Congressman stands by statement on Cherokee heritage

OKLAHOMA - The Trail of Tears one on of the darkest moments in the state, if not U.S. history. That's why some were taken aback when they heard a U.S. congressman from Oklahoma allegedly call it a "voluntary walk."

The backlash against Elizabeth Warren continues after she claimed blood test revealed that she was part Cherokee. US Congressman and Cherokee tribe member Markwayne Mullin was on Fox News talking about the Senator when he discussed his own tribal heritage.

"My family literally stopped walking on the volunteer walk -and I use that as a loosely term- I still live on the Indian allotment land that my family has," said Mullin.

That comment sparked this tweet from Brandon Scott of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, saying in part,

"It's called the Trail of Tears! Volunteer walk????? Are you kidding me???"

We contacted Congressman Mullin's office, and his staff emailed us this statement:

“I know the story of my family and the history of the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee Nation states that there were Cherokees who voluntarily relocated before the forced removal.  My family did exactly that—and that is what I was referring to in my comments. They moved west before the forced removal and settled near the Arkansas/Oklahoma border where my family and I still live today.”

News 4 talked to Cherokee tribe member and Norman resident America Meredith.

"Well, I had the knee-jerk reaction so then I got curious and I looked at the video and he is talking about his families allotment."

America says waves of Cherokee settlers came to what is now Oklahoma both before and after the Trail of Tears.

"He is talking about his family, he didn’t say. What we were kinda led to believe is that he was talking about the Trail of Tears. I think this was not maybe the most articulate statement ever but he didn’t literally say what they are saying he did," said Meredith.

America Meredith and Brandon Scott from the Phoenix both say they have talked to historians and they say much of Mullin's family came here after the Trail of Tears.