2013 Student Scholar Program Best Paper

The LatCrit Student Scholar Program (SSP) is a joint project with the DePaul University and other contributing schools. The LatCrit Student Scholar Program offers students pursuing intellectual agendas in race, ethnicity, and the law the chance to join the LatCrit community. In order to be considered for the program, applicants are asked to submit a portfolio of materials, including a previously unpublished paper, a statement of purpose, and a curriculum vita. A panel of distinguished LatCrit faculty from around the United States and elsewhere examines these student portfolios and selects three to five students to be designated LatCrit Student Scholars. LatCrit Student Scholars are invited to present their work at the annual LatCrit conference, receive financial support toward their conference-related travel and hotel expenses, and are mentored by established LatCrit scholars working within their field of interest. The program is open to students writing in English in any accredited degree program around the world.

Red Law, White Supremacy: Cherokee Freedmen, Tribal Sovereignty and the Colonial Feedback Loop

Jeremiah Chin


In 2007 the Cherokee Nation amended its constitution to limit citizenship to descendants of those listed on the Dawes Roll as Cherokee, Delaware, or Shawnee.  This effectively terminates the citizenship of 2,800 Cherokee Freedmen—citizens descended from African slaves.  Though the Cherokee Nation has inherent powers to define citizenship, many Cherokee Freedmen are challenging their disenfranchisement in Vann v. United States DOI; arguing the Cherokee Nation violated the Thirteenth Amendment and rights guaranteed under an 1866 treaty.  Vann thus highlights the intersections of race and sovereignty and raises important questions about shifting conceptions of citizenship, self-determination, racial identity, and indigeneity in the United States.  A victory for the Cherokee Freedmen could enforce treaty rights and citizenship while allowing U.S. courts to override Cherokee sovereignty.  A victory for the Cherokee Nation would ensure their sovereign status, but perpetuate Black disenfranchisement.  I argue that the 2007 amendment is part of a “colonial feedback loop:” relying on federal standards—such as blood quantum and Dawes Rolls—to define tribal membership, reaffirming histories of colonization and White Supremacy in implementing anti-Black notions of citizenship.  I conclude that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples may be the first step in escaping this loop.