– For Immediate Release – August 23, 2011

For information contact– Marilyn Vann– President – Descendants of Freedmen
Association 405-818-5360 or 405-227-9810
Attorney Jon Velie – 405-310-4333 or 405-821-5959


On August 22, 2011, the Cherokee nation tribal Supreme Court ruled that
changes to the tribal constitution
which effectively removed tribal citizenship from Cherokee freedmen in
2007 were valid.

The Cherokee Supreme Court’s Decision to eliminate the Cherokee people
who were granted freedom and citizenship under the Treaty of 1866 is bad
law done for a bad reason and is being delivered to assist a former
chief just beaten in an election, to eliminate most of the black people
from voting in the new election, says Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee Freedmen,
whose citizenship has just been terminated based on this ruling. Now, I,
nor any Cherokee Freedmen can vote in the next chief election next
month. This is timely for Chad Smith, who lost the election and the
recount, but was granted a second chance for election by this same
Supreme Court. It should also not be forgotten, that following the
Cherokee Nation’s highest court, the Judicial Appeals Tribunal’s
decision that the Freedmen were entitled to citizenship in 2006, Chad
Smith, then Chief, dismantled the Court and established this Supreme
Court in its place and selected new judges. It is obvious this decision
is the tool he is using to regain his position as Chief and deliver the
blow to eliminate my citizenship and other Cherokees who have held this
status since 1866.” Despite Federal and Tribal Court rulings stating the
Freedmen enjoy all the rights of Cherokee citizenship, The Smith
administration has kept out 90% of the Freedmen. Only about 2,800
citizens have been holding on by a thread. As the tribal Court ordered
principal chief election nears, the remainder of Freedmen,
understandably not Smith supporters, have been stripped of citizenship
and will not be able to vote and affects rights to services such as
NAHASDA (Indian Housing) services under HR 2786 passed in 2008.

The most troubling statement in the Cherokee Court case, according to
Jon Velie, attorney for the Freedmen in two still ongoing Federal
lawsuits in Washington D.C , is the statement “the Cherokee Freedmen
were never afforded citizenship in the Cherokee Nation by the Treaty of
1866.” This language conflicts with the undisturbed line of Federal
Court cases from 1895 through now. Velie represents Marilyn Vann and
several other freedmen in one of the Federal court cases. In July 2008,
the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held in Vann, “The Cherokee
Nation simply has no interest in protecting sovereignty concerns that
have been taken away by the United States..The Thirteenth Amendment and
the 1866 Treaty whittled away the Tribe’s sovereignty with regard to
slavery and left it powerless to discriminate against the Freedmen ……. “

Marilyn Vann added, “Mr. Smith’s hand selected Courts decision to do
whatever it takes to reinstall him as Chief is dangerous for all of
Indian Country as it holds the people of a nation can simply vote the
rights of a Treaty away. Does that mean US citizens could vote away our
treaty rights or Oklahomans could vote Cherokees out of state
citizenship rights? My nation and the nation of my ancestors has
expelled us on our trail of tears, over a century after our ancestors
carried baggage on the original Trail. It is a dark day for Cherokee
Nation, for Indian Country and for mankind. The freedmen will continue
to fight for justice.
Emergency meeting for Cherokee freedmen and supporters is set for
Saturday August 27th, 2011 at the Martin Luther King Center, 627 N 3rd,
Street, Muskogee, Okla. at 2pm.
Cherokee Freedmen and supporters will demonstrate outside the Bureau of
Indian Affairs Building, Friday September 2, 2011, 3100 West Peak
Boulevard, Muskogee, Okla. 2:30pm.
Freedmen and supporters will also publicize their plight during the
Cherokee Holiday on September 3rd during the morning parade. Contact Mrs
Brown (918-683-2753) for directions.
on Tuesday

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