Cherokees voted yesterday to expel descendants of black slaves they once owned, a move that has exposed the unsavoury role played by some Native Americans during the Civil War and renewed accusations of racism against the tribe.
Members of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest Native American tribe, voted by 77 per cent to 23 in a special election to amend their constitution and limit citizenship to those listed as “Cherokee by blood”.
The move stripped tribal membership from freedmen – those descended from slaves – and blacks who were married to Cherokees. They have enjoyed full citizenship rights for 141 years.
Opponents of the vote denounced it as a racist plot to deny tribal revenue – which includes $22 billion a year from casino takings for all US tribes – to those not deemed full-blood Cherokee, and to block them from claiming a slice of the tribal pie.
Supporters say that it was a long-overdue move by Cherokees to determine their own tribal make-up. Freedmen were granted full tribal membership under an 1866 treaty that the tribe was essentially forced to sign with the US Government after the Civil War ended.
The vote has reopened a lesser-known chapter in Native American history – the fact that some of the country’s largest tribes sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War – and the intra-tribal racial tensions that have persisted since Emancipation.
Cherokees, Choctaws, Chicksaws, Creeks and Seminoles were known as the Five Civilised Tribes because they adopted many of the ways of the Confederate South, including the ownership of black slaves. The election has also high-lighted the massive gambling revenues many tribes now enjoy because, as “sovereign nations”, they are free to build casinos on tribal lands in a country where gambling is largely illegal.
Virginia apologizes for role in slavery February 25, 2007Posted by C.A.R.D in A. Donald McEachin, African, African Americans, African-American, Americans Indians, Black, Blacks, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Frank D. Hargrove, Human Rights, L. Douglas Wilder, profound regret, Racism, Racist, Slave, slave-trade, slavery, Slaves, Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia slavery, White, Whites.
Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express “profound regret” for the state’s role in slavery.
Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery, although Missouri lawmakers are considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message, supporters said.
“This session will be remembered for a lot of things, but 20 years hence I suspect one of those things will be the fact that we came together and passed this resolution,” said Delegate A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who sponsored it in the House of Delegates.
The resolution passed the House 96-0 and cleared the 40-member Senate on a unanimous voice vote. It does not require Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s approval.
The measure also expressed regret for “the exploitation of Native Americans.”