‘All Things Cherokee’ source for Cherokee genealogy
BY WILL CHAVEZ
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For more than 10 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Christina Berry has provided genealogy services for the public from her home and website “All Things Cherokee.”
Berry offers three genealogy services: Cherokee Roll Report, Tribal Enrollment Research and In-Depth Genealogy Research.
Berry said Cherokee history and genealogy is complex because of the different migrations of Cherokee people during a period of almost 100 years from their traditional homelands in the east to the west in what are now Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.
“It’s a heartbreaking story, but it’s also a fascinating example of how families and cultures can survive despite difficult situations. When you think about how much the Cherokee Nation has been through, it is a fascinating story. So finding other people’s stories within that and helping tie them to major historical events is kind of fascinating to me,” Berry said. “It’s almost like detective work...I find the mystery of genealogy fun to explore.”
She said many times the people who contact her are looking for proof of Cherokee ancestry, which can be difficult if there is no record of their ancestors on Cherokee rolls or census records.
“If their family didn’t live with the tribe during these historic movements then they probably won’t find their ancestors on those rolls,” she said.
Being a Cherokee historian and a genealogist helps her help people understand Cherokee history and if their families were a part of that history, Berry said. And sometimes a person’s genealogy may connect to other tribes that settled in Indian Territory in the 19th century.
“Often times I find my job is to help, in a real non-judgmental way, people understand the reality of Cherokee history and how they may or may not be connected to it,” she said. “Even if they’re not in the documents they still may be connected to it, it’s just they’re not going to find that proof.”
She said she enjoys helping people understand the differences in tribes and that Indian, Native American, and Cherokee are not synonymous.
Berry said her interest in genealogy came from her father, Dave Berry, who is a genealogy buff and has researched her family’s genealogy “many generations back.” She said she has always had a fascination with her family’s genealogy, and when she was in college she created a website to show her family tree and listed a links page, which got “tons” of traffic. She said it made her realize there are many other people interested in genealogy.
“The site just sort of build up organically from that. It just seemed there was an audience of people who wanted to know more about their own genealogy,” Berry said.
She has a degree in history, and she said she has a lot of experience researching Cherokee documents. She said she’s been able to help more than 1,000 families understand their family trees better during nearly 10 years of offering genealogy services.
“I realized that I have the knowledge to help other people to explore their own genealogy. It seems to be still succeeding and everybody seems to be interested, and my clientele seem to be pleased with the research I do,” she said.
The Cherokee Roll Report, she said, is a good for the do-it-yourself researcher. The report provides “tons” of Cherokee genealogy plus custom surname searches of all the Cherokee rolls. Researchers will find a completely customized reference to the 15 Cherokee rolls, as well as other information regarding tribal citizenship requirements and blood quantum calculation.
The cost is $30 for the first surname report and $20 for each additional surname added.
Tribal Enrollment Research is a service that helps determine if you are eligible to enroll with one of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes – the CN, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Berry said she asks her clients to provide details about their Cherokee grandparent or grandparents so that she can determine if the client’s family is eligible to enroll with one of the three tribes.
This service costs $75. Research time can vary. Currently, it takes about one to two weeks to complete.
In-Depth Genealogy Research is the most detailed service Berry provides with six hours of dedicated genealogy research into a person’s family tree. She uses census, marriage, birth, and death record searches. Cherokee rolls and secondary Cherokee resources are also used. She also can assist with CN citizenship application through this service. The rate for genealogy research is $400 for six hours of research.
For more information, visit www.allthingscherokee.com.
Cherokee genealogist Christina Berry researches a client’s genealogy from her home. COURTESY PHOTO