Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants [Reuters]

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The nation's second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.

The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.

But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called "Freedmen" out of the tribe was proper.

The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves.

Some 4,000 Indians died during the forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."

"And our ancestors carried the baggage," said Marilyn Vann, the Freedman leader who is a plaintiff in the legal battle.

This hurts. So much. I heard of the Cherokee Nation expelling it's black members years ago. Apparently the battle wages on. This article leaves a lot to be desired in knowing the Cherokee Nation's reasoning. I'm personally of various Native decent, particularly Shoshone, from my great great grandmother, whom my mother knew. There's definitely touchy politics about claiming one's Native heritage, and I get why. There's something to be said about experience; claiming heritage for the benefits without ever experiencing the struggle is, in my opinion, despicable. And so is turning your back on long standing members of your tribe who've been nothing but faithful....

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