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Cherokee tribe forced to restore slave descendents rights

JUSTICE: Black members Cherokee rights restored

AN INDIAN Cherokee tribe has been forced to restore voting and benefit rights to thousands of black slave descendants after controversially revoking them last month (Aug 22).

The removal of the rights, upheld by the Cherokee Indian Supreme Court in the US, meant that over 2,800 descendants of former slaves, known as 'freedmen,' would no longer be entitled to benefits such as free medical care and education, and assistance for low-income homeowners.

The decision at the time was labelled a form of "racism and apartheid in the 21st Century" by Freedman leader and plaintiff, Marilyn Vann, and later forced the federal government to take action.

It is believed that the US Federal Government reportedly sent a letter to the Cherokee nation forcing them to reinstate membership rights of their black members, whose ancestors they once owned.

In the 1830s, the Cherokee nation, which was driven out of much of the east coast by land grabbing white settlers, headed south in what is known historically as The Trail of Tears. Many of the tribe brought their slaves with them on the commute.

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