http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe 1924 Baker Roll, the Guion Miller Roll and Dawes Roll are prominently displayed on tables in the Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. The rolls are used to determine tribal citizenship eligibility for the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Individuals searching their genealogies can access the rolls within the CFRC genealogy library after paying admission to the CHC museum. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The 1924 Baker Roll, the Guion Miller Roll and Dawes Roll are prominently displayed on tables in the Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma. The rolls are used to determine tribal citizenship eligibility for the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Individuals searching their genealogies can access the rolls within the CFRC genealogy library after paying admission to the CHC museum. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

CFRC debunks genealogy misconceptions

The Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, houses historical documents pertaining to the forced removal of Cherokees from their homelands to Indian Territory via the Indian Removal Act of 1830. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, houses historical documents pertaining to the forced removal of Cherokees from their homelands to Indian Territory via the Indian Removal Act of 1830. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
11/13/2017 08:45 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Family Research Center genealogists Gene Norris and Ashley Vann are trying to set the record straight when it comes to the differences between genealogy, tribal citizenship requirements and DNA testing.

“We basically take care of the clients that come in that are interested in learning about their family tree or finding more information about an ancestor that they believe to be Cherokee,” said Norris. “Somebody in the family has told them they were Cherokee in one generation or another back and they’re trying to find out more information to add to that.”

CFRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operated by the Cherokee National Historical Society. Located within the Cherokee Heritage Center, individuals can use the CFRC genealogy library and research materials to conduct research once admission is paid to enter the CHC museum.

Individuals can also hire Norris or Vann to conduct their search for a fee of $30 per hour or $20 per hour for Cherokee National Historical Society members.

“The three main sources of information that we have are on the tables with the Dawes Roll, the Guion Miller Roll and the Baker Roll,” Vann said. “Our records pertain from 1817 until 1906. Primarily it comes down by location and finding out if that ancestor stayed with the tribe or even came here to be part of the tribe and that’s really the defining point of the research process.”

The Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians use the Dawes Roll and Guion Miller Roll to determine citizenship, while the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians uses the Baker Roll. The three tribes are the only federally recognized Cherokee tribes.

Norris said it is a common misconception that the CFRC can issue tribal citizenship cards for the three tribes, which it is not able to do.
This situation arises most often with individuals seeking membership with the CN, according to Norris.

“We are not a government office,” he said. “Registration, that is a government office of the Cherokee Nation tribal government, which we are not a government office here. We do not issue cards. We do not take you through the registration process.”

Vann said she understands the confusion that can arise between the two entities, but stresses that the two have different priorities.

“The Registration Department of Cherokee Nation does not do research, nor do they have the manpower or the resources to do so because they are so overwhelmed right now processing (CN) citizenship and Certified Degree of Indian Blood card applications. That’s their priority is getting those out to those who are eligible for citizenship or the CDIB card,” said Vann.

Tribal citizenship can only be granted by one of the three tribes.

The Cherokee Nation, comprised of more than 355,000 citizens, requires that citizenship applicants be able to provide proof of direct lineage to an original Cherokee enrollee listed on the Dawes Rolls or be a descendant of an enrollee listed on either the Delaware Cherokees of Article II section of the Delaware Agreement or on the Shawnee Cherokees of Article III section of the Shawnee Agreement.

In an Aug. 30, 2017, ruling, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan also opened up CN citizenship to Cherokee Freedmen descendants. U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ruled that, “the Cherokee Nation can continue to define itself as it sees fit but most do so equally and evenhandedly with respect to native Cherokees and the descendants of Cherokee Freedmen.”

This overturns a March 2007 CN special election in which the Tribal Council was allowed to amend the CN Constitution to limit citizenship to only those with Indian blood.
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians also uses the Dawes Rolls to determine lineage, but also has a minimum blood quantum requirement of 1/4 for all 14,034 of its citizens.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in Cherokee, North Carolina, requires that each of its 15,568 citizens have a direct lineal ancestor on the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Additionally, members must also meet a 1/16-blood quantum requirement. Norris and Vann also stress that DNA testing will not establish tribal affiliation and cannot be used as a form of verification for any of the tribes.

“DNA testing unfortunately will not say that somebody is Cherokee,” Norris said. “It’s not fine tuned enough for it to do that.”

The popular, subscription-based genealogy research company Ancestry.com Inc. offers DNA testing for those interested, but with a disclaimer stating: “The AncestryDNA test may predict if you are at least partly Native American, which includes some tribes that are indigenous to North America, including the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The results do not currently provide a specific tribal affiliation.” It further warns users that the results “cannot be used as a substitute for legal documentation.”

Vann said CFRC tries to debunk groups that claim to test for Cherokee ancestry and would only personally recommend DNA testing in cases involving adoption. She added it’s difficult to perform genealogy services when adoption is involved.

“Unfortunately you don’t have anybody to talk to, so you have very few records to go off of. In that case, I do suggest DNA testing,” Vann said. “It might find other family members from that family who are still living that you may be able to contact to get more information. So that’s the only time I suggest DNA testing, because they need that missing link.”

For more information on the CFRC, visit www.cherokeeheritage.org.
About the Author
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.  She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors.
 
While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college.  
 
She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department.
 
Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.
brittney-bennett@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Brittney Bennett is from Colcord, Oklahoma, and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. She is a 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and summa cum laude honors. While in college, Brittney became involved with the Native American Journalists Association and was an inaugural NAJA student fellow in 2014. Continued mentorship from NAJA members and the willingness to give Natives a voice led her to accept a multimedia internship with the Cherokee Phoenix after college. She left the Cherokee Phoenix in early 2016 before being selected as a Knight-CUNYJ Fellow in New York City later that same year. During the fellowship, she received training from industry professionals with The New York Times and instructors at the City University of New York. As part of the program, she completed a social media internship with USA Today’s editorial department. Now that Brittney has made her way back to the Cherokee Phoenix, she hopes to use the experience gained from her travels to benefit Indian Country and the Cherokee people.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/24/2018 10:00 AM
CHATSWORTH, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on May 12 at the Vann House. The meeting will be the second in a series of meetings commemorating the 180th anniversary of the Cherokee removal. The guest speaker will be former association president, Leslie Thomas. Her presentation is titled “The Round-up and Life in the Encampments.” The meeting is open and free to the public. The U.S. Army established Fort New Echota in 1836 during the Cherokee Removal period in present-day Calhoun, Gordon County, Georgia. It was later renamed Fort Wool in 1838 and abandoned later in 1838 after Cherokee people were rounded up and sent west. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). GCTOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history. For more information, email Walter Knapp at <a href="mailto: walt@wjkwrites.com">walt@wjkwrites.com</a>.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
04/24/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University’s John Vaughan Library Special Collections is displaying the works of Cherokee Nation citizen and award-wining artist Troy Jackson in an exhibit called “The Arrival” that runs April 5 to May 4. During an April 5 reception, the public was invited to view Jackson’s work and speak with the artist. “I’m honored to have him here. We try to make it a point to be a cultural destination and really represent culture in the area and the Cherokee people. So certainly having Mr. Jackson’s art on display here is an honor for us but it’s also in line with our mission,” NSU Director of Libraries Steven Edscorn said. Edscorn added that NSU’s library is a “cultural repository” and the Special Collections focuses on American Indian studies and history, specifically on the tribes of Oklahoma. Jackson, a NSU alumnus, began his love for art as a child with the ambition to become a painter. While in college in 1977, he was inspired by a ceramics class to learn pottery. It wasn’t until 2010 that he began to sculpt. Jackson said his sculptures contain layers of meaning from the materials to the designs used in his work. Most of his sculptures, including those in the library, are made of steel and clay. “The reason I do that is because they really don’t like each other. In today’s society it seems like we’re always mixing things. Everything is being mixed together. So when we mix two things together that doesn’t seem to fit, we have to find a way to make them fit. And that’s why I use the steel and clay,” Jackson said. In designing a piece, Jackson incorporates his Cherokee roots and the ideology of mixing nature and industry. For example, he uses gears, cogs and fish all in one piece. “My future intentions are to introduce the irony of our strengths and weaknesses in a mixed Native American and European culture,” Jackson said. “Gears and cogs represent the Industrial Revolution that developed during the 19th century. The fish are symbolic of nature in its abundance and how important it was for the early American Indians survival. The irony is that for us today, machinery and technology are needed to help preserve a natural environment that was once self-contained.” Jackson, a full-time artist, is also a former educator, teaching classes at the University of Arkansas during his assistantship for graduate school and as an adjunct instructor for NSU and Bacone College in Muskogee. He also is on the Cherokee Arts Center advisory board in Tahlequah. “The Arrival,” located on the first floor of the library, runs in conjunction with NSU’s Symposium on the American Indian. For more information call 918-316-0187.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2018 04:00 PM
SULPHUR – Explore your Native American heritage at the Five Tribes Ancestry Conference on June 7-9 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, whose mission is to unite the governments of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole nations, has endorsed this first-of-its-kind conference. “The Five Tribes have a shared history due to the creation of the Dawes Rolls at the turn of the last century,” Cherokee Heritage Center Executive Director Dr. Charles Gourd said. “The vast majority of our visitors at CHC are interested in researching their family heritage, but they just aren’t sure where to start. Working with the Five Tribes, we have created a one-of-a-kind conference that will provide a better understanding of genealogical methodology and introduce available records to aid individuals in their family research.” The three-day event is expected to provide tools to research Native American ancestry and discussion topics with guest speakers, including keynote speaker Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield Jr., director of the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “Archives, historical societies and other genealogical institutions, especially in the south-southeast, have all seen an increase in the number of people seeking information about their family ancestry,” Littlefield said. “The majority of researchers are focused on validating their family’s claim to Indian ancestry and, thus, tribal citizenship. It is our responsibility to assist these individuals to the best of our ability while educating the public about the realities of the search.” The cost to attend is $150 and includes a conference bag and flash drive with digital copies of presentation materials. Registration forms are available at <a href="http://www.CherokeeHeritage.org" target="_blank">www.CherokeeHeritage.org</a>. The deadline to register is May 31. The CHC is presenting the Five Tribes Ancestry Conference, but it will take place at the Chickasaw Cultural Center at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road. For more information, including accommodations and registration, call 918-456-6007, ext. 6162 or email <a href="mailto: ashley-vann@cherokee.org">ashley-vann@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: gene-norris@cherokee.org">gene-norris@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/20/2018 04:00 PM
PARK HILL – The Cherokee Heritage Center is hosting cultural classes designed to preserve, promote and teach traditional Cherokee art. The Saturday workshops are held once a month and provide hands-on learning opportunities with various traditional art forms. Registration is open for the May 5 class on flat reed basketry and plant dyes and the June 2 class on flint knapping. Both classes are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $40 each. Early registration is recommended as class size is limited. For more information or to RSVP, call Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007, ext. 6161, or email <a href="mailto: tonia-weavel@cherokee.org">tonia-weavel@cherokee.org</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/19/2018 10:00 AM
PARK HILL – The Cherokee Heritage Center recently received nearly $12,000 in grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council to support three new cultural artists in its interactive exhibits for the 2018 tourism season. “The addition of these artists to our staff will aid in our efforts to provide an engaging and interactive environment for visiting guests,” CHC Executive Director Dr. Charles Gourd said. “We are thankful for the support of the OAC, which continues to support our mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history, art and culture.” Cherokee Nation citizens Lily Drywater and Geoff Little are providing cultural demonstrations in the ancient Cherokee village, Diligwa, which authentically portrays Cherokee life in the early 1700s. Drywater performs traditional finger weaving, and Little demonstrates the art of bow making. CN citizen Charlotte Wolfe has joined the team in Adams Corner Rural Village, which represents Cherokee life in the 1890s before Oklahoma statehood. Wolfe demonstrates Cherokee basketry and cornhusk dolls. “As a young girl, I had a hunger for my heritage and a desire to immerse myself in the Cherokee culture,” said Wolfe. “That spark has fueled my career, and I have had the privilege to study a variety of Cherokee art forms, many from Cherokee National Treasures. I feel that each one is a gift passed down to me, and I take great pride in sharing that knowledge with guests visiting the heritage center. I hope that each guest leaves with a better understanding of Cherokee culture, and that they feel inspired to learn more.” The CHC is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture and the arts. It’s located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. Summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Funding provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council is supported financially by the state and the National Endowment for the Arts. The OAC is the state agency for the support and development of the arts. Its mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. It provides more than 400 grants to nearly 225 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages works of art in the Oklahoma Public Art Collection and the public spaces of the state Capitol. Additional information is available at <a href="http://www.arts.ok.gov" target="_blank">arts.ok.gov</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/18/2018 12:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Following the Native film series and keynote speakers throughout the week, the Northeastern State University 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian will conclude with the NSU Powwow. The powwow begins at 2 p.m. on April 21 in the University Center Ballroom. Kelly Anquoe will begin the day by teaching a dance workshop that will provide an opportunity for individuals to learn about the styles of dance and types of regalia that will be seen during the powwow. There will also be time for questions related to powwow protocol. The Learning Traditional Dance Workshop will be at 2 p.m. A Gourd Dance will begin the powwow at 3 p.m., followed by a dinner break from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the Grand Entry/Intertribal will begin at 7 p.m. and conclude at midnight. Event leaders include the master of ceremonies Stanley John (Navajo), head lady dancer Robyn Chanate (Cherokee/Kiowa), head man dancer Daniel Roberts (Muscogee Creek/Aleut/Choctaw), head gourd dancer Chris Chanate (Kiowa/Cherokee), head singer Joel Deerinwater (Muscogee Creek/Cherokee), Color Guard from the Mvskoke Creek Nation Honor Guard and the arena director Tony Ballou (Cherokee/Creek/Navajo). Traditional arts vendors will be set up at the event along with institutional and organizational display booths. Symposium activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nsuok.edu/symposium" target="_blank">www.nsuok.edu/symposium</a>.