01/16/2014 - Tahlequah, OK --- The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma has achieved another victory in its fight to right a long-standing historical wrong responsible for the Tribe’s right to acquire trust land within the bounds of the historic Cherokee reservation being controlled by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. This victory came on January 6, 2014, when the Interior Board of Indian Appeals dismissed the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s appeal of a May 24, 2011 decision of the Acting Eastern Oklahoma Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs to acquire a seventy-six acre parcel of land, located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in trust for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma Corporation. The January 6, 2014 IBIA decision follows years of challenges by Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma aimed at preventing the Keetoowah people from enjoying the benefit of tribal trust land within the reservation of their ancestors, and a series of favorable decisions by the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs recognizing the rights of the UKB as equal to those of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
The parcel of land now set to be acquired in trust for the UKB Corporation, known as the “Community Services Parcel,” serves as a village center for the Keetoowah people and is home to the Tribe’s sacred dance grounds, elder center, museum, and other governmental offices. UKB Chief George Wickliffe explained that he and the Tribal Council have worked tirelessly to see that the Keetoowah Cherokee people are recognized and treated by the federal government as equal to the members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and stated “It is our sincere belief that the Keetoowah people are ready to enjoy the benefits of tribal trust land, including the exercise of responsible jurisdiction over the lands that embody the traditional spirit of our people.” While it is anticipated that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma will appeal to the federal court to further its effort to permanently extinguish the Keetoowah fire, the UKB will pursue all legal remedies to protect the rights of the Tribe and its people and will continue seeking justice, fairness, and equality for the Keetoowah people.
Read the IBIA Ruling (PDF)
For more information, go to http://www.indianz.com/News/2014/012249.asp