Cherokee Nation chief mindful of funding in Freedmen dispute

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 (AP 11/7)

Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Decisions:
Vann v. Salazar (October 11, 2011)
Cherokee Nation Registrar v. Nash (August 22, 2011)

Related Stories:
Cherokee Nation regains access to $40M in housing funds (10/28)
Steve Russell: Move the Cherokee Nation forward again (10/26)
Kenneth Cooper: Cherokee Freedmen awaiting new era (10/26)

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