How to Prove That You’re Cherokee

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Proving Cherokee ancestry is possibly the key to unlock federal and scholarship benefits as well as knowledge of your family’s history.

Some individuals can trace their genealogy to Cherokees who were not recognized as tribe members while others are able to prove eligibility for tribal membership. There are three Cherokee tribes in which you may be entitled to membership. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee all have different requirements to prove affiliation or membership.

 

    • Research your family’s genealogy. The National Archives recommends beginning with yourself and tracing your family back. Ask your older living relatives, look through old family Bibles and check with genealogy services. Preferably you need to have the names of your ancestors through 1900.
    • Check to see if your ancestors were listed in any of the rolls that prove Cherokee tribal membership. The Dawes Rolls list every living member of the Cherokee Nation who was alive and living in Oklahoma between 1898 to 1907. If your ancestor is listed on this roll you are eligible for Cherokee Nation tribal membership. If your ancestor is listed on the final roll of the Eastern Cherokee and you have a blood quantum of at least 1/16 you may enroll in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. If you have a blood quantum of at least ¼ and you are a descendent from one of the members of a government resolution in 1949 you may be eligible for enrollment in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee.

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