Funds Released to Tribe

Tulsa,OK – HUD releases funds to Cherokees

TULSA, Okla. (AP) The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is releasing nearly $40 million to the Cherokee Nation after Oklahoma's largest American Indian tribe allowed descendants of slaves its members once owned to vote for a new chief.

Newly-elected Principal Chief Bill John Baker made the announcement Friday about the funds. The money had been frozen by HUD after the tribe's Supreme Court upheld a decision to exclude about 2,800 of the descendants, known as freedmen, from the tribe.

The tribe eventually brokered a deal with the freedmen and cleared them to vote in the Sept. 24 special election for chief.

Baker defeated incumbent Chad Smith by nearly 1,600 votes in balloting that ended Oct. 8. A ceremonial inauguration is planned for Nov. 6 in Tahlequah.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.