Freedmen seek meeting with Congressman Boren

Muskogee, Oklahoma (AP) 3-08

U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said he supports the descendants of Cherokee freedmen and would welcome a chance to meet with them.

Boren released a statement on during early March after about 20 people marched on his district office in Muskogee.

Organizers said the march was an effort to get a face-to-face meeting with Boren, D-Okla., as well as draw attention to their tribal citizenship efforts.

“We want Rep. Boren to sit down with us and discuss our concerns,” Marilyn Vann, president of the freedmen descendants group, said. “Freedmen are his constituents, too.”

The group’s members are the descendants of freed slaves who lived and intermarried within the Cherokee Nation after the Civil War.

The tribe removed about 2,700 freedmen descendants from its rolls after 10,000 tribal members voted last year to amend their constitution to allow only people with Indian blood to be citizens.

A tribal judge temporarily reinstated the descendants’ citizenship in May while they appeal the election.

In Congress, a measure is being considered to cut federal funding to the Cherokee Nation unless freedmen descendants’ citizenship is restored permanently. House Bill 2824 is in committee.

Boren said he has lobbied for the tribe to retain more than $300 million that the bill would cut, which would benefit the freedmen descendants.

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said the descendants have no claim to Cherokee Nation citizenship based on the law or history.