The Cherokee Nation has about 8,500 enrolled Cherokee Nation citizens of Freedmen descent.
The tribal court’s decision nullifies a 2007 amendment to the tribe’s constitution “to limit citizenship in the nation to only those persons who were Cherokee, Shawnee or Delaware by blood.”
Monday’s tribal Supreme Court decision declared those words “never valid from inception, and must be removed wherever found throughout our tribal law.”
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it “acknowledged, in the strongest terms, our ancestors’ commitment to equality 155 years ago in the Treaty of 1866.”
“My hope,” Hoskin said, “is that we all share in that same commitment going forward.”
Any change to the tribal constitution, however, should have followed the process outlined by the constitution itself, said Nofire, one of three Tribal Council members who had filed a petition with the court last week to urge against striking any language without a vote of the Cherokee people.
“The foundation of our democracy is at stake when any one branch of government believes they have the supreme authority to amend, alter or strike any part of the constitution without a vote of the people,” Nofire said in a statement joined by Council members Harley Buzzard and Julia Coates.