The Fight to Be Called Cherokee

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Americans were not the only ones who kept black slaves in the pre-Civil War era. Until an 1886 treaty that freed their slaves, black slavery was also a part of the Cherokee nation. Generations later, black descendants of those freed slaves, who went on to become part of the Cherokee tribe, are fighting for their right to keep their status as members of the Cherokee nation. Many Cherokee now want to push the freedmen out, unless they can prove they are of blood descent, saying that the treaty of 1866 did not give those freed slaves citizenship.

Marilynn Vann, is the president of the Descendant of Freedmen Association, and one of the Cherokee freedmen who brought a lawsuit against the nation. Circe Sturm, co-director of the University of Texas' Native American and indigenous studies program, is the author of "Becoming Indian: The Struggle Over Cherokee Identity in the 21st Century."

Comments [7]

There were terrible atrocities in the history of this country. Slavery and attempted genocide are just some of them. As we know there were some native peoples that owned slaves, as there were also some African Americans who also owned slaves. Citizenship is something that has to be done legally though. For this country you can become a citizen by simply being born here, or earning it and passing the exam. Unfortunately the only way someone can be considered a Native American is to prove their native blood. The US government also has guidelines on how much native blood you have to have to count. This is the case for people who have native blood. Even those with small amounts of native blood are not legally acknowledged as native if they do not have enough. While it is unfortunate that some did have slaves, they can not legally make the descendants of former slaves citizens of the tribe. Truthfully there needs to be less fighting over who is the greater victim and realize that both groups are victims. The only difference now is that as a minority group native peoples are the least represented and still the most discriminated against group in this country. It is still commonly acceptable to most races to use racial slurs and remarks against the native peoples. So why are people who are better represented getting in line to take more from a people who have had everything taken from them, and are still being persecuted nationwide. They are not trying to find all the African Americans who owned slaves.
Even though they owned slaves those African Americans were kinder to their slaves and were being persecuted as well. The same is true of the Native Americans. But if all the minority groups fight each other the focus is in the wrong direction.

Oct. 22 2011 09:49 PM
jon from Boson

Americas past was a cold and hate filled place for anyone who was not of European decent. We have made many changes over the years, but today in America Native people are still not respected. Blood is blood you are either Cherokee or you are not. Freedman do not have a place in the Cherokee Nation.Minority people should not fight eachother but rather work together to take back our dignity.

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