The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, an Indigenous tribe in the American Southeast that enslaved Black people in the 1800s, continues to engage in a legal battle with descendants of enslaved families. The descendants, known as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Freedmen, have been feuding with the tribe for decades as they seek full tribal membership, Axios reported.

In September, the court granted citizenship to two Freedmen descendants. Muscogee Nation Attorney General Geri Wisner later released a statement to media outlets, saying the ruling was based on “deeply flawed reasoning.”

“The MCN Constitution, which we are duty-bound to follow, makes no provisions for citizenship for non-Creek individuals,” Wisner stated.

The Freedmen group cites the tribe’s Treaty of 1866, saying the descendants listed on the Creek Freedmen Roll have the right to tribal citizenship. Damario Solomon-Simmons, a descendant who is also a lawyer for the Creek Freedmen, said his group is being denied their rights because of hatred.

“There’s just a level of anti-Black hatred that permeates the Creek Nation that is almost unseen anywhere else in this nation,” Solomon-Simmons said in an interview with Axios. “They have erased and deleted the contributions of Creek Freedmen, of Black Creeks like we just never existed.”

He added that Freedmen should have health care and other benefits Indigenous tribal members enjoy under federal law.

A key development happened in 2021 when The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ordered the tribal nation to remove its “by blood” law from its constitution. The ruling made it clear that descendants of Black people enslaved by the tribe have a right to tribal citizenship. Michell Chresfield, Cornell University’s assistant professor of African American history, said elements of hatred still make it difficult for Black Indigenous people to get tribal membership.

“These (tribal) nations are trying to think about, and protect, their own right to exist,” Chresfield said.