Who gets Cherokee citizenship has long been a struggle between the tribe and the US government

Who gets Cherokee citizenship has long been a struggle between the tribe and the US government

Before living in Indian Territory – now Oklahoma – Cherokees lived for centuries in the American Southeast. Their society was a collection of towns held together by clan affiliation and kinship bonds.

These clan and kin relationships were the basis of Cherokee social and political life. Their strong communal ethic, with each person playing a particular role in determining the health and strength of the community, supported and was encouraged by the practice of holding land in common; Cherokees did not own land privately.

Cherokees were also intensely spiritual, believing that frequent personal and communal rituals maintained harmony and balance between all living things. Exclusive membership, limited to Cherokees with few exceptions, was one natural extension of their cultural beliefs and practices. …

Hungry for Cherokee land and the gold in it, and disdaining the Cherokee way of life, Congress in the 1830s gave the president power to force the Cherokee west. Roughly 16,000 Cherokees, along with many slaves, walked the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory – some 4,000 dying as a result. …

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