ARE You a Undocumented, Disenfranchised Cherokee?
It has long be prophesied by our ancestors ("The Return of the Buffalo"), see the Woodland Buffalo that were present when the first white men arrived in the new world, that the new century would bring forth many people of Cherokee blood that want to rejoin the heritage that had been hidden from them. Hidden from them because of the fear left from the 1800's when our people were persecuted by the white man. These people coming forth now, maybe with just a drop of Cherokee blood, have been given the spark by the Creator to return to the white path, to learn of their ancestors, of our old ways, and some may want to help in bringing back our history, customs, ceremonies, stories and languages or even to recognize and practice those old ways.
However, heart warming and proud as we may feel about those of you who are on this path, there are still others who reject you. People who have appointed themselves above everyone one else and say they are the Cherokee "Experts," and say that they are the real recognized Indians and that you are not. You are considered and called a "Wannbe," or a "Twinkie." These people who claim they have the knowledge concerning our past are the ones who are quick to point the finger at others and accuse them as being fraud. If our old traditions were the knowledge they really hold, then they would know that to judge and call down another, or even having bad thoughts against another is against our old way of teachings. It is wrongful and is also known as bad witchcraft to talk against another and to put them below yourself. When it comes to your being a Cherokee or not, It does not matter how much Cherokee blood you have, it is that you DO have even a single drop and that you wish to live your life as Cherokee. This is the old way!
Why then do these "Experts" degrade those of less blood or those who cannot prove their heritage. It simply comes down to selfish greed and desire for money. Money from the same government that tried to exterminate and genocide our people hundreds of years ago. Some of our cousins think that you are trying to steal their money or government benefits away from them. So, in unwarranted defense, they strike back and call you a fraud. This is a mid-set that has been instilled in our people over hundreds of years by this same government who tried to destroy us. They wanted to eliminate us altogether, and to assimilate us into another race. That did not work, but they did create a mixed race which has caused a separation between us that may never allow us to come back, or at least cause it hard to re-unite. But these Cherokee people coming back to the way are strong, and they won't give up. All they want is to be accepted, recognized by their own and not by a government. They want to assist in gaining the benefits for our cousins, not to steal those benefits. Most could care less if they are recognized by the U.S. Government, or by a State organized unit, or to be a member of one of the recognized tribes, no...they just want to be accepted for who they are.
All Cherokee, despite how much blood we have, know that we are all related, and to gain anything for our people we must unify, not continue to divide. Call the Cherokee people wanting to return to the white path, "Returning Cherokee," "Disenfranchised Cherokee," or "Un-recognized Cherokees," but do not call them "Wannabes'" or "frauds." Do not look down on them or talk about them behind their backs. Don't sneer, giggle or laugh at them. Do not refuse to talk to them if they speak to you. Give these Cherokee people the same respect they are offering to you.
These Cherokee People coming back to the ways of their heritage will not let anyone deny them from being who they are, they should not apologize to anyone on the quantum of their blood, or the color of their skin, hair or eyes and let no one deny them that pride and privilege of being a Cherokee. "The Creator gave no man the power to say who any other man can or cannot be". It should also be recognized that these undocumented Cherokee may also be the descendants of the Cherokee people who fought against the white man, the Cherokee people who refused to be placed in reservations. The Cherokee people who hid out in the hills from the white man and kept themselves "free." These Cherokee felt that they had held to their belief of freedom and did not give in or sell out to the white mans government. These were the Cherokee who felt that they were the true Cherokee, the true warriors for our freedom. These people went through a lot to keep hidden from the white man and to be safe from removal. They had to change their names and take on the names of non Indians. They kept no records so that they could not be traced. All family history was by word of mouth. Soon, not even verbal history was spoken under fear of imprisonment. So our ancestors had to hide their pride. It became so bad that soon no one spoke of their heritage and unfortunately, some younger family members were not told of their heritage just so they would be kept safe. Our ancestors gave up a lot just to be free.
During and after the removal of the people, times became very hard. So the government devised yet another way to assist in the extermination of the Indians. The government offered those Indian people their own plots of land and also gave them up to $5,000.00 in cash so that they could live and farm their own lands. They even offered them slaves. But this was not without a catch. To do this the government required these families to denounce their Indian heritage and to never speak of it again. The government wanted these Indians to live as whites and because times were so hard for these people, many accepted.
In any of the cases mentioned, they would have never thought that one day we would return to our heritage and find that we couldn't trace our families because of the secrets. Today, because of that, some of their descendants cannot find a history of their family. Cannot prove, by the white man's government standards, that they are Cherokee. Our ancestors never thought that we'd have to prove to anyone who we were. Does anyone have the right to put these people down because their ancestors were the warriors who fought against being a prisoner of the white man? No! Actually it should be quite the opposite.
We are our own worst enemies. As long as we continue to separate ourselves, and not acknowledge our other Cherokee people, we will never be united. Until we are united we have not become ONE people and we will continue to lose the strength that we should have as one people. Until this can happen, we will never fulfill what the Creator has taught us. Standup, be proud of who you are. Tell everyone that you are a Cherokee Indian and damn proud to be. Make sure you fill out job applications stating who you are a Native American. Join a disenfranchised Cherokee band or organization in your state. Make a promise to learn the Cherokee traditions, stories and the language and each day, choose a time to practice telling these stories or speaking our language. It is up to us to keep our heritage alive, as one or as a whole, a family, a people. The Cherokees have a very rich part of Americas history which continues today, show your pride in that history. Make your ancestors proud to know you are proud to be their relations. Do not allow anyone to take away your birthright. Stand up and be proud of who you are...you will not stand alone!
The Lone Wolf Band of Cherokee Indians
Indiana's Cherokee people