Latest filings for the MCN Freedman show evidence of nearly two-decades of litigation
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– A civil suit has been filed in the courts of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in which petitioner, Ron Graham is appealing the decision of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Citizenship Board decision that denied his citizenship.
Graham currently serves as President of the Muscogee Creek Freedmen Band and the 2nd Vice President of the NAACP, Okmulgee, chapter.
The suit was filed on Oct. 18 and amended on Oct. 21.
The filing states that Graham resubmitted his citizenship application on May 30.
Graham’s petition to the MCN District Court claimed, ‘The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Citizenship Board acted ‘contrary to the law in regards to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation 1866 Treaty.
Graham claims that the 1979 constitutional reorganization and series of subsequent referendums disenfranchised Freedmen, causing them to lose citizenship, voting rights and access to federally funded programs and identity.
The petition asked the court for relief in the form of granted citizenship, full and equal rights as a citizen in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and that the Nation’s 1866 Treaty be the supreme and controlling law.
On Nov. 15, the MCN Attorney General’s office filed a motion to dismiss the petition of Graham.
According to the MCN AG’s petition, Graham applied for citizenship with the tribe three times the first beginning in 2001. The Citizenship board denied that application in June of 2002 according to the Nation’s motion.
The AG’s documents state Graham filed again in Dec. 2002. That second denial was then litigated in the tribal district court and appealed to the MCN Supreme Court. Records reflect those proceedings spanned from 2003-2007.
The motion to dismiss was answered with a filing from Graham opposing the dismissal of the case filed on Nov. 26.
In that opposition filing, Graham’s argument states, ‘The Nation recognizes and relies on 1866 treaties.’ The documents cite other cases that support the scope of the 1866 treaty clout, such as cases like the U.S. Supreme Court Capital case on Patrick Murphy’s appeal.
Graham’s response asks that the MCN District Court deny the MCN Attorney General’s motion to dismiss. He also filed a special entry of appearance Nov. 26.
In a separate case, Tulsa attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons was navigating the federal courts with a Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen case.
In that case, Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band the Freedmen brought suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior officials as well as tribal leaders. A District of Columbia federal judge ruled on that case on May 6.
Graham was not a petitioner in that case.
United States District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ‘dismissed without prejudice, the freedmen’s complaint. The federal court ruled that ‘the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their tribal remedies.’
That case, however, did not have Ron Graham as a petitioner.
According to Kollar-Kotelly, the decision was based on the fact that the descendants’ court filings did not include specific accusations or records that showed they had applied for tribal citizenship and were denied within the last decade.
Refiling a federal civil case is possible once tribal legal recourse has been exhausted.
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow the story and bring updates as they become available.