For those who lament that the US Constitution is too difficult to amend, they should take a look at what happens when a constitution is easy to change. Last week, the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation upheld a 2007 referendum that stripped tribal membership of around 2,800 descendents of Cherokee-owned black slaves known as the Freedmen.
The Cherokee Nation (or Western Band) with land in Oklahoma (not to be confused with the Eastern Band of Cherokee in Western North Carolina) is the largest of three Federally recognized Cherokee groups and has nearly 300,000 members. In 2006, the Cherokee Supreme court ruled that additional Freedmen as well as intermarried whites, could become tribal members. This did not sit well with Chief Chad Smith and others in the Nation’s political hierarchy. Maintaining the integrity of the tribe may have been their public face, but with hundreds of millions of dollars of gaming revenue in play, as well as the prospect of diluted political power, one has to wonder about their noble motives.