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The last word...

November 1 2011 at 9:15 AM
David Cornsilk  (no login)


The last word on who is Cherokee belongs to the Cherokee people, they being the members/citizens of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. There ARE NO OTHER CHEROKEES. We have made no provision in the law for the descendants of those who abandoned our family generations ago, thus they are nothing to us.

Cherokee is a nationality, not a race. If someone is a descendant of an ancestor who once was a Cherokee, that person is nothing more than a descendant, just as I am a descendant of an Italian who abandoned his nation to become an American. When he left his country to become an American, he stopped being Italian and became nothing more than a white American. I cannot legally call myself an Italian because I am not an Italian, I'm an American of Italian descent. Likewise, I am Cherokee of Italian descent. Why? Because I hold those citizenships aka nationalities.

I do find my Italian ancestor fascinating. I have enjoyed learning about his history. If there were such a thing as blood quantum, I'd be 1/128 degree of Italian blood ancestry. I hope you see how silly that sounds. Yet among wannabes and descendants of Indians, we hear such blood quantums bantied about. It would be utterly ludicrous for anyone with that distant an ancestor to run around claiming to be that. Reasonable people would find it utterly laughable. But when it comes to Indians, all reason is tossed out the window in favor of the romantic notions of that heritage.

What is most disconerting about wannabeism are the authentic Indians, members of tribes, sometimes even members of the Cherokee tribes themselves, who take it upon themselves to grant personal recognition of these false claims in violation of the will of their own tribal law. They are collaborators with the colonizers who spent the greater part of the last 500 years overrunning our lands and now they are colonizing our identity. Thus are the ways of the white man. He has always and always will be searching for the next frontier, caring not a wit about who may already be there.

So, we are asked, what of those who truly are "of descent" from an ancestor who once was a citizen/member of one of our great tribal nations. My reply is simple, prove it. Of course we will hear the constant refrain of the wannabe, which will be:
1. My ancestors jumped off the Trail of Tears
2. My ancestors hid out in the hills
3. My ancestors passed for white or were forced to call themselves white or black
4. And multiple other scenarios ad nauseum

The problem with these claims is they are so easily dismissed when compared to the historic record. The 1835 Cherokee Census shows the names of the heads of household of the 16,000 Cherokees rounded up to be marched west. Where were your ancestors? Why are their names not there? That census was taken 65 years before the Dawes Rolls. Oh wait, I know, they were hiding out even then. Pshaaaw!

But let us assume that is so. Well then, we should then be able to find the ancestor in question among the dozens of records and census that pre-date the 1835 Roll. Just as an example, my own ancestor, Collins McDonald, remained in Georgia after the Trail of Tears. Actually, he was an assistant conductor and went west. He left his family in Georgia, a Cherokee wife and Cherokee children. They were not molested or asked to leave. In 1840, 1850 and 1860 they were identified by the U.S. Census as whites. But that didn't destroy all the records they had created showing them to be Cherokees. Collins and his sisters are listed in the Moravian Missionary Records as native students in 1820. In the Moravian Missionary diaries, recently translated from German, we find that Collins was taken to see the missionaries because they recorded every visit from the Indians they were seeking to convert. Collins and his Cherokee wife announced their marriage in the Cherokee Phoenix in 1834. The United States enumerated the Cherokees living in the southern states in preparation for payments stemming from the loss of the Eastern homeland. And whom do we find on all three of those rolls? None other than Collins McDonald, his wife and children. We also find his wife's aged parents, one of whom was a Cherokee. When Collins joined the Confederate army in Georgia at the age of 51 we find a nice description of him as having dark skin, white hair and gray eyes. His race is listed as Indian. These scenarios for an average Cherokee man like Collins McDonald, being of mixed race, white and Indian, are typical of the kinds of records available to the Cherokee descendant.

These facts, of course, beg the question, how is it that an average Cherokee man like Collins McDonald, who actually did remain in Georgia after the Trail of Tears, produced so many records proving himself to be an Indian formerly of the Cherokee Nation, yet we are expected to believe that someone making claims of descent but has no proof is authentic? PAHLEEZE! And that my friends, IS the last word.

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