EXCELLENT NEWS! The HUD has stood up for justice, now will the BIA?
Federal housing officials have frozen funding to the Cherokee Nation in apparent response to a tribal court decision terminating citizenship for about 2,800 descendants of former slaves. The ruling would keep approximately 2,800 freedmen from voting in the Sept. 24 election for principal chief
“HUD has suspended disbursements to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma while we seek additional guidance on an unclear statute involving the Freedmen,” Deputy Assistant HUD Secretary Jereon Brown said in an email to the Tulsa World. “The funding can be restored once this issue is resolved.”
On Aug. 31, Cherokee officials attempted to draw $33 million from the tribe’s account with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but HUD rejected the draw, according to a Sept. 2 letter from tribal Attorney General Diane Hammons to HUD administrator Wayne Simms. OP: Oh SNAP!
A Tuesday press release from HUD announced $52.6 million in awards to tribes around the nation, including 13 tribes in Oklahoma. No funding for the Cherokees was included in the announcement.
The tribe’s Supreme Court ruled Aug. 22 that descendants of former slaves who cannot show Cherokee heritage are not tribal citizens.
Freedmen were given equal rights within the tribe after the Civil War, but a subsequent 2007 tribal vote took away the citizenship of anyone who couldn’t show some Cherokee heritage.
The effects of that vote were temporarily suspended by a tribal court injunction while the issue was considered, but the recent tribal Supreme Court decision ended that injunction.
In 2007, during consideration of HUD’s federal authorization, members of the Congressional Black Caucus sought to restrict Cherokee access to HUD funding because of the freedman issue. Hammons’ letter argues that the tribe lived up to the letter of the federal law.
The HUD authorization says no money can go to the tribe unless the dispute is settled or the tribal court injunction stayed in effect throughout litigation.
Hammons’ letter maintains that the injunction was maintained throughout litigation, which ended with the tribal court’s decision.
“If Congress wanted to deny funding to the Cherokee Nation, it would have done so,” Hammons’ letter says. “Instead, Congress chose to merely require that the injunctions remain effective until the case was concluded in tribal court.”