Cherokee Membership Requirements and Cherokee Enrollment Qualifications
Many people want to know about becoming a Cherokee
Tribal Member based on a relative being Cherokee or of Cherokee descent. Enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
is governed by tribal ordinance #284 dated June 24, 1996, and restricts enrollment to the following: direct lineal ancestor
must appear on the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. (Note: The Baker Roll is the base roll of the
Eastern Cherokee and contains the name, birthdate, Eastern Cherokee Blood quantum, and roll number of the base enrollees.)
The question pops up all the time, "I have a relative
who is Cherokee, may I register as a Tribal Member?" Or, "I'm of Cherokee descent; does that make me eligible to be a member
of the Tribe?"
Enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
is governed by Cherokee Code, Chapter 49, Enrollment, and the Code restricts enrollment. If you have a direct lineal ancestor
listed on the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, then you must meet one of these two conditions:
- All direct lineal descendants of the ancestor listed on the 1924 Baker Roll
must have been living on August 14, 1963, possess at least 1/32 degree of Eastern Cherokee blood, have applied for membership
prior to August 14, 1963, and have themselves or have parents who have maintained and lived in a home at sometime during the
period from June 4, 1924, through August 14, 1963, on lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Swain, Jackson, Graham,
Cherokee or Haywood counties in North Carolina, or
- All direct lineal descendants of the ancestor on the 1924 Baker Roll must
possess at least 1/16 degree of Eastern Cherokee blood if applying for membership today (after August 14, 1963).
Blood Quantum (i.e. your degree of Cherokee blood) is calculated from your
ancestor listed on the 1924 Baker Roll, and DNA/blood testing is unacceptable for this calculation. DNA testing has not advanced
to the point of determining tribal affiliation, and therefore The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians accepts DNA testing only
in regard to the parentage of an applicant.
Additionally, any person who applies for membership in the Eastern Band
of Cherokee Indians cannot be a member of any other federally recognized tribe.
Frequently Asked Questions:
is a C.D.I.B. Card?
A C.D.I.B card, as it is commonly called, is a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card
that is issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It certifies what your degree of Indian blood is and what tribe you are affiliated
with. A number of tribes still allow C.D.I.B cards to be issued to people who cannot become enrolled members of their tribe
as a result of an insufficient blood quantum or any other reason. The Bureau of Indian Affairs in Cherokee must receive a
document from the Enrollment Office stating that you are a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in order to
issue you a C.D.I.B card. The Enrollment Office cannot issue any statement if you cannot meet our enrollment requirements.
Can I take a D.N.A test to prove my Cherokee heritage?
D.N.A testing has not advanced to the point that they can tell that a person has lineage to a specific group of Native Americans.
Testing can tell you if you have Native American blood, but can’t narrow it down as to what tribe you would belong to.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians only accepts D.N.A testing in regards to the parentage of a child.
Can I be a member of two tribes?
The Eastern Band
of the Cherokee Indians prohibits dual enrollment. If a member of another federally recognized tribe wants to become a member
of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, they must relinquish their membership in the other tribe. If that person has
ever accepted any benefits from a tribe other than the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, they are prohibited from becoming
a member of the Eastern Band.
What is the difference in the Eastern and Western Cherokee?
Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians are descendants of Cherokees who did not go on the Trail of Tears. The Western Band of
the Cherokee are descendants of Cherokees who went on the trail. The two tribes operate as two separate entities and have
separate enrollment policies.
What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?
Child Welfare Act, also known as ICWA, was passed in 1978. It states that Indian children who are put up for adoption are
under the protection of the tribal court of their specific tribe. This allows the child to know its Indian heritage and participate
in any benefits accruing to it as a member of a tribe. This act was a result of the wholesale adoption of Indian children
and the loss of their tribal rights. Also, adoptions frequently meant tribes lost touch with their adopted citizens and many
adopted children searched to no avail when they sought their family roots. Preference is given to Indian adoptive parents,
but non-Indian adoptive parents are allowed.
How long does the Enrollment process take?
length of the Enrollment process varies by applicant. It is not something that can be done in one day and in most cases can
take between four to six weeks.
What documentation is necessary for me to enroll?
you have established that you do have a direct lineal ancestor on the 1924 Baker Roll, you must submit a completed application
with your certified birth certificate and certified birth and/or death certificates linking you to your ancestor on the 1924
Baker Roll. Example: If your Baker Roll Ancestor was your Maternal Grandmother, then you would need to Submit your Certified
Birth Certificate that has your mothers name on it and your mothers certified birth certificate that has her mothers name
If the Enrollment committee has any questions about your application they can request any additional information
they deem necessary to prove your lineage.
Quantum: must possess at least 1/16th degree of Eastern Cherokee blood. All criteria must be met in order to
be eligible with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Enrollment is CLOSED to all people who cannot meet the above requirements.
(Related reading below.)
cherokee-nc.com (The official source for all your Eastern Band of Cherokee information.)
HIGHLY Recommended Reading: Cherokee Proud, Second Edition, by Tony Mack McClure. Description: Absolutely
the "Bible" of Cherokee Genealogy. New, 336 pages, 2nd Edition. If the information in this remarkable new book doesn't lead
a person to proof of their Cherokee roots, nothing can! “It is an A-to-Z on organizing and locating the requirements
/ qualifications for membership.” Continued below...
Are you Cherokee? Are you the individual
that has always been told that you are a Cherokee, but have no facts or records to prove it? To claim Cherokee membership
means that you must prove it – you must have the facts, so toss the doubt away, get the facts, and claim what is rightfully
your heritage by blood quantum. Now, are you ready to prove that you are a Cherokee? It’s not difficult if you take
the time to locate the facts. Included are proven resources for tracing your family genealogy, the family tree, roots, bloodline,
and for researching your ancestors to prove that you meet the blood requirements (qualifications) for Cherokee membership
and tribal enrollment. Those that qualify as “American Indians are American Indians” and are entitled to the rights
and benefits of the tribe! Also includes a proven “how to dos” written by the foremost expert in Cherokee
history, genealogy and heritage. Cherokee membership is not like joining a gym or paying dues, it’s your blood, so claim
it. Are you remotely interested in knowing that you are a “Cherokee Indian” or are you the individual that
enjoys genealogy? Do you want to locate and preserve your Native American ancestry? Finding information about ancestors for
genealogy and heritage is also a lot of fun. Moreover, you are preserving your own family history and heritage with your relatives
and loved ones for generations and generations… Take a look at exactly what is required to locate and organize
and present your information to prove that you meet the qualifications as a member of the Cherokee tribe. Cherokee Proud, by Tony McClure, is
referred to as the "Bible for Cherokee Genealogy." Cherokee Proud has
also been rated a SOLID FIVE STARS by every person that has read and rated it. To see if you meet the 'Cherokee qualification
and requirement for membership', then look no further -- purchase Cherokee Proud.
Read the reviews and see what people and organizations are saying about it.
"Cherokee Proud is the very
best book I have ever seen on tracing Cherokee genealogy." -- RICHARD PANGBURN, acclaimed author of Indian Blood, Vol. I &
II found in most libraries
"McClure unabashedly loosens
his journalistic standards for portions of this book which reach him too emotionally. Understood. Fascinating and enlightening."
BACK COVER: Among the people
of this country are individuals in whose blood runs the proud heritage of a noble and resilient people whose ways and talents
rank with the finest civilizations the world has known. They are the " Tsalagi ". . . the Cherokee. This book will help you
learn if you are one of them. -- BOOK READER
"The contents of Cherokee
Proud are exceptional - valuable information that can be used by so many readers and researchers who have Native American
(Cherokee) ancestry." -- DON SHADBURN, Famous Georgia historian and noted author of Unhallowed Intrusion and Cherokee Planters
"This Cherokee guide is
the best yet!" -- LAWTON CONSTITUTION
the Author: Well known and acclaimed Cherokee author Dr. Tony Mack McClure, a native of Tennessee, is a certified member
of the Native American Journalists Association, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and Committeeman for
the Tennessee Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, over 250 newspapers,
on all major television networks and many cable systems.
Reading: Cherokee Connections,
by Myra Vanderpool Gormley. Description: Cherokee Connections
is an introduction to genealogical sources pertaining to the Cherokee nation, and it is designed specifically for researchers
who are trying to prove their heritage for tribal membership as well as for those who are simply interested in investigating
family legends about Cherokee ancestry. Continued below…
sources of genealogical value are explained with respect to the reasons why the various records were generated and where they
can be accessed today. This includes such well known records as the Dawes Commission records, the Dawes Final Rolls, and the
Guion Miller Rolls, to mention only a few.
Recommended Viewing: The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (2006), Starring: James Earl Jones and Wes Studi; Director: Chip
Richie, Steven R. Heape. Description: The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee
Legacy is an engaging two hour documentary exploring one of America's darkest periods in which President Andrew Jackson's Indian
Removal Act of 1830 consequently transported Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation to the bleak and unsupportive Oklahoma Territory
in the year 1838. Deftly presented by the talents of Wes Studi ("Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves"), James Earl
Jones, and James Garner, The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy also includes narrations of famed celebrities Crystal Gayle,
Johnt Buttrum, Governor Douglas Wilder, and Steven R. Heape. Continued below...
Cherokee Nation members which add authenticity to the production… A welcome DVD addition to personal, school, and community
library Native American history collections. The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is strongly recommended for its informative
and tactful presentation of such a tragic and controversial historical occurrence in 19th century American history.
Recommended Reading: The Cherokee Nation:
A History. Description:
Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History" is an eminently readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee
people from prehistoric times to the present day. The book is formatted in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high
school and college classes. At the end of each chapter is a source list and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end
of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a glossary of key terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs
and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various factions of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued below...
addition to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs
and sources about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing.
One such example is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to
England in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to
the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children.
For though we are red, and you are white our hands and hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually
said those words and points out that the only version we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate
if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down
later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture, the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would
be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described
themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available.
The skill of Conley in communicating his ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start
the study of Cherokee history. It serves as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about
the study of Native Americans.
Recommended Reading: Trail of Tears: The
Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Description: One of the many ironies
of U.S. government policy toward Indians
in the early 1800s is that it persisted in removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values.
As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing
plantations. Such a leader was Ridge, who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. Continued below...
As he and other Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue
of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislators, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded in ousting the Cherokee from their land,
forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." ...A treasured addition for the individual remotely interested in American Indian history as well as general
Reading: A Cherokee Encyclopedia
(Hardcover). Description: A Cherokee Encyclopedia is a quick reference guide for many of the people, places, and things connected
to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, as well as for the other officially recognized Cherokee groups, the Cherokee Nation
and the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Continued below...
From A Cherokee
Encyclopedia: "Crowe, Amanda: Amanda Crowe was born in 1928 in the Qualla Cherokee community in North Carolina.
She was drawing and carving at the age of 4 and selling her work at age 8. She received her MFA from the Chicago Arts Institute
in 1952 and then studied in Mexico at
the Instituto Allende in San Miguel under a John Quincy Adams fellowship. She had been away from home for 12 years when the
Cherokee Historical Association invited her back to teach art and woodcarving at the Cherokee
High School. . . ."
Richard Fields was Chief of the Texas Cherokees from 1821 until his death in 1827. Assisted by Bowl and others, he spent much
time in Mexico City, first with the Spanish government and later with the government of Mexico, trying to acquire a clear title to their land. They
also had to contend with rumors started by white Texans regarding their intended alliances with Comanches, Tawakonis, and
other Indian tribes to attack San Antonio. . . ."
About the Author:
Robert J. Conley is the author of over seventy books.
The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers
named him Wordcrafter of the Year for 1997. He has won numerous Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America and was presented
with the Cherokee Medal of Honor in 2000. An enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, Conley lives with
his wife, Evelyn, in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy, 2nd Edition. Description: A
very helpful genealogy reference! It is extremely helpful if you're in the "I want to trace my roots, ancestors,
family tree and heritage. How do I begin, where do I start, and how do I go about doing it?" situation. It contains numerous
helpful common sense tips that will prevent future headaches and a lot of well thought out suggestions and tips too.
One helpful hint: "Talk with your extended family and interview them for genealogy information, be patient with them,
and let them tell their stories....document everything." There are plenty of well-mannered tips like these that elevate this
book to excellence. Continued below...
A lot of the confusing aspects of genealogical research such as document requests and providing proof and
evidence are well covered. Customer's Review: I bought this book when I hadn't
yet done any research at all about my family history. A year and a half later, I have a file drawer full of information, and
I have needed no other reference. I also bought a book called "The Source", which is supposed to be the 'genealogist's bible',
and it has been a giant paperweight in comparison. Idiot's genealogy is full of the kind of practical information
that can carry you through years of research. Happy hunting!!!