Cherokee Tribe Revoke Inclusion of Their Slaves’ Descendants
Despite the common narrative of Native American tribes as peaceful, innocent victims – they were far from the hippie saints they’re commonly depicted as. Members of the Cherokee tribe owned many black slaves, many of whom died alongside their owners on the infamous Trail of Tears.
Up until recently, the descendants of those slaves, known within the tribe as freedmen, were granted membership grandfathered into the tribe by a treaty signed after the Civil War. These freedmen have been members of this tribe for 150 years, but now after a simple vote, and lengthy fight in court, they are no longer Cherokee. Their tribe has done the very thing they blame the United States for doing to them, they have stolen these freedmen’s land, identity and lifestyle.
That is no longer the case as a 2007 Cherokee Constitutional Amendment required actual Cherokee blood for membership. The case was taken to court, but in 2011 the Cherokee Supreme Court ruled against the freedmen, terminating their membership and expelling them from the tribe. The freedmen blame greed for the tribe’s change of heart. Proponents of the amendment did cite the concern that blacks may apply for membership in order to get a piece of the $26.4 billion (2009) in revenue of native American tribes. Freedmen also believe that the amendment is an attempt to whitewash the tribe’s past, erasing the fact that they were a slave-holding nation.
Cherokee leadership didn’t deny any of these accusations. They only reaffirmed their tribe’s right to determine their own citizenry. “We paid very dearly for that right,” one Cherokee leader stated. I would think your ancestors’ slaves did as well, but that probably doesn’t help your cause.
Source: Huffington Post