TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled on Monday, Feb. 22 in a unanimous decision that the language “by blood” is void, and should be removed from Cherokee Nation’s tribal laws, including provisions within the Cherokee Nation Constitution, according to the opinion.
The decision was made in response to the Federal 2017 Cherokee Nation V. Nash case which determined Freedmen citizens have full rights as Cherokee citizens, based on the Treaty of 1866.
Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill recently requested that the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court set a hearing and issue an order to close the issue by striking the “by blood” references in the Cherokee Nation Constitution, based on the earlier federal ruling.
“The federal court and Cherokee Nation Supreme court concluded in 2017 that Cherokee Nation is bound by the Treaty of 1866 to recognize descendants of Cherokee Freedmen as full citizens. Cherokee Nation has abided by those court orders and will continue to do so,” Attorney General Hill said. “Provisions in Cherokee Nation’s constitution and laws that deny descendants of Freedmen all the rights and obligations of Cherokee citizenship violate our 155-year-old Treaty obligations and are void. Cherokee citizens of Freedmen descent are simply this: Cherokee citizens.”
The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court granted AG Hill’s motion on Monday, Feb. 22. “Today’s unanimous opinion in SC-2017-07 holds that the words by blood are void, were never valid from inception, and must be removed wherever found throughout our tribal law when said words are used in reference to the Dawes Rolls. In doing so, the Court recognizes the importance of the 1866 Treaty for purposes of our nation’s prospective sovereignty and the underpinnings of citizenship,” today’s Cherokee Nation Supreme Court order states.
The Cherokee Nation has about 8,500 enrolled Cherokee Nation citizens of Freedmen descent.
“Cherokee Nation is stronger when we move forward as citizens together and on an equal basis under the law. Today’s decision in the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court reaffirms previous decisions by the court on the issue of equality,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said today. “More importantly, the court has acknowledged, in the strongest terms, our ancestors’ commitment to equality 155 years ago in the Treaty of 1866. My hope is that we all share in that same commitment going forward.”
The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court order can be found at https://www.cherokeecourts.org/Supreme-Court/SC-2017-07-In-Re-Effect-of-Cherokee-Nation-v-Nash-and-Vann-v-Zinke
– Cherokee Nation release