Allison Herrera

Allison Herrera was the co-creator of Invisible Nations, a project exploring modern Native culture in Oklahoma, from November 2015 to July 2016.

Herrera previously served as the editor of the award-winning online publication the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Since earning a B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, she has worked as a radio and video producer for Twin Cities Public Television, AmpersKFAI, KSMQ, and several others.

She also has worked with KBFT radio on the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa reservation in northern Minnesota to produce a series of shows about art, culture, history and the environment.

Allison is working on a documentary about Ojibwe painter Jim Denomie and lives in Minneapolis with her daughter, Anna.

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Let Down And Locked Up: Why Oklahoma's Female Incarceration Is So High

6 hours ago
Allison Herrera / KOSU

Robyn Allen saw her daughter for the first time in two years from across the yard of Oklahoma’s largest women’s prison, the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.

Because the two were serving time for the same 2013 methamphetamine case, they weren’t supposed to communicate. But as Allen’s daughter, Cherise Greer, was being loaded into a van on her way to another prison this summer, the guard turned away.

Greer, in an orange prison uniform, called out: “I love you.”

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Allison Herrera/PRI 

Marilyn Vann always knew her background and where her family came from. She knew she was a Cherokee Freedman, a descendant of former slaves, and that she deserved to have full tribal citizenship, just like other native Cherokees.

That's why she was surprised to get a rejection letter when she tried to enroll more than a decade ago. After all, her father was an original enrollee on the Dawes Roll, a historical US government record of tribal members. That meant, she said, she was eligible for citizenship into the tribe.

Allison Herrera

A case that helps determine whether or not the descendants of Cherokee slaves have the full citizenship rights of native Cherokees was decided in United States Federal District Court Wednesday.

After nearly three years, Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan in his ruling said the paramount question to be considered is whether an 1866 treaty between the Cherokee Nation and the United States granted the Cherokee Freedmen, or the descendants of slaves, "all the rights of native Cherokees."

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

Holdenville, Okla., is home to about 5,800 people. It has a small downtown with banks, restaurants and a few shops, though some are closed down.

Eli Grayson has always been fascinated with Creek history. His research led him to some surprising information about the Creek Nation, and his own family tree.

"I wish we had something in our DNA or in our brains that would allow us to go to sleep and call these people forth, and...actually hear their stories."

Watch his video below.

Allison Herrera

Long before the gushers of Glenpool, before any oil mansions dotted the tree-lined Arkansas River and before the automobile-ruled the streets of Tulsa, there were the Locv Pokv people, or as some know them- the Muscogee Creek. Locv Pokv was the daughter of the old town in the deep south of Georgia and Alabama, the Turtle Meeting Place.

Allison Herrera

Freedmen is another term for descendants of former slaves. And in the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, the question of their status within the tribes has been debated for decades. In the Cherokee Nation, there are two open court cases that will determine the freedmen’s tribal citizenship. And a similar debate is happening in the Seminole nation.

In this third and final story in our series about the Freedmen, Invisible Nations’ Allison Herrera explains why the Seminole freedmen feel especially angry about the actions of their tribal council members.

Allison Herrera

There’s an ongoing issue in the Cherokee Nation-it involves a group of people known as the Freedmen, ­ descendants of former slaves ­ who would like to be part of the tribe. There are nearly 16 years of conflict between the nation and these would ­be citizens, plus an open legal case. Allison Herrera profiles two of these Freedmen.

 

Listen to the story here:

 

Allison Herrera

It’s arguably one of the more controversial issues in Indian Country-the case of the Freedmen-descendants of former slaves looking to gain citizenship into one of the major tribes in Oklahoma. Cherokee Freedmen have waited more than two years on a decision from a federal judge telling them whether they can be citizens of the tribe. Invisible Nations Allison Herrera brings us this first story in a three-part series about the issue.

Many native languages are considered endangered, ­with few first speakers left to pass down the language to a new generation. But, a new generation of young people fueled by technology​ is making an impact. 

The famed song by Chubby Checker encouraging dancers all over to get down and do “The Twist” plays in the background as dancers from the Cherokee Pride school in NE Oklahoma move and groove around. Today, the song isn't being sung by the 1950's icon,  it’s being sung by students in their native language of Cherokee.

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