Six Tennessee groups waged a bitter struggle to be recognized as American Indian tribes by the state Commission of Indian Affairs.

Some other American Indians dismissed them as nothing more than social clubs, but the commission acknowledged them as legitimate tribes in June. The recognition brings with it federal money, minority status and new opportunities for individual members.

But their celebration was short-lived. Critics say they will siphon federal grant and scholarship money away from established groups. Mark Miller, a spokesman for the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation, said the Tennessee groups are stealing the identity of recognized tribes. The Cherokee Nation filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court on Wednesday asking the state to change its decision.

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