Chicago, IL — Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 praised the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s recent ruling that removed the phrase “by blood” from its constitution and other tribal laws legally recognizing the legitimacy of the descendants of Black people, known as Cherokee Freemen, who were once their slaves.
“The treaty should be honored,” said Rev. Jackson who has traced his Cherokee heritage and slavery on his father’s side. “Blacks escaped to the reservation because they were oppressed. Praising the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s ruling, Rev. Jackson added, “This is how it should be. Together, we can right some wrongs.”
Stuart Anglin, lead plaintiff in the Cherokee Return of land lawsuit and corporate board member of the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, and his son, Kyle, were elated over the ruling agreeing that “Indian by the blood” Blacks shed especially during the 1830-1850 Trail of Tears.
In 1830, Congress passed the Removal Act that resulted in about 100,000 Native Americans and thousands of slaves being forcibly relocated over 5,043 miles and through nine states, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee. More than 1,000 died during the forced relocation.
“The Cherokee needs to have these government bodies enlist support to us so that we can help tie in the Freemen and the other mixed bloods with ancestral Cherokee blood in cooperation with the return of land for the original Cherokee Nation East of the Mississippi,” said Stuart Anglin.
“These Cherokee tribes, both state and federal, will be apportioned per capita. These lands would be divided amongst the tribes,” he said. While this would help the Cherokee tribe now, eventually he said it would help the others including the Choctaws, the Muscogee Creeks, Seminoles and Chickasaws.
“Ultimately, we can tie the knot with all Cherokee blood,” Stuart Anglin said. Freedmen, Stuart Anglin explained, “have always been taken from the table. It was said if you have Caucasians blood or European blood or Cherokee blood, and if you printed that you can come into these tribes, but the Black man. They ain’t coming in because they were held as slaves.
‘They were kind of a warden of the Cherokee people. Many of those folks had Cherokee blood and had relations with two oppressed people, Blacks and Native American Indians who found comfort in each other post, pre and during the slavery years,” he said.
“There were some bad Cherokees who even had white man’s belief in slavery.”
The Court’s ruling is in response to a 2017 ruling by the U.S. District Court, which ruled that the descendants of Black people once enslaved by the tribe have the right to tribal citizenship rights under a treaty the Cherokee Nation made with the U.S. in 1866.
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice Shawna S. Baker wrote in the opinion, “Freedmen rights are inherent. They extend to descendants of Freedmen as a birthright springing from their ancestors’ oppression and displacement as people of color recorded and memorialized in Article 9 of the 1866 Treaty.”
Referring to the Court’s ruling, Anglin’s son, Kyle, said, “This allows our Black brothers and sisters to be able to claim their inheritance. It is theirs by birthright. They have never been able to claim their inheritance.”
“The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has announced that Freedmen and Cherokee of Black descent are finally able to claim their lineage,” said Kyle Anglin. Referring to Black Cherokees, Kyle Anglin added, “They are my brothers and my sisters.”
He said the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has the most Cherokee citizens, about 330,000, and it is a Black mark on the Cherokee Nations. “They don’t want to talk about some Cherokee owning slaves. They are talking about it now,” he said.