Marilyn Vann, President of the Descendants On 3/29/2011, scheduled presentations at the Bacone College Annual Native American Symposium on the Cherokee freedmen tribal disenrollment issues were blocked by the board of trustees. According to Bacone faculty members, this cancellation was led by trustee Mike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation and former Cherokee Nation communication director (OP: Remember their Chief Chad Smith said the Cherokee Slaves were treated well?)
The Cherokee freedmen descendants are descendants of persons of African ancestry, the majority of whom were enslaved under Cherokee tribal law prior to the Civil War. Emancipation and Cherokee citizenship was granted to the Cherokee African slaves and their descendants by a treaty agreement between the tribe and the US government in 1866. These slaves became known as Freedmen.
The official explanation given for cancellation of the presentations was that the issue is in litigation and should not be presented at the college of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association, and Chief Plaintiff of the Federal lawsuit Vann Versus Salazar stated that “We are disappointed that Cherokee nation influence has blocked an opportunity for Bacone students and faculty to be educated on the importance of the freedmen disenrollment issues. Our issues regarding enforcement of 1866 treaty rights to descendants of former slaves as well as Washington DC Appellate court decisions on the inability of tribal leadership to break the law and hide behind tribal sovereignty are important to all in Indian country. To state that the freedmen presentations should be cancelled due to ongoing litigation is surprising as Cherokee Chief Smith has presented in forums giving the Cherokee nation spin on the freedmen issue at forums such as the Federal Bar Association, Sovereignty Symposium, and before the Native American Journalists. However, in those forums, either the freedmen were not allowed to present at all or Chief Smith was given three times more time to speak. The Cherokee nation does not want to participate in forums where both sides are allowed to present and or are given the same amount of time to present.”
We ask that all persons who support 1866 treaty rights and support rights of Students and Faculty to hear about ongoing events in Indian country and oppose this cancellation to contact Bacone College Board of Trustees and President Reverend Robert Duncan at Bacone College, 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee, Okla. 74403 (918-683-4581) and state your disapproval. We encourage you to contact your elected public officials to register your concerns.