Local & Regional
7:53 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Freedmen: No Citizenship

Tahlequah, OK – Okla. tribal court reverses order voiding amendment

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has reversed a lower tribal court decision that voided a voter-approved constitutional amendment denying citizenship to non-Native American descendants of tribal members' former black slaves.

Justices wrote in an opinion released Monday that the 1866 treaty between the tribe and the federal government "never afforded" freed slaves citizenship, but instead indicated they "would be treated as equals" to Cherokees under federal law.

A January ruling nullified the 2007 amendment requiring tribal citizens to have a Native American ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll on the grounds it violated the 1866 treaty.

Ralph Keen, who represented the descendants, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Tribal attorney general Diane Hammons says justices found that the district court couldn't interfere with members' right to amend their constitution.