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Cherokee Slave Descendants Head to Court (Dec 14, 2012)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation say they look forward to having a court consider their attempt to reclaim membership in the tribe.

A federal appeals court said Friday the Cherokee Freedmen can sue the current chief for the restoration of full tribal rights.

Plaintiff Marilyn Vann says she believes a judge will order the Cherokees to restore rights to 2,800 descendants of former slaves.

The Freedmen claim they were promised citizenship under an 1866 treaty. A Cherokee spokesman says that in order to be a citizen of an Indian tribe, a person must be an Indian.

The court Friday upheld the Cherokee Nation's status as a sovereign entity but said the Freedmen can sue the chief in an effort to reclaim their membership.

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