Cherokee Nation (CN) and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) history, how and why CN and CNO are not one and the same, as the leadership of CNO would have the world believe since its inception in 1975. The Cherokee History is told and retold in many arenas on the world wide web. I like the articles at this link http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/ and all the assorted references and citing of all the different sources, of Cherokee history up to and through the Civil War...
My saga begins with June of 1863 Near the end of the Civil war, The Cherokee knew the end of the war was near and what the results would be, so they set out to rectify a longtime wrong within the Cherokee Nation, the owning of another human being; Therefore the National Council of the Cherokee Nation pass an act emancipating their slaves, see an old photograph showing the Act here: http://www.cornsilks.com/1863emplaw.jpg then in April 1865 the final surrender of the South, and the end of the War.
In 1866 because the Cherokee had sided with the south and was on the losing side of a war the Cherokee knew they must negotiate peace with the US Government, and this was to be by treaty, they knew there would be limits of tribal land rights, citizenship rights, etc...And due to the Cherokee Peoples status as a Government the people were offered the right to negotiate the terms of the treaty, not forced to sign as the leaders of the Cherokee Nation Oklahoma would have the world believe. One of the more humane acts of the Federal Government of the time specially in regards to Indian people, and since they had won the war with the Indians as part of the enemies camp.
So the Cherokee Nation, after the Civil war against the United States, signed a treaty of peace with the U.S. The documents which were created during the negotiations leading to the signing of that historic document, the supreme law of the land today shows the Cherokee leadership did not oppose the adoption of the Freedmen they actually encouraged it.
The records show the leadership of the Cherokee Nation were against many of the proposed provisions of the treaty. The provision which received more concern from tribal leadership was the possibility of a railroad passing through the Nation. Of the nine proposals made by the United States prior to the signing of the treaty, four of them were acceptable to the Cherokee leaders/negotiators. Five were unacceptable. When all was said and done and the treaty was signed, the Cherokee leaders/negotiators were successful in defeating all five. Only the four proposals not opposed by the Cherokee made it into the treaty. Does that sound like duress/coercion or forced to sign? As I have said the Cherokee Government were being treated with respect as the ones defeated in a war. And the most noteworthy and in relevance with today’s issues, of those four Government proposals, and unopposed by the Cherokee leaders/negotiators was the adoption of the Freedmen as Cherokee Citizens. The Cherokee were so caring of their Freedmen relation they set out a Proclamation and amended their 1839 Constitution. And it was (adopted November 26, 1866) Proclamation by the Principal Chief.
Whereas the national council adopted certain amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, and submitted the same to a general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, called At Tahlequah on the 26th day of November, A.D. 1866, and which said amendments, with the preamble thereto attached, were in the following words, to wit:
Whereas by the treaty executed at Washington on the 19th day of July, A.D. 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, through its delegation, ratified by the Senate and officially promulgated by the President of the United States August 11, 1866, certain things were agreed to between the parties to said treaty, involving changes in the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, which changes cannot be accomplished by the usual mode; and
Whereas it is the desire of the people and government of the Cherokee Nation to carry out in good faith all of its obligations, to the end that law and order be preserved, and the institutions of their government maintained: Therefore, Be it resolved by the national council, That the following amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation be submitted to a convention of the Cherokee people to assemble at Tahlequah on the twenty-sixth (26th) day of November, A.D. 1866, under the proclamation of the principal chief; and should said amendments, hereunto annexed, be ratified by said convention, then they shall be officially published, and declared by the principal chief to be, and shall constitute, a part or parts of the constitution of the Cherokee Nation.
Article II. Section 5.
All native-born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July, 1866, and their descendants who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be CITIZENS of the Cherokee Nation.
At the general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, held at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, on the 28th day of November, AD 1866, for the purpose of taking into the consideration the foregoing amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, and where of Riley Keys, chief justice of the supreme court, was chosen president, and Budd Grits secretary, the said amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation were read, considered, and severally approved and adopted by the Cherokee people.
In testimony whereof the president and secretary of said convention have subscribes the same at Tahlequah.
See the 1866 treaty here at this link http://www.cornsilks.com/1866treaty.html read Article IX, the adoption of the Freedmen.
We know that there were Cherokees present at the negotiations who were opposed to the Freedmen being made citizens of the Nation. But these men were not leaders, they were traitors. They had sold the Cherokee Nation out to the Confederate States, devastated the Nation, destroying its infrastructure, murdering its citizens and burning homes and public buildings. Yet, they were permitted to attend and fully participate in the negotiations. Simply because the Cherokee Peoples way is forgiveness, healing and inclusion; even though these same men wanted to rip the Nation in half, divide the national funds and create a northern and southern Cherokee Nation. This was one of the most indefensible proposals considered by the Federal negations and soundly defeated by the loyal Cherokee leaders/negotiators.
And during the negotiations taking place in Washington, DC, where were the Freedmen? Nowhere near DC, that's for sure. During the entire negotiation period, no one ask, no one cared what the Freedmen wanted. They became citizens of the Cherokee Nation without their consent, just as they had become slaves. Did they want citizenship? Yes, of course. Many were Cherokee by blood. Many spoke only Cherokee. Most had only known a life in the Cherokee Nation and nothing more.
Following the signing of the Treaty of 1866, the disloyal, racist members of the southern delegation began their slow, but steady ascent into power in the Cherokee Nation, even though at least one of their rank, William Penn Adair, turned on his former allies and began working with the loyal Cherokee leaders to rebuild the Nation and restore order.