Census shows increase in Cherokee respondents
By TODD CROW Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Jan. 25 U.S. Census release, people claiming Cherokee lineage on their Census forms increased by more than 89,000 to 819,105 since the 2000 U.S. Census. The release titled “The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010” states that Cherokee descendants continue to make up the largest number of American Indians in the country. Justin Godwin, Cherokee Nation Registration administrative operations manager, said the down economy and retiring baby boomers probably led to some of the increase. “Probably in the last couple of years, because of the economy and its situation, we’re getting a lot of older people, or people that are retiring, that are coming in and applying for their (citizenship) cards, so that they can get medical services and things like that,” he said. “We’re still growing.” According to CN Registration records, there were 202,210 CN citizens in January 2000. Currently, there are more than 314,000 citizens. That leaves more than 500,000 people who claimed to be Cherokee who are either enrolled in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina or remain unaffiliated with any of the three federally recognized tribes. “There’s some people out there that probably do trace back to an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls and are Cherokee by blood, but probably have never turned their stuff in,” Godwin said. Godwin said there are several groups claiming Cherokee lineage that are not federally recognized that could make up some of that 819,000-plus people claiming Cherokee blood. Also, according to the 2010 Census, there was a 26.7 percent increase in the overall number of American Indians and Alaskan Natives from 2000, with the total around 5.2 million people. The releases states that Cherokee respondents make up more than 15 percent of the country’s American Indian and Alaskan Native population, which consists of 566 federally recognized tribes. Results from the latest Census were broken down into four categories. In the first category labeled “one tribal grouping reported” with no other race, Cherokee had 284,247 respondents. In the second category labeled “two or more tribal groupings reported” with no other race, Cherokee had 16,216 respondents. The total number of people who responded as Cherokee with no other race was 300,463, attributing to 34.7 percent of the total number. In the third category labeled “one tribal grouping” with multiple races, 468,082 people responded with Cherokee. And in the fourth category labeled “two or more tribal groupings” with multiple races, 50,560 people responded with Cherokee. The total number of Cherokee respondents with multiple races was 518,642, more than seven times as many as any other tribe for 65.3 percent of the Cherokee total. Cherokee numbers saw substantial increases from the 2000 Census in every category except multiple tribes with no other race, which had more than 2,000 less respondents.