Indian Freedmen Descendants still seeking Equality

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by bradl, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #1
    I'll try to be as objective in this as possible, even though this issue greatly affects me, my family, and my ancestors.

    It would be too broad of a question to ask for your opinions of the Indian tribes of N. America. But let me ask this: What of the following tribes: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole?

    What would you think if I mentioned that forms of Segregation and apartheid existed in the US, and is sponsored by all of us? Now, Today?

    I mention all of this, because the five tribes I mentioned above are known as the '5 Civilized Tribes'. Everybody already knows about the "woe is me" tale of them being kicked off their lands, walking the Trail of Tears, settling in Oklahoma, and tales of their plight and struggles.

    However.. what if I told you that while they've been going on about their 'woe-is-me' tales, these 5 tribes adopted Anglican customs, including slavery, and sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War? Finally, what if I told you that every resident and citizen of the USA is sponsoring and paying for homegrown segregation and apartheid?

    I mention all of this, because while all of the 5 tribes (nations) have done this, one stands out the most right now: the Cherokee tribe. The terms of their treaty with the US government (Treaty of 1866) stipulated that to be a sovereign nation, they would have to free their Slaves (known as the Freedmen):

    http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/vol2/treaties/che0942.htm#mn16
    For reference, here is the similar portion of the treaty for the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes:

    http://www.african-nativeamerican.com/treaty66.htm
    This treaty granted the Freedmen citizenship in the Cherokee tribe. In the 1980s, the Cherokee held an election that changed the enrollment rules and stripped the Freedmen of their citizenship and voting rights, something found unconstitutional per the Cherokee supreme Court in 2006. The Chief at that time, Chad Smith, called for an election to change their nation's Constitution to strip the Freedmens' citizenship and voting rights again; something that passed, which removed them from the tribe.

    In January of this year, the Constitutional amendment was vacated by the courts again, because it violated the 1866 treaty. Two months ago, an election was held for Chief of the tribe. Smith went for re-election against a contender who has the support of the Freedmen. The election was vacated because of fraud and tampering, with another election scheduled for this month. 2 weeks ago, the Cherokee Supreme Court, made up of justices Smith appointed, reinstated the amendment, saying that the nation was sovereign and had the right to set up their citizenship requirements any way they saw fit. Funnily enough, stripping the Freedmens' rights shortly before an election of a Chief that they could have voted for.

    Now, why does this affect all of you? Keep in mind that the people of the USA fund the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and HUD, both of which the tribes get federal funding for. So why should they be funded with your (our) money, when they are living in violation of a treaty they signed? Why should the US keep funding a nation that strips the rights of people and the descendents of people they enslaved? Furthermore, these tribes are also citizens of the USA, therefore are also bound to the US Constitution, and in particular, Article VI.

    For those who will undoubtedly say "They're a sovereign nation; what they do with their constitution and people don't matter!'", keep in mind you are paying for and sponsoring their health, welfare, and well-being. Like with the gay marriage issue, is it right for a group of people to, by popular vote, dictate the citizenship of people who have lived with them and were integrated into their tribes for over 150 years? Should the "will of the people" (as expressed by vote) trump a treaty that their nation signed, not under duress? And would you feel comfortable in feeling complicit in telling someone that they are no longer who and what they have been for that long?

    I'd love all of your opinions on this, as it is more than likely a social issue that has been kept so hush that it's well under everyone's radar.

    BL.

    http://www.thedefendersonline.com/2...seeking-freedom/comment-page-1/#comment-10078

    http://african-nativeamerican.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-difference-100-years-can-make.html

    http://www.thedefendersonline.com/2...nies-citizenship-rights-to-cherokee-freedmen/

    http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/Index/5481

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_freedmen_controversy

    http://blackandredjournal.blogspot.com/2011/07/choctaw-freedmen-descendants-are.html
     
  2. bradl, Sep 9, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011

    bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #2
    Glad you asked.

    there is a case pending in Federal court in D.C.: Vann vs. Cherokee Nation. It was tabled pending the Cherokee Nation supreme court rulings and subsequent election. The case was filed in 2009. It may be at least 2 - 3 years before it gets a date set. Most of Congress nowadays is oblivious to this, as the only elected official to care about the issue retired in 2008 (Diane Watson, D-CA). the others still think that this is a "matter internal to a sovereign nation". Only recently has someone else spoken up about it.

    Additionally, the 5CT have an inside hand at things. US Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is a registered Chickasaw, and sits on the Appropriations Committee, and Interior and Environmental subcommittee. The latter is important, as the Bureau of Indian Affairs falls under the Interior subcommittee.

    BL.
     
  3. bradl, Sep 9, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011

    bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #3
    Believe me, they have. Marilyn Vann (of the Vann v. Cherokee) case, is President of the Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes Association. She's been very vocal about it, and has a number of people on her side, including those who are full bloods in their tribes. What is funny for her, is that her paternal ancestor was 1/4 blood, while his wife was a slave/freedmen. Because they follow the bloodline of the mother, everyone down that bloodline were listed as freedmen, so she was denied enrollment in the tribe. Either way, she has been very vocal about this, and a lot of people don't know this about these tribes. But it is coming out.

    This just came down the wire:

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/09/hud-denies-cherokee-funding-over-freedmen-issue/

    The Cherokee are now up in arms because HUD shouldn't be getting involved with something their "will of the people" wanted.

    One other thing I should mention: The Dawes Roll does list the Freedmen on the Rolls. So it isn't that they are not listed there at all. The telling evidence is that there were interviews conducted for being registered on the Rolls. That includes any blood relation, Freedmen, Intermarriages, the whole lot.

    What is damning about the Cherokee is that there is documentation about the Delaware and Shawnee Band that were not blooded Cherokee at all, and had paid a sum of money to be included in the tribe. This election the Cherokee had did not include them being kicked out.
    BL.
     
  4. SuperJudge, Sep 9, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011

    SuperJudge macrumors 6502

    SuperJudge

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    #4
    That debacle with Chad Smith made me slightly relieved to discover that I am not of Cherokee descent as I once thought and instead of a different Native extraction. I'm also glad to see that HUD has defunded the Cherokee Nation over this. "Will of the people," my ass.

    However, a few quibbles. I don't think that "Anglican" is the word that you're looking for. I honestly still feel bad for everything that was done to the Five Civilized Tribes, even though things worked out better for them than say the Apache or the Lakota. Being forced off of your ancestral lands for any reason is a raw deal.

    As for siding with the Confederacy, I'd say that's a matter of convenience. Would you have honestly expected them to fight for the government that subjugated them?

    Additionally, can you point to other examples of "homegrown segregation and apartheid" in the other Five Civilized Tribes. I'm curious because I'm probably not as up on those matters as I should be.

    All in all, though, I'd say that I agree with you.

    ETA:
    That's totally not cool of the Cherokee then.
     
  5. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #5
    This is an area of politics that will always remain highly sensitive, because it always goes back to the root of the matter: the colonization of the US. It is a question that is destined to never be definitively resolved; or rather, we can never make amends for it.

    I suppose the short answer is that in this case the disbursment of federal money is conditional, so the witholding appears broadly justifiable.
     
  6. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #6
    'Anglican' wouldn't have been the word I would have chosen; that came straight from Wikipedia. Something more like "adopting American customs at the time" sounds better; they took English names and customs, which included slavery. Unlike the other tribes, they didn't really fight their assimilation.

    That's the interesting point. the 5CT took and participated in Slavery; the Creek and Muskogee (Seminole) fought with the North; The Cherokee were on both sides of the fence, while the Chickasaw and Choctaw were staunchly Confederate.. You can tell which sides lost..

    Sure. The 1866 treaty with the Choctaw and Chickasaw also required the tribes to grant all rights and citizenship of the tribe to their Freedmen. However, thanks to the Indian Reorganization act of 1934, the tribes were allowed to rewrite their constitutions as they see fit, and put it and any referendums up to vote, like the Cherokee. The Choctaw did so twice; once in 1977, and again in 1983. In 1977, they started to require a CDIB, but theirs didn't require anyone on the by-blood rolls first, so while the freedmen were already part of the tribe, they could still enroll. the 1983 rewrite and referendum kicked the Freedmen out.

    No legal action has been taken on this yet, pending the Cherokee ruling, as it would take an 'act of Congress' to make the other nations comply. Same has happened with the Chickasaw. I'm not familiar with how the Creek and Seminole are set up, but I know it has happened for 2 other tribes outside the Cherokee.

    It isn't, at all.

    BL.
     
  7. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    Would it be fair to say, that if the Cherokee Nation does not uphold the terms of the Treaty, that it is de-facto null and void.

    Then all Federal funding should cease, forthwith.

    We have similar 'problems' in Ontario, and, because of the lack of political back-bone on both the Provincial and Federal levels, it gets ugly.
     
  8. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #8
    That's what they are facing now, with HUD withholding funds from them. The precedent is now set with the other nations making up the FCT. If this type of action continues and the other tribes are found in violation, their funding will also be blocked. The only way to get it back: restore the rights and citizenship of the descendants of the slaves they held.

    BL.
     
  9. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #9
    A bit more on this now.

    Even with HUD blocking all of their funding to the Cherokee, the Freedmen are continuing their fight by suing to block the entire election. If all goes well, the election will not occur until the Freedmen regain their citizenship and voting rights.

    http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/Index/5449

    BL.
     
  10. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #10
    Why do people who are not of Cherokee descent want to be citizens of the Cherokee nation?
     
  11. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #11
    Do the Cherokee have a Constitution that gives automatic citizenship to the children of citizens, or is it based on Cherokee heritage or something different? I think the treaty gave the Freedmen citizenship, but whether that citizenship can be terminated or is automatically expanded to the decendents may be a question of Indian law (a question the US government has no right to interfere with).

    Plus, who is to prevent them from changing their constitition to require Cherokee heritage or marriage in order to be a citizen?
     
  12. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #12
    Considering the US has ended treaties and chosen not to enforce others, which it can do... why can't the Cherokee nation stop honoring a treaty that is that old? Enter into a new one?

    They should do what they want, and if they then want HUD money, they can contract for it.
     
  13. SuperJudge macrumors 6502

    SuperJudge

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    #13
    Citizenship in the Cherokee Nation (as well as the other Five Civilized Tribes) is granted to descendants of those on the Dawes Rolls. There is no matter of blood quanta here. All 5 of the aforementioned tribes are "one-drop" tribes.

    The Freedmen in question are descendants of people on the Dawes Rolls and thus entitled to tribal membership. Which is why this is completely bogus.

    As AhmedFaisal, the terms of their treaty with the Federal government prevents this.
     
  14. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #14
    So stop honoring the treaty. Enter into a new treaty. It's a sovereign nation; they set their own rules.
     
  15. SuperJudge macrumors 6502

    SuperJudge

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    #15
    Well, yeah. I totally agree. They just can't expect to still get teh moniez without the benefit of said treaty. Something certainly needs to be done.
     
  16. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    they can stop honouring the treaty, but entering into a new one is out of the question, when the current one is fine. They just need to abide by the terms of it, just like any other nation does. The terms of this treaty state to give the Freedmen suffrage and citizenship rights. They are their own sovereign nation, but the moment they oust and segregate, they violate the treaty they agreed to when they became a sovereign nation.

    And all of this has been the premise for the Freedmens' fight, not just with the Cherokee, but with all Five tribes. That is why this case is so big. And speaking of, the U.S. just upped their ante. The Dept. of the Interior (Ken Salazar & Co.) have spoken up, and their words (rightfully so) don't bode to well for the Cherokee, and subsequently the other 4 Tribes:

    http://www.cornsilks.com/achiefjoebialetter.pdf

    So there you have it. The next steps are up to the Cherokee, and I hope they tread well. If the Freedmen are accorded their citizenship back, then 1 tribe down, and 4 to go, as this will be used as precedent for the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, and Muskogee/Creek.

    BL.
     
  17. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #17
    But, I still don't understand. The freedmen aren't Native American, right? Is there some reason US citizenship is not good enough?

    (edit) It doesn't sound like equailty, it sounds like a scam. I'd love to be considered a Native American so I could soak the government and share in the gambling money, but I'm not, so I don't.
     
  18. SuperJudge, Sep 13, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011

    SuperJudge macrumors 6502

    SuperJudge

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    #18
    But they are Native American legally, if not by blood. If you're the descendant of someone on the Dawes Roll you are entitled to membership in the appropriate tribe. The Freedmen were counted on the Dawes Roll and were members of the tribes for years until such time as the tribal councils decided that it would be a great idea to rewriting tribal constitutions to specifically exclude the Freedmen.

    In cases like this, there's more to it than simple benefits. I'm working on paperwork for tribal membership, but it's for a sense of community and belonging more than for any of the fiduciary benefits. What's worst about all of this is the "we don't want your kind here anymore" attitude shown by the various tribal governments. That saddens me.
     
  19. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #19
    They have been Native American since the Treaty, and were treated as such even before the Treaty. The Treaty of 1866 grants them citizenship in their respective tribes, blood quantum or not. they intermarried, had children, the whole lot. It isn't as if they were completely segregated from the slaveholders in the FCT. The issue for some here is how the Dawes Rolls were interpreted. Since most bloodlines were followed through the maternal line, those who were Indian still weren't recognized as such, as their father had the blood. So why should they not be recognized for what they truly are? And that situation happened more times than not.

    Then there is the next insult.

    http://www.afrigeneas.com/forume/in...284/sbj/shawnee-cherokee-relationship-status/

    So those who, unlike the Freedmen, had no affiliation with the tribe whatsoever prior to adoption, are equal to the those on the Cherokee by blood rolls. This disenfranchisement did not affect them at all, and they are not Cherokee.

    Shouldn't they just be happy with US Citizenship? No! Why should they have to redefine who they, their ancestors, and their descendants have been for the past 150 years?

    You assume that the Freedmen are in this for monetary gain, when their identity and who and what they are is so much more valuable.

    BL.
     
  20. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #20
    True, but a new treaty has two or more partners, and cannot be arbitrary.

    The U.S. government could go tell them to fly a kit.
     
  21. bradl thread starter macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #21
    Exactly.

    Full disclaimer for me too.

    My family has always had a Dawes Roll number. They thought it was listed with someone who was on the by-blood roll, which the name matches. Unfortunately, he would have been a year old when he was registered, which my great-grandfather would have been 14 when he registered. Long story short, he's listed on the Choctaw Freedmen Rolls, as well as his father, grandfather, and grandmother They were part of that tribe long before the events leading to the Trail of Tears. My ancestors walked it with them, and then some. They stayed with the tribe through the Civil War, and then some. I've been working on the paperwork for my family since 2000, sent it in 2 years ago, and got rejected. That's when I did some more research, and found out about this issue. It's just all coming to a head now. And you're right. It's sad and pitiful (deserving of pity) that the FCT has stooped so low to do this to their own. Very sad and pitiful.

    BL.
     
  22. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #22
  23. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #23
    The treaty only gave freedmen citizenship under specific circumstances regarding return to the nation and residency. I'm not sure how that plays out, but I don't see why anyone would complain about a sovereign nation setting limits on its citizenship. The US does it. Every country does it.
    (edit) I don't have a dog in this fight, just thought someone should point out that the Cherokee may have a legitimate argument.
     
  24. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #24
    Yes, they have, but the issue in dispute is something their Elders agreed to, long ago.

    The Freedman want something that is owed to them, and the fact that they want to join the suckling from the Public teat is not the issue here.
     
  25. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #25
    Yes, and our elders long ago determined that women shouldn't vote, blacks were counted as less than a person, and alcohol was legal/illegal/legal.
     

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