Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Briefs. Discussion »
Hearing in Washington DC
Native Brief: WASHINGTON - The Cherokee Nation filed an agreement this morning with the US District Court in Washington that allows the non-Indian Freedmen to vote in this Saturday's special election to elect the Nation's chief.
The agreement was worked out yesterday as the result of a hearing in Washington DC District Court with the Cherokee Nation, the US Department of the Interior and the freedmen.
"We have an agreement in principle that allows our election to go forward on Saturday, and extends the time for walk-in voting to October 8 to allow freedmen to fully participate," stated Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden in a prepared statement yesterday after the court proceedings.
With the extension for walk-in voting to October 8, the outcome of the special election will not be known until after the voting is completed.
Tuesday's court proceeding was the result of two cases regarding the disenrollment of some 2,800 African Americans from the Cherokee Nation, based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The Freemen are descendants of African American slaves who were forced to Oklahoma in the 1830s. The Cherokee fought on the side of the South in the Civil War. After the war, the Cherokee and the US government signed a treaty granting tribal citizenship for the freed slaves.
Last month the Cherokee Nation's Supreme Court ruled that the Tribe had the right to change its constitution on who is a citizen; thus disallowing the non-Indian Freedmen.
The federal government took actions against the Cherokee Nation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs threatened not to recognize the results of the September 24 special election for Chief. And, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development withheld $33 million, which negatively impacted the Tribe's housing program and services to tribal members.
posted September 21, 2011 12:30 pm edt
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