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Cherokee Nation votes to strip tribal citizenship from ex-slaves' descendants

[JURIST] Members of the Cherokee Nation [official website] voted Saturday to adopt an amendment [Cherokee backgrounder] to the tribe's constitution [PDF text], limiting membership in the Cherokee Nation and stripping approximately 2,800 descendants of former Cherokee slaves of tribal membership. Over 76 percent of voters backed the amendment [vote results], which limits citizenship "to those who are original enrollees or descendants of Cherokees by blood, Delawares by blood, or Shawnees by blood as listed on the Final Rolls of the Cherokee Nation commonly referred to as the Dawes Commission Rolls closed in 1906."

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court [official backgrounder] ruled last year that descendants of slaves once owned by tribe members were entitled to tribal citizenship under an 1866 treaty [text] ending slavery in the Cherokee Nation. Attempts to block the vote were unsuccessful, but a federal judge has indicated that a challenge could be considered should the tribe vote to revoke membership. A tribal spokesman has said that any court challenges to the results should be filed in tribal courts and that March 12 is the deadline to challenge the vote. The Descendants of Freedmen of Five Civilized Tribes [advocacy website] has promised to protest the results. AP has more.

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