Who gets Cherokee citizenship has long been a struggle between the tribe and the US government

A recent decision by the Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court struck down a law that freedmen – descendants of people enslaved by Cherokees in the 18th and 19th centuries – cannot hold elective tribal office. The ruling is the latest development of a long struggle between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government over which has the power to determine who should be considered a tribal citizen, and which culture’s values should be most important in that determination.

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