'Black' Cherokees fight for heritage
Posted: Friday, October 12, 2007
By Lois Hatton
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A group of Americans who are not fully black or fully Indian are fighting for the survival of their identity, culture, history and economic future. Life for these black Indians can be difficult, no matter their tribal affiliation.
Lynn Hart, a black Yankton Sioux, says he regularly experiences racism. "When I go to the reservation, people see me as black. When I walk among blacks, they see me as Indian." But black Cherokees, commonly called Cherokee Freedmen, have recently been dealt a crueler blow.
In March, Cherokee tribal members voted to remove members who had African-American heritage — a total of 2,800 people. Why now? Money seems to be a motivating factor. Members receive health care, education and housing benefits. Each also has voting rights in tribal elections. But more important, each member has a stake in growing casino revenue.
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