MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 5, 2014

Cherokees present case in freedmen litigation


— The Cherokee Nation presented oral arguments Monday in front of Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan in Washington, D.C., regarding the longstanding Cherokee Freedmen lawsuit, a media release states.

At issue is whether the Treaty of 1866 between the United States and the Cherokee Nation granted full tribal citizenship to former slaves once held by a small group of Cherokee citizens, and descendants of those slaves.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree issued the following statement regarding oral arguments in the freedmen lawsuit:

“After 11 long years of litigation, the Cherokee Nation is looking forward to having a judge decide the longstanding issue of what rights, if any, the freedmen descendants are granted under the Treaty of 1866.

“The Cherokee Nation believes strongly in treaty rights and believes the correct interpretation of the treaty would allow the Cherokee people to determine who is a Cherokee citizen.

“The Cherokee people have been a champion for human rights, having experienced cruelty firsthand during our forced removal from our original homelands in the southeast along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

For the Cherokee people, this issue has never been about race. As a sovereign nation, it’s always been about Cherokees determining who our citizens ought to be.”