Registration Office handles citizenship, CDIB queries

BY LANI HANSEN
Former Intern
07/16/2018 08:00 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A Cherokee Nation Registration Office staff member assists a client. The office is in the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. It receives an average of 1,200 CN citizenship applications per month. LANI HANSEN/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Crystal Jones visits the tribe’s Registration Office with her 7-year-old son Trenton, 4-year-old daughter Amiyah, 3-year-old daughter Sarina and 1-year-old son Nathan. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Registration Office stays busy year round receiving, processing and sending out CN citizenship and Certificate Degree Indian Blood cards to applicants.

Registration officials said the office receives an average of 1,200 CN citizenship applications per month. For a quicker processing time, Registration staff recommend citizenship applications be made shortly after a child is born. This will give staff time to process the application should any services be requested for the child in the future.

All applicants need to complete applications listing their direct lineal ancestors (parent, grandparent) back to a Dawes Roll enrollee. The application process times vary. Some applications may require more or updated information such as correct birth certificates and affidavits, and some applications may not be completed correctly.

“If the applicant’s parent is already registered, then we just need an application and birth certificate listing the Indian parent,” Associate Tribal Registrar Justin Godwin said. “If no one in the family has received CDIB (Certificate Degree Indian Blood) card or citizenship (card), then we will need the birth or death certificate beginning with the applicant back to the enrollee.”

The birth or death certificate must contain a state seal, state file number and be certified by the state registrar.

Officials said six years ago more than 23,000 citizenship applications were pending and another 15,000 CN citizens were awaiting CDIB cards under the previous system. Officials said that backlog is now wiped out and a system is in place to keep pace with the applications submitted.

To lower waiting times, officials said the CN added nearly 2,000 square feet to the Registration Office. The department also received a budget increase, which allowed for adding 22 full- and part-time employees.

Employee responsibilities were also realigned, officials said, as five operators were assigned to answer applicant questions, and others were assigned to type or process files, address special projects and work on backlogged applications.

Officials said Registration’s database application was also updated in 2013 to more efficiently process citizenship and CDIB cards. New processes were also developed to provide employees with documents that had been scanned and filed in an electronic database, officials said.

Officials said as a result, citizenship and CDIB applications filed with all necessary documentation can now be processed in as little as one month, compared to previous wait times that often stretched out for two years or more.

Applications can be picked up at the Registration Office or printed online at www.cherokee.org/Services/Tribal-Citizenship/Downloadable-Forms. People may also email a request to registration@cherokee.org, call 918-458-6980 or mail Cherokee Nation, Attn: Tribal Registration, PO Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465.

Officials said aside from issuing citizenship and CDIB cards, the Registration Office also produces free photo identifications that serve as a dual citizenship and CDIB card. Since 2012, more than 100,000 photo IDs have been issued, officials said.

The cards have CN citizenship information on one side and CDIB information on the other.

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