Not everyone says they are Cherokee Indian. Of course not. But many people when they speak about their Native American ancestry say they are Cherokee. Why is that? Certainly there were other tribes, so why so many Cherokee? No doubt there are more reasons than the two I’m going to give. The first is that Native Americans were so often displaced, and their tribes decimated, it forced them into new territories with other Natives. The U.S. government made lists of existing Natives and many of the surviving Natives found themselves amongst the Cherokee. They were “counted” among the Cherokee and eventually defined themselves as such. Another reason is that European pioneers saw Cherokees as friendlier so Natives often told the pioneers they were Cherokee, easing their transition into the changing environment.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:
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