Saturday, September 10, 2011

Those Who Fail to Learn Their History Are Bound to Repeat It


With the recent ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court denying the Treaty of 1866 granting citizenship to the former slaves and their descendants of the Cherokee Nation;  I was reminded of an interesting document from the Congressional Record Serial Set.

The Cherokee Supreme Court ruling struck me as curious because it was eerily similar to an action taken by the Cherokee Legislature in 1888 when they passed a law over the veto of the Chief to make per capita payments to “Cherokee by blood citizens” only. That statement alone would seem to indicate there were at least two different classes of citizenship, Cherokee by blood and non-blood citizens for them to make that distinction.

As you look at the document further, it becomes clear that the Cherokee Nation today has failed to adhere to the old Cherokee Freedmen proverb; 

those who fail to learn their history are doomed to repeat it.

House Report 844 (50th Congress, 1st Session)
House Report 844; 50th Congress, 1st Session was a report that demonstrates just how much the Supreme Court has violated the United States Constitution and ignores the power of Congress in the matters of enforcing the rights of citizenship granted the former slaves and their descendants of the Cherokee Nation.

This report in 1888 and the bill H.R. 5066 clearly demonstrate that the legal standing of citizenship and the treaty of 1866 remains in effect contrary to the decision of the Cherokee Supreme Court.

This report includes language that clearly demonstrates the right of citizenship granted in 1866 to the Delaware and Shawnee tribes was also granted to the Cherokee Freedmen at the same time when they all were adopted into the tribe with “all the rights of Native Cherokee. “

That last statement is the very statement today that the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court is not so cleverly trying to deny is the basis for the adopted slaves and their descendants having citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.


“Hammons added that the court distinguishes that the Treaty of 1866 did not grant citizenship in the Cherokee Nation.

“I think we all understand that,” Hammons said. “I think what the Treaty of 1866 granted to Freedmen and their descendents (sic) were the rights of Native Cherokees. All of us as Native Cherokees could have our citizenship affected at any time by constitutional amendment. We argued that in the case.”

The court also found that the Treaty of 1866 only granted to Freedmen the rights of native Cherokees but that it was the constitution of the Cherokee people that granted them citizenship, she said. “



 For the Cherokee Supreme Court to rule in this manner is perplexing because the evidence is overwhelming that the Freedmen received citizenship at the same time the Delaware and Shawnee and they all fought to be included in the per capita payment based on their citizenship.

House Report 844 provided additional information to demonstrate the Cherokee Freedmen and their descendants received citizenship by making the argument if the Cherokee legislature made payments to Cherokee by blood citizens only it would be in violation of the Treaty of 1866, and “at war with all principles of law and common justice.”

 If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it.

It is very clear the Cherokee Nation wants to have  nothing to do with the Treaty of 1866 because the nation would be held in violation of the United States Constitution when it violates the rights of “all” of it’s citizens by denying citizenship to the descendants of their former slaves.

The other crucial aspect of the Treaty of 1866 which would apply to all of the tribes makes it clear the Nations are bound by the laws of the United States AND provides the President of the United States along with Congress a fiduciary responsibility to protect the rights of ALL Cherokee citizens including the descendants of the former slaves. 

” If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it.”

This brings up some very interesting questions for freedmen descendants today. It is clear the President of the United States has a responsibility to protect the rights of citizenship of the freedmen and there was a precedent for such actions by President Grover Cleveland.



” If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it.”

Clearly in 1886 the issue of citizenship based on the treaty of 1866 was being fought as it is being fought today and the evidence is compelling. Not only was the President obligated to “secure” the rights of the freedmen and OTHER citizens of the “Cherokee Nation by adoption AND incorporation.” 


You will also note, the letter from President Cleveland included the phrase; "securing to the Cherokee freedmen and other citizens of the Cherokee Nation by adoption and incorporation." This was an affirmative statement for the citizenship of the freedmen, period!

The decision by then Secretary of the Interior also demonstrates he had a responsibility to “remedy any wrong” done to the Cherokee Freedmen and their descendants and I can only imagine that responsibility exist today.

This all becomes more interesting when you consider that Rep. Barney Franks is reported to have sent letters to various government officials to with hold funds from the Cherokee Nation until the Cherokee Freedmen are reinstated as citizens of the nation.

“I do not believe the federal government should continue to fund the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma if it is blatantly violating the rights of some members,” U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., wrote in a recent letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The congressman asked Donovan to “act appropriately to prevent any funding from the federal government for tribal housing.”


Frank sent another letter to Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, asking that he “take appropriate action to protect the rights of the Cherokee Freedmen.” Echo Hawk has not publicly responded.

So it would seem Representative Franks, Congress and the President of the United States has every right to take action to protect the rights of freedmen descendants in the Five Slave Holding Tribes when it comes to their citizenship.



There could be no question the Treaty of 1866 is the law that has determined the citizenship status of freedmen and their descendants, the question is will they defend the Constitution by enforcing the laws of this country and deny any further funding to the Five Slave Holding Tribes until they comply with the law?
















The last lines on this page sums up the situation for the Cherokee Nation and their denial of citizenship to the descendants of their former slaves:

"they were denied a right GUARANTEED them by an agreement entered into under a SOLEMN TREATY STIPULATION."




” If you don’t know your history you are doomed to repeat it.”


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