http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Freedmen descendants protested in front of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Muskogee, Okla., on Sept. 2. They were protesting an Aug. 22 Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruling that voided their CN citizenship. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Freedmen descendants protested in front of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office in Muskogee, Okla., on Sept. 2. They were protesting an Aug. 22 Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruling that voided their CN citizenship. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

UPDATE: Freedmen descendants have citizenship restored and may vote Sept. 24

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
09/21/2011 01:04 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Freedmen who lost their CN citizenship last month are again recognized as citizens and will be able to vote in the special principal chief election Sept. 24 following an agreement yesterday between the Cherokee Nation and attorneys for Cherokee Freedmen descendants in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Attorneys for the Freedmen filed an injunction on Sept. 2 in the U.S. District Court to regain Cherokee Freedmen rights, including voting rights. Following yesterday’s agreement, the court ordered today that the 1,200 Freedmen registered to vote be allowed to vote in the Sept. 24 election “in the same manner as all other Cherokee citizens, without intimidation or harassment, and to have their votes counted on the same basis as all other Cherokee citizens.”

The court also ordered all registered Cherokee Freedmen voters be notified by a letter sent via overnight mail no later than Sept. 21, 2011 that they are once again CN citizens, will be entitled to vote this weekend and on a walk-in basis at the Election Commission office in Tahlequah on at least two additional designated dates between Sept. 24 and Oct. 8 or by absentee ballot.

It is unclear at this point whether other registered Cherokee voters would also be allowed to vote during the two additional walk-in voting dates. The CN Election Commission is meeting this afternoon and would discuss the court’s order, said CNEC Chairman Susan Plumb.

Freedmen voters who requested an absentee ballot prior to Aug. 12 were also to receive by overnight courier, no later than Sept. 21, a non-provisional absentee ballot and notification that this ballot will be accepted and counted if received by Oct. 8, the order stated.

Furthermore, the court ordered the CN to “secure, safeguard and refrain” from counting all ballots cast in the Sept. 24 special election until after Oct. 8.

Yesterday’s agreement and today’s order benefits the approximately 2,800 Freedmen that lost their CN citizenship last month. President of the Descendants of Freedmen Association Marilyn Vann, one of the plaintiffs in the injunction, said the Freedmen did not receive all of the remedies they had asked for, but she is pleased with the results.

“The settlement was not perfect. Everything we requested in the preliminary injunction was not addressed in the proposed agreement, but we are pleased that the dis-enrolled Freedmen will be restored to citizenship status with full citizenship rights including the right to vote for principal chief,” she said.

On Aug. 22, 2011, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled in Nash v. CN Registrar that a March 2007 constitutional amendment that was approved by Cherokee voters and prevented Freedmen descendants without Indian blood from being CN citizens was valid and that the CN may deny Freedmen citizenship rights.

The Sept. 2 petition for the injunction stated certain Cherokee Freedmen, until recently, had been permitted to exercise their Cherokee citizenship rights and until March 2007 the CN Constitution, in accordance with the Treaty of 1866, granted full Cherokee citizenship rights to the Freedmen.

Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden, who attended yesterday’s hearing in Washington, D.C., said he has been concerned about federal funding been withheld from the CN, and he hoped the agreement would allow the recently withheld $33 million in Housing and Urban Development funds to be released.

“We have an agreement in principle that allows our election go forward on Saturday and extends the time for walk-in voting to Oct. 8 to allow Freedmen to fully participate. The main thing is to have an election that doesn’t violate tribal or federal law,” Crittenden said. “This order should re-establish the status quo as it existed during the June and July elections. We intend to continue working toward a final resolution to this issue.”

He added he has asked CN Attorney General Diane Hammons to submit the order to the CN Supreme Court so that it may be recognized under tribal law.

will-chavez@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

News

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
10/16/2017 12:00 PM
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
10/14/2017 04:00 PM
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/14/2017 12:00 PM
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BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/13/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Oct. 10, Election Commissioner Teresa Hart was presented a letter commending her for her years of service to the Cherokee Nation and citing that her service with the commission “has come to a close.” In the letter, Principal Chief Bill John Baker thanked Hart for her service with the commission. “On behalf of the Cherokee Nation I want to thank you for your service as a Commissioner of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” the letter states. “During your years of service on the Election Commission, there has been much progress pertaining to the Cherokee Nation Election process. This progress could not have happened without the guidance of the Commissioners, and for that you should be commended.” Hart said she appreciated the opportunity to serve on the EC. “My life has truly been blessed. I have met so many wonderful people and made several lasting friendships,” she said. “The past year has not been as enjoyable to me, and I’m grateful to be moving on. Thank you Chief Baker for giving me this opportunity.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. shared his admiration for the work Hart has done at the EC. “We appreciate Teresa’s service to the Cherokee people. Those who serve on Cherokee Nation boards and commissions sacrifice so much of their time and share their talents in the name of good government. Teresa certainly did so and she is rightfully proud of her tenure on the CNEC.” According to a 2013 Cherokee Phoenix story, Hart was appointed by Baker to take the seat of former Commissioner Lindsay Earls. Hart served in her first EC meeting in September 2013. Hart’s letter of dismissal was accompanied with a letter of appointment for Randy Campbell. According to the letter, Baker informed Tribal Councilors that he would be appointing Campbell to fill the vacancy with a four-year term beginning on Oct. 1 and concluding on Oct. 1, 2021. “I’m pleased to appoint Randy Campbell to the Cherokee Nation Election Commission,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Randy has tremendous experience in organizational management which will be beneficial to the election commission.” Newly appointed commissioner Campbell spent 35 years with the Teamsters Local Union 523 where he served as president and business manager before retiring in 2007. He also served on the executive board of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). “Its an honor that my chief and the rest of the board would ask me to be involved and take this position on. I hope I can fulfill their expectations and plan to do a great job.” Campbell said.