Bessette/Pitney’s AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: DELIBERATION, DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP reviews the idea of "deliberative democracy." Building on the book, this blog offers insights, analysis, and facts about recent events.
One of the nation's largest American Indian tribes has sent letters to about 2,800 descendants of slaves once owned by its members, revoking their citizenship and cutting their medical care, food stipends, low-income homeowners' assistance and other services.
The Cherokee Nation acted this week after its Supreme Court upheld the results of a 2007 special vote to amend the Cherokee constitution and remove the slaves' descendants and other non-Indians from tribal rolls. The 300,000-member tribe is the biggest in Oklahoma, although many of its members live elsewhere.
Olive Anderson, 70, of Kansas City, Mo., called the letter she received "a slap in the face."
"It tears me up to think they can attack my ancestors," Anderson said.
The tribe never owned black slaves, but some individual members did. They were freed after the Civil War, in which the tribe allied with the Confederacy. An 1866 treaty between the tribe and the federal government gave the freedmen and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees."
But more than 76 percent of Cherokee voters approved the amendment stripping the descendants of their citizenship. Tribal leaders who backed the amendment, including then-Principal Chief Chad Smith, said the vote was about the fundamental right of every government to determine its citizens, not about racial exclusion.