http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgGene Norris, Cherokee Heritage Center senior genealogist, researches a client’s Cherokee ancestry at the CHC in Park Hill, Oklahoma. CHANDLER KIDD/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Gene Norris, Cherokee Heritage Center senior genealogist, researches a client’s Cherokee ancestry at the CHC in Park Hill, Oklahoma. CHANDLER KIDD/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Starting Cherokee ancestry research

BY CHANDLER KIDD
Intern
11/14/2017 08:45 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center allows a person to peek into his or her Cherokee heritage and ancestry through its Cherokee Family Research Center.

Specialized resources are available for research in the genealogy department, including Dawes Rolls and other roll records, census records and historic documents related to Cherokee people.

To begin this research, there is a $30 first-hour fee and $30 is charged for every additional hour. If you are a Cherokee National Historical Society member seeking ancestry information, the fee is $20 per hour.

Gene Norris, senior genealogist, said he explores census records, cemetery records and birth records to obtain information about a person’s ancestry.

“Most folks applying have found somebody on the Dawes Roll that they think is their direct ancestor, and they want to apply for citizenship with the (Cherokee) Nation. The Registration department is very busy and has outsourced us as a research department,” Norris said.

The genealogical process does not happen in one day. The process for each case depends on how well the applicant fills out the application form for the research process, Norris said.

“We tell people when they come here it doesn’t matter what your ancestor was in a sense of their genetic make up. What matters is where did they live at during their lifetime, specifically at the time of Dawes (late 1800s, early 1900s),” he said.

Genealogical research begins with the person wishing to obtain his or her history. Certain documents such as birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates that go down the ancestral line as far as possible are helpful. The process can last up to eight weeks, Norris said.

Ashley Vann, genealogical researcher, said Cherokee people should study the Dawes Commission period to further understand the genealogical documents they receive, she said. Learning what a person’s Cherokee ancestors went through is an important part of the process she said.

“If people understood the historical background, then it is easier to understand why the records are the way that they are,” Vann said.

For more information on how to begin a genealogy process using CHC resources, visit www.cherokeeheritage.org or call Norris or Vann at 918-456-6007.

Start Your Cherokee Ancestry Search

1. Always begin with yourself. Have your birth certificate. Get your parents’ birth certificates and your grandparents’. Continue down your ancestral lines until you can go no further. Marriage certificates and death certificates also help. Obtain them if you can. You need a paper trail to prove relation to any ancestors.

2. Talk to relatives. Your oldest relatives usually have the most information about your family. Check for a family Bible with recorded family information. Hand copy the information or shoot photos. Family Bibles may be old and fragile. Record or take notes of conversations with family members or friends.

3. Use a loose-leaf notebook with plastic sheet covers to store your papers, family pedigree charts and “proofs” such as birth certificates.

4. The Cherokee people had several rolls taken of them for governmental purposes beginning in 1817. Not all Cherokees were included on these rolls, particularly if they were not living in the Cherokee Nation when a roll was taken. These are considered supplemental resources to a genealogical search.

5. Basic information regarding your Cherokee ancestor is required to use these rolls. You should know the approximate date of his/her birth and where he/she lived. Cherokee rolls are limited geographically. If a Cherokee move out of the Cherokee Nation it is likely they will not be located on these rolls and certainly not on some rolls. One exception is if your ancestor’s permanent address was still in the Cherokee Nation at the time of the Dawes Rolls and was serving in the military, at school or in prison. It is the Dawes Rolls that Cherokee Nation uses to determine whether or not a person is eligible for citizenship.

6. The Guion Miller Roll is another source for Cherokee family information. It was taken in the early 20th century for money due to Cherokees for land taken in the southeastern United States in the 1830s. The application asked for family members back to before the Trail of Tears. The family did not have to be living in the Cherokee Nation to apply but had to prove their family lived in the Cherokee Nation before the removal.

7. Other rolls included the Drennan Roll of 1851, Siler Roll and Chapman Roll. They were census records.

Research Sources

• Cherokee Family Research Center – Its primary goal is to promote understanding of Cherokee family history and documentation by educating the public and housing all resources specific to Cherokee genealogy. www.cherokeeheritage.org

www.accessgenealogy.com/native – Index of the Guion Miller applications and Dawes Final Rolls as well as other tribal enumerations.

http://ualr.edu/seqouyah/index.php/home/research/trail-of-tears-primary-sources-from-the-national-archives-in-washington-dc/

http://nationaltota.org – Trail of Tears Association is a citizens organization of national and international members with state chapters in the nine states the Trail of Tears traverses: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/h/i/c/James-R-Hicks-VA/BOOK-0001/0000-0001.html – Compiled Cherokee family histories with sources from the collaboration of James Hicks and Jerry L. Clark, a retired archivist and Cherokee Nation citizen.

www.ancestry.com – Provides access to numerous Census listings, including the 1900 federal Census listing all Indian Territory residents. (subscription site)

www.fold3.com – A digitization website with images of Native American documents, including the Dawes Final Roll of the Five Tribes and Guion Miller. (subscription site)

www.familyresearch.org – Collection of free family history and genealogy look-ups with digitization of some state records (free site that requires username and password for images)

www.findagrave.com – Collection of more than 88 million grave sites with some photos

www.okhistory.org/res/ResDiv.html – A research division of the Oklahoma Historical Society that includes marriage records, census listings and 3.5 million Indian records.

http://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans – U.S. National Archives website for Native American records.

Services

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/20/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Phoenix is now taking names of elders and military veterans to provide free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper. In November, Cherokee Nation Businesses donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund. The fund provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders 65 and older and military veterans who are Cherokee Nation citizens. Subscription rates are $10 for one year. “The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and veterans are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and veterans, so every dollar donated to the Elder Fund is significant.” Using the Elder/Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as veterans can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org or joy-rollice@cherokee.org. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeephoenix.org</a>, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
01/17/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Seed Bank is set to go live for online orders on Feb. 1. The Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site produces enough seeds to disperse around 2,000 to 5,000 seed packets per year, depending on growing conditions. “We’re actually in two years of what I would considered fairly poor growing conditions. It hasn’t been catastrophic, but it wasn’t the best. We’re going to say just a little bit above average. It takes some really bad stuff for us to not be able to make a product for folks,” Environmental Resources Senior Director Pat Gwin said. He said the growing season is dependent on 4-inch soil temperatures. The ideal temperature for most plants to grow in is 65 degrees to 70 degrees. “Last year, unfortunately that didn’t happen until June 1. We’ve actually put some things in the ground prior to that and it was just a disaster,” he said. A planting guide comes with each seed order that contains information such as when to plant, soil temperatures, amount of sun exposure and germination. The Seed Bank generally offers around 20 to 30 variations of seeds per year. However, in the Seed Bank proper there are more than 100 varieties of plants growing. Gwin said this is because some plants are not flowering every year. He said crops such as corn, tobaccos, and gourds are “fairly simple” to grow and are not weather dependent unlike native heirloom plants. “The native plants are just as much, or even a little bit more so, a part of the Cherokee culture than are the crops. The native plants are harder to deal with because most of the native plants, about 99 percent of the plants that we have over there, that’s not where they want to be. A lot of very important cultural Cherokee plants are grown in an understory, wetland-cool-type environment. We’re out in the middle of a field over there so it’s pretty tough,” Gwin said. The Heirloom Garden was started in 2006 and produces native plants and crops important in Cherokee culture. The Cherokee Language Program ensures that the Cherokee names of the plants and crops are not lost. Most of the plants and crops are found around the CN and North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has shared many native plants with the CN. To create an account and order seed packets, visit <a href="https://secure.cherokee.org/seedbank" target="_blank">https://secure.cherokee.org/seedbank</a>. Follow the instructions to order. Seeds are only available to CN, United Keetoowah Band and EBCI citizens. For more information or to submit questions, email seedbank@cherokee.org or call 918-453-5336. <strong>Seeds Available in 2018</strong> <strong>Heirloom Crops</strong> <strong>Corn (Zea mays):</strong> Cherokee Flour – a large flour corn Colored (multi-colored) White Yellow Cherokee White Eagle – a dent corn <strong>Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)</strong> Cherokee Long Greasy Trail of Tears (a small jet black bean) Turkey Gizzard Black Brown <strong>Squash (Cucurbita maxima)</strong> Georgia Candy Roaster (a long storing squash that can be prepared as squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin) <strong>Gourds (Lagenaria siceraria)</strong> Basket Dipper Jewel Buffalo Gourds (Cucurbita foetidissima) <strong>Trail of Tears Beans</strong> Indian Corn Beans (Coix lacrima) <strong>Tobacco</strong> Native Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica) – ceremonial tobacco, not smoking tobacco and restricted to those at least 18 years of age <strong>Native Plants</strong> Buttonbush Cutleaf Coneflower Hearts-a-bustin Jewelweed New Jersey Tea Possum Grape Purple Coneflower Rattlesnake Master Rivercane Sunchoke Wild Senna
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/13/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Phoenix recently made a change to its Elder Fund to make U.S. military veterans eligible for free yearlong subscriptions to the Cherokee Phoenix. Thanks in part to a donation from Cherokee Nation Businesses, as well as donations from Cherokee Phoenix individual subscribers, it was possible to expand the fund to include Cherokee veterans of any age. “The Elder Fund was created to provide free subscriptions to Cherokee elders 65 and older,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Due to an influx of recent donations, we had the ability to extend the Elder Fund to include Cherokee veterans. We will continue to give free subscriptions to our elders and veterans as long as we have money in our Elder & Veteran Fund.” Using the newly renamed Elder & Veteran Fund, elders who are 65 and older and Cherokee veterans of any age can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the Elder & Veteran Fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. No income guidelines have been specified for the Elder & Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Elder & Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder & Veteran Fund donations. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/29/2017 01:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Businesses in November donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders who are Cherokee Nation citizens. “The Elder/Veteran Fund was put into place to provide free subscriptions to our Cherokee elders and veterans,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “Some of our elders and vets are on a very limited budget, and other items have a priority over buying a newspaper subscription. The donations we receive have a real world impact on our elders and vets, so every dollar donated to the Elder/Veteran Fund is significant.” Using the Cherokee Phoenix fund, elders who are 65 and older as well as any Cherokee veteran can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. Subscription rates are $10 for one year, $18 for two years and $26 for three years. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, www.cherokeephoenix.org, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. Those who donate can also have entries submitted for them into the Cherokee Phoenix’s quarterly artist giveaway. For every $10 donated or spent on Cherokee Phoenix merchandise, a person gets one entry into the quarterly drawing. The next drawing is Jan. 2 when it gives away handcrafted wooden art by Cherokee artist Jay Cox of Notchietown Hardwoods.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
12/27/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Since 1977, the Cherokee Nation Women, Infants and Children Program has assisted more than 6,700 Native and non-Native American individuals each month with food, wellness and health services. “Cherokee Nation WIC is unique in that we are located and operate within our health clinics and hospital operations and offer a more one-stop-shopping to health care,” CN WIC Director Brenda Carter said. The federally funded program began in 1974 and extended to CN clinics and hospitals in 1977 to help pregnant and nursing women, as well as infants and children from birth to 5 years old living in the tribe’s jurisdiction. It seeks to improve the well-being of mothers, infants and children by helping predict future and public health challenges for families, communities and the health care system. “Studies have shown that the WIC Program is effective in protecting or improving the health and nutrition status of low-income women, infants and children,” Carter said. Enrollment in WIC has led to “fewer premature births and low-birth weight infants, fetal deaths, and infant mortality,” as well as a decreased incidence of iron deficiency in children, Carter said. Nutrition education is one of the program’s main services. Eligible families receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, or eWIC, to shop for healthy foods at authorized grocery stores, and it allows them to complete nutrition counseling. “Nutrition education is offered primarily through one-on-one nutrition counseling,” Carter said. “WIC nutrition education is participant-centered, designed to meet the needs of each participant. Through WIC nutrition education, families can learn to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.” Nutrition counseling discusses topics such as best feeding practices for children and how women can eat healthy during pregnancy. WIC also assists new and expecting mothers by promoting and providing breastfeeding support. Whether through education or giving free breast pumps to eligible participants, Carter said all WIC employees undergo breastfeeding training and “have a role” to play. Additionally, WIC can assist women and children through its ability to make referrals. “Partnerships with other public health and social services programs are a key to WIC’s success,” Carter said. “WIC encourages all participants to receive complete health care and does make participant referrals to health care services…” For individuals who identify as Native American, public health service referrals can be made in areas such as drug and alcohol counseling, smoking cessation counseling, behavioral health, family planning, immunizations and general medical care. Referrals to social services programs can also be given regardless of Native American descent to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SoonerCare, emergency shelters, housing assistance, food banks and domestic violence programs. “Cherokee Nation WIC also works within the communities to offer our non-Indian participants with referrals to health and social services programs available in local areas,” Carter said. For more information, call 918-453-5000, ext. 5589 or visit any WIC clinic. Individuals interested in applying will need an appointment to determine nutritional risk and must provide an address, proof of identification and income statements. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2017/12/11850__ser02_171219_WIC.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to read</a>the WIC Income Eligibility Guidelines. <strong>Cherokee Nation WIC eligibility criteria</strong> 1. To be categorically eligible, a WIC applicant must be a/an: • Women who are pregnant (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or pregnancy ends), • Breastfeeding woman with an infant under the age of 12 months, • Non-breastfeeding woman up to 6 months postpartum, • Infant under 12 months of age, or • Child 1 to 5 years of age. 2. Meet the CN WIC Program’s residency requirements. 3. Have an income that is at or below the WIC income guidelines. 4. Meet identification requirements. 5. Be physically present at the eligibility screening appointment or meet one of the exceptions. 6. Have a nutrition risk – a health condition or diet problem that can be helped with nutritious WIC foods and nutrition education. <strong>Cherokee Nation WIC locations</strong> Claremore Indian Hospital 101 S. Moore Ave. Claremore, Oklahoma Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital 100 S. Bliss Tahlequah, Oklahoma Sam Hider Health Center 859 E. Melton Drive Jay, Oklahoma A-MO Salina Health Center 900 Owen Walters Blvd. Salina, Oklahoma Redbird Smith Health Center 301 S. J.T. Stites Ave. Sallisaw, Oklahoma Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center Hwy 51 East Stilwell, Oklahoma Indian Health Care Resource Center 550 S. Peoria Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma Will Rogers Health Center 1020 Lenape Drive Nowata, Oklahoma Three Rivers Health Center 1001 S. 41st St. East Muskogee, Oklahoma Westville WIC Office Bushyhead Heights Community Building Westville, Oklahoma Cherokee Nation Vinita Health Center 27371 S. 4410 Road Vinita, Oklahoma Kansas WIC Office 211 N. Hwy 10 Kansas, Oklahoma
BY STAFF REPORTS
12/14/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation will accept College Housing Assistance Program applications for the spring 2018 semester starting Jan. 2. The CHAP will provide up to $1,000 per semester for housing costs up to 125 students. Eligible applicants must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe and reside within the Cherokee Nation. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 12. Applicants must also meet Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act income guidelines as well as other eligibility requirements, according to the CHAP policy. Priority will be given to CN citizens and students who were served on the program the previous semester. The CHAP is a NAHASDA-funded program designed to assist low-income CN citizens and other Native American students in securing safe and affordable housing while seeking a first-time bachelor’s degree and maintaining full-time student status at an accredited institute of higher education. For more information, call 918-456-5482.