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Expelled from the Cherokee Tribe: Ancestors of Black Slaves

August 26, 2011 Front Page 17 Comments

The Cherokee Supreme Court recently ruled that the descendants of the tribe’s black slaves will no longer be “official members,” if they could not prove they are Cherokee by blood. This ruling was made by an amendment of a 2007 constitutional amendment within the Cherokee nation, which requires Cherokee blood in order to belong to the tribe.

Proving to be Cherokee by blood would entail searching and gathering former ancestry birth certificates to prove to the tribe that an individual is by any means a Cherokee. This could be very time0consuming, and in some cases, impossible.

The vote for the passage of the amendment may be due to monetary reasons.

According to the Huffington Post:

“The Cherokee nation, the second-largest Native American tribe in the country, receives money from the federal government and earns money from its stake in the lucrative gambling industry, which totaled $26.4 billion for all tribes in 2009. In the run-up to the 2007 amendment vote, some proponents of expelling the freedmen suggested that more blacks might apply for membership to receive tribal money.”

This means that if a slave descendant does not belong to the Cherokee tribe by blood, they would then not be entitled to any of the tribe’s government funding.

Before the 2007 amendment passage, some of the Native American slave descendants felt as though the Cherokee nation voted on their status to “paper over” their slave-owning past. The Cherokee tribe defends their decisions, however, by stating they have a right to determine their very own citizen membership.

Some are calling this a blatant case of apartheid.

99Problems wants to know: Do you agree or disagree that this is a case of apartheid? 

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Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. Justin Burkhardt says:

    Interesting story, and i’m torn on this. I TOTALLY get why the slaves descendants feel they are part of the tribe and should be entitled to such benefits- but i also understand how the cherokee just want people who can officially be cherokee to have cherokee blod in them, so you really only need one drop. So it’s basically to be cherokee you need it’s blood so i see that side. it goes without saying that both races have been through A LOT in america and it is a shame that they are divided and playing the race card against each other almost

    • draenonymous? says:

      I am just as disappointed as the first responder at the fact that we have two groups of people who have endured so much over the course of this country’s existence basically fighting over scraps. Not in a disrespectful context, but we all know that what the Native American’s “recieved” for all that was taken from them is a drop in the bucket. It doesn’t pay for the fact that an entire group of people who might have been able to continue to thrive and exist weren’t allowed that opportunity. Who knows what the population demographics would be had they not been bottled up? But I think that it (funds) should be available to the ancestors of the black slaves as well though b/c at the end of the day they didn’t have a choice other than to be there at that time and so they should pay. I also think its time everyone stop pretending and downplaying the evils of their ancestors. They had slaves, no question. So did alot of other people, but its such a “dirty little secret” and thats why its been so challenging to move beyond the effects of those actions.

    • christine says:

      Thank you Justin for your reply on Put the Guns down ! liked the 10$bill story !

  2. April Austin says:

    I see your point Justin, the story is sad. The thing about proving to be a Cherokee is finding birth certificates, etc. People may have Cherokee blood in them and ‘entitled’ to the funding, however may not be able to locate the official documentation of birth certificates to prove so. In my opinion, it all comes down to money, which is sad. As you had stated, they are playing the race card.

  3. Terrell Thomas says:

    I’m black and my great gran is full blood Cherokee Indian. All I can do is shake my head. This is just sad.

  4. Justin Burkhardt says:

    April, i’m not sure about this 100% but i’m sure there is some sort of genetic blood testing that can link you to a tribe, that combined with genealogy a birth certificate isn’t 100% necessary , because tribes usually keep great records… But you are right i all comes down to money and a bigger piece of the pie. And it really is a shame two groups have had just injustices brought upon them in early America are now fighting with each other.. And terrell if this is true that your great grandmother was full blooded that would make you 1/16th American Indian, not sure what the minimum blood lines are that the tribe accepts or other requirements but you should look into that and your hisory

  5. Godsun says:

    The original Cherokee were of African descent as were all so-called “indians”

    The earliest people in the Americas were people of the Negritic African race, who entered the Americas by way of the Bering Straight. About 30,000 years ago a worldwide maritime undertaking included journeys from the Sahara towards the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and from West Africa across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Americas. According to the Gladwin Thesis, (outlined on http://RaceandHistory.com) this ancient journey occurred, particularly about 75,000 years ago and included so called Black Pygmies, Black Negritic peoples and Black Australoids similar to the Aboriginal Black people of Australia and parts of Asia, including India.

    Ancient NATIVE Black Nations of America before and after Columbus include:

    * The Washitaw of the Louisiana/Midwest
    * The Yamasee of the South East
    * The Iroquois
    * The Cherokee Indians
    * The Blackfoot Indians
    The Pequot and Mohegans of Connecticut
    * The Black Californians (Calafians) (CAL in CALifornia literally means BLAK, after the name of the Great Mamma KALi / Queen KALifa)
    *The Olmecs of Mexico
    * The Darienite of Panama -

    A number of Black Negroid Peoples are mentioned in the works of I. Rafinesque (“Black Nations of America,” Atlantic Journal and Friend Knowledge; Philadelphia 1832; p. 86: Also I. Rafinesque, pgs. 121, 186, 187, 194, 208, 209). Rafinesque was a naturalist who explored and took accurate documentation of his works through out the U.S. In mentioning Negroes, Blacks, Moors, Ethiopians….explorers such as Rafinesque referred to Negro Black Africans, not dark skinned “Indians.”

    • Joe says:

      where do you find this crap. the American Indian is of Asiatic blood, Mongolian decent and not Negro. To believe all you read just because it pleases you is BS

  6. Godsun says:

    The true history is a lot different from the historical fiction we were taught in school. these people shoud challenge the legitamacy of the so-called native council based on historical lies

    The United Nations recognizes the Washitaw Muurs Nation within the United States along with the other Indigenous people of America. The Declaration On Rights Of Indigenous People includes the Washitaw Nation, a nation that is made up of Black People who have the archaeological and historical evidence to prove that the original inhabitants of North and South America (so called “Indians”) were Black People who came here from Africa.
    Have you been to a Powwow? I have been and was astonished at all of the Black Native Americans. The powwows I have attended were in Michigan and Ohio. Those Native Americans did not harbor runaway slaves which led me to believe the following: Black Indians are not solely a result of African slaves mixing with so-called Red Indians who were fleeing from slavery as many documented sources would have you to believe. Black Indians are indigenous to America—North, South, and Central before the so-called Red Man, before the Europeans, before the so-called Bering Strait crossings. The Olmecs, Washitaw, Moors, Yamasee, Mound Builders planted the seed of civilization in the Americas—Black Indians!”
    The Washitaw were direct descendants of the Olmecs who mixed in the Malian Moors. The name “Washitaw” comes from the Washita River which flows along Northwest Texas and Oklahoma to the Red River where the Cheyenne Native Americans lived with the Chawasha, meaning “Raccoon People.” The Washo were a Negroid tribe living above the New Orleans Bayou and were of Tunican linguistic stock. The name “Washitaw” is a derivative of the term “Ouachita” or what is now “Wichita.” The term is a Choctaw term which means “Big Arbor” which represented the Grass thatched homes. The Washitaw was originally from lower Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama (named after Nubian-Sudanese Ali Baba). The tribe was officially named “Wichita” by the US Government in the Camp Holmes Treaty of 1835. The Wichita were also known as “Paniwassaha” or by the French Panioussa which means “Black Pawnee.” French traders from Illinois called them “Pani Pique” which means Tattooed Pawnee. The Washitaw or Raccoon People were called Raccoons because of their black faces. When describing the Washitaw, the French describes the blacks who lived in the large grass houses. The tribe is the descendants of the Olmecs and Toltecs of Mexico.

  7. This is outrageous!!!!
    Once again the head of the slave master snake raises it ugly head. According to the info provided on this subject documented in black and white print (“HUFFINGTON POST”), we are once again put on the chopping block by those who promote the evil of denying the FACT of the black as a human, created by the One and Only Creator of man. How evil is it to cause the descendants of Indians to strike out against their own ancestors who gave birth to the whole Cherokee tribe? Can you actually put a dollar value on a human being.? Mathmatically calculating the value of blood, skin, bones …cannot be accomplished, because what man is qualified to create the value chart? We are now educated about the many lies and deceptions placed upon our people by those who mistakenly questioned our humanity. why do we continually listen to those who seek to keep us from unifying as a tribe?. Only those who have no pigmentation can be separate on that basis, and still that is just another tribe. Use your brain, logically speaking, if we remove the skin can you tell which tribe a person belongs to?

    • Mark says:

      i don’t feel that it is wrong to disenroll members who are not of Cherokee, or even indigenous blood at that. Yes, some natives in the times of slavery, owned slaves. But just because slavery became abolished and those who were enslaved had finally been recognized for their humanity and given citizenship in the united states, does not make them members of any tribe they worked for as slaves. I’m not saying that any African American claiming Cherokee, isn’t of Cherokee descent in any percent, but there are many who are not even of Cherokee descent, let alone indigenous to the Americas at that. I believe that if a person is not even indigenous then they shouldn’t even be members of an American Indian tribe. It’s all about the roots and if your roots are not indigenous, then you are not truly one of the people. Most people these days claiming to be Cherokee do it to get a piece of the pie anyways, so to speak, money and benefits. That is no reason to claim tribal membership, that is a shame. I think DNA analysis should be done for people claiming any tribe they are trying to be enrolled into, I am Cherokee, very Cherokee too, I am one third 33 percent. Tribal administration told me I had to get a DNA test done and that was the result, it’s not like i didn’t know either cause my father is Cherokee, I’m not talking about my great great great great grandparent anything like that. So DNA analysis should be done for those who have been so mixed out. I mean, why not? If a person is so certain of being Cherokee, then why not? And also, I have a point to make about a comment i read here about a theory of original inhabitants of Americas being African, first of all that claim is not evidencial, it is only based on the features of the Olmec heads found in Mexico and central America, I have Mexican friends who have those same features and they are not of African descent at all, a more flattened nose and broad lips such as those of the ancient Olmec heads are features that many indigenous people have, not just Africans, also, Australians, and some other islanders. I’m not even going to get into all the facts, unless anyone would like for me to provide them in another post for better understanding, then I will. My point was mainly that even if the original ancestors of native amicans were of African origin, it still does not justify descendants of black slaves in early America trying to gain tribal membership. That would be the same as a person of Indigenous blood, but not of cherokee blood, saying they deserve to become a member of the tribe just because they are of the same continent. So, DNA analysis should be done for those who believe to be Cherokee and may have some percentage, and proof by birth certificates going back to the last people in that persons family to have been on a cherokee reservation to show that their indigenous roots are of the Cherokee nation and not just any other tribe, to be correct.

    • maryE.T. says:

      I had been told for some time that, I was of mixed race. That one of my great grandfathers back, had married his (apparently beloved) slave after his first wife passed without giving him children. It is only more recently that I learned that I am also of Cherokee descent, as one of my great grandmothers back, was Nancy Whitecotton. I suppose I cannot belong to any one tribe, or nationality. It does not matter to me, as we all came from one creator. To learn the real truths of how some of my ancestors treated others is saddening. While our creator’s most important commandment was perhaps that we love (value) one another in the same way we love him, and our own selves, it seems that even now GREED continues to be a wrongful motivation. What would the ancient ones have counseled? When will we, as the human race, finally get it?

      • larry says:

        Hi Mary,
        Was she married to William Manning. I do believe they had a daughter Olive Manning Davenport.
        Nancy was my 3rd great gramma.My grandmother was a Davenport.
        Is it verified that Nancy was full blooded Cherokee?
        My gramma might have said something about this but it has been so long ago

  8. PS I neglected to say that we need a new word to describe this old story(correction), old reality. apartheid is a description of another old reality. And by the way, both my mother’sand my fathers immediate ancestors were Cherokee, what does that make me oh wise ones of the Cherokee Supreme Court. How can you accurately measure my percentage as one who is not interested in proving my Cherokee lineage?. Lastly, are there really two groups of people who have been oppressed or just ancestors and descendants of the same group?

    • First of speaking as a Gay Choctaw-Cherokee person i must tell you was i see in this first off this
      special vote is bullshit. and all iam have been hearing when this subject comes up is Money
      the main reason that the some of the Christianized
      sellout Cherokees in Oklahoma voted to expell all of the Black Freedman Cherokees for the Reservation is because they wanted that damm money and they didn’t care who they had to step on to get it, this is what we call selling out,
      yet these same sellouts that did this fail to realize
      who gave them these Casinos and when thaty start bragging and Showing off to much that when the Feds and the Stae government will go on those Reservations and shut all that shit down. and it makes you wonder who else are they going to vote off the rez out there in Oklahoma Full-Blooded Darker Skinned Indians,Gay Indians, Indian Women, What next on there agenda? that time has come to the fact that money talks and Bullshit Walks, and Casinos donot impress me.

  9. mari says:

    first off, there is a picture of john taylor and a southern Ute man for this article… dang if this about cherokees why is there a Ute? Welcome to Pan-Indianism… where lets group all the natives of this country into one tribe… and forget that there are over 500 tribes within the US borders alone.

    Next… no where in this article does it talk about tribal sovereignty or go over the IMPORTANCE of a nation to nation relationship that make native american nations separate from just as another ethnic group.

    Next… check your facts… there are three different fed recognized nations of Cherokees, us the official name for a sovereign nation when talking about them… The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma…

    Next… no mention of blood quantum system that was not created by any Native sovereign nation much less the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma… take your deal with descendants of the ones who created that system

    Next… many Native Nations ask for blood quantum all the way up to 3/4 for some nations, and the Cherokee Nation of OK is not even asking for blood just one ancestor somewhere in your line.

    next… when there are attacks on tribal sovereignty within these borders where is the support? I see this article as an attack on tribal sovereignty by someone who clearly didnt do thier homework on learning contemporary native nation building.

    Learn the issues of Indian Country then I can take your critique seriously.

    thanks for reading

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