Tribal rights controversy in Oklahoma

By: Paige Tebow Email
By: Paige Tebow Email

A struggle over tribal rights escalated at the Oklahoma State Capitol today, stemming from a decision to take decedents of Native American slaves off tribal roles.

Earlier this month, members of the Cherokee Nation voted to remove decedents of slaves known as Freedmen from tribal rolls.

Today, the Black Caucus called for the tribe to reverse its decision.

A treaty signed in 1866 admitted formal slaves as tribal members, and it's been that way ever since. A majority of Cherokees don't believe their entitled to the same benefits, and the election reflected that.

This morning, members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives honored leaders of the Cherokee Nation for their tribe's contributions to the state. Members of the Black Caucus expressed their objections by walking out.

Former Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor David Brown has been keeping an eye on the Freedmen controversy. Although he's a full-blood Chickasaw, he says slavery was a large part of the Five Civilized Tribes’ history, and it’s time every Indian nation stops ignoring the problem.

"If other tribes addressed issue of Freedmen, let's address this, get it past us, do what we have to."

Brown is looking to organize a meeting in Tishomingo so members of every tribe can join together and share their beliefs or concerns about the Freedmen issue.

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