Cherokee ancestors on the Dawes Roll. "We have even paid genealogists in the Tulsa area to help descendents of freedmen and African American heritage determine the truth through documentation. The real issue here is the freedmen who have no Indian blood," Smith told The Oklahoman.

Some members of Congress have asked the Department of Justice to investigate the treatment of the Freedmen. A DOJ spokesperson said the matter was being reviewed.

Get the Story:
Group is protesting Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith's recognition (The Oklahoman 6/5)
Freedmen protest honor given to Cherokee chief Chad Smith (AP 6/5)