Video by America Reframed
Most Americans are familiar with the Trail of Tears, when Cherokees were removed from their native lands and forced west. However, the involvement of African Americans is less known. When the U.S. Indian Removal Act forced many Native Americans to move, enslaved Africans also followed them into the frontier. After the U.S. banned slavery, men and women who were enslaved in the Cherokee Nation were granted freedom and full tribal membership—they were called Cherokee Freedmen. This excerpt from the new documentary By Blood, by America Reframed, looks at the current legal battle for tribal rights that descendants of the Freedmen are embroiled in. Both the Cherokee and Seminole Nations began denying citizenship to Freedmen descendants, arguing that they are not members of their tribe “by blood.” Watch the full film here.