Descendants of Cherokee Freedmen

In 1983 the tribal council quickly passed an act which required that all tribal members be able to obtain a Certificate of Indian Blood (CDIB) card showing their degree of Indian blood, so to be a member of the Cherokee Nation, you needed first to get a CDIB and it is virtually impossible for the descendants of the Freedmen to get one based on the Dawes rolls. Several descendants have brought their cases to the Courts and lost.  In March 2006, the Judicial Appeals Tribunal (JAT), the Cherokee Nation's highest court recently ruled that the law not allowing descendants of Freedmen joining the Cherokee Nation is unconstitutional, thus they should be allowed to join and vote as legit Cherokee citizens. You can find the ruling. However, the Cherokee Nation is trying to pass amendments, it is not over. Here is the information to enlist at African-nativemerican.com

Oklahoma's Black Indians and their hundreds of thousands of descendents are among those who have left a legacy of records, from the Dawes rolls to the earlier records created after the Treaty of 1866 was signed. In addition, until the middle of the 20th century, there were Black Indians – Freedmen who still lived and practiced the customs of the nations where they had been born. The WPA Slave Narratives contained more than 25 interviews of Black Indians, who spoke of their lives as Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws. Their language, burial customs, and diet were formulated by the native culture into which they had been born, lived and eventually died. 

Those seeking more knowledge about the customs practiced by these Black Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes will not find lives centered around pow wows, and Hollywood images of the plains nations. These documented citizens of the Five nations were bilingual, bicultural people, seeking to establish new lives for themselves in their new country and their new state of Oklahoma.Most of the Freedmen of Indian Territory who were adults when freed, were bilingual, speaking both English and the language of their Indian slave owners. In some cases some of the Indian Territory slaves, learned English after slavery ended, when meeting members of their families from whom they had been sold. Many of the Black Indians moved easily from English to their Indian mother tongue, while others had their native Indian language as their language of choice. There were others who preferred English though still understanding their Indian language. These excerpts reveal the language and culture in which the African Indians lived."

Those seeking more knowledge about the customs practiced by these Black Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes will not find lives centered around pow wows, and Hollywood images of the plains nations. These documented citizens of the Five nations were bilingual, bicultural people, seeking to establish new lives for themselves in their new country and their new state of Oklahoma.Most of the Freedmen of Indian Territory who were adults when freed, were bilingual, speaking both English and the language of their Indian slave owners. In some cases some of the Indian Territory slaves, learned English after slavery ended, when meeting members of their families from whom they had been sold. Many of the Black Indians moved easily from English to their Indian mother tongue, while others had their native Indian language as their language of choice. There were others who preferred English though still understanding their Indian language. These excerpts reveal the language and culture in which the African Indians lived."

For more information see: http://www.cherokeebyblood.com/blackindians.htm#F