Cherokee Ancestry

Published on October 24, 2013 by Amy

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Exploring your Cherokee Ancestry

About 200 years ago the Cherokee Indians were one tribe, or “Indian Nation” that lived in the southeast part of what is now the United States. During the 1830′s and 1840′s, the period covered by the Indian Removal Act, many Cherokees were moved west to a territory that is now the State of Oklahoma. A number remained in the southeast and gathered in North Carolina where they purchased land and continued to live. Others went into the Appalachian Mountains to escape being moved west and many of their descendants may still live there now.

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Today, individuals of Cherokee ancestry fall into the following categories:

  1. Living persons who were listed on the final rolls of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (Dawes Commission Rolls) that were approved and descendants of these persons. These final rolls were closed in 1907.
  2. Individuals enrolled as members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina and their descendants who are eligible for enrollment with the Band.
  3. Persons on the list of members identified by a resolution dated April 19, 1949, and certified by the Superintendent of the Five Civilized Tribes Agency and their descendants who are eligible for enrollment with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indian of Oklahoma.
  4. All other persons of Cherokee Indian ancestry.

Category 1

After about a half century of self-government, a law enacted in 1906 directed that final rolls be made and that each enrollee be given an allotment of land or paid cash in lieu of an allotment. The Cherokees formally organized in 1975 with the adoption of a new Constitution that superseded the 1839 Cherokee Nation Constitution. This new Constitution establishes a Cherokee Register for the inclusion of any Cherokee for membership purposes in the Cherokee Nation. Members must be citizens as proven by reference to the Dawes Commission Rolls. Including in this are the Delaware Cherokees of Article II of the Delaware Agreement dated May 8, 1867, and the Shawnee Cherokees of Article III of the Shawnee Agreement dated June 9, 1869, and/or their descendants.

P.L. 100-472, authorizes through a planning and negotiation process Indian Tribes to administer and manage programs, activities, function, and services previously managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Pursuant to P.L. 100-472 the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has entered into a Self-governance Compact and now provides those services previously provided by the BIA. Enrollment and allotment records are maintained by the Cherokee Nation. Any question with regard to the Cherokee Nation should be referred to:

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
P.O. Box 948
Tahlequah, OK 74465
(918)456-0671 Fax (918)456-6485.

Category 2

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina is a federally recognized tribe and has its own requirements for membership. Inquiries as to these requirements, or for information shown in the records may be addressed to the BIA’s Cherokee Agency, Cherokee, North Carolina 28719, (704) 497-9131, or

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
P.O. Box 455
Cherokee, North Carolina 28719
(207) 497-2771, Fax (704)497-2952
ask for the Tribal Enrollment Office.

Category 3

By the Act of August 10, 1946, 60 Stat. 976, Congress recognized the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (UKB) for the purposes of organizing under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. In 1950, the UKB organized under a Constitution and Bylaws approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Members of the UKB consist of all persons whose names appear on the list of members identified by a resolution dated April 19, 1949, and certified by the Superintendent of the Five Civilized Tribes Agency on November 26, 1949, with the governing body of the UKB having the power to prescribe rules and regulations governing future membership. The supreme governing body (UKB Council) consist of 9 members, elected to represent the nine districts of the old Cherokee Nation and four officers, elected at large. Information may be obtained by writing

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
P.O. Box 746
Tahlequah Oklahoma, 74465-9432
(918) 456-5491 Fax (918) 456-9601.

Category 4

Information about Indian ancestry of individuals in this category of Cherokees is more difficult to locate. This is primarily because the federal government has never maintained a list of all the persons of Cherokee Indian descent, indicating their tribal affiliation, degree of Indian blood or other data. In order to establish Cherokee ancestry you should use the same methods prescribed in “Indian Ancestry” and “Genealogical Research” material.

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