Appeals Court: Freedmen can sue principal chief

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/21/2012 09:10 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A federal court on Dec. 14 ruled that descendants of slaves who were owned by Cherokee Nation citizens can sue the tribe’s current chief in an attempt to restore their tribal citizenship.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a lower court’s ruling that the case could not proceed because the tribe was not a defendant in the case and couldn’t be compelled to abide by the court’s ruling.

“Applying the precedents that permit suits against government officials in their official capacities, we conclude that this suit may proceed against the Principal Chief in his official capacity, without the Cherokee Nation itself as a party,” Judge Brett Michael Kavanaugh wrote in the unanimous ruling.

The court noted that an 1866 treaty granted the former slaves known as Cherokee Freedmen all tribal rights, including the right to vote. But in 2007, the tribe approved an amendment to its constitution requiring all tribal citizens to have a by-blood Native American ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll, thus rescinding the tribal citizenship of about 2,800 Freedman descendants.

The Freedmen claim the chief – and through him the sovereign tribe – broke federal law by not honoring the treaty. Chad Smith was serving as principal chief in 2007 when the constitution was amended.

Marilyn Vann, a Freedman and the plaintiff in the case, said she was pleased with the court’s ruling and looked forward to having the merits of the case determined in court.

“We look forward to continuing on until we have final vindication of the enforcement of our rights,” she said.

Vann said slaves owned by Cherokees played an integral role in the survival of the tribe along the Trail of Tears during the forced relocation of most of the tribe in the 1830s from their ancestral homelands in the southeast to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. And she likened the Freedmen’s plight today to the struggle for civil rights by blacks in the South during the 1950s.

CN Attorney General Todd Hembree said the tribe is pleased that the appellate court reaffirmed in its ruling that the Nation is a sovereign government.

“However, the Court of Appeals also ruled that the interests of the tribe can adequately be represented through its elected officers,” Hembree said. “Although our principal chief stands ready, willing and able to protect and defend the Cherokee Nation Constitution and the will of its people, we believe that the entity that should be tasked with that responsibility is the Nation itself.”

Removing the Freedmen from the tribe was not a racially motivated decision, but one of a tribe’s sovereign ability to determine who is a citizen, Hembree said.

“It’s not asking too much that in order to be a citizen of an Indian tribe, that you be Indian,” he said. “We believe that’s very important, and so did the Cherokee people, and we intend on representing their will in this case.”

Vann et al v. Salazar was dismissed in September 2011 by federal Judge Henry Kennedy in Washington, D.C. Ken Salazar is the current United States Secretary of the Interior.

The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal, which forced the CN to file a response. Oral arguments for an appeal of the dismissed Freedmen case were heard in October.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003. Vann and five other Freedmen contend the CN, with approval from then-Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, prevented them from voting in the 2003 CN elections.

The plaintiffs sought a court order declaring the elections invalid. They also wanted the DOI secretary to not recognize the results of the elections until Freedmen were permitted to vote.

News

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/20/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – On April 16, the National Park Service announced the awarding of eight Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act grants totaling $74,348, which will assist in the repatriation of individuals and sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony and funerary objects back to the tribes. “The work funded by these grants is a step toward addressing past violations of the treatment of human remains and sacred objects of native peoples, while restoring the ability of American Indian and Native Hawaiian peoples to be stewards of their own ancestral dead and cultural heritage.” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. Enacted in 1990, NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. Section 10 of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to award grants to assist in implementing provisions of the Act. The award recipients include the Native Village of Barrow in Arkansas, the Regents of the University of California, Smith River Rancheria in California, Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma and Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
04/17/2015 04:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to campaign disclosure reports released on April 15, Principal Chief Bill John Baker has raised more than $830,000, which is more money than all other candidates combined, including two Tribal Councilors who are no longer campaigning for seats. According to the Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission, the first campaign disclosure report was due April 15. A report consists of a beginning campaign fund balance and ending balance. Also included are contribution amounts, in-kind donations, loans, expenditures and advertising statements. Of those running for principal chief, Baker raised the most with $815,054.77 in monetary donations and $17,262.22 in in-kind donations for at total of $832,316.99. He loaned his campaign $4,220 bringing the balance to $836,536.99. After expenditures, his ending balance was $434,934.41. According to the disclosure reports, all other candidates combined raised $572,488.69. Included in that total is Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts, who campaigned for the principal chief seat but did not file to run, and Tribal Councilor Julia Coates, who the EC and CN Supreme Court ruled ineligible to run for the deputy chief seat because she didn’t meet residency requirements. Former Principal Chief Chad Smith received $92,850 in monetary donations and no in-kind donations. He loaned his campaign $10,072.97 bringing the balance to $103,780. After expenditures his ending balance was $50,120.64. Former CN Community Services Group Leader Charlie Soap raised $30,400 while loaning his campaign $7,565.46, bringing his balance to $37,965.46. After expenditures his ending balance was $24,943.56. State Rep. Will Fourkiller’s contributions totaled $10,800. He loaned his campaign $3,153.67 for a balance of $13,953.67. After expenditures his ending balance was $8,538.49. Cowan Watts raised $71,429 in direct contributions and $8,086.99 in in-kind donations for $79,515.99. She loaned her campaigned $50,013.87, which includes direct expenditures, according to the disclosure report. After expenditures her total came to $23,410.88. Also, according to her report, she returned several contributions. In the deputy chief race, incumbent S. Joe Crittenden raised $77,250 with $10,606.50 in in-kind donations. Crittenden loaned his campaign $2,255 making his total revenues $90,111.50. His ending balance for the campaign was $52,517.92 after expenditures. Tribal Councilor Lee Keener totaled $8,450 in direct contributions with $942.27 in in-kind donations for a total of $9,392.27. He loaned his campaign $1,272. After expenditures, his campaign fund was $6,519.97. Coates raised $10,200 with no loans to the campaign. Her ending campaign balance was $0 after expenditures. The Supreme Court on April 13 affirmed the EC’s ruling that stated Coates did not live within the tribe’s jurisdiction 270 days before the June 27 general election, which is required for a deputy chief candidate. To view any candidate’s disclosure report click the links below. <strong>Principal Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_allbjbakerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bill John Baker's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csmithfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Chad Smith's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_csoapfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Charlie Soap's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wfourkillerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Will Fourkiller's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_ccwattsfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Cara Cowan Watts' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Deputy Chief Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjcrittendenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> S. Joe Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lkeenerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Lee Keener's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_jcoatesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Julia Coates' campaign financial disclosure report. <strong>Tribal Council Candidates</strong> <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_banglenfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Buel Anglen's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bberryfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brian Berry's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bgirtyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Brandon Girty's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bkmccoyfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> B. Keith McCoy's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bmckeefinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Benjamin McKee's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bswimmerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Betsy Swimmer's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_bwarnerfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Bryan Warner's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_cbunchfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Corey Bunch's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dlayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dick Lay's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dmatlockfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Darell Matlock Jr's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dpatzkowskifinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Dora Patzkowski's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dreedfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Deb Reed's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_dwalkingstickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> David Walkingstick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kaustinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Keith Austin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_khollowayfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kenneth Holloway's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_kpkilpatrickfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Kathy Kilpatrick's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lbolinfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Linda Bolin's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_lpritchettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Larry Pritchett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_nfullbrightfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Natalie Fullbright's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_pfoxfincancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Pamela Fox's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rgofffinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ron Goff's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rjordanfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Rex Jordan's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_rsierrafinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Ryan Sierra's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_scrittendenfinacial_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shawn Crittenden's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_sjettfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Shane Jett's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tbrownfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Trey Brown's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_tjonesfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Thomas Jones' campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_wbpearsonfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> William Pearson's campaign financial disclosure report. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/4/9179_whatfieldfinancials_april.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a> Wanda Hatfield's campaign financial disclosure report.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 02:00 PM
ROLAND, Okla. – After working at the Cherokee Casino Roland for 25 years, Arvil Norman Wolfe has decided to retire. Hoping for some extra money during the Christmas season, Wolfe went looking for a part-time job in 1990, the same time Cherokee Nation opened the doors to its first casino, Cherokee Bingo Outpost in Roland. “Cherokee Nation put an ad in the Southwest Times Record looking for part-time employees,” Wolfe said. “I applied and was hired immediately.” Wolfe was born in Lees Chapel, a small town on the outskirts of Muldrow. He graduated from Muldrow High School in 1956 and currently resides in Dora, Arkansas, with his wife, Alta. He enjoys his family and fishing for large-mouth crappie and catfish. He decided to retire in April because he celebrates 57 years with his wife. They also share the same wedding anniversary of her parents and her sister. “There has been enormous growth since I’ve been with the company. It’s unbelievable, really,” he said. “At this point in history, the Cherokees are really on the move.” Over the years, he has seen the company transform into an economic engine for the area, hiring thousands of people since he was first hired. Wolfe was an employee in 1997 when $1.2 million was spent for additions and an improved ventilation system. He was also there in 2002 for a remodel and in April 2014 when the tribe broke ground on a new, $80 million casino and hotel. “I would like to thank Arvil for his many years of service to our Roland casino and the Cherokee Nation,” said Shawn Slaton, interim CNB CEO. “Arvil is a stellar employee and a great example to all of us. We will certainly miss him. We wish him the best in his retirement and hope he enjoys it fishing.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/17/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission discussed the transportation of ballot boxes on April 14 at the Election Services Office. The EC discussed how it would administer money for gas to individuals who are hired to deliver ballot boxes to each precinct in the jurisdiction. However, the commission wanted more information on credit cards so it tabled discussion until more information was received. The commission voted to approve the precinct official manual with minor cosmetic changes. The manual will dictate the processes used by precinct officials to during the 2015 election. Other action discussed including the approval of past meeting minutes as well as entering into executive session where no action was taken.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/17/2015 10:00 AM
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby (ANNA'-tubby) will be the commencement speaker at the University of Central Oklahoma's spring 2015 ceremony for the College of Education and Professional Studies. The ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 8 in UCA's Hamilton Field House in Edmond. Anoatubby has served as Chickasaw Nation governor since 1987 and is now in his seventh term in that post.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
04/16/2015 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The National Park Service has announced a $4.103 grant to the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. The grant announced Wednesday is one of eight awarded nationwide under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The act requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections, and to consult with culturally affiliated Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations regarding repatriation. The grants are to assist in the repatriation of individuals and sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony and funerary objects back to the tribes and others.