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The Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, houses historical documents pertaining to the forced removal of Cherokees from their homelands to Indian Territory via the Indian Removal Act of 1830.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The Cherokee Family Research Center at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, houses historical documents pertaining to the forced removal of Cherokees from their homelands to Indian Territory via the Indian Removal Act of 1830.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.

Multimedia

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
05/22/2018 04:00 PM
AKINS – Visitors to the first “Sequoyah Day” event held May 20 experienced all things Cherokee such as art, music, lectures, performances, demonstrations and National Treasures all on the grounds of the historic Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum where the Cherokee syllabary creator lived. “This is a chance to celebrate Sequoyah’s life and his legacy,” Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Director Travis Owens said. “We’ve had a flute-playing performance, the Cherokee National Youth Choir performed. We had the Girty Family Singers and presenters on our language today.” Others attending the event included Cherokee National Treasures Lorene Drywater and David Scott, as well as Cherokee artists Roy Boney, Jeff Edwards and Mary HorseChief. Tribal Councilors Bryan Warner and E.O. Junior Smith, and 2017-18 Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller also attended. Another highlight was the Traditional Native Games competition. CN citizen and games coordinator Bayly Wright said “Sequoyah Day” was a great place to hold Cherokee marbles, cornstalk shoot, horseshoes, blowgun, a hatchet throw and chunky competitions. “Today is the second of the five competitions leading up to the championships, which will be held on Aug. 25, the weekend before the Cherokee National Holiday,” she said. For more information on cultural events, visit <a href="http://www.visitcherokeenation.com" target="_blank">www.visitcherokeenation.com</a> or call 1-877-779-6977.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews. Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school. “It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.” Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship. “I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools. DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II. “It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said. After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization. The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU. DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary. “I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said. Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee. “We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said. Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship. “Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 12:00 PM
SALLISAW – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more, honoring legendary statesman and inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah. The event will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Nation’s Traditional Native Games. Sequoyah Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 19 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. “We are proud to bring to life an event like Sequoyah Day. It’s a unique daylong celebration of Cherokee history and culture at the home of the man who pioneered the Cherokee syllabary,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now that Cherokee Nation owns and operates the Sequoyah Cabin Park, we can organize these types of family-driven events that are both educational and fun for all.” The event runs until 4 p.m. and features live performances, activities for children and cultural demonstrations such as pottery, flint-knapping, bow-making, stone carving and graphics. The event includes multiple performances from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and a special language presentation at 1:30 p.m. Sequoyah built the cabin in 1829 and welcomes more than 12,000 visitors each year. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a National Literary Landmark in 2006. The homestead includes a one-room cabin and nearly 200 acres. Prior to reopening under CN management in 2017, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum received much-needed repairs and renovations. The museum now features large displays that share the story of Sequoyah, his development of the Cherokee syllabary and the Cherokee language today. The museum also features a retail space offering Cherokee Nation apparel, gifts and souvenirs. The museum is located at Highway 101, 7 miles east of Highway 59. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – Explore the messages of John Ross in his correspondences with fellow tribesmen and political allies throughout his 38 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Letters of John Ross” is the tribe’s first digital exhibit and allows guests to view documents that are usually off view and housed in collections at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Featured writings address topics such as delegation nominations, potential resolutions, rumors of assassination plots and the possible removal of Cherokee people to Mexico. “This is the first exhibit of its kind for Cherokee Nation, and we are eager to see how the public responds,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Businesses cultural tourism director, said. “The digital format enables guests to focus on their specific interests in an interactive and engaging way.” The exhibit runs May 4 through Jan. 31 at the John Ross Museum, which highlights Ross’ life and legacy and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and tribe’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School #51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call -1877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday May 10, 2018 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. 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: the Language Program at 918-453-5151. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 10, 2018, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918- 453-5151.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/08/2018 08:00 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – The Museum of Native American History will host storytelling and a beadwork class on May 12. The museum is located at 202 S.W. “O” St. Admission is free, and the events are open to all. From 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., MONAH staff will share traditional Yup'ik (Alaska) and Cherokee stories about how berries came to be just in time for berry season. “Our stories for the day include ‘Berry Magic,’ written and illustrated by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, and ‘The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story,’ retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Anna Vojtech. Stick around after the stories to make a self-portrait using nature and try akutaq, a traditional Yup'ik dish made with berries,” MONAH Director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale said. Storytime is geared toward ages 4 and up, but kids of all ages and their adults are welcome. A Creative Visions artist will host and teach a “Beadwork for Beginners” class beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the museum. Join Cherokee beadwork and jewelry artist Carolyn Chumwalooky for an in-depth introduction to the intricate art of beading. This hands-on workshop will lead participants through the process of creating a beaded keychain to take home. Registration is free and required. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the museum at 479-273-2456 or visit <a href="http://www.momah.us" target="_blank">www.momah.us</a>.