Oklahoma Cherokee election causes issues for freedmen

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September 21, 2011


TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma: In a recent decision by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, those decedents of freed slaves who were owned by natives had their membership in the tribe revoked. The freedmen, as they are known in the tribe, had then brought up the fight to have their rights reinstated in order to vote in the upcoming Principal Chief election. The question was raised on their heritage within the tribe, this question led to the tribe revoking their citizenship rights. The Principal Chief election has been an ongoing issue, already there have been several votes to decide the position but each has been marred with controversy. The Tribal Court had taken up the stand against the freedmen, but the freedmen then threatened to ask the US Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. The Tribal Court held that the US court had no jurisdiction over them but were afraid that federal money could be threatened in the long run over this issue. The Cherokee Nation quickly decided to allow the freedmen to have their rights reinstated and vote on the upcoming election, which will be hosted until October 8 to allow for everyone to vote.[1]

The Nation just issued a written agreement to allow the freedmen to vote, a long term agreement has not yet been reached. But it was thought that a short term solution was best at this point to allow for the election to proceed without more problems. The current estimation of the tribe's members is 300,000 with around 2,800 of those being freedmen.[2]

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