For Immediate Release - September 26, 2008

Contact:  Bert Hammond 202-2285-7084                                                      Lois Hill Hale  323-965-1422

Reps. Watson & Conyers to Convene Panel on Cherokee Freedmen at Congressional Black Caucus Foundationís Annual Legislative Conference

Washington, DCó Representatives Diane Watson (CA-33) and John Conyers (MI-14) will convene a panel to examine recent attempts by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to expel its citizens of African descent, known as Cherokee Freedmen.  The panel is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation and will be held during the CBCís Annual Legislative Conference on Friday, September 28, 2007, at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center, from 11 AM to 1 PM, in Room 209-C.

The panel will examine the historical, legal, and current status of the Cherokee Freedmen Indians.  The list of panelists includes:

            Jon Velie, Attorney for Freedmen

            Eli Grayson, Freedmen Advocate

            Marilyn Vann, Descendants of the Freedmen of the 5 Civilized Tribes

            Angela Walton Raji, Author & Genealogist

            Chief Joe Byrd, former Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

            Hilary Shelton, NAACP, Washington Bureau

            Rusty Brown, Attorney, Member of Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma

Ron Daniels will serve as the panelís moderator.

ďThis is a rare opportunity for advocates of the Freedmen and Freedmen descendants to gather and discuss issues of profound importance concerning the Freedmenís rightful status as full citizens of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma,Ē said Congresswoman Watson.

In June, Congresswoman Watson introduced H.R. 2824, legislation to sever U.S. relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma until it complies with its treaty obligations. 

Congressman Conyers is Chairman of House Judiciary Committee, to which H.R. 2824 has been referred.

Find out more at the Congresswoman's official website: http://www.house.gov/watson/