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Who Belongs?Race, Resources, and Tribal Citizenship in the Native South$
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Mikaëla M. Adams

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190619466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190619466.001.0001

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Contests of Sovereignty

Contests of Sovereignty

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina

(p.132) 4 Contests of Sovereignty
Who Belongs?

Mikaëla M. Adams

Oxford University Press

As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians formalized its legal status in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tribal citizenship evolved from a clan-based network of kin to a political identity with tangible economic rights. The Cherokees aimed to protect their resources from outsiders by limiting access to tribal citizenship. This effort became particularly important after the Band sold valuable land and timber and distributed the profits to tribal citizens. During the enrollment process, which culminated with the Baker Roll of 1924, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians developed citizenship criteria that could stand up to the scrutiny of federal officials. The federal government’s rejection of criteria established by the Band, however, threatened to destroy the tribe’s economic base and its political future. The Eastern Band experience identifies the vital interconnections between the control of tribal citizenship, the protection of tribal resources, and the preservation of tribal sovereignty.

Keywords:   Cherokee, citizenship, North Carolina, Qualla Boundary, identity, race, enrollment, tribal rolls, sovereignty

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