DESCENDANTS OF FREEDMEN OF THE 5 TRIBES AND THEIR SUPPORTERS TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST RACISM FRIDAY OCTOBER 29 2010 OUTSIDE MUSKOGEE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS BUILDING
Descendants of Freedmen of the 5 “Civilized” Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chickasaw) and their supporters will demonstrate outside the Muskogee Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) building on Friday October 29, 2010 beginning at three PM. The building address is 3100 W Peak Boulevard, Muskogee Oklahoma.
The focus of the demonstration is to highlight the BIA refusal to protect the 1866 treaty rights of black “freedmen” to vote in tribal elections. The BIA has a legal responsibility to protect the rights of individual tribal members and descendants of tribal members protected by treaties between their tribe and the US government.
Ancestors of today’s freedmen were enslaved by tribal law of the 5 tribes solely due to their race prior to the Civil War but were granted citizenship in the tribes in 1866 by treaty agreements between the US government and the tribes. The freedmen after the Civil War were registered as tribal members by the US government Dawes Commission approximately 110 years ago when tribal lands owned in common by all tribal members were divided into individual allotments. In prior years - Freedmen not only voted but held tribal political offices.
Over the past several years BIA officials – who prior to the casino era protected political and economic rights of the black freedmen - now refuse to enforce treaty rights of the freedmen people.
Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen Association states: “Denial of voting rights is clearly a badge of slavery. Badges of slavery are prohibited by the 13th amendment to the US Constitution as well as the 1866 treaties. In July 2008, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held in the case Vann Vs Kempthorne (now Vann Vs Salazar) that the former slaveholder tribes have treated away their right to discriminate against the freedmen. Tribal elections continue to occur with freedmen whose ancestors were listed on the Dawes rolls not being allowed to exercise their rights to vote. The BIA should not allow this racism to continue.”
Persons of all races, creeds, colors, and tribal affiliations who oppose racism and support treaty rights are encouraged bring their signs and to demonstrate with the freedmen.