Same shit different century

That’s why ya’ll had to walk from Georgia to Oklahoma in the first place.

An attractive woman with light skin and prominent cheekbones, Scott has the sort of face that might have convinced a Dawes clerk to place her on the blood roll. She tells me she's a descendant of the Perrymans, an illustrious Creek family with a lineage that included a chief in the 1880s, Legus C. Perryman. But for reasons that are lost to time, her ancestors were made Freedmen. "You know, the Dawes Commission would take brothers and sisters and divide them up," she says. "They went by how you looked, and a lot of the Creeks are darker-skinned. So you might be a full-blood and …" Scott trails off in a sad laugh. "I mean, they had no DNA testing back then."

These are boom times for the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma - the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole - due in no small part to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that allowed the tribes to construct their own casinos. The Chickasaw's net assets have more than doubled to $315 million in the two years since it opened the mammoth WinStar Casinos complex in Thackerville. The corporate arm of the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Enterprises, is on track to make nearly $70 million this year thanks to a new casino in Catoosa. Then there's the government reparations fund. In 1990, the Seminoles received a $56 million settlement as compensation for the seizure of the tribe's ancestral lands in Florida almost 200 years ago.

The casino profits and make-good money have increased the standard of living for the recognized members of the tribes who make their homes in some of the poorest areas in the US. Cherokee Nation Enterprises allocates 25 percent of profits to the Cherokee government, which distributes the money in ways designed to help end the cycle of poverty - college scholarships, health care, and low-interest home loans. And the Seminole Nation offers grants for home repairs, which many of the ramshackle structures in Seminole County can sorely use. On the outskirts of Wewoka, the county seat, families loll on wooden porches that seem one gust of wind away from collapse. And so, in recent years, a rush of Indians has come forward to claim tribal citizenship and get their share of the benefits. In 1980, there were 50,000 members of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; today, there are more than a quarter million. But even as the official ranks of the Five Civilized Tribes have swelled, they've revised membership guidelines to exclude the Freedmen. Not all tribal members reject the merits of the Freedmen's cause. Seventy-year-old John Cornsilk, who is seven-eighths Cherokee, opposed the 1983 decision to rescind Freedmen's voting rights - which he said happened because many Freedmen were backing a progressive candidate running for chief. Tribal leaders, he says, "colluded and drew up a new set of rules that said only people that could produce one of those cards could be a member. What the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has been doing in regard to disenfranchising the Freedmen is all totally illegal."