CofCC.org News Team
The entitlement war gets bizarre.
A coalition of blacks, non-voting delegates, and some of the more screwball white Democrats, are sponsoring a bill to shake down the Cherokee Nation.
The bill would require the Cherokee Nation to accept blacks who allege their ancestors were once owned by Cherokee slaveholders. Calling themselves “The Cherokee Freedment”, blacks demanding membership in the tribe would also be entitled to governmnent benefits and casino profits. The Cherokee Nation voted last year not to accept blacks as tribe members.
The bill in congress would suspend entitlements to the Cherokee Nation and freeze casino operations until the so called “Cherokee Freedmen” get a piece of the action for themselves. The bill also contains vague language allowing the “Cherokee Freedmen” to sue for alleged damages, meaning that these opportunists are seeking a very large piece of the pie indeed.
The Treaty of 1866 came about during Reconstruction. The Federal government declared that the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Creek tribes had violated their treaties because of alliances with the Confederate Government. The government nullified all treaties with these tribes. Since the Cherokee owned significant numbers of Negro slaves, when the Federal government wrote the new treaty it declared the Negroes free and citizens in the Cherokee Nation. The negroes were listed as Cherokee citizens on all Indian censuses.
In 2007, the Cherokee Nation voted by a 77% majority in favor of a referendum that denied freed slaves were ever Cherokee citizens, and any blacks who had falsely claimed Cherokee membership were expelled. The heart of the controversy is money and jealousy. Blacks had been joining because of lucrative Federal entitlements and casino profits.
- (The pending bill) severs the United States relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma until the Cherokee Nation meets all of its treaty obligations and other federal statutory obligations, including all obligations with the Treaty of 1866 and has restored the rights of Cherokee Freedmen disenfranchised from the Cherokee Nation in the March 3, 2007 Cherokee Nation vote to remove them from the Cherokee Nation.
- Requiresreports on the Cherokee Nation’s expenditure of federal funds.
- Suspends the Cherokee Nation’s authority to conduct gaming operations until it is in compliance with all treaty and other obligations with the United States.
- Grants any Cherokee Freedman a private right to bring actions for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or monetary damages against the Cherokee Nation, officials of the Cherokee Nation, or federal officials.
- Directs the Attorney General to issue a finding on whether the federal civil rights of the Cherokee Freedmen have been violated by the Cherokee Nation and/or the Department of the Interior.
The primary sponsors of the bill are 16 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands also sponsored the bill, as did the non-voting delegate from American Samoa. Six white Democrats who serve in districts that are heavily black are co-sponsors, but two white Democrats, Gary Ackerman and Dennis Kucinich, serve in districts that are only about 5% black.