Monday, October 19, 2009

Can you tell by looking?

"I have a picture of my great great grandma and you can tell she is Cherokee by looking at her. She has long black hair and high cheek bones." I have heard this more than once and I bet you have too. Often times, people who have family stories of Cherokee blood use the "you can tell by looking" line when all the documentation says their ancestors were white. Like I have said before, I have seen full blood Cherokees, mixed blood Cherokees and whites my whole life. I can't tell by looking who does and who does not have Cherokee Indian blood and I don't think most other people can either. So, today, I have set up a quiz called "Find the Cherokee Indians". All you have to do is look at the picture of the person and then decide whether you think they have Cherokee Indian blood or not.

How do you think you did?

There are 10 pictures of people who were listed as Cherokee by Blood on the Final Dawes Roll. Those people are found in pictures B, F, R, S, T, V, Y, Z, AA, and FF.

There are 13 pictures of people who descend from someone listed as Cherokee by Blood on the Final Dawes Roll. Those people are found in pictures C, H, I, J, K, M, N, O, P, Q, U, BB, and CC.

There is one picture of a person who died before the Final Dawes Roll, but her descendants are found on the Dawes Roll as Cherokee by Blood. That person is found in picture D.

The people mentioned in the three groups above are the only people in the pictures who have Cherokee Indian blood.

The people in pictures A, DD and EE are white. The people in pictures G and L are Creek. Those in pictures E, W, and X are Yankton Sioux.

Hopefully, this little quiz helped show you CANNOT tell one's heritage or nationality by looking at them. And you sure can't tell that your ancestor was Cherokee from a picture! If you want to find your true family heritage, it is best to put the family stories aside as well as the pictures. Dig into historical documents such as census records, tribal rolls and immigration papers to determine the race or nationality of your ancestors. That will be a lot more accurate than a guess based on what you think your ancestor looks like from a picture.

Those are my thoughts for the day.
Thank you for reading.

The Granddaughter
copyright 2009, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB


  1. What an eye opener! Wonderful photos!

  2. Amazing! Thank you for sharing your culture and helping people understand the importance of sources!

  3. Hey nice site actually lol

  4. This is very true. To look at me, you wouldn't think I have Cherokee blood. I inherited my looks from my German ancestors.

  5. I know this is an older blog but I had to smile when I read it. My son has Treaty Status here in Canada (Cree) and was part of the Aboriginal Provincial Hockey Tournament this weekend. Everyone had to provide their status card in order to play (either Metis or First Nation) but you would have been hard pressed to tell if all the kids actually had native blood if you were going by looks...lots of blond, blue eyes, along with black hair, brown eyes, white skin, black skin and red skin....a real United Nations. Thanks for the article


Your comments are welcome!