Law | National

Freedmen leader eager for resolution of long-running dispute

Marilyn Vann, the president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, is eager for resolution of a long-running dispute involving the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Vann is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that was filed in 2002. After more than 10 years of litigation, she said it's time to determine whether the Freedmen, who are the descendants of former slaves, are entitled to tribal citizenship.

“It's been 10 years and we're still dealing with jurisdiction and procedure,” Vann told The Oklahoman. "If a decision can be made about what rights the freedmen have, a lot of the other things can be worked out or declared moot.”

Vann joined other Freedmen plaintiffs, the tribe and the Interior Department asking a federal judge for a ruling based on an 1866 treaty in which the tribe agreed that former African slaves, and their descendants, shall have "all the rights of native Cherokees."

Get the Story:
Cherokee Nation, freedmen seek legal answer to long-running dispute (The Oklahoman 9/17)

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