http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Freedmen descendant Anthony King, center, asks a question while Freedmen descendants Raymond Foreman, left, and William Lawrie listen during a July 14, 2012, meeting in Muskogee, Oklahoma. A federal court on Aug. 30 issued an opinion stating that the Cherokee Nation can define itself as it sees fit but most do so equally with respect to native Cherokees and Freedmen descendants. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Freedmen descendant Anthony King, center, asks a question while Freedmen descendants Raymond Foreman, left, and William Lawrie listen during a July 14, 2012, meeting in Muskogee, Oklahoma. A federal court on Aug. 30 issued an opinion stating that the Cherokee Nation can define itself as it sees fit but most do so equally with respect to native Cherokees and Freedmen descendants. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Federal court rules in Cherokee Freedmen case

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
08/30/2017 08:30 PM
WASHINGTON – In a case that has been pending for more than three years, a federal judge ruled on Aug. 30 that “the Cherokee Nation can continue to define itself as it sees fit but must do so equally and evenhandedly with respect to native Cherokees and the descendants of Cherokee Freedmen.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan denied the CN and Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s motion for partial summary judgment and granted the Cherokee Freedmen cross-motion for partial summary judgment and the Department of Interior’s motion for summary judgment in Cherokee Nation v. Nash, Vann and the Department of Interior.

Hogan’s ruling states “the paramount question” in the case is whether Article 9 of the 1866 Treaty between the U.S. and the CN allowed qualifying Freedmen “all the rights of native Cherokees” and encompasses a right to CN citizenship.

“If so, then the secondary question is whether Article 9 extends that citizenship right to extant descendants of qualifying freedmen identified in the Final Roll of Cherokee Freedmen compiled by the Dawes Commission. Answers to these questions will foretell whether the 2007 amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution violated Article 9 of the 1866 Treaty and therefore is unlawful,” states the ruling.

CN v. Nash was last argued in 2014, when the CN contended that Article 9 never offered qualifying Freedmen and their descendants “an enduring right to citizenship, or any right to citizenship.” According to the CN, it was the Nation’s Constitution, not the 1866 Treaty, that bestowed citizenship rights to Freedmen.

Hogan’s ruling, however, states the CN is “mistaken” to treat the freedmen’s right to citizenship as being tethered to the Cherokee Nation Constitution when, in fact, that right is tethered to the rights of native Cherokees.

“Furthermore, the freedmen’s right to citizenship does not exist solely under the Cherokee Nation Constitution and therefore cannot be extinguished solely by amending that Constitution,” the ruling states. “The Cherokee Nation’s sovereign right to determine its membership is no less now, as a result of this (Aug. 30) decision, than it was after the Nation executed the 1866 Treaty. The Cherokee Nation concedes that its power to determine tribal membership can be limited by treaty. In accordance with Article 9 of the 1866 Treaty, the Cherokee Freedmen have a present right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation that is coextensive with the rights of Native Cherokees.”

Marilyn Vann, the Descendants of Freedmen Association president and intervener defendant in the CN v. Nash, said she’s “very happy” and “very excited” and hopes Cherokee Freedmen “can continue to take their place within the tribe and give service to the tribe.”

“I think some people have been prejudiced against Freedmen, some because of our appearance, not to say all Freedmen look like me, but Freedmen have much to offer,” she said. “There are Freedmen who are electricians, doctors, lawyers, engineers. We are here to serve not to take.”

She added that during the years in which Freedmen citizenship cases were litigated, people who spread “false” information that the Freedmen possess no Indian blood hurt the CN.

“Instead of us being able to work to build up our tribe, we have had to fight for our very survival,” Vann said.

As of publication, CN Attorney General Todd Hembree had not responded to requests for a comment about the ruling. However, previously he had said for the Cherokee people the issue has never been about race. “As a sovereign nation, it’s always been about Cherokees determining who our citizens ought to be.”

In November 2013, the CN filed a partial motion for summary judgment and stated it has the right to determine its citizenship.

In January 2014, the Interior Department filed a 72-page motion for summary judgment in CN v. Nash with hopes of ending 11 years of litigation. In it the DOI asked the U.S. District Court to declare that the 1866 Treaty between the CN and the U.S. guaranteed certain Cherokee Freedmen and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees,” including the right to CN citizenship and that the treaty provision “continues to guarantee descendants of eligible Freedmen with citizenship and all other rights of native Cherokees.”

“Thus, an important provision of this treaty was an agreement that the Cherokee Nation would grant certain of its former slaves and free blacks living in Cherokee territory, and their descendants, ‘all the rights of native Cherokees,’” states the DOI motion. “Consistent with the expansive language of the treaty itself, the historical record clearly demonstrates that the negotiators of the treaty, subsequent Cherokee leadership, and federal officials all understood that the treaty granted these Freedmen and their descendants full citizenship rights in the tribe, including voting rights, civil rights, access to courts, and other benefits.”

Cherokee Freedmen are descendants of former Cherokee-owned slaves. Freedmen plaintiffs believe the Treaty of 1866 guarantees them tribal citizenship rights. In 2007, CN voters amended the CN Constitution to limit citizenship to people who were Indian “by blood,” which removed eligibility for citizenship from Freedmen and intermarried whites.

Click here to readthe court documents.
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 ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/07/2017 04:15 PM
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Native Americans visit the area to perform ceremonies, collect herbs and wood for medicinal and spiritual purposes, and do healing rituals. A lawsuit from the coalition of the Hopi, Ute Indian, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni tribes and Navajo Nation was filed late Monday night. Earlier Monday, Earthjustice filed the first of several expected lawsuits, calling the reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante an abuse of the president's power that jeopardizes a "Dinosaur Shangri-la" full of fossils. Some of the dinosaur fossils sit on a plateau that is home to one of the country's largest known coal reserves, which could now be open to mining. The organization is representing eight conservation groups. Trump, in a speech at Utah's Capitol with the governor and other politicians, said the state's lands should not be managed by "very distant bureaucrats located in Washington." "Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away," Trump said. "I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens." The decision marks the first time in a half century that a president has undone these types of land protections. Trump's move followed months of lobbying by Utah's mostly Republican officials who said the two monuments closed off the area to energy development and other access. Environmental and tribal groups say the designations are needed to protect important archaeological and cultural resources, especially the more than 1.3 million-acre (2,030-square-mile) Bears Ears site featuring thousands of Native American artifacts. Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said only Congress, not the president, has the power to reduce a national monument, something that the tribal coalition argued in its lawsuit. Additional legal challenges were expected from environmental groups and outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Outside Trump's announcement Monday, roughly 3,000 protesters lined up near the State Capitol. Some held signs that said, "Keep your tiny hands off our public lands," and they chanted, "Lock him up!" A smaller group gathered in support, including some who said they favor potential drilling or mining there that could create jobs. Bears Ears has no oil or gas, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters, though Grand Staircase-Escalante has coal. Bears Ears, created nearly a year ago, will be reduced to 201,876 acres (315 square miles). Grand Staircase-Escalante will be reduced from nearly 1.9 million acres (nearly 3,000 square miles) to 1 million acres (1,569 square miles). Both were among a group of 27 monuments that Trump ordered Zinke to review this year. Democrats and environmentalists accuse Trump and Zinke of engaging in a secretive process aimed at helping industry groups that have donated to Republican political campaigns. Zinke accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One, as did Utah's Republican U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Hatch and other Utah Republican leaders pushed Trump to launch the review, saying the monuments designated by the former Democratic presidents locked up too much federal land. Trump framed the decision as returning power to the state, saying, "You know and love this land the best and you know the best how to take care of your land." He said the decision would "give back your voice." "Public lands will once again be for public use," Trump said to cheers. Hatch, who introduced Trump, said that when "you talk, this president listens" and that Trump promised to help him with "federal overreach." No president has tried to eliminate a monument, but some have reduced or redrawn the boundaries on 18 occasions, according to the National Park Service. The most recent instance came in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy slightly downsized Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Trump signed an executive order in April directing Zinke to review the protections, which Trump is able to upend under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law gives presidents broad authority to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use. Zinke has also recommended to Trump that Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou monuments be reduced in size, though details remain unclear. The former Montana congressman's plan would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said the outdoor-apparel company will join an expected court fight against the monument reduction, which she described as the "largest elimination of protected land in American history."
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/07/2017 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation is accepting grant applications for projects in Cherokee County communities with a population less than 6,000. Designed to improve the quality of life for rural Oklahomans, the program will award grants to qualified nonprofit organizations or entities of state and local government for projects that will positively impact the community in the areas of arts, culture and history; health; and libraries and literacy. The deadline for grant applications is Jan. 15. The Community Grant program supports projects that provide opportunities for rural Oklahomans to improve themselves and their communities. Earlier this year, $168,140 was awarded for 16 community projects through the grant program. Grants are available for projects serving communities with a population less than 6,000 in Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman and Washita counties. Grants of up to $10,000 will be considered for projects serving one eligible community and/or county and up to $15,000 for projects serving multiple eligible communities and/or counties. The one-year grant may be used to create a program or significantly expand an existing program and should benefit a broad range of individuals in the community. For complete grant guidelines and application information, visit <a href="http://www.ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants" target="_blank">ruraloklahoma.org/community-grants</a>. Call Erika Warren with questions at 405-606-2920 or email <a href="mailto: e.warren@occf.org">e.warren@occf.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/06/2017 08:15 AM
TULSA, Okla. – In accordance with Native American Heritage Month, the Tribal Film Festival and Circle Cinema on Nov. 29 presented the Tribal Film Festival Showcase, which honored Cherokee actor Wes Studi with a Career Achievement Award. People also had the opportunity to preview Studi’s new movie “Hostiles.” “I saw his performance in ‘Hostiles,’ and then I checked his IMDB credits, and he has over 92 credits and for an actor that’s incredible, let alone a Native actor. So I’m just blown away from what he has done, and I think he deserves this recognition,” Celia Xavier, TFF founder and executive director, said. Studi said he was honored to accept the award. “It’s an honor to be recognized for having achieved a career in this business. It’s not an easy thing.” Chuck Foxen, Circle Cinema film programmer, said the event started out small but grew as Xavier secured the screening of “Hostiles” as well as having Studi present for the film, which was followed with a Q & A with Studi, Chris Eyre (director and co-producer of ‘Smoke Signals’) and Dr. Joely Proudfit. “We were just going to pick a couple films out of her festival and then she was like, ‘let’s wait. I got a bigger film, the ‘Hostiles,’ that we might be able to do.’ And that’s a big film that’s going to release in December,” Foxen said. “Then it evolved into Wes is going to be here, then Chris Eyre and all these other guests were going to come.” The film was originally set to have one showing, but after a high demand two extra screenings were added. Set in 1892, “Hostiles” follows Capt. Joseph Blocker’s (Christian Bale) journey of transporting Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk (Studi), who’s dying of cancer, and his family (Adam Beach, Q’orianka Kilcher) through dangerous territory back to their ancestral lands in Montana after being imprisoned for the past seven years. Along the travel north, the group finds Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) alongside her children and husband who were murdered by a Comanche war party, ultimately adding another layer to the story with ambushes and murder being a consistent theme as well as a sense of forgiveness and overcoming hatred for one another. After initially watching “Hostiles,” Studi said the “thought-provoking” film “blew” him away. “I first watched it, and I was simply almost dumbfounded. I was quiet for a good long while afterwards. I really had to absorb what I had just seen,” he said. “It’s a very effective film in its own way. It left me incapable of conversation immediately thereafter. You know, some films you can walk out of and say, ‘oh, I like this. I like that’ or ‘I didn’t like this or like that,’ but this one it’s thought-provoking. It absolutely is that, and it’s done in an entertaining way.” Xavier said with the festival’s creation and being the owner of TribalTV, which streams Indigenous films on Amazon Prime and Roku, she provides a platform for Indigenous people to tell their stories. She added that funding is the top issue when telling these stories. “One message…that’s very important is that we have a lot of projects that need to be made and a lot of stories that need to be told,” she said. “Funding is the number one issue that’s holding a lot of these stories back.” Aside from showing major production films such as “Hostiles,” Foxen said Circle Cinema also provides a platform where Native Americans, and other nationalities, can tell their stories. “It’s important for us to show films that are like Native American films, but more importantly ones made by Native Americans and telling like real Native American stories versus stereotyping Natives and putting them in roles that they’ve been in the past,” Foxen said. Circle Cinema hosts a quarterly series called Native Spotlight, which provides a storytelling platform. For more information on Circle Cinema, visit circlecinema.com. For more information on TFF, visit <a href="http://www.tribalfilmfestival.org" target="_blank">tribalfilmfestival.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/05/2017 05:00 PM
MESA, Ariz. – The United National Indian Tribal Youth is accepting nominations for its 2018 UNITY 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards. The program is designed to celebrate the achievements of Native American and Alaskan Native youth ages 14-24 who embody UNITY’s core mission and exude living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being. Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony during the National UNITY Conference July 5-9 in San Diego at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. In addition to being recognized and receiving a custom-beaded medallion, each awardee will receive training by UNITY during a nine-month period that is designed to build on his/her individual achievements and promote community service. The 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards has been made possible in past years thanks to a matching grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The awards program began in 2014 and is awarded every other year. The 2018 class will be UNITY’s third class of honorees.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
12/03/2017 02:00 PM
AMHERST, S.D. (AP) — A federal agency says a leak in TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone oil pipeline in South Dakota likely was caused by damage during construction in 2008. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a corrective action report Tuesday on the estimated 210,000-gallon oil spill. The report says a weight installed on the pipeline nearly a decade ago may have damaged the pipeline and coating. According to the report, weights are placed on the pipeline in areas "where water could potentially result in buoyancy concerns." TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said the company has been working cooperatively with the federal agency and has begun "a safe, controlled and gradual startup" of the pipeline. Cooper says that process will continue over the next couple of days. South Dakota officials don't believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. The company disclosed the buried pipeline leak on agricultural land in Marshall County on Nov. 16.