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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: By Blood Ancestors
In Response To: By Blood Ancestors ()

The answer really depends. If you are talking about Cherokees, then the answer is no. The Cherokee Constitution does not demand blood, therefore, it would not matter whether the original enrollee was by blood or by adoption to obtain membership. If the Cherokee courts rule against the freedmen in the Allen case, it will be on a hypertechnical finding against the way the case was filed, and not on the merits of the argument. There is NO WAY you can find for a blood requirement from these few words:

Article III, Section 1.
All members of the Cherokee Nation must be citizens as proven by reference to the Dawes Commission Rolls, including the Delaware Cherokees of Article II, of the Delaware Agreement dated the 8th day of May, 1867, and the Shawnee Cherokees as of Article III of the Shawnee Agreement dated the 9th day of June, 1869, and/or their descendants.

The Cherokee Courts have previously ruled against a freedmen litigant regarding the proof she submitted showing she had Cherokee by blood ancestry. The Court admitted that she had proven Cherokee blood, but found against her anyway, citing the sovereign right of tribes to determine their own citizenship and deny persons of Freedmen descent their citizenship rights in the tribe.

The Creek Constitution demands blood of the tribe in order to obtain citizenship. This has prompted Creek Freedmen who also happen to have proveable Creek Indian blood, to file suit. Their case is pending.

There are numerous instances on all five rolls of the FCT, where brothers and sisters are enrolled on different sections of their respective tribal roll. There are instances where someone may not be enrolled at all, but his siblings will be. If his parents got enrolled, he and his descendants are in. If the parents and other antecedants were dead and not on the roll, the poor guy is S.O.L. Only those persons enrolled on the Dawes Rolls and their descendants can be listed as members of the FCT today. All five of the FCT constitution demand that applicants be either an original Dawes enrollee or a descendant of one. Citizenship does not pass down collaterally. One child might be a citizen of the Creek Nation and his brother is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Unless the parents were alive to enroll, the descendants are locked in to the citizenship of their enrolled ancestor, no matter what other blood they may be able to prove.

A noteworthy example of this is the ancestry of famed Creek/Cherokee artist Joan Hill. She is an enrolled citizen of the Creek Nation and direct descendant of a creek Chief (Grayson). She is also the direct descendant of the brother of a Cherokee Chief (C. J. Harris). However, all of her Cherokee ancestors were enrolled as Creek citizens. Her Cherokee blood is computed on her CDIB as if it were all Creek and she has no rights in the Cherokee Nation despite her laudable connections to noted Cherokees.

It is the nuance of the demand for blood in the Creek and Choctaw Constitutions which allows for the small window of opportunity to file suit and prove that persons listed on the Dawes Roll who have proof of blood other than what is listed (or not listed) on Dawes, should also be eligible to enroll as by blood Creeks or Choctaws.

The same may be true of the Chickasaws, except for the fact that the wording of their constitution demands that the citizen applicant must have an ancestor listed "by blood" on the Dawes Roll. This nuance of wording precludes a suit which might jump behind the rolls to prove Chickasaw blood for the freedmen of that nation. And since the Chickasaws never adopted their freedmen, citizenship is not theirs in the first place.

The Seminole Constitution, like its Cherokee counterpart, does not demand blood and in fact includes the Freedmen of that Nation.

A comparison of the situation of the Freedmen of the FCT, to the plight of blacks in the United States leads one to wonder how the United States has continued to permit this situation to go on, when the same would not and has not been tolerated when it was carried out by a state.

David Cornsilk


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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