HUD won't release funds to Cherokee Nation in Freedmen flap

The Obama administration is withholding federal funds from the Cherokee Nation as a result of the tribe's disenfranchisement of the Freedmen.

The tribe sought to draw down $33 million from its Department of Housing and Urban Development account. But the administration said it won't release the money until the status of the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, is resolved.

That could happen later this month. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., will hold a hearing on September 20 to determine whether about 2,800 Freedmen can vote in the tribe's September 24 election for principal chief.

"HUD has suspended disbursements to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma while we seek additional guidance on an unclear statute involving the Freedmen. The funding can be restored once this issue is resolved," HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Jereon Brown told News on 6.

Members of the Cherokee Nation amended the constitution to deny citizenship to the Freedmen, who trace their ancestry to the Dawes Roll. The tribe says only people with an Indian ancestor on the roll are entitled to membership.

The tribe's Supreme Court ruled that the amendment is valid. The Freedmen say the decision ignores an 1866 post-Civil War treaty.

Get the Story:
Cherokees HUD funds frozen over freedmen decision (The Tulsa World 9/8)
HUD withholds $33M from tribe (The Muskogee Phoenix 9/7)
HUD Freezes Federal Funding To Cherokee Nation Over Freedmen Issue (News on 6 9/7)
Frank: HUD shouldn’t give funds to Cherokees (The Bay State banner 9/7)
HUD Denies Cherokee Funding Over Freedmen Issue (Indian Country Today 9/8)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Freedmen ruling has curious timing (The Muskogee Phoenix 8/30)

Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Decision:
Cherokee Nation Registrar v. Nash (August 22, 2011)

Related Stories:
Judge sets hearing on Freedmen motion for Cherokee election (9/6)
Freedmen eye lawsuit in federal court over Cherokee election (8/30)
Freedmen seek appeal for loss of Cherokee Nation citizenship (8/29)
Jay Tavare: Divide and conquer -- disenrollment among tribes (8/25)
Turtle Talk: Tribal courts, treaty rights and treaty rights disputes (8/25)
Cherokee Freedmen lose right to vote in upcoming chief election (8/24)
Decision allows Cherokee Nation to remove Freedmen from rolls (8/23)

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