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Counterclaim File in Cherokee Freedmen Dispute

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of the Interior has asked a federal judge for an injunction against the Cherokee Nation to prevent the tribe from denying tribal citizenship for the descendants of freed slaves.

The agency filed a counter-lawsuit in the long-running case on Monday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

The department argued an 1866 treaty between the federal government and the tribe provided the Cherokee freedmen and their descendants with all the rights of native Cherokees.

The descendants sued the Cherokees after members voted in 2007 to amend the constitution to restrict citizenship to people who could show their ancestors were on the Dawes Rolls. The tribe argues it has a right to amend its constitution.

Chief Bill John Baker says the claim will allow the case to move forward.