Cross post From AfriGeneas Mailing List
Jim Crow and the Indians "Freedmen," blacks whose ancestors were
enslaved by Cherokee and other tribes, are suing to become tribal
citizens. But the tribes say they are ineligible because they don't
have Indian blood.
By Claudio Saunt
Last August in Tahlequah, Okla., Lucy Allen appeared before the
Judicial Appeals Tribunal, a three-person court that hears
constitutional questions in the Cherokee Nation. Allen is suing to
become a Cherokee citizen. Born in Vinita, Okla., within the
boundaries of the Cherokee Nation, she is far from your typical
Indian wannabe. She has nothing in common with the Virginia
town-and-country crowd who claim descent from Pocahontas, nor does
she subscribe to the Shaman's Drum or share sweat lodges with New
Agers who seek enlightenment and Kokopelli souvenirs in the Southwest.
Allen, 73 years old, is descended from African slaves who for
generations lived in the Cherokee Nation and labored for Cherokee
masters. She is attempting to overturn a 1987 Cherokee law that makes
the descendants of these slaves ineligible for Cherokee citizenship.
Depending on the Tribunal's forthcoming decision, her case could
reverse years of legalized discrimination against freedmen, as men
and women descended from Indian-owned slaves are collectively known
today. Allen v. Ummerteskee could become the Cherokee Nation's own
Brown v. Board of Education.
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