Vann, descended from Cherokee Freedmen, files for Tribal Council

Marilyn Vann

OKLAHOMA CITY – Marilyn Vann, a descendant of Cherokee Freedmen, has filed as candidate for Cherokee Nation Tribal Council in an At-Large seat. She was also notified the Cherokee Nation District Court had dismissed a petition matter challenging her council candidacy.

“I wish to serve the people to the best of my abilities,” said Vann. “I wish to serve all Cherokees – regardless of blood quantum, appearance, adopted status of ancestors or location," said Vann. "I plan to be accessible, listen to the needs of the people, and work with them to find solutions, if possible. Sometimes the solution can be found within the Cherokee Nation and its resources, but sometimes the resources are available through a different tribe, state government, or corporate program.”

On Feb. 1, a petition was filed in the court challenging Vann’s eligibility to qualify as a Tribal Council candidate based on her status as a Freedmen descendant. That petition was dismissed Feb. 5. Another challenge, filed at the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, is pending.

“I have no doubt I have a legal right to run as a candidate for Cherokee Nation Tribal Council,” said Vann. “The 1866 treaty between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, the 2017 federal court order upholding the rights of the Freedmen in the Cherokee Nation v. Nash-Vann case, and the subsequent September 2017 Cherokee Nation Supreme Court order Re: Effect of Cherokee Nation v. Nash-Vann, all uphold my right to hold tribal elective office. I will work for the day that all Cherokee Nation citizens, regardless of their ancestors' status as adopted citizens, will have equal protection under the law and the right to run for tribal office if they meet requirements such as age and residency.”

Vann, president of the Descendants of the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, is known for her work within the federal court judicial system, fighting discrimination against African-Indian freedmen descendants, and educating the public on the history of the Freedmen. She was at the forefront of the campaign that led to Cherokee Freedmen descendants gaining enforcement of their tribal citizenship rights.

Vann said her background in engineering, team leading, planning, goal setting, and collaborating with people from all walks of life make her uniquely qualified to "get the job done." Vann is committed to increasing communication between the tribal government and at-large citizens.

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