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Native American Freedmen Gather To Fight For True Equality

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

Descendants of slaves owned by Native American tribes were in Tulsa Saturday calling for the right to tribal citizenship.

10/27/2017 Related Story: Cherokee Freedmen Celebrate Tribal Citizenship, Culture

Organizers said the event was all about standing up to the discrimination that these tribes face every single day.

The treaty of 1866 granted former slaves tribal citizenship, but that membership has since been stripped.

Ron Graham said it's time to reverse that call.

"They're saying we need blood quantums but the treaty of 1866 does not say that," said Graham. 

Graham is a genealogist and a descendant of Creek freedmen.

He was one of the dozens at Saturday’s rally at the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, where they celebrated the federal ruling securing citizenship for Cherokee freedmen.

But they say other tribes deserve that honor as well.

"We're just trying to educate people about this treaty of 1866 and regain our citizenship through that treaty. The treaty is still good," said Graham. 

Former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank spoke at the event, saying it is an important step in reaching true equality.

"Take one more step in completing America's purging itself of the sin of racism and slavery," said Frank. 

Calvin Marshall, whose father was a freedmen, said seeing people of different tribes join for one cause gives him hope that citizenship is not too far away.

"It takes everybody pulling together to move these things, you know?" said Marshall. 

To learn more, you can visit the Freedmen Association website

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