The Cherokee Nation and the Freedmen
U.S. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) has introduced federal legislation designed to encourage—or some say force—the Cherokee Nation to allow Cherokee Freedmen, the descendants of former black slaves, citizenship in the tribe. The bill would pull an estimated $300 million in federal funding and remove the tribe’s sovereign ability to conduct gaming.
In March, the tribe voted to disenroll some 2,800 Freedmen who were not listed on the tribal rolls “by blood.” Rep. Watson wants the tribe to comply with an 1866 federal treaty that granted the Freedmen citizenship.
Responded Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, "It's clear that the real purpose of this bill is for a
As we’ve noted in other posts, tribal enrollment decisions traditionally remain with tribes under the tenets of tribal sovereignty. The U.S. Supreme Court has held as such. In this instance, Rep. Watson is using a very special “incentive” to alter the tribe’s enrollment.
Read more here.