Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree said Monday that after “years of litigation and legal expenses, it appears that we will finally be able to ask a judge to decide the main issue of this case which is, `What, if anything, did the Treaty of 1866 grant the freedmen and their descendants?“'
While many white Americans owned black slaves until after the Civil War, so did some Cherokee tribesmen — but the practice generally ended with the 1866 treaty that afforded freed slaves the same rights as native Cherokees.
Leaders of the Cherokee Nation, one of the largest and most influential American tribes, have been trying to change that policy by declaring that the descendants should not be considered Cherokee citizens unless they can show proof of Indian blood.
In 2007, more than three-quarters of Cherokee citizens voted to kick out descendants of freedmen and other non-Indians. The dispute has been in and out of the courts ever since.