On August 30, 2017, Honorable Judge Thomas Hogan ruled in favor of Cherokee freedmen tribal member treaty rights to citizenship. He held the tribal constitutional amendment which removed freedmen from tribal membership to be unenforceable due to the 1866 treaty. "The history, negotiations, and practical construction of the 1866 treaty suggest no other result," Hogan wrote in the 78-page ruling in the Civil Action No. 13–01313. "Consequently, the Cherokee Freedmen’s right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is directly proportional to native Cherokees’ right to citizenship," Hogan continued.
The tribe did not challenge the ruling and sent the Federal court order to the tribal court which voided the tribal constitutional amendments which removed the freedmen from tribal membership and blocked freedmen from holding office. The preliminary order of August 30, 2017 against the tribe was finalized in 2018 with issues between the US and the freedmen remaining to be finalized (dealing primarily with protection of the freedmen) as of early September 2018.
By Blood tells the story of the “freedmen”—African Americans who trace their lineage to freed slaves who became members of various tribes, including the Seminole and Cherokee Nation—in this troubling documentary. 150 years later, the Cherokee and Seminole Nations, now wealthy tribes with land, casinos and business holdings, continue to deny tribal rights to Freedmen descendants arguing that they are not members of their tribe “by blood.”
[Trailer on left.]
Biography of President Vann
Dan Littlefield, the director of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Sequoyah National Research Center, discusses the controversy over Freedmen citizenship within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
A new federal court ruling says Cherokee Freedmen are entitled to tribal citizenship. The Cherokee Nation attorney general says the tribe will not appeal the ruling.
Marilyn Vann (Cherokee Nation) – President of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association.
Todd Hembree (Cherokee Nation) – Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation
Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians) – law professor at Michigan State University and author of the Turtle Talk Blog
Very interesting discussion with freelance journalist Jenni Monet, Marilynn Vann who was lead plaintiff in the law suit, Jon Velie lead attorney in the law suit and Perline Boyattia, whose family is descended from Cherokee Freedman and is still struggling to be accepted.
Music performed by Three Generationz. Photo taken by Jenni Monet, in publication on Indian Country Today.
In Oklahoma, Tayo Popoola discovers the story of the slaves owned by the Cherokee Indian tribe.
Discussion of the 2017 lawsuit when the Cherokee Freedmen won a long battle to be admitted as full members of the Cherokee tribe.