Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stop Trying to Rewrite Our History

*Part 5 in response to the Boston Globe article from September 15, 2012. 

Too many people, like those used for "testimony" that Elizabeth Warren might have Indian blood, believe the myths floating around on the internet. They disregard the truth about Cherokee history, assuming there were no records or that we don't know our own history. We know our history and we had lots of records. And believe it or not, we Cherokees were intelligent and educated (actually at a higher percentage than the dominant white society) and we participated in the making of our records and rolls. Remember? We had a written language. We took a case to the Supreme Court and won. Our ancestors were not push overs and they insisted on having as much involvement as possible in determining who was or was not allowed on the rolls of our nation. 

The people quoted in the article by the Boston Globe were not exactly correct in the stories they told or the reasons they gave for why their families were not found on the Dawes Roll. 

That was not the only roll of the Cherokee people. If their families were truly Cherokee, then they would find their family on the older rolls. Below are two previous posts on this topic. I feel they are important because people need to know the truth and they need to stop attempting to rewrite our history just so they can make their non-Indian family fit in it.

The Dawes Roll is Not the Only Proof

Often times, people will claim they are Cherokee, but they can never prove it because their ancestors are not on the Dawes Roll. They claim their ancestors hid from the Dawes Commission and refused to be enrolled. Or, they claim their family escaped the Trail of Tears and hid out or passed as white. To some, these stories may seem logical or realistic, but to those knowledgeable in Cherokee history, those stories seem absurd. There is so much documentation on the Cherokee people throughout history, it would be nearly impossible for one not to have been recorded as Cherokee on some document or roll. Recently, my friend, David Cornsilk, responded on a message board to a person (CR) who seems to think the Dawes Roll is the only document containing any information about Cherokee ancestry and also believes (his words, not mine) "those who ... ... followed the Dawes commission around like a dog hoping to get some land have descendants who get to claim to be Cherokee."

To this, David responded with, "There were many full bloods, some of my ancestors included, who refused to enroll on the Dawes Roll. They followed Redbird Smith's orders and avoided enrollment; at least until their neighbors testified for them. I think the point that CR is trying to make, which is only partially correct, is that some Cherokees did not get on the Dawes Roll. This we know is factual. However, just because something happened in the past does not mean it happened to his ancestors.

There are many tragedies and triumphs of the Cherokee people. The names of our ancestors do not just appear on the Dawes Roll. They appear on the 1896, 1894, 1890, 1880, 1876, 1851 (3 rolls in that year alone), 1835 and 1817 rolls. There are a number of other documents created inbetween that list the names of Cherokees living at those times. There are documents from the early 1800s including missionary records that mention the names of Cherokees whose descendants are among those enrolled in subsequent years. My ancestors are nobody special. Just your average Cherokees. Yet their names appear on EVERY roll and in every document. My blood kin through collateral lineages are listed throughout the Cherokee records. That is how it is for real Cherokees.

On the other hand, the fakes, not naming any names, find absolutely no ancestors or kin of any kind among our people no matter what record we look at or how far back in time we go. The bottom line here is proof. And whether CR or anyone else dislikes the Dawes Roll because their ancestors names do not appear there is not important. That Roll, despite whatever flaws it may have is OUR history, our record, the names of OUR ancestors appear there. And the same can be said for every Cherokee record that predates it. Those records belong to us because the Cherokee tribe of Indians belongs to us and none other.

Fakes and wannabes claim their ancestors were hiding from the Dawes Commission, then I ask where are the names of your ancestors in any record that would have alerted the Dawes Commission to search for them? They claim their ancestors remained east of the Mississippi after the Trail of Tears. Yet my ancestor Collins McDonald, his in-laws (who were Cherokees), his Cherokee wife and his Cherokee children actually did remain in Georgia. They appear in numerous records, not passing themselves as whites, although they could have. They were living as Cherokees and their names appear in the 1848 and 1851 Rolls of Eastern Cherokees, just the same as all the other Cherokees who remained. Yet the fakers and wannabes have no ancestors on those rolls. Why? Because their ancestors were not Cherokees!

Before the Trail of Tears a roll was made that lists 16,000 Cherokees who were destined to be removed. Again, my ancestors names are there, the fakers who claim their ancestors jumped off the Trail of Tears are nowhere to be found. In the early 1800s missionaries came among our people to educate our ancestors and convert them to Christianity. They made copious notes in journals of the children they taught and the families they met. My ancestors are mentioned throughout those journals. My ancestors are listed as students in the mission schools in Georgia in 1820. Are the fakers and wannabes listed? No, their ancestors cannot be found there.

Logic does not reign supreme in the mind of the wannabe. They twist our history and torture the names of our ancestors to fit their own family scenarios. They invent parents for Cherokees long since dead who cannot protest this bastardization of their family names. The fakes call out names such as Moytoy the first through the fifth, Great Eagle, Tamedoe, Cornblossom and other blasphemous corruptions of our ancestral heritage to make themselves appear to be Cherokees, and all of this without so much as a shred of evidence to connect themselves to a Cherokee, let alone a Cherokee to the fabricated names they force upon us.

If any part of our heritage belongs to the fakers and wannabes it is the heritage of theft that has left the Cherokee Indian landless and poverty stricken. Ethnic Identity Theft is the ultimate form of genocide. The white people and their descendants who invaded and colonized our homeland in the Southeast are no longer happy with just owning the land we once called home. Now they must rise up and steal our name."

So my fellow genealogists, the next time you hear someone give a reason as to why they cannot prove they are Cherokee, think about the information David shared with us. If a person cannot find one iota of evidence to support their family story, then it is highly unlikely they have any Cherokee ancestry at all. It is just that plain and simple.

Original post: http://www.pollysgranddaughter.com/2009/12/dawes-roll-is-not-only-proof.html#ixzz26qCVwKsR


A Cherokee can't be found because a Cherokee isn't there

Yesterday, I received an email from Farah Stockman, of the Boston Globe, thanking me for my efforts to document the ancestry of Elizabeth Warren. Through her email, I could tell she had already formed an opinion and what I said didn't matter, so I wondered why she even bothered to contact me with questions. But I answered her email truthfully and factually. And, just as I suspected, she didn't consider one thing I told her.

Her article came out and she asserted many things that are commonly told as truth in the non-Cherokee world, but when studied, are shown to only be based in lore. (Are we starting to see a pattern here? Lots of lore, huh?) Did Cherokees refuse to enroll? Yes. Were they enrolled anyway? Yes. Does Farah bother to tell her readers this? No. Does she bother to tell her readers that those who opposed allotment were the Nighthawks, often full bloods, always traditional? No. Does she tell her readers that some Cherokees who tried to avoid allotment were arrested and forced to enroll? No. What she does is apparently try to lead her readers into believing there were people everywhere who refused to enroll so today their descendants are cut out of being able to claim their ancestry. This is not true.There are Cherokee descendants who are not eligible to register with any of the three federally recognized tribes. Some because their blood quantum is too low to meet the minimum required amount and others because they don't have an ancestor on the Dawes Roll but they still have ancestors found on other historical Cherokee rolls. We know this. No one disputes this. But Elizabeth Warren is not one of these people.

Though Farah writes, "Ironclad claims of Native American ancestry are often based on the so-called Dawes Rolls", this is not true. The "Dawes Roll" is the final roll of citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes; the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole. Most Indian Nations do not use the Dawes Roll as their basis for enrollment or registration. I know it might be hard for some people to believe, but there are a lot of other Indian Nations or tribes in the United States. Everyone is not Cherokee. And Farah's statement isn't even true for Cherokee ancestry because the Eastern Band uses the Baker Roll as their base for enrollment. But, Farah doesn't tell her readers that. She makes it seem that because Warren's ancestors were not on this roll, one roll, the Dawes Roll, they might have lost their chance to ever prove their purported Cherokee ancestry.

Why didn't Farah point out the many other rolls of the Cherokee people like the Emigration Roll, Henderson Roll, the Drennen Roll, the Old Settler Roll (two of them), the Guion Miller Roll, the Chapman Roll, the Siler Roll, the Lipe Roll, the censuses of 1869, 1880, 1890 and 1896? Or the muster rolls of Cherokee soldiers from the War of 1812 and the Civil War? Or the Moravian and the Brainerd Mission records? Or the muster rolls from the removal? Or the ration lists from before and after the removal? Or the claims the Cherokees filed against the US in the 1840s? Why didn't she point out Elizabeth Warren's ancestors are found on none of those rolls or in any of these records either?

You would think Farah would ask someone who actually knows about Cherokee genealogy and records if she really wanted to get to the bottom of this controversy, wouldn't you?  Well she didn't. There are numerous people she could have talked to like Jack Baker, Gene Norris, or Jeff Bishop if she wanted to learn about Cherokee history and genealogy. Instead, she found someone to quote who  wrote a book about Wetumka, the town where Warren grew up. While she adds his statements as factual, she never offers any information about his experience in the world of genealogy or Cherokee history. She tells us he says, "It is very difficult to determine who is and who isn’t an Indian," but she doesn't tell us that just because something may be difficult for him doesn't mean it is difficult for everyone.  And, this man Farah bases so much of her argument on? A man who doesn't even know the name of his great grandmother. Now tell me, how much genealogy has this man done?

After reading Farah's article for the Boston Globe, all I could do was shake my head and think, "Now everyone thinks they are an expert on Cherokee history and genealogy." It's almost laughable to watch this hot mess of Cherokee ancestry desperation. First, there was a frantic search to find a Cherokee and when that turned up nothing, now there is a carpet bombing of excuses why a Cherokee can't be found.  Get a grip people! How hard is it to admit a Cherokee can't be found because there isn't one there? Good grief!


Those are my thoughts for today.
Thank you for reading.

**A very special thank you to David Cornsilk for allowing me to use his writing.


copyright 2012, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

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