Inmate files lawsuits in search of Eastern Cherokee citizenship

A page from one of the complaints filed by prisoner Robert Sioleski.

An inmate is asking a federal judge to order the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to process his application for membership.

Robert Sioleski, 58, claims his grandmother was Cherokee. He wants to be issued a membership card in order to participate in ceremonies at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York.

"The facility stated I can't attend Native services, festivals or do crafts not until I have tribal reckonation and affiliation!" Sioleski wrote in one complaint, which was quickly dismissed because he made similar claims in an earlier complaint.

Sioleski claims he sought membership with the Eastern Cherokees but was unable to pay a processing fee. The application form, though, does not require any form of payment.

Sioleski is serving 24 years for throwing acid in his stepdaughter’s face in 2003. The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision lists his race as "White."

Get the Story:
Inmate seeks tribe’s approval to keep ‘tribal mullet’ in jail (The New York Post 10/12)

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