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The Cherokee Nation once fought to disenroll Gov. Kevin Stitt’s ancestors
Documents show the Oklahoma governor’s connections to the tribe may have originated in an act of fraud more than 100 years ago.
Graham Lee Brewer Feb. 24, 2020
Last week, High Country News and The New York Times jointly reported a story on the ongoing battle between Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, R, and tribes in the state over a gaming compact. We spoke with Cherokee genealogists, who noted that Stitt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has only one documented tie to Cherokee ancestry, a man the tribe’s own attorneys once accused of fraudulently enrolling.
According to the federal documents we reviewed, Cherokee Nation attorneys accused Gov. Stitt’s ancestor, Francis Dawson, of bribing commissioners around 1880 — pretending to be Cherokee in order to gain tribal citizenship as well as access to hundreds of acres of free land. Cherokee attorneys also alleged that Dawson paid for about two dozen of his relatives to gain access to tribal rolls, along with allotted land, by paying Cherokee officials and his attorney $100 a head for each enrollment. Gov. Stitt has declined multiple requests to be interviewed by High Country News and the Times.
In a statement to a local television station the day after our story appeared, Gov. Stitt called the documents and the case they lay out “unsubstantiated slander." We dispute this characterization. The Cherokee Nation's case created hundreds of pages of witness testimony and evidence. Here, we highlight some of the context necessary to understand what the accusations were and how the tribe’s case was built.
Read more here: https://www.hcn.org/articles/indigenous … -ancestors