TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma, USA (AP) – The Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation ruled Monday that the term “by blood” is invalid and should be removed from the laws and the constitution of the tribe.
The decision was made in response to a 2017 federal case in which descendants of black slaves, known as Freedmen (freed men), who were once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation, were found to have the right to be citizens of the tribe.
The court order states that the expression “by blood” is “illegal, obsolete and repugnant to the ideal of freedom.”
“These two words have no place in the Cherokee Nation, neither in the present, nor in the future,” the order states.
Sara Hill, Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation, had requested that her highest court hear the matter and issue an order.
“Clauses in the constitution and laws of the Cherokee Nation that deny descendants of the Freedmen all the rights and obligations of Cherokee citizenship violate the obligations set forth in our 155-year treaty and are invalid,” Hill said in a statement. “Cherokee citizens descended from the Freedmen are simply this: Cherokee citizens.”
The nation says it has about 8,500 citizens descended from the Freedmen.