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Civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, joined by disenfranchised Black Creeks and their supporters, are returning to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation court for a 1 p.m. hearing on Thursday, Feb. 9, as part of their continued effort to gain reinstatement into the Tribe of their ancestors.
The hearing takes places at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Courts, located at 2501 Lvmhvlke, Okmulgee, OK 74447. The Justice for Black Creeks coalition is asking supporters to register online and attend the event.
It comes two years after Solomon-Simmons and plaintiffs first filed a petition in March 2020, accusing the MCN Citizenship Board of violating Article II of the 1866 Treaty.
Thursday’s hearing also comes two months after a December hearing in front of Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Judge Denette Mouser, who delayed ruling on a lawsuit brought by two Black Creek descendants who are seeking to end the Tribal Nation’s blatant, racial apartheid.
“Five Civilized Tribes” enslaved Black people, too
As one of Five Tribes in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) who enslaved people of African descent, the Muscogee Creek Nation (MCN) signed a treaty in 1866 with the U.S. government. The treaty required the tribe to give full citizenship rights to their melanin-rich relatives, both free and enslaved Black Creeks, and their descendants.
Yet in 1979, the MCN rewrote its constitution, effectively eliminating Black Creeks and their descendants from being recognized as tribal members. Today, those descendants are considered Creek Freedmen without any rights or benefits.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs are hoping Judge Mouser grants the motion to compel discovery responses from the defendants, which essentially means forcing the Muscogee Creek Nation to hand over documents it’s using to argue its case.
In December, attorney Solomon-Simmons sought an outright win for his clients in a hearing for summary judgement. Yet the judge wasn’t willing to move that quickly.
“I will make a ruling on this but not today,” Muscogee (Creek) Nation District Judge Denette Mouser said in December.
The Muscogee Creek Nation Citizenship Board is a defendant in the case after repeatedly denying citizenship for Black Creeks. The MCN Attorney General Geri Wisner argued on their behalf, stating that the Constitution should be upheld and that it should continue to deny Freedmen citizenship.
On Thursday, attorney Solomon-Simmons hopes the judge will compel the defendants to comply with his request for documents.
It comes ahead of an April 4 trial date.
Black Creeks seek documents ahead of trial
If the judge grants Solomon-Simmons’ request, it would allow the Black Creek descendants’ families and their legal team to “obtain documents and information critical to proving that the Muscogee Creek Nation is illegally blocking citizenship of Black Creeks. The documents and information sought have been withheld by the Muscogee Creek Nation for almost 2 years,” the Justice for Black Creeks Coalition stated in an email.
Rhonda Grayson and Jeff Kennedy, the two plaintiffs, have been fighting for years to rectify the discrimination.
“Many people of African descent suffered the same losses as anyone else considered to be full blood or half blood Indian,” Black Creek descendant Rhonda Grayson said at a press conference in November.
“We are some of the most documented people in the nation. We don’t get this stuff by oral history, we get this information by documents,” Jeff Kennedy added.
Black Creeks “helped build the Creek Nation”
Civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons represents them in the lawsuit, but for him, it’s also personal.
He’s a Black Creek descendant whose fourth great-grandfather helped negotiate the 1866 treaty.
“It absolutely impacts me. It impacts my family. I am a Black creek. I was a citizen until they kicked us out,” Solomon-Simmons told The Black Wall Street Times on Wednesday.
The Justice for Black Creeks Coalition is calling on supporters across the nation to join them at the hearing on Thursday.
“Beyond me, there are thousands of Black Creek citizens who should be entitled to that birthright and the benefits that come with it,” Solomon-Simmons said. “Their families helped build the Creek nation.”
To register for the event, click here.