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United Keetoowah Band Lawsuits and Litigation with the Cherokee Nation

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, also referred to as the UKB, have repeatedly sued the Cherokee Nation demanding the ceding of tribal land allotments and monetary damages over a variety of issues. All of these lawsuits have failed or been dismissed. The UKB also recently sued the Cherokee Nation for a share of HR Bill 3534, a bill that required the Government of Oklahoma and the United States to compensate the Cherokee Nation and was concerned with the illegal seizure of the Arkansas Riverbed by the State of Oklahoma for public use lands and hydroelectric power generation. The lawsuit filed by the UKB demanding disbursements from the Cherokee Nation from HR Bill 3534 was also ruled to be frivilous and without merit. During the State of Oklahoma lawsuit pertaining to the UKB's illegal casino operations (see United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians for more information regarding the State of Oklahoma prosecution of the UKB for operating illegal casinos), the UKB again sued the Cherokee Nation demanding cessation of tribal land allotments to the UKB to build casinos. These lawsuits were also dismissed, and it was ruled the UKB is not the successor of right to the assets of the Cherokee People.

Cherokee Nation Relationship with the Eastern Band

The Cherokee Nation has announced and participated in numerous joint programs with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and participates in cultural exchange programs and joint Tribal Council meetings involving councilers from both Cherokee Tribes which addresses issues which affect all of the Cherokee People. Unlike the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians adversarial relationship with the Cherokee Nation between the administrations of both tribes, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians interactions with the Cherokee Nation presents a unified spirit of Gadugi with the leaders and citizens of the Eastern Band. There are significant positive interactions between the two groups, intermarriage, and mutual respect. Many elders of the Eastern Band reside in Cherokee Nation communities and are highly respected by Cherokee Nation Citizens across the United States. Go-hi-yu-gi is a Cherokee term which means to show mutual respect for an elder of the Cherokee People or such a show of mutual respect between Cherokee citizens. Cherokee Nation Citizens and Eastern Band Citizens exhibit a high degree of Go-hi-yu-gi between the elders and Citizens of both groups.

Marriage Law Controversy

On June 14, 2004, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted to officially define marriage as a union between man and woman, thereby outlawing gay marriage. This was a decision made in response to an application for a union of a lesbian couple that was submitted on May 13. Furthermore, the decision kept Cherokee law in line with Oklahoma state law, which outlawed gay marriage as the result of a popular referendum on a constitutional amendment in 2004. Numerous elders were consulted and no one could find concrete examples of same-sex marriage in Cherokee traditions. There were instances of same-sex cohabitation in the ancient culture, however, there was never a concept of same sex marriage or same sex courtships. There are historical instances of "extended families" where another male or female would cohabitate with a married couple. Provided all parties were in agreement, including the clan leaders, this conduct would be allowed. These are the only examples of same sex relationships known to have existed in ancient times.

Chief Joe Byrd's 1997 Cherokee Nation Controversies

Chief Joe Byrd, elected 1995 as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, was nearly responsible for the destruction of the modern Cherokee Nation due to issues related to his veracity which almost cost the tribe its future and Sovereignty. His administration was subjected to intense scrutiny by the US Attorney General and US Secretary of the Interior amidst allegations of diversion, fraud, illegal wiretapping, mail fraud, and organized violence against the Cherokee People.

Joe Byrd was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1995 to 1999 and was defeated by Chief Chad Smith in the 1999 Cherokee Nation Elections. During his administration, the Cherokee Nation experienced a nationwide political scandal due to allegations of embezzlement, misuse of funds, abuses of unit power, and organized violence against the Cherokee People. Joe Byrd's illegal security force armed with rifles, shotguns, and automatic weapons seized and orchestrated an armed standoff against the Cherokee Nation Judicial Branch. Byrd's forces boarded up the Cherokee Nation Courthouse and Judicial Department after these institutions attempted to indict and subpoena him for illegal diversion of Cherokee Nation Funds. Byrd attempted to run for re-election of the Cherokee Nation in 2003 and was again defeated by the incumbent Principal Chief Chad Smith in a near landslide victory.

For more information, see Joe Byrd (Cherokee Chief).