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10:43 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Oral Arguments Set in Oklahoma Tribal Dispute

Credit Cherokee Nation Welcome Center

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — Oral arguments are set for next year in a long-running citizenship rights dispute between the Cherokee Nation and descendants of black slaves some tribal members once owned.

The Tahlequah Daily Press reports oral arguments are scheduled for April 28.

The tribe and the descendants — known as freedmen — have asked a federal court to sort out the dispute.

Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Tahlequah-based Cherokees, gave them and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees."

But leaders of the Cherokee Nation, one of the largest and most influential American tribes, have declared the descendants should not be considered Cherokee citizens unless they can show proof of Indian blood.

There are about 3,000 freedmen descendants today.