The Second Trail of Tears: An Examination of the Social-Political Power Dynamics between the People of the Cherokee Nation and Their African Ancestry Members – Identity, Sovereignty and Economics
Darryl Omar Freeman
Washington State University; California State University, Sacramento; San Francisco State University
May 1, 2008
In March of 2007 the Cherokee Native American Tribe of Oklahoma voted to disenfranchise some of its members of African ancestry. Since that action, not only have many of the expelled members filed court challenges in Cherokee Nation courts, but an African American member of the United States House of Representatives, supported by members of the Congressional Black Caucus has introduced legislation to deny the Cherokee Nation of Federal health and education benefits and strip them of their casino gaming licenses. This thesis explores the historical relationship between the early African slaves that assimilated with the Cherokee to the advent of this current political conflict in order to identify the causal factors precipitating this collective political action. Cherokee Nation leaders rationalize their action as an exercise of their rights as a sovereign nation to determine its citizenship. The African ancestry Cherokee, accuse the Cherokee nation of immoral and illegal economically driven racism. They are facing the dual identity crisis of being rejected by the culture into which they and their immediate families have assimilated and are forced to survive in a hostile American culture assuming an estranged African American heritage. This thesis also examines the historical, cultural identity and political determinants impacting the social-political relationship between the two races in order to reveal the root causal factor(s) precipitating this racial/cultural fissure within the Cherokee Nation.
Keywords: Freedmen, Cherokee, citizenship, Congressional Black Caucusworking papers series
Date posted: March 12, 2012
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