[Foundation-l] Cherokee Nation Freedmen Ruling in Federal Court in DC

Jeff V. Merkey jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com
Thu Dec 28 18:20:01 UTC 2006

This may be an interesting read for Brad and others at the Foundation.  
The Cherokee Nation was eviscerated in Federal Court
today over the Cherokee Freedmen issue and found to have violated the 
13th Ammendment of the Constitution and the ruling
aborragated our sovereignty over the issue of Freedmen membership.  It's 
hitting the front page of a lot of publications.

The Cherokee related articles on the English Wikipedia may get a lot of 
hits over this topic, and potentially a lot of vandalism. 
The Freedmen are African slaves who are for the most part Cherokee by 
blood.   They have their own dialect of the
Cherokee Language which has been spoken for several hundred years that 
combines some Kaswahili with our language
(only about 10 fluent speakers of this dialect are still living, most of 
them over 80 years old).    This language variant is very
beautiful and musical to hear with very interesting glottal stops and 
interspersed African inflections. 
Most of these Freedmen speakers speak only Cherokee and did not speak 
English in ancient times.

The ruling is at:


I have been in contact with this group in Oklahoma and we are working to 
document this dialect.    Marilyn Vann, the person
who is behind this lawsuit is one of the speakers of this Cherokee 
dialect, but she is not as totally fluent in it.  I personally feel
that those freedmen who married into our culture should be allowed 
membership in the Nation, since anyone who speaks
Cherokee as a first language is certainly a Cherokee Indian.  I am 
neutral on the blood issue.  It's a tough one.  At any rate,
some interesting reading on the legal sissues dealing with tribal 
sovereignty.  This ruling potentially has redefined its boundaries
and will have far reaching impacts on all tribes.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list