Published on November 30, 2012 by Amy
The Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of individuals who self identify as Cherokee but have not been recognized as a government. Members live primarily in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The name of the group originated in 1991 describing a portion of the Northern Cherokee Nation’s members, along with the “Northern Cherokee Nation of Arkansas and Missouri” in the same year; a separate splinter became the “Sac River and White River Bands of the Chickamauga Cherokee Indian Nation of Arkansas and Missouri”, which had its own split producing the “Chickamauga Cherokee Nation White River Band”. The original Northern Cherokee Nation claimed to have been organized since the late 18th century. The headquarters of this group is located in Columbia, Missouri.
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In 2000 the U.S. census report 729,533 people self identified as Cherokee Indian, more than twice the population of the second most populous American Indian group, the Navajo people, who numbered 298,197. This figure is also more than twice the population of current estimates of all three federally recognized tribes combined. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma issued a statement asserting that some Cherokee heritage groups are encouraged but those that use words that imply governance are not. In 2008 the leadership of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians signed a resolution to oppose fabricated Cherokee ‘tribes’ and denounced state and federal recognition of any new “Cherokee” tribes or bands. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians did not participate in the resolution.
Federal recognition of an Indian tribe can be achieved in one of three ways; by recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, recognition through Acts of Congress or recognition through Courts of Law. State recognition of an Indian tribe differs from state to state but fall into one of four methods, namely: passage of State Statutes and Acts, recognition through State Regulatory Processes, recognition through Joint and Concurrent Resolutions, and recognition through Treaties, Proclamations and Executive Orders. In both cases recognition is accomplished by meeting the requisites for any one of the relative methods of recognition. That means that the BIA can recognize a group and yield that group recognition or Congress can pass a bill recognizing the group.
The NCNOLT is not a federally recognized Indian tribe but is considered state recognized by way of executive mandate according to some sources however the Missouri American Indian Council asserts “there are no domestic Indian tribes recognized by the state,” insisting that an executive mandate does not constitute the appropriate avenue of recognition but that it must be done by the passage of a state law in the state of Missouri. The NCNOLT has attempted multiple times to clarify state recognition in Missouri and Arkansas but have not been successful. They have received three declarations from different state governors acknowledging “Northern Cherokee Recognition Day” and the presence of the Northern Cherokee since the late 18th century in the states of Missouri and Arkansas and one county, Boone County in Missouri. The Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory filed a Letter of Intent to Petition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on February 19, 1992, but as of September 22, 2008, no decision had been reached, because the group has submitted no documentation (as of February 15, 2007).
According to the document signed by Mel Carnahan the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory is the same tribal entity as the Northern Cherokee Nation that was recognized by Kit Bond in 1983 and the original body from which sprang out other splinter groups.
The leader of the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory, Beverly Baker Northup, published a book in 2001 entitled We Are Not Yet Conquered and in the first chapter featured an explanation to the origins of the ancestry of the Cherokee people. Northup explains in this chapter that she believes that a group of Middle Eastern people (she suggests they could have been Sicarii and surviving defenders of Masada) crossed the Atlantic Ocean and intermarried with Indian peoples making up the Cherokee. Northup’s suggestion of Jewish ancestry for Cherokee people was featured in the book Weird Missouri and was compared to the Mormon belief system; a similar idea also forms part of the beliefs of Christian Identity and British Israelism. The claimed connection between Amerindians and the 10 Lost Tribes has spread on Indian and Israelite oriented websites alike and has sparked disdain as well as approval.
Dr. Carol Morrow from the Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau suggested that eligibility for membership is determined by Beverly Baker Northup who has been voted out of office more than once and who has obtained $120,000 in federal grant money to be used for completing the tribe’s federal recognition process, which has not yet been completed. Northup believes that that Governor Mel Carnahan’s bill of acknowledgment speaks to her legitimacy in office as the question of her having been voted out of office predated 1996.