Cherokee History 1863 to the birth of CNO 1975 to 1995, Part 1:
By: John Cornsilk
April 18, 2008

The Cherokee Nation (CN) and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) history, how and why CN and CNO are not one and the same, as the leadership of CNO would have the world believe since its inception in 1975.

The Cherokee History is told and retold in many arenas on the world wide web. I like the articles at this link and all the assorted references and citing of all the different sources, of Cherokee history up to and through the Civil War...

My saga begins with June of 1863 Near the end of the Civil war, The Cherokee knew the end of the war was near and what the results would be, so they set out to rectify a longtime wrong within the Cherokee Nation, the owning of another human being; Therefore the National Council of the Cherokee Nation pass an act emancipating their slaves, see an old photograph showing the Act here then in April 1865 the final surrender of the South, and the end of the War.

In 1866 because the Cherokee had sided with the south and was on the losing side of a war the Cherokee knew they must negotiate peace with the US Government, and this was to be by treaty, they knew there would be limits of tribal land rights, citizenship rights, etc.. Due to the Cherokee Nation´s status as a Government the people were offered the right to negotiate the terms of the treaty, not forced to sign as the leaders of the Cherokee Nation Oklahoma would have the world believe. This being one of the more humane acts of the Federal Government of the time specially in regards to the Cherokee people, since they had won the war with the Cherokee as part of the enemies camp.

The many documents which were created during the negotiations leading to the signing of that historic document, the supreme law of the land today, the 1866 Treaty, shows the Cherokee leadership did not oppose the adoption of the Freedmen, as a matter of fact documents show they actually encouraged it.

The records show the leadership/negotiators of the Cherokee Nation were against many of the proposed provisions of the treaty. The provision which received more concern from tribal negotiators was the possibility of a railroad passing through the Nation. Of the nine proposals made by the United States prior to the signing of the treaty, four of them were acceptable to the Cherokee leaders/negotiators. Five were unacceptable. When all was said and done and the treaty was signed, the Cherokee leaders/negotiators were successful in defeating all five. Only the four proposals not opposed by the Cherokee made it into the treaty. Does that sound like duress/coercion or forced to sign? As you will see and hear as one of the many false claims by the leadership of the CNO, in their attempts to have the world believe the freedmen were forced on the People of the Cherokee Nation.

We know that there were Cherokees present at the negotiations who were opposed to the Freedmen being made citizens of the Nation. But these men were not leaders, they were traitors. They had sold the Cherokee Nation out to the Confederate States, devastated the Nation, destroying its infrastructure, murdering its citizens and burning homes and public buildings. Yet, they were permitted to attend and fully participate in the negotiations. Simply because the Cherokee Peoples way is forgiveness, healing and inclusion; even though these same men wanted to rip the Nation in half, divide the national funds and create a northern and southern Cherokee Nation. This was one of the most indefensible proposals considered by the Federal negotiators and soundly defeated by the loyal Cherokee leaders/negotiators.

During the negotiations taking place in Washington, DC, where were the Freedmen?

Nowhere near DC, that's for sure. During the entire negotiation period, no one ask, no one cared what the Freedmen wanted. They became citizens of the Cherokee Nation without their consent, just as they had become slaves. Did they want citizenship? Yes, of course. Many were Cherokee by blood. Many spoke only Cherokee. Most had only known a life in the Cherokee Nation and nothing more.

Following the signing of the Treaty of 1866, the disloyal, racist members of the southern delegation began their slow, but steady ascent into power in the Cherokee Nation, even though at least one of their rank, William Penn Adair, turned on his former allies and began working with the loyal Cherokee leaders to rebuild the Nation and restore order.

As I said the Cherokee Government were being treated with respect as the losers of a war. And the most noteworthy and in relevance with today´s issues, of those four Government proposals, and unopposed by the Cherokee leaders/negotiators. Was the adoption of the freed slaves as Citizens of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee People were so caring of their freed slaves and their relations wit them, and to protect them, quite simply because many were actually blood members of Cherokee Families, they set out a Proclamation of amendments to their 1839 Constitution. And the Proclamation by the Principal Chief (adopted November 26, 1866).

Reads as follows:

Whereas, the national council adopted certain amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, and submitted the same to a general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, called At Tahlequah on the 26th day of November, A.D. 1866, and which said amendments, with the preamble thereto attached, were in the following words, to wit:

Whereas, by the treaty executed at Washington on the 19th day of July, A.D. 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, through its delegation, ratified by the Senate and officially promulgated by the President of the United States August 11, 1866, certain things were agreed to between the parties to said treaty, involving changes in the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, which changes cannot be accomplished by the usual mode; and

Whereas, it is the desire of the people and government of the Cherokee Nation to carry out in good faith all of its obligations, to the end that law and order be preserved, and the institutions of their government maintained: Therefore, Be it resolved by the national council, That the following amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation be submitted to a convention of the Cherokee people to assemble at Tahlequah on the twenty-sixth (26th) day of November, A.D. 1866, under the proclamation of the principal chief; and should said amendments, hereunto annexed, be ratified by said convention, then they shall be officially published, and declared by the principal chief to be, and shall constitute, a part or parts of the constitution of the Cherokee Nation.

See amendment to: Article II. Section 5.

All native-born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July, 1866, and their descendants who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be CITIZENS of the Cherokee Nation.

At the general convention of the people of the Cherokee Nation, held at Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, on the 28th day of November, AD 1866, for the purpose of taking into the consideration the foregoing amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation, and where of Riley Keys, chief justice of the supreme court, was chosen president, and Budd Grits secretary, the said amendments to the constitution of the Cherokee Nation were read, considered, and severally approved and adopted by the Cherokee people.

In testimony whereof the president and secretary of said convention have subscribes the same at Tahlequah on the 28th day of November, AD 1866.

You continually hear from Chief Chad Smith and the many hawkers of the rhetoric he espouses in regards to the 1866 Treaty, their claim is, that no where in the wording does it days the freed flack slaves are given citizenship

See the 1866 treaty here here at this link simply read Article IX, the adoption of the Freedmen. While as per se, you may not see the words citizenship, but the treaty reads the freed backs were given the same rights as the Native Cherokee. And there were several U.S. supreme Court cases where the ruling´s were positive for the Freedmen in the rights of their citizenship as per the Treaty, wording per rights equal to Cherokee Native, a couple come to mind, one 1894 Journeycake v. Cherokee Nation," and 1912 Whitmire v Cherokee Nation. Smith and cohorts count on the fact the average person will just naturally due to the inconvenience of search an finding the information to prove they are right or to counter their statements, it simply goes un-challenged an flies as some sort of truth, my goal is to provide the people interested a means to challenge the cno claims that see as outright blatant lies.

While reading the 1866 treaty scroll on down an see it says at: ARTICLE 15, "The United States may settle any civilized Indians, friendly with the Cherokees and adjacent tribes, within the Cherokee country, on unoccupied lands east of 96°, on such terms as may be agreed upon by any such tribe and the Cherokees, subject to the approval of the President of the United States".

And this is how the Delaware became Cherokee Citizens by the

Delaware Agreement of 1867 then came the Shawnee Cherokee Agreement, Article III of the Shawnee Agreement dated June 9, 1869 these agreements brought their tribal members including their adopted Caucasian, Africans, and mixed citizens in as Cherokee citizens, the Freed black slaves are absolutely no different. In addition there was an act in 1843 in The Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah that adopted a group of Nachez, and Creek Indians that came on the Trail of tears with the Cherokee and settled in the southern part of the Nation, Known as Sequoyah County today. This is why today we Cherokee People as a body politic are not citizens by blood we are members of CNO by law, actually we are all descendants of Cherokee Citizens of the era by fact of law..

In 1880 the Cherokee decided the populace of Cherokee Citizenry needed to be enumerated, so a census was authorized by an act of the Cherokee National Council Senate Bill No.33 on December 1, 1879, see it here you will notice all the different citizens are enumerated as to what their ethnicity is, either a Cherokee, or one of the Adopted ethnic citizens of the Nation, including the Negro/Colored, the black family members were simply enumerated as a family member in the Native Cherokee section, the Term Freedmen as a class of Cherokee had not happened yet…The Cherokee were in the middle of their most prosperous era after the removal from their home land, but this was to be short lived…

In 1887 came the Allotment Act by the U.S. Congress, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act, the Dawes Act authorized the President of the United States to have Native American tribal lands surveyed and divided into allotments for individual Native American families. It was enacted on February 8, 1887 and named after its sponsor, U.S. Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. The act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act. The act remained in effect until 1934. What the Severalty Act meant was the ownership of Indian Territory was to be severed from the Indian Nations, with it to be parceled/doled back to the Individual Indians, with the excess to go to Oklahoma for statehood. This could only be done wit any sense of legality if the Indians could not fight back legally, so came the Curtis Act.

In 1898 the Curtis Act was passed (Act of June 28, 1898), ch. 517, 30 Stat. 495. Section 28 of the provided that on July 1, 1898, "all tribal courts in Indian Territory shall be abolished. And the simple fact is and as the purpose demonstrates if there is no judicial system there is no Government; Thus All Indian Governments were abolished by this Congressional act. Later on the federal government discovered the Five Civilized Tribal Governments in Oklahoma was needed in place to further be able to continue conduct business of some land transactions…

In 1901 the Cherokee Nation was faced with termination and allotment, a vote was taken to determine whether the Cherokee people would accept the provisions of the allotment agreement and turn the Indian Territory into a state. The full bloods, under the leadership of Keetoowah Society Chief Redbird Smith, refused to participate and did not vote. They practiced an age old Cherokee tradition of withdrawing to show their displeasure. That did not work in 1835 and it didn't work in 1901. But an interesting aside to the full blood refusal to vote was the remarkable turnout of Freedmen voters. It is estimated that approximately 90 percent of the adult male Freedmen participated in the 1901 election and of those, over 80 percent are believed to have voted against the allotment agreement. This is in direct opposition to the numbers indicated by the intermarried whites and thin blood Cherokees, who voted overwhelmingly for the allotment agreement and termination of the Cherokee Nation.

Why then, did the Freedmen vote against an agreement which promised them a farm of their own? The vote meant the land of their forefathers was about to become a state. They weren't stupid. Many had learned to read by this time and those who could not could meet and discuss what was going on, in the deep southern states against free blacks. How could they support their homeland becoming a state, which would bring with it open doors to southern whites who hated them, disfranchised them, even murdered them.

The Freedmen had not only lived well in the Cherokee Nation, they had prospered and made contributions to the Nation in both private and public life. They were faced with losing it all. And lose it all they did. Few Freedmen were able to hold onto their allotments in the years leading up to the Great Depression and most were destitute by 1929. One Freedmen was recorded as saying, "Depression, what depression? We couldn't tell no difference." And that is nothing compared to the Jim Crow laws they endured at the hands of southern white trash dominating state affairs. Black lynching were as common in Oklahoma as they were in any southern state.

While all of this was going on, where were the full bloods? They were attempting re-tribalism of themselves through the UKB. They were in seclusion in the refuges we know today as the "full blood Cherokee communities." They were, like the black Cherokees, losing their lands and quickly becoming the poorest population in the state.

But not all Cherokees met this fate. No, the thin bloods did quite well. They joined with the ranks of the white Oklahoma society to take power and wield it to their own advantage, creating oil moguls, movie stars, land barons, military leaders, senators, congressmen, doctors and lawyers; all the while spinning ever so quickly away from their Cherokee heritage. They sat on the side of the white man when he pointed an accusing finger at the young black man who looked in the direction of the chaste young white girl, then helped pulled the rope as he was strung up on the old oak tree down by the river.

The thin blood Cherokees donned white robes and pointy hoods with holes for eyes and burned crosses and dragged black Cherokees from the Methodist Church in Tahlequah in 1920. Therefore the KKK depicted in this old picture that included many of the thin blooded leadership of the Cherokee Nation of the era.

Throughout our history, the Freedmen have been mistreated because of the color of their skin and the legacy of racism laid bare on the Cherokee soul by our own history of slavery and oppression against them. Those thin blood Cherokee people who hate the Freedmen because they are black do not know what it means to be a Cherokee. They have lost their way. Come home to the truth my Cherokee brothers and sisters. We adopted the Freedmen as members of our family. It is not the Cherokee way to turn our backs on our own

In 1983, the Feedmen were not asked if they no longer wanted to be citizens of the Nation of their birth; see the rules
concocted by Ross O. Swimmer Chief of CNO just as they had not been consulted when slavery was their fate, when their ancestors were being stolen from their homeland and sold in to slavery, and they  not being consulted when citizenship was their victory see Articles pertinent to the Freedmen  from the 1866 Treaty. I am proud of the Freedmen who have stood up and refused to be pushed aside, and I am very proud, I am allowed to stand in their defense against the atrocity of today. Yes they got farms back in 1902, and like the Cherokee Indians, and promptly lost them to the white man's greed and fraud. Their fate is so intertwined with ours, it is impossible to extricate them without doing damage to ourselves. They are a part of us by fact of history, culture, blood and most importantly by law.

1903 W.C. Rogers,  last elected Chief of the REAL Cherokee Nation for 69 years. After his four-year term of office was complete, he retained the status of chief, for purposes of dealing with matters of the handover of power to the United States. He died in 1917.

1906-1907 - Oklahoma statehood began, combineng Indian and Oklahoma Territories; The federal government discovered the Tribal Governments in Oklahoma was needed in place to further be able to abuse their rights so in 1906, when Congress was considering the admission of Oklahoma to the Union. The tribal governments were extended indefinitely by Joint Resolution No. 7 of March 2, 1906, 34 Stat. 822, and by Section 28 of the Five Tribes Act of April 26, 1906, ch. 1876, 34 Stat. 148. And all the Five Civilized Tribes (FCT) of Oklahoma stand as Active Governments today because of this act that has not been abrogated to date..

Though it is questionable if all are legally constituted today i.e. the Cherokee and Seminole Nations of the five. And this is one of the false premises Chad Smith bases the legality of the existence of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) on and as you will learn here very falsely so.

In 1934, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act, but exempted Oklahoma Indian Nations and Tribes from its provisions. And this Act allowed for tribes that had been crippled by the Curtis act to regain their status as a real Governing entity complete with a judicial system, a Judicial System being the operative factor constituting the existence of a real Government.

In 1936, Congress corrected itself and passed the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA), which provided for a "new day" by which tribes could reorganize their governments and citizenship any way they wanted. However, they must permit all citizens and their voting age descendants a vote, even if it would remove them from the tribe, this could be a consequence for the 3 tribes that did take advantage of the act to reorganize their governments, did they allow the Freedmen to vote?

To understand what this all means David Cornsilk wrote an article entitled what 70´s Chiefs Act means a very comprehensive work on what happened and what needs to happen, to date, the Cherokee Nation has not reorganized under that act and is not rehabilitated by its provisions. The Cherokee Nation remains disabled by the Curtis Act and only the right to popularly select the principal chief has been restored. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) being promulgated by Swimmer in 1976 are claiming the same legal cover as the Creek nation even though they have not taken advantage of the OIWA Act, and Chad Smith claims this vehemently while knowing better because he is a lawyer.

The Creeks were the first to face this problem head on in the Harjo V Kleppe, 420 F. Supp. 1110, 1118-1131 (D.D.C. 1976), aff'd 581 F.2d 949 (D.C. Cir. 1978), the court held that the Five Tribes Act of 1906 had continued the executive and legislative authority of the Creek government ONLY under the Creek constitution of 1867.

However, neither the Five Tribes Act of 1906 nor the Harjo decision revived the Creek tribal court system. If this is so for the Creek in federal Court, you can most assuredly assume it to be so for the Cherokee Nation, who had NOT been to any court to date, nor been allowed as a special entity to restore their court system.

In regards to my believing the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) is not the Cherokee Nation, I was out surfing the net I came across the following case:


No. 88-1147 In the Supreme Court of the United States

See the complete document here

The following section pertains to the 1947 Act, which was actually confirmed in 1947, but passed in 1908: An example: "in the Act of May 27, 1908, ch. 199, 35 Stat. 312, Congress eliminated all restrictions on alienation of allotments of persons having less than one-half Indian blood and permitted alienation of all but a 40-acre homestead for allottees having between one-half and three-quarters Indian blood. See Stewart v. Keyes, 295 U.S. at 411-412, 415. In the Act of June 14, 1918, ch. 101, 40 Stat. 606,

An Act that could possible be in error and invalid, due to an another act by Congres titled Public Law 280, where states were offered the chance to accept jurisdiction in Indian affairs, 11 States I believe it was declined the offer, and Oklahoma was one of them; therefore the State of Oklahoma has NO jurisdiction in Indian Matters except for this one item. Congress vested the state courts with jurisdiction over the lands of allotted members of the Five Tribes in heirship proceedings and subjected the lands of full-blood members to state laws governing the partition of real property. See Shade v. Downing, 333 U.S. 586 (1948); United States v. Hellard, 322 U.S. 363 (1944). Section 1 of the Act of April 12, 1926, ch. 115, 44 Stat. 239, provided that restrictions on allotments were removed upon death, but that a full-blood member could convey inherited or devised restricted land only with the permission of the state court having jurisdiction over the estate. Section 2 of the 1926 Act, 44 Stat. 240, made the state statutes of limitations applicable to restricted Indians of the Five Tribes and their heirs and grantees.

In 1947, Congress confirmed that all restrictions on lands belonging to members of the Five Tribes were to be removed upon the death of the original owner, but required state court approval of alienation if the heir was of one-half or more Indian blood. Act of Aug. 4, 1947, ch. 458, Section 1, 61 Stat. 731."

The following are words borrowed from the document to demonstrate there was a Curtis Act and what it did and meant, and how tribes circumvented the crippling effect of the act on their respective Governments. And you will notice the Cherokee Nation has NEVER taken advantage of the 1936 Act to reinstate their Judicial system, quite simply there can be no Democratic Governing entity with out a Court system.

"The effective date of Section 28 of the Curtis Act was postponed until October 1, 1898, as regards the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek Tribes (30 Stat. 504, 505), See Sections 29, 30, 30 Stat. 505-519.

The Act provided that if the Tribes ratified the agreements, the Curtis Act would apply to those Tribes only to the extent it did not conflict with the agreements (Sections 29, 30, 30 Stat. 505, 514). The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations ratified their joint agreement, which retained the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States courts in the Indian Territory over cases involving real estate and certain enumerated offenses, "without reference to race" (Section 29, 30 Stat. 511), but apparently permitted the tribal courts to exercise concurrent jurisdiction in other matters solely involving members of the Tribes.

The Seminole Nation entered into a separate agreement (Act of July 1, 1898, ch. 542, 30 Stat. 567), which conferred exclusive jurisdiction on the United States court for the Indian Territory in certain civil and criminal cases "without reference to race or citizenship," but otherwise provided that "the courts of said nation shall retain all the jurisdiction which they now have" (30 Stat. 569).

The Creek Nation did not ratify the agreement that had been negotiated with the Dawes Commission, but it later entered into a different agreement. See Act of March 1, 1901, ch. 676, 31 Stat. 861, as supplemented by the Act of June 30, 1902, ch. 1323, 32 Stat. 500. That agreement provided that it was not to "be construed to revive or reestablish the Creek courts which have been abolished by former Acts of Congress" (Section 47, 31 Stat. 873). (In Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Hodel, 851 F.2d 1439 (D.C. Cir. 1988), cert. denied, No. 88-798

(Jan. 9, 1989), the court held that the authority of the Creek Nation to establish tribal courts was reinstated by Section 3 of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936, 25 U.S.C. 503.)

The Cherokee Nation had refused to negotiate even a tentative agreement with the Dawes Commission, but it entered into an agreement in 1901 that likewise DID NOT revive the tribal courts. Act of Mar. 1, 1901, ch. 675, Section 72, 31 Stat. 859." Therefore as then and today the Cherokee Nation court system was and is still remains abolished, and it is a know fact there can be NO Democratic Government without a judicial system, only a dictator ship and that is what Chad Smith has perfected from the corporate entity concocted by Ross Swimmer, called the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO).

1949, Chief W.W. Keeler, was appointed Chief by President Harry Truman, he served up to 1970 when the 70 Chief´s act was passed by the U.S. Congress that allowed for the Five Civilized Tribes (FCT) to popularly select their heads of Government (Chiefs) See Again the 70´s Chief Act

1957, First Cherokee National Holiday. This writer can not attest to the fact, for I was in the service of the USA, army in Europe at the time, but there is much reference to the happening, so it must be so…but beginning in 1975 and the advent of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) it all became a big lie, and this article was written in 2006 By David Cornsilk that explains what and how it is all a big lie.

1971, W.W.Keeler becomes first elected principal chief since statehood, under the terms of the 1970´s Chiefs Act. Actually selected rather than elected because this is what the Act provided for. He promulgated the rules that provided for his being selected.

1975, Ross O. Swimmer who had been chosen and groomed by Keeler to succeed him, and was selected to serve the first of three terms as principal chief. For the next election he set out to change the rules, he would promulgate a set of rules and call it a Constitution, which he did, and you can see the result here and the very first Cherokee Tribal Council was elected, but this act did not nullify Cherokee law at the time which was the 1839 Constitution of the Cherokee as he proclaimed, because it outlined a procedure for doing a new Constitution which Swimmer did not follow.  

1976, Cherokee voters ratify new corporate document Swimmer was calling a Constitution outlining the tribal government. And you can see all this explained by a lawyer here at this Link on the illegality of what Swimmer had done, and an item to note in the last part of the article by the lawyer where the Noted Cherokee Historian Renard Strickland had claimed the 1839 Constitution was a dead issue in the first article, recants his statement of 1972, and further in 1994 states, the 1839 Constitution is still in effect.

1987, Wilma Mankiller makes history and draws international attention to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma as the first woman elected chief; Though she had already serve the remaining of Swimmers term of 3 years on his resigning to take a BIA position, and though she won her election her slate of council to do her biding did not, so she set out to change that fact, by hook or crook, I tell the story in this article

1989, The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, another big lie, observes 150th anniversary of arrival in Indian Territory titled "A New Beginning", once again another Big LIE because the New beginning of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma began in 1975. And you can see it is so by Ross Swimmers own words in this excerpt from a paper by a Harvard Law professor and author named Eric Lamont See the sections I hi-lighted in bold, be sure and read the footnotes as well. This would be a good place to point to a study Ross Swimmer had done to determine what the Sovereign less CNO machine he had created could and could not do as such, done by a group of Lawyers headed up by the now criminally embroiled in Court proceedings Gene Stipe then an Oklahoma Senator, See This Page from the Study and note the last two paragraphs, they are all telling.

1990, Chief Mankiller signs the historic self-governance agreement, making the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) one of six tribes to participate in the self-determination project. The project, which ran for three years beginning Oct.1 1990, authorized the tribe to assume tribal responsibility for BIA funds which were formerly being spent on the tribe's behalf at the agency, area and central office levels.

1991, In the July tribal election the first council to be elected by districts since statehood and Wilma Mankiller won second elected term as principal chief with another high percentage win of the votes cast.

1995, Joe Byrd and Garland Eagle elected principal chief and deputy chief which marks the first time in nearly 200 years that full blood bilingual leaders occupy the top positions of the Cherokee Nation, and sadly only to culminate, into the saddest four years in the modern day Cherokee History, there are numerous accounts all over the internet on the melee called a Constitutional Crisis. That eventually cause the election of our now Chief/Dictator of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Chadwick Smith.

John Cornsilk

Cherokee CNO Member!

To be continued: