Cherokees expel descendants of slaves from tribe

Posted Sept. 09, 2011, at 9:21 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 09, 2011, at 11:48 p.m.

TULSA, Okla. — One of the nation’s largest American Indian tribes has sent letters to about 2,800 of descendants of slaves once owned by its members, revoking their citizenship and cutting their medical care, food stipends, low-income homeowners’ assistance and other services.

The Cherokee Nation acted this week after its Supreme Court upheld the results of a 2007 special vote to amend the Cherokee constitution and remove the slaves’ descendants from tribal rolls.

Olive Anderson of Kansas City, Mo., calls the letter she received “a slap in the face.”

Black slaves owned by individual Cherokees were freed after the Civil War. An 1866 treaty gave them and their descendants “all the rights of native Cherokees.”

More than 76 percent of Cherokee voters approved the amendment stripping the descendants of their citizenship.

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