The leaders of the Cherokee Nation are scoffing at a notice from the Bureau of Indian Affairs telling it that it cannot kick 2,800 black people out of the tribe. “The Cherokee Nation will not be governed by the BIA,” Acting Chief Joe Crittenden said in a statement, according to Reuters. The dispute springs from a Cherokee Supreme Court decision requiring tribe members to prove they have Cherokee blood.
That would oust the so-called “Cherokee Freedmen,” the descendants of slaves owned by wealthy Cherokee, who have been part of the tribe for more than a century. The US government says the treaty the Cherokee signed after the Civil War guaranteed the slaves and their descendants tribal citizenship. In a letter Monday, the federal agency said it would not recognize the results of the tribe’s upcoming election if the freedmen weren’t allowed to vote in it. (Read more Cherokee Nation stories.)