Sunday, July 4, 2010

Oklahoma Court Sends Cherokee Freedmen Case to Washington DC.

NORTHERN DISTRICT FEDERAL COURT OF OKLAHOMA SENDS CHEROKEE FREEDMEN CASE (Cherokee Nation Vs Nash et al) TO WASHINGTON DC TO SAME COURT AS CHEROKEE FREEDMEN FEDERAL CASE (Vann et al v Salazar) BEING TRIED SINCE 2003

On July 2, 2010, the Honorable Oklahoma Northern District Court Judge Terrance Kern issued an order transferring the case Cherokee Nation Vs Nash et al (09-CV-52-TCK-PJC), filed in February 2009 by the Cherokee nation of Oklahoma to Washington DC. The Oklahoma filed action will be tried along with the Cherokee freedmen case Vann et al Versus Salazar(1:03CV-1711-HHK) filed in August 2003 in the Washington DC District court of Honorable Judge Henry Kennedy.

Issues in both cases deal with the rights of Cherokee Freedmen tribal members (descendants of free mixed African Indians and blacks enslaved with the protection of Cherokee nation government policies prior to the end of the Civil War) based on the 1866 treaty between the US government and the Cherokee nation which guaranteed citizenship to persons of African descent living in the Cherokee nation at the beginning of the Civil War.

In the Washington DC case, defendants are the Department of Interior and Cherokee Chief Chad Smith while in the Oklahoma case, defendants are 5 individual plaintiffs who are registered as Cherokee freedmen tribal members as well as the US Department of Interior. In the Oklahoma case, both legal counsels for the US Department of Interior as well as the Cherokee freedmen tribal members had filed motions requesting that the Oklahoma case be transferred to the Washington DC Federal court. OP: Chad Smith said "slaves were treated well"

Marilyn Vann, President of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association and Band Chief of the Freedmen Band of Cherokee Nation states: “We are extremely happy with the decision of the Northern District Court that permits the 5 freedmen which were sued by their own nation the ability to fight for justice in DC where the Freedmen Band which has been prosecuting the same issues in the Washington DC court since they were denied the right to vote and run for office in 2003. We eagerly await the day when all descendants of Dawes enrolled Cherokee freedmen can register/reregister as Cherokee nation tribal members, vote and run for tribal political office as promised our ancestors by the US government and tribal officials in 1866. Just as the US government owed protection of citizenship rights to descendants of blacks in Mississippi who had been enslaved by US government policies, so does the Cherokee nation owe protection of citizenship rights to descendants of black persons whose ancestors were forced to endure chattel slavery under the blessing and protection of Cherokee nation government policies.

Jon Velie, lead Counsel for the Cherokee Freedmen in both the Oklahoma and Washington DC filed cases states that: “The Northern District decision to transfer the case brought by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma against 5 individual freedmen turned on the fact that that the case had essentially the same issues as the case brought by the Cherokee Freedmen Band and several individual freedmen in Washington DC which was the first filed case. Another matter of interest was the court’s finding that the tribe had waived sovereign immunity by filing the case especially while the DC court action was still pending. The DC court of Appeals has previously held in 2008 that the 13th amendment and the treaty of 1866 have whittled away the tribe’s right to discriminate against the freedmen”.

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