Native News Network Staff in Native Briefs. Discussion »
Native Brief: TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Monday upheld a Constitutional amendment which requires all the Nation's citizens to have at least one Indian ancestor on the federally-authorized Dawes Rolls.
The ruling says the amendment is effective immediately, ending the citizenship of approximately 2800 non-Indians who enrolled in the Nation between 2006 and 2007 under a March 2006 Supreme Court ruling. In March of 2007, the Cherokee people voted to amend the Constitution to allow only people with an Indian ancestor on the Dawes rolls to be citizens of the Nation. Since that time, those 2800 non-Indian Freedmen descendants have kept their rights of citizenship until the resolution of this court case.
Chief Justice Darell Matlock wrote in the majority opinion that non-Indian Freedmen descendants "were never afforded citizenship in the Cherokee Nation by the Treaty of 1866," and that "if the Cherokee people had the right to define the Cherokee Nation citizenship in the above mentioned 1866 Constitutional Amendment they would have the sovereign right to change the definition of the Cherokee Nation citizenship in their sovereign expression in the March 3, 2007 Constitutional Amendment."
The ruling emphasizes that citizenship for Freedmen descendants who do have an Indian ancestor on the Dawes Rolls remain eligible for citizenship, just like anyone else with an Indian ancestor on the rolls.
"There are Cherokee Freedmen who have and can prove they are also descendants of Cherokees listed on the Dawes Rolls as Cherokees by blood and who are either citizens or eligible for citizenship if they so desire," Matlock wrote.
"The court basically held that because the people properly exercised their right to amend their own Constitution that the court could not interfere with that right," said Diane Hammons, Cherokee Nation Attorney General.
posted August 24, 2011 6:30 am edt
Thank you for visiting. We are loading the new Native News Network website. Visitors always come first, so if you click on a link only to find the corresponding page is unavailable, please use this link to contact us here ».
Then, tell us how we can help you.
I will contact you personally.