Freedmen suit challenge sent to D.C.
A federal judge in Tulsa says the Cherokees' action is similar to a case pending there.
By CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer
Published: 7/7/2010 2:23 AM
Last Modified: 7/7/2010 8:04 AM
A federal lawsuit filed in Tulsa by the Cherokee Nation seeking a declaration that the descendants of freedmen are not entitled to membership in the tribe has been ordered transferred to Washington, D.C., where a similar lawsuit is pending against tribal leaders and the federal government.
The Cherokee Nation filed its suit last year against the U.S. Department of the Interior and five descendants of freedmen — former slaves that had been owned by tribal members. The freedmens' descendants had obtained tribal membership before Cherokees voted in 2007 to restrict Cherokee citizenship by excluding people whose ancestors were not listed on the Dawes Rolls as having a percentage of American Indian blood.
The Dawes Rolls, which the U.S. government created in 1893 to allot land to members of the Five Civilized Tribes, contained several categories, including citizenship by blood and freedmen.
A Cherokee court ruled in 2006 that descendants on the freedmen roll were eligible for tribal citizenship, but only the "by blood" rolls were recognized after the election. (our right as Citizens to vote on this - and the vote was overwhelming in favor of Cherokee by Blood)
The case will go to U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, who is hearing a lawsuit brought in 2003 by Marilyn Vann, a freedmen descendant, against Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith and the Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Vann's suit seeks to void the outcomes of tribal elections in which freedmen descendants were not allowed to vote.
The Cherokee Nation has argued that the case should be dismissed because it was an indispensable party in the Washington suit but did not waive sovereign immunity to be named a party in the suit.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern of Tulsa ruled Friday that under the "first to file rule," the tribe's case should be transferred to the Washington court because it is essentially hearing the same issue. The freedmen descendents and the Interior Department argued for the transfer. (so is the Federal Judge in DC just hoping this will go away or is he going to rule; seems to me the Supreme Court has already told him what he needs to do? So just do it - let's get it over with! Talk about stone walling, not to mention it's getting the same appearance as the Voter Intimidation case, where the justice department said no cases would go forward if it was a white man against a black man. So the Cherokee once again get blind sided by a different ethnic group; Most of the Freedmen have supplied misinformation blaming the Chief and Councilors for what they say they've told people, when in fact Cherokee families themselves have passed the information about the Freedmen non-blood status down - in essence, even, the historical facts against them are overwhelming - not to mention that the Ancient Document Rules of Evidence say a document (Dawes Roll) is considered true if over 75 years old - and they aren't listed with any Cherokee Blood and in fact are set in their own roll separate and apart from the Cherokee by Blood Rolls - looks pretty clear to me - Congress can make them their own Tribe - Indian Freedmen by Association I guess)
Vann cheered Kern's ruling as a victory for freedman descendants. She said the tribe waived its immunity from a lawsuit by filing its own suit.
"We eagerly await the day when all descendants of Dawes-enrolled Cherokee freedmen can register/reregister as Cherokee Nation tribal members, vote and run for tribal political office, as promised our ancestors by the U.S. government and tribal officials in 1866," said Vann, who is also the president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association. (say what? I've not read anywhere they were granted this, Cherokee's didn't even have this in 1866; the only thing they got was land and the Freedmen got that as well - Court of Claims has already ruled that this group is filing their claim too late)
Cherokee Attorney General Diane Hammons said the ruling was merely a procedural move, and the suit's merits have not been decided.
"The record clearly shows that the federal government itself has extinguished any rights non-Indian freedmen descendants had under the treaty, and we look forward to bringing the issue to a conclusion in the appropriate federal court," she said. (The court knows what it must do, but it's dragging it's feet and the case should go againt the Freedmen)
"The law, history, and facts show that non-Indian freedmen descendants have no treaty rights under federal law. This ruling moves the process forward, and we look forward to demonstrating this in court." (Yep, but I guess the Freedmen figure they're above the law and the bully law rules)
Clifton Adcock 581-8462
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20100707_11_A13_Afeder470460