Cherokee Freedmen To Challenge Special Election

Tuesday, October 10th 2006, 6:12 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Descendants of black slaves who have lived with the Cherokee Indian tribe for more than a century say they're outraged at an attempt to exclude all non-Indians from the tribe.

Members of the tribe will vote February 10th on a measure that would make Indian ancestry a requirement for tribal membership.

Marilyn Vann is the president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes. She says her grandparents and great-grandparents were original Dawes Tribal enrollees.

A registered Cherokee citizen, Vann says her rights as a Cherokee citizen are trying to be stripped by her fellow Cherokees.

Attorney Jon Velie who represents Vann and the Descendants group says the attempts to remove freedmen from the tribal citizenship is "racist."

Cherokee Chief Chad Smith says an overwhelming number of Cherokee citizens are demanding a vote on the issue and that it's his duty to move the petition forward.