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Cherokees React To Proposed Funding Cut

A California congresswoman was in Oklahoma Monday pushing for a bill that would sever ties between the U.S. government and the Cherokee Nation. Congresswoman Diane Watson says the Cherokees should not receive any more funding until the Freedmen, descendents of Cherokee slaves, are once again granted full citizenship.

The issue of Freedmen citizenship is complicated, rooted in a 140 year old treaty. But The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports the congresswoman's proposed bill is simple, readmit the Freedmen or lose your funding.

Emotions were on display from both sides during Monday's forum. The Freedmen say their exclusion from the tribe is nothing short of ethic cleansing. The Cherokee's believe Congresswoman Watson's proposed bill is a threat to their way of life.

"Anytime our Cherokee way of life, our Cherokee people are attacked, it's every Cherokee citizen’s responsibility to defend our heritage, by whatever means necessary," Cherokee citizen Don Stroud said.

"There's no way the U.S. can allow these tribes to engage in ethnic cleansing and racism on American soil," said Cherokee Freedmen Verdie Triplett.

Congresswoman Watson, who hails from Los Angeles, California, has sided with the Freedmen. She says the Cherokees, by approving an amendment in March that kicked the Freedmen out of the tribe, violated an 1866 treaty. Her solution to the issue is to stop giving the tribe federal money until the Freedmen are allowed back in.

"They're gonna have to say no, no longer, it's illegal, it's unconstitutional and we're not gonna pay for their mistake," California Representative Diane Watson said.

This isn't a small amount of money at stake. The tribe is awarded roughly $300 million a year, and without it the Cherokees say they will experience nothing short of a social services crisis. Furthermore, they contend that the Freedmen's allegations of racism are unfair.

"If you've been taught who you are, if you teach your children who they are, then you're going to have pride in who you are,” said Stroud. “If somebody else decides that's racist I think that's shortcoming on their part."

The congresswoman says even if you do take race out of the equation the Cherokee's still need to make amends. She says they signed that treaty back in 1866, they broke it and they need to make amends shortly.

Watson expects the funding bill to be voted on sometime this fall.

Watch the video: Cutting Off The Cherokee's Funding

Related Stories:

3/21/2006 Creek Nation Tribal Court Issues Ruling On Freedmen

4/27/2006 Cherokee Nation Freedmen Fighting To Remain Part Of The Tribe

8/10/2006 Creek Freedmen Fight To Become Full Members

10/10/2006 Cherokee Freedmen To Challenge Special Election

11/16/2006 Cherokee Nation Tribal Court Slates Trial On Blood Requirement Issue

12/20/06 Federal Court Sides With Freedmen

12/29/2006 Cherokee Chief Delays Special Election To March 3

12/31/2006 Cherokees Set Vote On Freedmen Issue

2/22/2007 Judge Keeps Special Election On Track

3/2/2007 Cherokee Nation Special Election

3/4/2007 Cherokee Freedmen Ready For Court Battle

3/6/2007 Freedmen Challenge Special Election

3/13/2007 Black Congressional Leaders Question Legality Of Cherokee Vote

3/24/2007 Cherokee Freedmen Descendants Schedule Protest

3/27/2007 Freedmen Fight For Membership Far From Over

3/31/2007 Freedmen Vote Still Being Studied

4/17/2007 Cherokees Approve Money To Defend Freedmen Vote

4/19/2007 Black Lawmaker Eyes Cutting Cherokee Funding Over Ex-Slave Vote

5/11/2007 Freedmen Appealing Cherokee Nation Vote

5/14/2007 Judge Orders Tribe To Temporarily Restore Citizenship Of Freedmen

6/11/2007 Judge Hears Argument To Stop Cherokee Election

6/13/2007 Judge Tosses Motion To Stop Cherokee Nation's General Election

6/17/2007 Legislation Would Cut Funding, Gaming Operations For Cherokees

6/21/2007 Congresswoman Seeks To Sever U.S. Relations With Cherokees

6/22/2007 The Cherokee Nation Heads To The Polls

7/26/2007 Bill To Sever U.S. Relations With The Cherokee Nation Moves Forward

8/20/2007 California Congresswoman In Oklahoma To Help Freedmen In Their Fight
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