For most of their history, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lived in what was at best a legal grey area and, often, faced deliberate efforts to deny their citizenship and strip them of voting rights. For most of the 19th century they faced uncertainty about their status as citizens until, in the 1890s, a Federal Circuit Court ruled that they were “wards” of the Federal Government and not citizens of North Carolina. Even after scores of Eastern Band Cherokee served in the military and returned home after both World Wars, local officials refused to allow registration. It took a concerted effort and sustained pressure by several generations to force county-level officials to finally allow electoral participation by Eastern Band Cherokee. Concerted disenfranchisement began after a Circuit Court decision stripping Eastern Band Cherokee of their North Carolina citizenship. Read how.