Am I Cherokee?

You asked:

My sister and I were told by our biological father that he was part Cherokee Indian. How do we go about finding out if we have Cherokee ancestory in us or not? My grandmother has been out of touch for some years now and we have no one to ask. Can you help me?

We answered:

Yes, we can help…although we may or may not be able to definitively answer your question.

The answer depends on what you mean by “Cherokee.“ For the Cherokee Nation, located in Tahlequah, OK, and one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, a Cherokee is someone who can prove a direct line of descent from a person who was registered on one of the Cherokee census rolls of the late 1800’s. For the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina, in order to be “Cherokee“ you must meet a different set of criteria. Of course “Cherokee“ also means a person who is simply descended from Cherokees, regardless of whether or not they were ever officially enrolled in a census. None of these meanings is better or worse than any other–they are simply different, and they entitle you to different things. For example, if you meet the criteria of the Cherokee Nation, you may become a tribal member.

Our genealogy staff and resources deal with Cherokee records for Oklahoma, and although we can’t tell you whether or not you’re “Cherokee,“ we can help you find out if you had an ancestor on one of the early censuses. The records we have here at the Cherokee Family Research Center end at 1906. All of our records pertain to the Cherokee Nation here in Northeast Oklahoma. We do not have records for other states. We also do not have records after 1906 (as the Cherokee Nation ceased to exist as a government in 1907 with Oklahoma statehood), other than what can be found on the Internet. We have a research service of $30 an hour. Or $20 if you are a member of the Cherokee National Historical Society.  Due to the large amount of emails and telephone calls we receive daily, we cannot do lookups or research through emails or over the phone. For a FREE genealogy packet with research information, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Cherokee Family Research Center

P. O. Box 515

Tahlequah, OK 74465

Having a direct ancestor on the Dawes Final Roll is a requirement for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. There is no blood quantum requirement. You might also do a free search of the Native American (including Cherokee and the Dawes Roll) records available at Nara.gov.

Just knowing you are Cherokee should make you proud. The Cherokee people welcome everyone, be it Cherokee or any other ethnic nationality, to come to the Cherokee Nation and enjoy the culture here. We are a non-profit organization, the Cherokee National Historical Society, and the genealogy department welcomes tax-free donations. We also look forward to new members joining the historical society. For just a nominal fee, you and your family can enjoy many benefits. To learn more about membership, please email our membership co-ordinator, at membership@cherokeeheritage.org.