The Cherokee nation has voted against recognizing the descendants of former slaves, despite a tribal supreme court ruling to the contrary last year. Of the estimated 250,000 to 270,000 members, 8,700 took part in the election. Defenders of the decision say they have a right to determine the nation’s makeup without interference from the U.S. government or others.
The list of descendants stems from the Dawes Commission, established by Congress more than 100 years ago.
It created two lists - one of “blood” Cherokees and one of black freedmen.
Principal Chief Chad Smith said about 8,700 people had voted - more than the turnout for the Cherokee constitution vote of four years ago.
He said: “The Cherokee people exercised the most basic democratic right, the right to vote.
“Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation. No-one else has the right to make that determination.”
But opponents of the amendment levelled accusations of discrimination.