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(Reuters) - The nation's second-largest Indian tribe said on

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Trinityz1   Monday, 09/19/11 05:04:16 AM
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(Reuters) - The nation's second-largest Indian tribe said on

> Tuesday that it would not be dictated to by the U.S. government
> over its move to banish 2,800 African Americans from its
> citizenship rolls.
> "The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA," Joe
> Crittenden, the tribe's acting principal chief, said in a
> statement responding to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
> Crittenden, who leads the tribe until a new principal chief is
> elected, went on to complain about unnamed congressmen meddling
> in the tribe's self-governance.
> The reaction follows a letter the tribe received on Monday from
> BIA Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, who warned that the
> results of the September 24 Cherokee election for principal
> chief will not be recognized by the U.S. government if the
> ousted members, known to some as "Cherokee Freedmen," are not
> allowed to vote.
> The dispute stems from the fact that some wealthy Cherokee owned
> black slaves who worked on their plantations in the South. By
> the 1830s, most of the tribe was forced to relocate to present-
> day Oklahoma, and many took their slaves with them. The so-
> called Freedmen are descendants of those slaves.
> After the Civil War, in which the Cherokee fought for the South,
> a treaty was signed in 1866 guaranteeing tribal citizenship for
> the freed slaves.
> The U.S. government said that the 1866 treaty between the
> Cherokee tribe and the U.S. government guaranteed that the
> slaves were tribal citizens, whether or not they had a Cherokee
> blood relation.
> The African Americans lost their citizenship last month when the
> Cherokee Supreme Court voted to support the right of tribal
> members to change the tribe's constitution on citizenship
> matters.
> The change meant that Cherokee Freedmen who could not prove they
> have a Cherokee blood relation were no longer citizens, making
> them ineligible to vote in tribal elections or receive benefits.
> Besides pressure from the BIA to accept the 1866 Treaty as the
> law of the land, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
> Development is withholding a $33 million disbursement to the
> tribe over the Freedmen controversy.
> Attorneys in a federal lawsuit in Washington are asking a judge
> to restore voting rights for the ousted Cherokee Freedmen in
> time for the September 24 tribal election for Principal Chief.


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