Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oklahoma tribal judge grants injunction request

By: The Associated Press 02/19/11 3:48 PM
The Associated Press

A tribal district court judge has ruled that tribal citizenship applications from descendants of Cherokee freedmen won't be processed until the appeals process is complete.

Judge John Cripps decided Friday in favor of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma's request to extend a temporary injunction against processing new applications from the group. In January, Cripps ruled the tribe had to accept applications from freedmen descendants who lost their tribal citizenship following a March 2007 referendum.

Cripps' Jan. 14 ruling nullified the voter-approved constitutional amendment requiring tribal citizens to have a Native American ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll on the grounds it violated an 1866 treaty between the tribe and the federal government that granted citizenship to the freedmen and their descendants.

About 2,800 freedmen descendants who were tribal citizens before the referendum's passage will still retain all rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship.

To date, the Cherokee Nation has received about 3,500 applications from freedmen descendants and will continue to do so, per the court's ruling, the Tulsa World reported. Officials won't begin to process them until after the tribe's Supreme Court rules on the matter.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Diane Hammons argued Friday that requiring the tribe to immediately begin processing applications from freedmen descendants would create an unfair burden on the tribe and be unfair to the freedmen descendants if the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court overturns Cripps' decision.

"It is unfair to the people, programs and economic stability of the Cherokee Nation if these people are granted citizenship, then the Supreme Court reverses it," Hammons said. "Those descendants would then be disenrolled and expatriated all over again." (Amen!!)

Stilwell attorney Ralph Keen, representing the freedmen descendants, listed several clients who were in need of tribal assistance and argued that even brief citizenship — and eligibility for tribal services — was better than the alternative.

"We've got folks who are going day-to-day or month-to-month to get by," Keen said. "With all the talk of politics and treaties surrounding this, we can't lose sight of the fact that there are real people involved." (but they've lost sight that there are Real People who are citizens of the Cherokee Nation!! We have a few right as well!!)