The problem of the twenty-first century in the Cherokee Nation is the problem of the color-line : how the Cherokee Freedmen have articulated a sense of cultural identity and citizenship claims over time.

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Spears, Shannon
University of Louisville
Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies
thesis / dissertation description
This research investigates the Cherokee Freedmen, who are people of African-American descent and peoples of mixed African-American and Native American descent, who were once enslaved by Cherokees in the Cherokee Nation, and who have articulated their identity and tribal citizenship status as Cherokee Natives in the Cherokee Nation. Upon emancipation, the Cherokee Nation adopted the Cherokee Freedmen as equal citizens in the Cherokee Nation under article nine from the Treaty of 1866, but this changed after citizens were recorded on the Dawes Rolls based upon blood quantum. The theoretical framework of this research is Antonio Gramsci’s theoretical perspective of cultural hegemony and core-periphery theory. Due to cultural hegemony, these citizenship rolls are still what articulate tribal citizenship status in the Cherokee Nation today. This research uses an Afro-Indigenous epistemological approach. Also, this Master’s thesis addresses the identity politics behind citizenship status today for the descendants of Freedmen as well as legitimizes their authenticity as Cherokee Native citizens, for their citizenship status has been revoked from the Cherokee Nation, because they do not meet the required blood quantum.