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Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Flag of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma Total population 280,000+ Regions with significant populations Enrolled members: Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma (f): 280,000+ Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina (f): 10,000+ United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Oklahoma (f): 12,000[1]
(f) = federally recognized

sign a treaty. In reaction to this, the Cherokee Nation recognized that it needed leadership and a general convention was convened in 1938 to elect a Chief. They choose J. B. Milam as principal chief, and, as a goodwill gesture, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt confirmed the election in 1941. W. W. Keeler was appointed chief in 1949. Because the federal government had adopted a self-determination policy, the Cherokee Nation was able to rebuild its government and W. W. Keeler was elected chief by the people, via a Congressional Act signed by President Richard Nixon. Keeler, who was also the President of Phillips Petroleum, was succeeded by Ross Swimmer and then Wilma Mankiller.

Modern Cherokee Nation

Languages English, Cherokee Religion Christianity (Southern Baptist), Traditional Related ethnic groups Iroquois (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora), Nottoway, Meherrin, Coree, Wyandot, Mingo

Cherokee Nation Historic Courthouse in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. During 1898-1906 the federal government dissolved the former Cherokee Nation, to make way for the incorporation of Indian Territory into the new state of Oklahoma. From 1906 to 1975, structure and function of the tribal government were not clearly defined, but in 1975-76 the tribe wrote a constitution as The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma,[2] (CNO) and received federal recognition. The modern Cherokee Nation (now its official name though it is still often referred by its old initials) in recent times, has experienced an almost unprecedented expansion in

The Cherokee Nation, in Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee tribes which have been given full recognition by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. After the dissolution of the tribal government of the Cherokee Nation in 1906, followed by the end of its reservation, the Federal government appointed chiefs to the Cherokee Nation, often just long enough to


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Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
(genealogy), which is open to the public.[3] The Cherokee Heritage Center is home to the Cherokee National Museum, which has numerous exhibitions also open to the public. The CHC is the repository for the Cherokee Nation as its National Archives. The CHC operates under the Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc., and is governed by a Board of Trustees with an executive committee. The Cherokee Nation also supports the Cherokee Nation Film Festivals in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and participates in the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The Cherokee Female Seminary was built in 1889 by the Oklahoma Cherokees. economic growth, equality, and prosperity for its citizens. The Cherokee Nation, under the leadership of Principal Chief Chad Smith, has significant business, corporate, real estate, and agricultural interests, including numerous highly profitable casino operations. The CNO controls Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Industries, and Cherokee Nation Businesses. CNI is a very large defense contractor that creates thousands of jobs in eastern Oklahoma for Cherokee citizens. The CNO has constructed health clinics throughout Oklahoma, contributed to community development programs, built roads and bridges, constructed learning facilities and universities for its citizens, instilled the practice of Gadugi and self-reliance in its citizens, revitalized language immersion programs for its children and youth, and is a powerful and positive economic and political force in Eastern Oklahoma. The CNO hosts the Cherokee National Holiday on Labor Day weekend each year, and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, for the festivities. It also publishes the Cherokee Phoenix, a tribal newspaper which has operated continuously since 1828, publishing editions in both English and the Sequoyah Syllabary. The Cherokee Nation council appropriates money for historic foundations concerned with the preservation of Cherokee Culture, including the Cherokee Heritage Center which hosts a reproduction of an ancient Cherokee Village, Adams Rural Village (a turn-of-the-century village), Nofire Farms and the Cherokee Family Research Center

Today the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has judicial, executive and legislative branches with executive power vested in the Principal Chief, legislative power in the Tribal Council, and judicial power in the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal. The Principal and Deputy Principal Maura, and the council are elected to four-year terms by the registered tribal voters. The council is the legislative branch of government and represent the nine districts of the Cherokee Nation in the 14 county jurisdictional area. The judicial branch of tribal government includes the District Court and Judicial Appeals Tribunal, which is comparable to the U.S. Supreme Court. The tribunal consists of three members who are appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the council. It is the highest court of the Cherokee Nation and oversees internal legal disputes and the District Court. The District Judge and an Associate District Judge preside over the tribe’s District Court and hear all cases brought before it under jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation Judicial Code. The Congress of the United States, The Federal Courts, and State Courts have repeatedly upheld the sovereignty of Native Tribes, defining their relationship in political rather than racial terms, and have stated it is a compelling interest of the United States.[4]This principle of self-government and tribal sovereignty is controversial. According to the Boston College Sociologist and Cherokee Citizen, Eva Marie Garroutte, there are upwards of 32 separate definitions of "Indian" used in federal legislation as of a 1978 congressional survey.[5] The 1994 Federal Legislation AIRFA (American Indian


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Religious Freedom Act) defines an Indian as one who belongs to an Indian Tribe, which is a group that "is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians."

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
ancestor listed on the Guion Miller or Old Settler rolls. Another problem for the TCAB is that groups of Yowani Choctaws and McIntosh Party Creeks had joined them in the 1850s, changing the make up of the group. Today, most Mount Tabor descendants are in fact members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, but eight hundred or so are stuck in the limbo without official recognition as Cherokees, with many of them still residing in Rusk and Smith counties of east Texas.

Tribal membership
Race and blood quantum are not sole factors in CNO tribal citizenship eligibility. To be considered a citizen in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, you need a direct Indian ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls.[6] The tribe currently has members who also have African, Latino, Asian, white and other ancestry.

New resolution
The Councils of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at the Joint Council Meeting held in Catoosa, Oklahoma on April 9, 2008 passed a resolution Opposing Fabricated Cherokee "Tribes" and "Indians".[9] It denounced any further state or federal recognition of "Cherokee" tribes or bands, aside from the those already federally recognized, and committed themselves to exposing and assisting state and federal authorities in eradicating any group which attempts or claims to operate as a government of the Cherokee people. In addition, the resolution asked that no public funding from any federal or state government should be expended on behalf of non-federally recognized ’Cherokee’ tribes or bands and that the Nation would call for a full accounting of all federal monies given to state recognized, unrecognized or SOI(c)(3) charitable organizations that claim any Cherokee affiliation. It called for federal and state governments to stringently apply a federal definition of "Indian" that included only citizens of federally recognized Indian tribes, to prevent nonIndians from selling membership in "Cherokee" tribes for the purpose of exploiting the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. In a controversial segment that could affect Cherokee Baptist churches and charitable organizations, the resolution stated that no 501(c)(3) organization, state recognized, or unrecognized groups shall be acknowledged as Cherokee. Celebrities who claim to be Cherokee, such as those listed in this article, are also targeted by the resolution. Any individual who is not a member of a federally recognized Cherokee tribe, in academia or otherwise, is hereby discouraged from claiming to speak as a Cherokee, or on behalf of Cherokee citizens, or using claims

Tribal recognition
Many groups have sought recognition by the federal government as Cherokee tribes, but today there are only three groups recognized by the federal government. Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller has discussed that some groups, which he calls Cherokee Heritage Groups, are encouraged.[7] Others, however, are controversial for their attempts to gain economically through their claims to be Cherokee, a claim which is disputed by the three federally recognized groups, who assert themselves as the only groups having the legal right to present themselves as Cherokee Indian Tribes.[8] One exception to this may be the Texas Cherokees and Associate Bands (TCAB) who prior to 1975, was considered a part of the Cherokee Nation as reflected in briefs filed before the Indian Claims Commission. In fact at one time W.W. Keeler served not only as Chief of the Cherokee Nation, but at the same time held the position as Chairman of the TCAB Executive Committee. The TCAB was formed as a political organization in 1871 by William Penn Adair and Clement Neely Vann, for descendants of the Texas Cherokees and the Mount Tabor Community in an effort to gain redress from treaty violations stemming from the Treaty of Bowles Village in 1836. Following the adoption of the Cherokee consitition in 1975, TCAB descendants, whose ancestors had remained a part of the physical Mount Tabor Community in Rusk County, Texas, were excluded from citizenship in that their ancestors did not appear on the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes. However, most if not all, did have an


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of Cherokee heritage to advance his or her career or credentials. – Joint Council of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.[10] This declaration was not signed or approved by the United Keetoowah Band. Even still the Cherokee Nation acknowledges the existence of people of Cherokee descent " states such as Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas," who are Cherokee by blood but not members of the Cherokee Nation. [11]

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
battle of strength with the judicial branch of the Cherokee tribe. The crisis came to a dramatic head on March 22, 1997, when Byrd, stated in a press conference that he would decide which orders of the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court were lawful and which were not. A simmering crisis continued over Byrd’s creation of a private, armed paramilitary force. The crisis came to a head on June 20, 1997 when his private army illegally seized custody of the Cherokee Nation Courthouse from its legal caretakers and occupants, the Cherokee Nation Marshals, the Judicial Appeals Tribunal and its court clerks. They ousted the lawful occupants at gunpoint. Immediately the court demanded that the courthouse be returned to the judicial branch of the Cherokee Nation, but these requests were ignored by Byrd.[26] The Federal authorities of the United States initially refused to intervene because of potential breach of tribal sovereignty. The State of Oklahoma recognized that Byrd’s activities were breaches in state law. By August it sent in state troopers and specialist anti-terrorist teams. Byrd was required to attend a meeting in Washington DC with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in which he was compelled to reopen the courts. He served the remainder of his elected term under supervision and remains a free man. In 1999 Byrd lost the election for Principal Chief to Chad Smith.

Cherokee Nation statement on Cherokee Heritage Groups
"There are more than 200 groups that we’ve been able to recognize that call themselves a Cherokee nation, tribe, or band," said Mike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation (the one based here in Tahlequah, at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex). "Only three are federally recognized, but the other groups run the gamut of intent. Some are basically heritage groups – people who have family with Cherokee heritage who are interested in the language and culture, and we certainly encourage that," said Miller. "But the problem is when you have groups that call themselves ‘nation,’ or ‘band,’ or ‘tribe,’ because that implies governance."

Today the Cherokee Nation is one of America’s biggest proponents of ecological protection. Since 1992, the Nation has served as the lead for the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council.[12] The mission of ITEC is to protect the health of American Indians, their natural resources and their environment as it relates to air, land and water. To accomplish this mission, ITEC provides technical support, training and environmental services in a variety of environmental disciplines. Currently, there over forty ITEC member tribes in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

Constitutional change
During 1999-2003, the tribe passed and ratified amendments to their constitution, which omitted the words "of Oklahoma" from references to the tribe.[13] The US Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs has not accepted as valid any version of the constitution later than the 1975-6 edition,[14][15][16] and the tribe is still regularly referred to as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in federal court filings,[17] on government websites,[18] and elsewhere.[19][20][21][22] The tribe, which contests BIA involvement in the tribal constitution,[23] routinely refers to itself as "The Cherokee Nation,"[24] although it still conducts litigation in federal courts as "The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma."[25]

The 1997 Cherokee Constitutional Crisis
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma was seriously destabilized in May 1997 in what was variously described as either a nationalist "uprising" or an "anti-constitutional coup" instigated by Joe Byrd, the Principal Chief. Elected in 1995, Byrd became locked in a

Cherokee Freedmen

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Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chad Smith, later announced that because of a citizens’ petition that contained the required number of signatures, the issue of Freedmen citizenship would be put to a vote by a proposed amendment to the Cherokee Nation Constitution. These amendments were intended to restrict tribal membership exclusively to Cherokees who were descended by blood from ancestors listed on the Dawes Rolls. This would simultaneously exclude non-Indian Freedmen and Intermarried Whites from tribal membership who were not on these rolls.[27] It would however, include 1500 descendants of former slaves with ancestors who were on the Dawes Rolls. The Constitution had always restricted governmental positions to persons of Cherokee blood. In March 2007, the tribe voted on the constitutional amendment.[28] 76.6% of voters affirmed the proposed amendment, revoking the tribal citizenship of the descendants of former black slaves and intermarried whites who had previously been considered Cherokee citizens. Descendants of Cherokee freedmen and intermarried whites were excluded from voting on this amendment.[29] The vote to oust the Freedmen provoked controversy, particularly from various political circles, including the Congressional Black Caucus. Some called for revocation of all federal funding for the Cherokee Nation.[30] On May 15, 2007, the Cherokee Freedmen were reinstated as citizens of the Cherokee Nation by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Courts while appeals were pending in the Cherokee Nation Courts and Federal Court.[31] On May 22, 2007, the Cherokee Nation received notice from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs that the BIA and Federal Government had denied the amendment to the 1975 Cherokee Nation Constitution because it required BIA approval, which had not been obtained. The BIA also noted that the Cherokee Nation had excluded the Cherokee Freedmen from voting on the amendment. The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation could take away the approval authority it had granted the federal government. Principal Chief Smith has also argued against the requirement for BIA approval for constitutional amendments.[32][33] Congresswoman Diane Watson of California, where 20,000 Cherokee live, responded

The seal of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee freedmen, descendants of African American slaves owned by citizens of the Cherokee Nation during the Antebellum Period, were first guaranteed Cherokee citizenship under a treaty with the United States in 1866. This was in the wake of the American Civil War, when the US emancipated slaves and passed US constitutional amendments granting freedmen citizenship in the United States. In 1988, the federal court in the Freedmen case of Nero v. Cherokee Nation held that Cherokees could decide citizenship requirements and exclude freedmen. On March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeal Tribunal ruled that the Cherokee Freedmen were eligible for Cherokee citizenship. This ruling proved controversial; while the Cherokee Freedman had historically been recorded as "citizens" of the Cherokee Nation at least since 1866 and the later Dawes Commission Land Rolls, the ruling "did not limit membership to people possessing Cherokee blood".[26] This ruling was consistent with the 1975 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, in its acceptance of the Cherokee Freedmen on the basis of historical citizenship, rather than documented blood relation.


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by introducing a bill in 2007 that would sever ties between the United States and the Cherokee Nation until the Freedmen issue is resolved.[34][35] As of August 9, 2007, the BIA gave the Cherokee Nation consent to amend its Constitution without approval from the Department of the Interior.[36]

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma


Relationship with the Eastern Band
The Cherokee Nation participates in numerous joint programs with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It also participates in cultural exchange programs and joint Tribal Council meetings involving councillors from both Cherokee Tribes which address issues affecting all of the Cherokee People. Unlike the adversarial relationship between the administrations of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians interactions with the Cherokee Nation present a unified spirit of Gadugi with the leaders and citizens of the Eastern Band. The United Keetoowah Band tribal council unanimously passed a resolution to approach the Cherokee Nation for a joint council meeting between the two Nations, as a means of "offering the olive branch", in the words of the UKB Council. While a date was set for the meeting between members of the Cherokee Nation council and UKB representation Chief Smith vetoed the meeting.

2004 Marriage Law decision
On June 14, 2004, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted to officially define marriage as a union between woman and man, thereby outlawing same-sex marriage. This decision came in response to an application by a lesbian couple submitted on May 13. The decision kept Cherokee law in line with Oklahoma state law, which officially outlawed gay marriage as the result of a popular referendum on a constitutional amendment in 2004.

See also
• Cherokee • Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee • Timeline of Cherokee removal

[1] Oklahoma Indian Affairs. Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. 2008:36 [2] "1976 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma". Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 1976. constitution/cherokee/index.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [3] "Cherokee Heritage Center". Retrieved on 2007-03-10. [4] State of Utah Court Case [5] Garroutte, p.16 [6] Cherokee Nation Registration [7] Glenn 2006 [8] Official Statement Cherokee Nation 2000, Pierpoint 2000 [9] LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=y%2bJcRrV4oDc%3d&tabid [10] Joint Council of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Resolution #00-08. A Resolution Opposing Fabricated Cherokee "Tribes" and "Indians." [11] Page/default.aspx [12] "Inter-Tribal Environmental Council". Retrieved on 2007-03-10. [13] ""The 1999 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation; A review and comparison between the 1976 and 1999 Constitutions of the Cherokee Nation in preparation for the ratification vote on July 26, 2003."". The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 2003. TribalGovernment/Executive/CCC/ ccc1999Changes.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [14] "Affidavit of Carl J. Artman, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs". May 29, 2007. courtaction.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [15] "Federal Defendants’ Response to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction". Federal%20Defendants_Response%20to%20PI%20m Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [16] "Letter from Carl Artman, Assistant Secretary of the BIA, to Principal Chief Chad Smith".


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docs/bia/artman052107.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [17] "Brief in Opposition in the case Delaware Tribe of Indians v. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, et al.". United States Department of Justice. July, 2005. 0responses/2004-1368.resp.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [18] "Indian Ancestry - Cherokee Indian Ancestry". United States Department of the Interior. cheeroke.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [19] "Website of the United Keetoowah Band". Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [20] "Testimony of Dallas Proctor, Chief of the United Keetoowah Band, before the US Senate". United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. Sept. 18, 2002. 091802hrg/proctor.PDF. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [21] "H.R. 2824: To sever United States’ government relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma". United States House of Representatives. June 21, 2007. billtext.xpd?bill=h110-2824. Retrieved on 2007-07-05. [22] "Land Acquisitions; Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma". The Federal Register. March5, 2007. FederalRegister/2007/03/05/e7-3715.asp. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [23] "Cherokee Nation reacts to BIA Rejection of Constitution,". May 23, 2007. 003071.asp. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [24] "Website of the Cherokee Nation". Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [25] "Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma et al. v. Leavitt et al.". Supreme Court of the United States. March 2005. 01mar20051115/ 04pdf/02-1472.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-07-04. [26] "Freedman Decision" (PDF). Freedman-Decision.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
[27] "Citizen Views Fall on Both Sides of Freedmen Issue". Cherokee Nation News Release. 2006-03-13. home.aspx?section=chief&ID=/ aoDJcgHYwk=. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. [28] Morris, Frank (2007-02-21). "Cherokee Tribe Faces Decision on Freedmen". National Public Radio. story.php?storyId=7513849. Retrieved on 2007-03-11. [29] "Cherokees eject slave descendants". BBC News. 2007-03-04. 6416735.stm. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. [30] "Freedmen Seek Federal Injunction To Protect Cherokee Citizenship". KOTV News. 2007-05-09. local/story/?id=126981. Retrieved on 2007-07-07. [31] "Cherokee Courts Reinstate Freedmen". home.aspx?section=story&id=oC4xHD/ PhXU=. [32] Cherokee Nation Says It Will Abide by Court’s Decision on Constitution [1] [33] BIA rejects Cherokee Amendment [2] [34] "To sever United States’ government relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma until such time as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma restores full tribal citizenship to the Cherokee Freedmen...". congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-2824. Retrieved on 2007-07-07. [35] "Watson Introduces Legislation to Sever U.S. Relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma". 2007-06-21. ca33_watson/070621.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-07. [36] "Letter from Carl Altman, 8-9-2007" (PDF). news/ BIA_ltr_Artman_080920007_readable.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-09-07.

External links
• The Cherokee Nation


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Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

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