Monday, June 7, 2010

Madness Monday - The Standards For Sound Genealogical Research apply to Cherokee Genealogy Too

I have been taking a break from this blog in order to research and work on some other projects concerning Cherokees, but due to some recent comments, I think it is important to start writing here again on a regular basis. It is apparent some people simply do not understand exactly what makes one Cherokee. In my mind, it is pretty must descend from a Cherokee in order to be Cherokee, but some people just don't seem to get it. The fact that people want to do their Cherokee genealogy without following the Standards For Sound Genealogical Research drives me "mad"!

People offer all sorts of "proof" to show they are or someone else is Cherokee. They say their family escaped the Trail of Tears or hid out to avoid removal. They say their family refused to enroll. They say they speak the language, know the customs or follow the traditions. One reader even said it was obvious Johnny Depp was Native American because he directed and starred in a movie called "The Brave", has an Indian tattoo and has constantly spoke of his ancestry since early in his career. Probably the craziest thing I have heard came from a woman who insisted her grandmother was Cherokee because she was a mystic and wore moccasins!

Maybe to some, these claims sound logical, but to anyone who knows and understands Cherokee history, true Cherokee history, these claims are absurd. They don't understand that, even if their family did escape the Trail of Tears, hide out to avoid removal, or refused to enroll, their ancestors would still be found on earlier rolls. They don't understand that speaking the language, knowing customs or following traditions are things that can be learned by anyone and offers no proof of ancestry. They don't understand that there is no law preventing a white man from claiming to be Indian, starring in and directing a movie about Indians or from getting an Indian tattoo. They don't understand that these New Age beliefs and hippie-like attire are not Cherokee. And, they don't understand that Cherokee genealogy is exactly the same as any other genealogy. It must be verified and supported with evidence.

If you are one of those people who believes you will never be able to verify your Cherokee ancestry because there are no records or because the records were lost or the records burned up in a fire, I urge you to learn some actual Cherokee history instead of listening to what others say. The Cherokee people are possibly the most documented group of people in the United States and one of the most documented in the world. I have said it before and I will say it again, Cherokee genealogy is extremely easy and in my opinion, easier than the genealogy of whites. After all, the government kept track of Indians. Whites were allowed to move about and do whatever they wanted without the government recording it or keeping track of them.

In closing, I would like to share a few truths --- There are 30+ rolls of the Cherokee people dating back to before the forced removal. There are rolls with the names of those who did not remove from the east on the Trail of Tears. Not enrolling on the Dawes Roll was not an option - people were arrested and forced to enroll or informants gave the information for them. Because of the previous rolls, the Dawes Commission knew who to look for and inquire about. If your family is not found on any of the rolls of the Cherokee people, then there is only one logical conclusion to make - they were NOT Cherokee. All the other claims and reasons people give (many listed above) don't hold water and certainly don't adhere to the Standards For Sound Genealogical Research. The ONLY thing that makes one Cherokee is decent from a real Cherokee who is found in the historical documentation of the Cherokee Nation. Basing your genealogy on anything else means you are writing a work of fiction based on what you want to believe rather than what the evidence shows. "Genealogy without proof is mythology."

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

The Granddaughter
copyright 2010, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

1 comment:

  1. You know, I believe I am one of those people who will never be able to verify 100 % that I'm a descendant of the Cherokee people. However, I don't go around doing any of those things you listed above. I did learn some of the language to know how my ancestors may have spoke and I have studied the history and culture of the Cherokee, Choctaw, and other Native American tribes. I respect all people and would never take away the dignity of a Cherokee man or woman calling myself a Cherokee because I cannot prove it 100%. I admit, I used to. This is because of my family and they claim we are descendants. I don't doubt that claim. But the fact that I'm a descendant does NOT make me a Cherokee.


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