On Black Freedmen
35 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007 Last revised: 13 Nov 2007
Date Written: November 8, 2007
In recent years, some legal, political, and cultural questions involving American Indians have begun to overlap - and conflict - with those of African Americans. The recent Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma's vote to strip the Black Freedmen of tribal membership generated allegations of racism and calls to force Indian tribes to comply with the Reconstruction Amendments sheds light on this question. This controversy highlights a serious problem in Indian-Black political and social relationships - the discourse of Black-White racism has begun to intrude into the discourse of American Indian law. The Reconstruction Amendments, federal civil rights statutes, and federal case law - all established as a reaction to Black-White racism - expresses important antidiscrimination principles that can conflict with the foundational elements of American Indian law: tribal sovereignty, the trust relationship, and measured separatism. To import the law of Black-White racism into American Indian law is to destroy American Indian law and, potentially, American Indian culture.
Keywords: freedmen, interest-convergence theory, reconstruction, indian tribes, race, employment discrimination
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