Cherokee Nation High Court Orders Term 'By Blood' Removed

Feb 23, 2021

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ruled Monday the term ‘by blood’ is void and should be removed from the tribe’s laws and Constitution.

The decision was in response to a 2017 federal case that determined descendants of Black slaves, known as Freedmen, who once were owned by members of the Cherokee Nation have a right to tribal citizenship.

The court’s order states that the “by blood” language is “illegal, obsolete and repugnant to the ideal of liberty.”

“These two words have no place in the Cherokee Nation, neither in present day, nor in its future,” the order says.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill had requested the nation’s high court address the issue and issue an order.

“Provisions in Cherokee Nation’s constitution and laws that deny descendants of Freedmen all the rights and obligations of Cherokee citizenship violate our 155-year-old treaty obligations and are void,” Hill said in a statement. “Cherokee citizens of Freedmen descent are simply this: Cherokee citizens.”

The nation says it has about 8,500 enrolled citizens of Freedmen descent.