Cherokee Phoenix

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."

Allison Herrera

It’s one of the most controversial issues in Indian country, the issue of the Freedmen.

Cherokee Freedmen were former slaves adopted into the Cherokee tribe after the Trail of Tears. Today, descendants of the Freedmen say they've been denied citizenship and other rights owed to them. A federal judge is expected to rule on this issue sometime this year.

Allison Herrera

Freedom of the press is something most journalists in the United States fiercely protect and demand. It’s seen as crucial to keeping those with power in check. But in Indian Country, it gets more complicated.

There are more than 200 tribal newspapers in the country and only a handful have passed freedom of the press acts. Editors have had stories cut, websites shut down and staff threatened or fired for publishing stories tribal officials don’t approve of.