The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court upheld a decision this week that allowed an amendment to its constitutional membership requirement and will now remove all decedents of slaves once allowed to enroll from its tribal membership.
Reuter reports that the change will cause about 2,800 “Freedmen” to lose membership and void almost 3,500 tribal membership applications that have been filed by Freedmen members.
The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.
But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called “Freedmen” out of the tribe was proper.
The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves
A plaintiff in the case called decision racist, saying it was “apartheid in the 21st Century,” Reuters reported.