Cherokee genealogist Christina Berry researches a client’s genealogy from her home. COURTESY PHOTO

‘All Things Cherokee’ source for Cherokee genealogy

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
08/13/2013 08:34 AM
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.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez
12/05/2016 08:30 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Family and friends of Cherokee National Treasure and potter Anna Mitchell recently attended a reception for a Cherokee Heritage Center exhibit celebrating her life and legacy as a Cherokee potter. The “Anna Mitchell Legacy” will be on display through April 1 and includes pottery Mitchell made during four decades. Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell was born Oct. 16, 1926, to Oo-loo-tsa and Houston Sixkiller in Delaware County and died March 3, 2012, at age 86. The CHC and Mitchell’s family wanted to showcase her life’s work and contributions. Mitchell’s daughter, Victoria Mitchell Vazquez, said for her mother’s exhibit she located collectors who agreed to loan pottery items made by her mother for the exhibit. She said it was her idea to recreate her mother’s studio for the exhibit, complete with original pottery tools her mother worked with, her original worktable, examples of clay and some in-the-works pieces. Her mother’s worktable came from her sister’s cellar and still has clay on it. “I love the way it has all been put together. Jane Osti (a Mitchell student) helped a lot,” she said. “I love the panels that have all the descriptions and stories of mother. I like the easy flow of being able to go in a circle and you see some of her best work, and as you go around you see her work, her students’ work and their students’ work.” She said while the exhibit captures much of who her mother was it doesn’t capture all of her mother’s essence. How important Mitchell was for bringing back pottery making to the Cherokee people is not fully captured, she said. Mitchell was instrumental in bringing back Southeastern-style pottery to Cherokee people in Oklahoma. No one had been able to continue the tribe’s pottery tradition after it was moved to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, in the early 1800s. Cherokee potter Crystal Hanna studied pottery under Mitchell. She met her after seeing Mitchell’s photo in a brochure for the annual Red Earth festival in Oklahoma City. Hanna said she contacted Red Earth representatives to get in touch with Mitchell because she felt she was someone she should get to know. Mitchell later called her and invited her to her house in Vinita. “That was in October of 1998, and she asked me if I was interested in doing an apprenticeship. I hadn’t really thought about it then. I was so excited to meet her to see what she did,” Hanna said. “She invited me to come back in March, that’s when she started working (making pottery) for Indian Market in Santa Fe (New Mexico).” Hanna said she returned to Vinita in March 1999 for a three-month apprenticeship with Mitchell. Mitchell loaned her books about Southeastern-style pottery and told Hanna she wanted her to study her “ancient culture and history before she put her hands in the clay.” One of Hanna’s tasks was sifting dried clay pieces for hours and rehydrating the clay for use. “After I did that all afternoon, she said, ‘oh, I just wanted to let you know how our ancestors did it.’ There’s an easier way. You can take the hand-dug clay and put it in little pebbles, soak it and then put it through a screen,” she said. “We went through every step – grinding the clay, processing it, the hand coiling, the burnishing, the slip painting.” She said after her apprenticeship Mitchell was always available to answer pottery questions. “We definitely bonded. She kind of reminded me of my mom. She was amazing, really amazing, and I loved her,” Hanna said. Vazquez learned pottery making from her mother after her father, Bob, died in 1997. After his death she moved home to Vinita from Houston where she had worked. “I came back to stay with mom for a couple of weeks, and I decided I need to stay here to support her but also really get serious about making pottery back in Oklahoma because you couldn’t do it in an apartment in Houston,” she said. Vazquez is known for making effigy pottery with human and animal faces. “I like pots, but I always wanted to do something different. I’ve always been drawn to animal or human effigies,” she said. Mitchell’s youngest daughter, Julie McPeek, never took up her mother’s craft, but she appreciated what her mother and father created as a team. She said her father was her mother’s support system and encouraged her constantly. McPeek said by the time she finished college and began raising her family, her mother was too busy with making pottery for art markets and customers that she no longer had time to teach. “And then it just seemed there was not opportunities after that,” she said. She said based on taking a pottery class with Victoria, she now understands that one just can’t “take a lesson or two” to really learn how to make great pottery. One has to learn “from the ground up” and study the culture behind Southeastern-style pottery making, she said. “I was here when they were getting things put in (for the exhibit), and it has such a presence of Mom here. I’m just overwhelmed,” McPeek said. “I love the way it flows from her work and then on around to students that she has taught and then students that her students have taught.”
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
11/18/2016 08:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – More than 1,800 school-age children from surrounding schools attended the annual Cherokee Heritage Festival on Nov. 3-4 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. CHC Interim Director Tonia Weavel said 371 students visited the first day and 1,449 students visited the second day. “We have schools today from Tulsa, McAlester, Roland, Marietta, Dahlonegah, Muskogee and others.” Weavel said. “The Cherokee Heritage Festival is a fantastic fall event where we’ve invited children to come and learn about the Cherokee culture.” Weavel said students who attended received “hands on and up close” lessons on Cherokee culture and history. “So we’re glad they’re here. It’s going to be a good day.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/17/2016 04:00 PM
ROLAND, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Businesses is preserving and promoting Cherokee culture at each of its properties by utilizing themes and technology to immerse guests in tribal art, language and history. The tribe’s newest gaming and hospitality property, Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland, highlights the company’s ability to enhance the entertainment experience by embracing technology and sharing the tribe’s history and culture. The venue’s design represents earth, wind, water and fire and is evident throughout the casino. “Our Cherokee heritage is unique and beautiful,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Adorning our entertainment properties with cultural elements, brilliant works of Cherokee art and even subtle design motifs allows us to preserve and share our tribal culture while creating memorable impressions that invite visitors to return time and again.” More than 25 years ago, the Cherokee Nation opened its first gaming operation, a bingo hall, on the same property as the current casino resort. At that time, much of the technology used today was nonexistent. The technological advances in gaming, security and surveillance have transformed Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland into the region’s leading entertainment destination. The tribe’s business arm used new methods to match the property’s increased focus on technology and art, including an animated TV wall featuring art with moving elements and audio across three monitors and a mosaic TV wall displaying the casino and hotel’s entire art collection. Holographic greeters offer patrons a quick and factual education in Cherokee culture and language while also depicting the tribe’s history within Sequoyah County. The greeters feature the appearances and voices of actual employees who work at the property. “It’s an honor as both an employee and as a Cherokee Nation citizen to work in an environment that expresses so much of our tribal history and culture through numerous displays,” Chad McReynolds, general manager of Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland, said. “Our guests appreciate the art and are interested in hearing the stories behind each piece. The art team really did a wonderful job with this project." Cherokee culture is represented throughout CNB and CNE properties by using historical and modern media. The Roland location features the works of 28 Cherokee artists, including eight Cherokee National Treasures: Bill Glass Jr., David Scott, Donald Vann, Jane Osti, Luther Toby Hughes, Noel Grayson, Shawna Morton Cain and William Cabbagehead. The property boasts 3-D works ranging from basketry to ceramics by Cain, Osti and Scott, photos by Cherokee photographer Jeremy Charles and a ceiling centerpiece reflecting the four directions on earth created by Bill and Demos Glass. Honeysuckle baskets, woven and hand-built pottery, a historic sugar bowl and handmade hunting and fishing tools used before European contact, as well as 8-foot-tall panels displaying Ron Mitchell’s piece “Art of the People” are also on display. “It is very important that we continue to preserve our culture and support Cherokee artists,” Gina Olaya, CNB director of cultural art and design, said. “Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland exemplifies the many ways modern technology helps us share and enjoy Cherokee history, language and art, while simultaneously creating an entertainment experience unlike anything else in the area.” The CN and its businesses rely on Cherokee artists and their works to bring authenticity to all of the tribe’s properties. A catalogue of the tribe’s collection is accessible through an online art database at <a href="http://cnart.pastperfect-online.com" target="_blank">http://cnart.pastperfect-online.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/10/2016 08:30 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Western paintings and Native American artifacts collected by former NFL Tennessee Titans owner Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams go on exhibit Nov. 12 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The “Titan of the West: The Adams Collection of Western and Native American Art” exhibition includes items from a multimillion-dollar collection bequeathed by Adams to the museum when he died in 2013 at age 90. It is one of the largest and most historically important bequests the museum ever has received. Visitors will see paintings by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Thomas Moran and other artists who shaped the image of the Old West. They also will see Native American artifacts, including beaded and quilled clothing from Plains tribes, pottery and weavings from the Southwest, Cherokee basketry and a variety of horse gear, smoking pipes and moccasins all gifted to the museum by the late Adams in his will. “Bud Adams and his wife Nancy Adams assembled an impressive personal art collection at their Houston home and business inspired by Bud’s dual heritage as an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and descendant of pioneers. While football fans knew Bud Adams as the owner of the Tennessee Titans, we at the Eiteljorg Museum also came to know him as a tremendous enthusiast for the history of the West. The Adams’ collection is one of national importance, and we were thunderstruck with gratitude when Bud entrusted this collection to the Eiteljorg for the public’s enjoyment and appreciation,” said Eiteljorg Museum President and CEO John Vanausdall. A wealthy Houston businessman and rancher, Adams was prominent in the oil and gas industry as CEO of Adams Resources & Energy. Adams also was a central figure in the history of modern professional football. He was co-founder of the American Football League, which later merged with the NFL, and he was owner of the former Houston Oilers franchise that later became the Tennessee Titans in Nashville. Many direct ancestors of Adams were among the Cherokee forced to leave Tennessee on the Trail of Tears. The Tiana Rogers family traveled with a party that took 189 days to reach Indian Territory (in what is now Oklahoma) in 1839. In 1841, daughter Martha married Hilliard Fields. She was Bud Adams’ great-great-grandmother. W.W. “Bill” Keeler was the brother of Adams’ mother and was president of Phillips Petroleum. Keeler became principal chief of the CN first appointed by President Harry Truman and holding the office until 1975. Adams was a supporter of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, and in 2000 received “the highest honor awarded by the Cherokee National Historical Society for his support and dedication to the preservation and promotion of Cherokee culture.” Curators and collection experts at the Eiteljorg have spent nearly three years preparing for the display of 60 paintings and nearly 90 Native American artifacts Adams collected, which together will fill an exhibition room. A full-color 300-page book authored by the curatorial staff accompanies the exhibition. “The Eiteljorg Museum is one of the premier museums of Native American artifacts and Western art in North America, and it is appropriate that these priceless treasures will be housed at the Eiteljorg permanently,” said Amy Adams Strunk, daughter of Bud Adams and controlling owner of the Tennessee Titans. “This collection was very special to my father, and our family hopes that those who view these items on display will walk away with the same sense of wonder and appreciation for the culture and heritage that these unique artifacts and works of art represent.” The “Titan of the West” exhibition continues through Feb. 5 and is included with regular museum admission.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/07/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau Thanksgiving will be held Thursday November 10, 2016 from 12:30 - 4pm. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: Edna Jones at (918) 453-5151; John Ross at (918) 453-6170; or Roy Boney, Jr. (918) 453-5487
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
11/07/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After reconnecting with her pre-school teacher, Cherokee Nation citizen Talisha Lewallen learned how to make Cherokee double-wall baskets from basket weaver Regina Thompson. This led her to share the skill with co-worker Joshua Cooper, and they in turn began teaching children they helped while working with CN’s Indian Child Welfare. “We both work for Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare, and we started realizing that when we’re teaching kids to do it, it really helps them to be able to talk to us more. It kind of gives them a way to relax around us. It takes their mind kind of off what they’re really telling us and helps, I think, all of us feel a little more comfortable in some situations,” she said. “It also helps them reconnect with their heritage and realize that they’re apart of something bigger and they’re not just out there by themselves.” Cooper, a CN citizen, said the children kept what they made but he and Lewallen noticed they had an excess of baskets. He said this prompted them to start TooNooWee Baskets about a year ago. “From doing that we had all of these baskets left over and never had much to do with it so I was like, ‘might as well start selling them,’” he said. Cooper said they have sold baskets and spread Cherokee culture to people all over the world. “I’ve sent some to Australia. I’ve sent some to England and France and Austria. So we kind of share it (Cherokee culture) that way,” he said. “We also share it with our personal family and also people here in Oklahoma.” Lewallen said they also sold all of their baskets at their booth during the 64th annual Cherokee National Holiday. “Our booth did very well.” Cooper said he believes creating baskets helps him, Lewallen and the children they teach connect with their culture. “These baskets are from the western Cherokee, after the removal. It’s kind of the style that kind of came about because they didn’t have the same materials,” he said. “It kind of keeps us connected to the sacrifices they made and understand how far we’ve come and continue it. I want to be able to teach my kids. Also, we know that the basket kind of holds it’s all self together, there’s nothing added in to it so it’s kind of like the way the Cherokee people kind of work. We kind of hold ourselves together and keep moving forward.” Lewallen said as for her baskets she recently began entering art shows and competitions and is interested in entering more. “I’ve already won two awards from the two art shows I’ve entered so I’m pretty excited about that,” she said. She said she won Judges’ Choice at the 11th annual Cherokee Holiday Art Show and first place at the 2016 Tulsa State Fair Competitive Exhibits. Cooper said the duo also offer basket-weaving classes. “We’ve only done it a few times but it’s something that we really enjoy,” he said. “We’ve actually taught all of ICW for Cherokee Nation. We had a class of probably about 100 something people.” To purchase baskets, request a custom basket or set up a class, visit <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/TooNooWeeBaskets" target="_blank">www.etsy.com/shop/TooNooWeeBaskets</a> , call 918-805-7082 or email <a href="mailto: toonooweebaskets@gmail.com">toonooweebaskets@gmail.com</a>. To keep up with TooNooWee Baskets “follow” them on Instagram or “like” them on Facebook.