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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen Enrollments

First, the Chickasaw Freedmen were never made citizens of the Chickasaw Nation. Their inclusion on the Chickasaw Dawes Roll is ot evidence of citizenship. While the Chickasaw Nation did eventually pass a bill to adopt their Freedmen, the U.S. Congress took no action to approve the act and it therefore was not enforceable. Shortly thereafter, the Chickasaw Nation rescinded the bill and the Chickasaw Freedmen found themselves a people without a country. They received allottments out of the public domain of the Chickasaw Nation territory, but the value of those allottment were eventually repaid to the Chickasaw Nation.

Second, the Choctaw Freedmen were adopted into the Choctaw Nation as citizens. They recieved, in accordance with Choctaw law, the average value of 40 acres from the Choctaw Nation territory. The Choctaw Freedmen continued as citizens of the Choctaw Nation up to the reorganization of the Choctaw Nation under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. I do not know if the Choctaw Freedmen were permitted to vote on that reorganization. I suspect not. Regardless, Congress had provided to the Indian tribes a "new day" by which they could reorganize their tribal governments in any way they saw fit. They could have put a blood quantum requirement on membership, but chose not to. What the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Creek Nation did do was to create a tribal government whose citizenship is based upon having some degree of Indian blood. The Chickasaw constitution requires that the ancestor be listed by blood on the Dawes Roll. The Creeks only require that the ancestor be listed on Dawes and then separately prove blood, leaving the method of proof up to the council. I'm not familiar enough with the Choctaw constitution to say which way it goes.

The Cherokee and Seminole tribes are not reorganized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act and therefore, their citizenships are frozen by the 1906 Five Civilized Tribes Act. They cannot, without an act of Congress or reorganization under OIWA, change their citizenship requirements. Seminole I & II, both federal lawsuits centered around the Seminole Nation's attempt to amend its constitution to exclude the Freedmen, proved that a tribe with the disabilities suffered by the Seminoles and Cherokees, cannot change their citizenship requirements at will. Their sovereignty has been so limited by federal legislation, only Congress can undo the disability.

Just as the Seminoles met with federal intervention when they attempted to illegally exclude their Freedmen citizens, so too will the Cherokee Nation meet the same fate as tribal leaders recklessly invite federal intervention just so a handful of people, mostly of extremely low blood degrees, ie 1/256, can hold onto power and exclude Cherokee citizens with African ancestry.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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