The Cherokee Freedmen Controversy is an ongoing political and tribal dispute between the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen regarding tribal citizenship. During the American Civil War, the Cherokee who supported the Union abolished the practice of African slavery by act of the Cherokee National Council in 1863.
The Cherokee Freedmen became citizens of the Cherokee Nation in accordance with a treaty made with the United States government a year after the Civil War ended. In the early 1980s, the Cherokee Nation administration amended citizenship rules to require direct descent from an ancestor listed as "Cherokee by Blood" on the Dawes Rolls.
The change stripped descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen of citizenship and voting rights unless they satisfied this new criterion. About 25,000 Freedmen were excluded from the tribe. Cherokee freedmen On March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Supreme Court ruled that the descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen were unconstitutionally kept from enrolling as citizens and were allowed to enroll in the Cherokee Nation. Chad "Corntassel" Smith, then-Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, called for an emergency election to amend the constitution in response to the ruling. After a petition was circulated, a special election held on March 3, 2007 resulted in a constitutional amendment that disenrolled the Cherokee Freedmen descendants.
This led to several legal proceedings in United States and Cherokee Nation courts in which the Freedmen descendants continued to press for their treaty rights and recognition as Cherokee Nation members. The 2007 constitutional amendment was voided in Cherokee Nation district court on January 14, 2011, but was overturned by a 4-1 ruling in Cherokee Nation Supreme Court on August 22, 2011, before the special run-off election for Principal Chief. The ruling excluded the Cherokee Freedmen descendants from voting in the special election.
After the freezing of 33 million dollars in funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in response to the ruling, an agreement in federal court between the Cherokee Nation, the Freedmen descendants and the US government allowed the Freedmen to vote in the special election. Bill John Baker was elected Principal Chief in the special election and inaugurated in October 2011. The Cherokee Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of the election results by former chief Chad Smith. Both sides filed complaints in federal court in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by July 2012; the Cherokee say the 1866 treaty does not require them to give full citizenship to the Freedmen, who continue to seek full rights. The first hearing on the merits of the case was held in May, 2014 in the U.S. A.
Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan, are a Native American people of the central and northern California coast. When Spanish explorers and missionaries arrived in the late 18th century, the Ohlone inhabited the area along the coast from San Francisco Bay through Monterey Bay to the lower Salinas Valley.
At that time they spoke a variety of languages, the Ohlone languages, belonging to the Costanoan sub-family of the Utian language family, which itself belongs to the proposed Penutian language phylum. The term "Ohlone" has been used in place of "Costanoan" since the 1970s by some descendant groups and by most ethnographers, historians, and writers of popular literature.
In pre-colonial times, the Ohlone lived in more than 50 distinct landholding groups, and did not view themselves as a distinct group. They lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering, in the typical ethnographic California pattern. The members of these various bands interacted freely with one another as they built friendships and marriages, traded tools and other necessities, and partook in cultural practices. The Ohlone people practiced the Kuksu religion. Before the Spanish came, the northern California region was one of the most densely populated regions north of Mexico. However in the years 1769 to 1833, the Spanish missions in California had a devastating effect on Ohlone culture. The Ohlone population declined steeply during this period.
The Ohlone living today belong to one or another of a number of geographically distinct groups, most, but not all, in their original home territory.
The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe has members from around the San Francisco Bay Area, and is composed of descendants of the Ohlones/Costanoans from the San Jose, Santa Clara, and San Francisco missions.
The Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation, consisting of descendants of intermarried Rumsen Costanoan and Esselen speakers of Mission San Carlos Borromeo, are centered at Monterey.
The Amah-Mutsun Tribe are descendants of Mutsun Costanoan speakers of Mission San Juan Bautista, inland from Monterey Bay.
Most members of another group of Rumsien language, descendants from Mission San Carlos, the Costanoan Rumsien Carmel Tribe of Pomona/Chino, now live in southern California.
These groups, and others with smaller memberships (see groups listed under the heading Present Day below) are separately petitioning the federal government for tribal recognition.