Possibly one of the best articles I've read to date on the recent decision by the Cherokee District Court is the one in the Daily Oklahoman on January 15, 2011
by: CHRIS CASTEEL firstname.lastname@example.org Oklahoman
I cite this article because it is apparent to me that the reporter did his homework and was able to clearly point out the important aspects to this story.
Chris Casteel also reminded me of the back story to this decision. For many who may not have followed the progress of Cherokee Freedmen descendants struggle for citizenship in the "nations" of their ancestor's birth, this lawsuit was peculiar from the beginning.
The Cherokee Nation without notifying the defendants appointed an attorney to represent the freedmen descendants. Evidently they were so confidant their court and their appointed attorney would agree with the opinion the Treaty of 1866 was invalid ONLY where it regarded citizenship for freedmen and their descendants.
It is the response by the lead litigant that should tell you how devious the Cherokee nation has been and how misleading they have tried to make this issue of citizenship for the Cherokee Freedmen:
"The lawsuit was filed without the knowledge of the lead plaintiff, Raymond Nash, a freedman descendant from Nowata who was expelled from the tribal rolls after tribal members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution in 2007 that based citizenship on tribal blood."
"Nash said Friday that he didn't know anything about the lawsuit when it was filed."
That's right, the defendants were not aware they were being sued by the Cherokee Nation!!!
Another peculiar aspect regarding this lawsuit was the defendants were ALL chosen from a group of freedmen descendants who had previously been admitted to citizenship based on a ruling by an earlier Cherokee Supreme Court decision.
For an unbiased overview go to the link for a history of this issue:
The fact that the Cherokee leaders would make a statement that "tribal members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution in 2007" is also a joke!! The reporter should have asked for the election results; he would have discovered that less than eight thousand people bothered to take part in an election on a constitutional amendment. The tribe has boasted about its membership consisting of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand people, 8,000 people is hardly "overwhelming" in my book!!!
I gather the Cherokee Nation didn't think the attorney they appointed to the case had any moral or ethical integrity to give a vigorous defense for his clients.
I guess you might also conclude the “Chief Who Shall Not Be Name” also calculated that the Cherokee District Court might be so incompetent the justice's might buy his argument the 1866 Treaty of Ft. Smith was about "property rights."
In previous statements, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith has said that the 1866 treaty never guaranteed citizenship but was intended to address property rights. The tribe has also countered charges of racism by saying that the question isn't about race but about tribal membership; many freedmen descendants, including one of the lead plaintiffs in the federal suit against the tribe, have Cherokee blood.
What should not be overlooked in this case is the amount of money, time and effort the Cherokee Nation spent to avoid, circumvent and ignore the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation.
Justice Cripps pointing out the moral and ethical responsibility of the Cherokee Nation should be a clarion call for the other Five Slave Holding Tribes and their obligations to their Treaties.
"The nation is still bound by the treaty, Cripps wrote. Though the French, Spanish, English and U.S. governments have violated treaties made with the tribe, Cripps said, “This does not mean that the Cherokee Nation should descend into such manner of action and disregard their pledges and agreements.”
It is amazing what lengths some people will go to avoid doing the right thing! The history of the Five Slave Holding Tribes is a monument to people doing the wrong thing.
The money spent on lobbyist and public relations campaigns could have been used to help people in the nation.
"The tribe mounted a multimillion dollar public relations and lobbying blitz to counter the congressional effort, and the legislation never advanced in a Democrat-controlled House."
The use of lobbyist to advocate for the Five Slave Holding Tribes is nothing new. The fact they spent MILLIONS of dollars to defeat a group of freedmen who are not that well funded and arguably not that well organized could still find protections under the Constitution and even in the Cherokee Court system.
What is almost lost in all of this is the fact the Cherokee Nation basically sued itself for all intents and purposes; AND LOST!!! The folks kicked off the citizenship roll didn't sue the tribe! Congress didn't sue the tribe! These genuises SUED THEMSELVES; as Bugs Bunny would say, "what a maroon!" Or as they say in those TBS promo's; "very funny!"
The MULTIMILLION DOLLAR effort of the Cherokee Nation should teach the leaders of ALL the Five Slave Holding Tribes an important lesson; treaties ARE Supreme Law and as Mr. Nash so correctly pointed out, "they should have honored the treaty a long time ago!"