Cherokee Nation Tribal Court Slates Trial On Blood Requirement Issue

Thursday, November 16th 2006, 10:10 am
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) -- A trial is to start next week in the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to determine whether tribal voters will decide on a proposed Cherokee blood requirement for citizenship.

Principal Chief Chad Smith is calling for a special election in February after the Cherokee Nation Election Commission verified more than two-thousand signatures on a petition calling for the vote.

Opponents want the petition declared invalid and the special election canceled.

At issue is tribal membership for more than 900 descendants of the so-called freedmen. Freedmen were freed slaves who joined the Cherokees in the 1800s and the Cherokee Nation high court has ruled the descendants are eligible for tribal membership.

As tribal members the descendants are eligible for benefits including health care, education and housing.