TULSA – Creek Freedmen held a news conference on Thursday announcing the filling of a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd, the United States Department of Interior and DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“We will utilize the treaty of 1866, the clear language, to get the citizenship that has been illegally denied for 40 years. We will utilize and be inspired by what the Seminole Nation Freedman and Cherokee Freedman have been able to do,” said the Plaintiff's Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.
The lawsuit was filed on July 20 by the Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band Inc. and lists five individual plaintiffs in conjunction with the Muscogee Creek Freedman Band and lays claim under Article 2 of the Creek Treaty of 1866 between the United States and Muscogee Creek Nation that Freedmen and their descents regardless of blood status, “shall have and enjoy all the rights and privileges of Native citizens.”
The statement also alleges the MCN and its federal benefactors perpetuated race-based discrimination and the badges of slavery by using the Freedmen Descendants African ancestry to deny them the rights and benefits of tribal citizenship.
“The plain language of the Creek Treaty of 1866 states that Creeks of African descent ‘shall have and enjoy all of the rights and privileges of native citizens’ of the Creek Nation. Yet, the Creek Nation, with the help and blessing of the federal government, continues to deny the basic rights of citizenship to the so-called Creek Freedmen. That is why our team of attorneys, scholars, and experts are prepared to do whatever is legally necessary to restore the so-called Creek Freedmen’s citizenship rights, including but not limited to, their right to vote, right to hold office, and right to be recognized for who they are – Creek Indians by birthright, heritage, history and culture," said Solomon-Simmons.
According to Kevin Dellinger, Attorney General for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the tribe has not been officially notified of the suit.
"The Nation has not yet been served with any legal documents related to this issue. When the Nation receives legal documents related, the Nation will respond accordingly," Dellinger replied July 26 in a statement to the Native Times.
Comments from the Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have yet to be returned.
Plaintiffs allege the MCN has "spent the last four decades systematically denying citizenship to the Creek Freedmen by rewriting its tribal constitution and citizenship regulations …with the full blessing of DOI."
The news conference was held at the Greenwood Cultural Center north of downtown Tulsa at 12 p.m., July 26, 2018.