Claremore Daily Progress

August 26, 2011

Freedmen should be Cherokee citizens

Letter to the editor
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE — Dear Editor,

To the Cherokee Nations citizens, government officials and chief. I am a Cherokee Freedman. I live in Claremore, Oklahoma. I have been hearing all the decisions about the Freedman citizenship.

The 1866 treaty affirms Cherokee Freedmen citizenship not by blood, but by treaty. Every since I can remember, the chiefs and government officials have been trying to deny our citizenship.

Why are they fighting so hard to keep Freedmen out? Is it money, greed or prejudice?

My grandfather and his brother received a few acres of land when they were freed from slavery. Was this  payment for being enslaved? This is very sad, a few acres of land for years of slavery. The Chief Chad Smith states, “The Cherokees are not prejudice, but if you treat Freedmen different than you do those with a degree of Indian blood and you are all citizens of the same tribe, what do you call that?”

For your information, you can amend a constitution but you cannot change a treaty. My question is why are you fighting this so hard?

in 2006 your high supreme court ruled the Freedmen were citizens. Carl Artman of BIA also ruled that we are citizens. Judge Cripps just ruled in January 2011 we are citizens.

If the Cherokee officials do not take the ruling of their judges and high court, what kind of government is this? The U.S. government contributes over $3 million a year to the Cherokee Nation. They accept this money and then discriminate against the Freedmen.

Diane Watson (D-Calf.) stood up for the Freedmen rights. Ms. Watson introduced a bill to cut federal funding to the tribe. Mr. Smith spoke up and said this would cause a great hardship for Cherokee citizens. What about the hardship they are creating for us Freedmen. I have two grandchildren in college and they cannot receive grant money to help them because of this prejudice situation.

The Cherokee Nation continues to accept U. S. money, so my questions is what are the Cherokee officials waiting on now? Trying to pick a court that will rule in  their favor? How long will it take Cherokee high court to rend the right decision?

These officials and the chief need to search their hearts to see if this (what they are doing to us Freedmen) is right. In 2003 they held a vote to keep the Freedmen from voting.

They were instructed to reinstate us now. They have appealed the ruling of Judge Cripps on our citizenship.

Mr. Smith stated “We take our courts’ orders very seriously.”

But by the same token, every time the courts makes a ruling in our favor, they appeal it.

As Carl Artman wrote BIA the tribe can change a constitution but not Freedmen Treaty.

He also wrote the Freedmen always have been part of the Cherokee Nation and they still are. I ask, can someone clear this up for me?

In 2006 the Cherokee Nation High Courts ruled the Freedmen were citizens of the tribe. So how can this new court rule may different? Mr. Smith state that they respect their courts, do they?

Let me make myself clear about the Cherokees being prejudice:  I am not saying they all are because

I have some good friends who are Cherokee. I was raised up with them and we lived in the same neighborhood and played baseball, fished and hunted together. They did not know what prejudice was and we still are good friends.

Gerome Riley

Claremore