The new leader of the Cherokee Nation
of Oklahoma says maintaining federal funding is his primary concern in the dispute over the Freedmen.
Chief Bill John Baker, whose ceremonial swearing-in took place on Sunday, said the tribe receives $500 million a year from the United States. The Obama administration has threatened to withhold the money unless the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, remain citizens of the tribe.
"I've taken an oath to protect and defend the Cherokee Nation, and we're going to have to protect and defend the $500 million we get in federal funding. It's a tightrope," Baker told the Associated Press.
For now, about 2,800 Freedmen remain citizens of the tribe. Baker has pledged to abide by any court rulings on the matter.
Get the Story:
Newly-inaugurated Cherokee chief will inherit question of rights for slaves' descendants
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Decisions:Vann
(October 11, 2011)Cherokee
Nation Registrar v. Nash
(August 22, 2011)
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