Researching Cherokee Ancestry

Researching Cherokee Ancestry

Cherokees are currently the largest known ethnic group in the United States. Although they originally lived in the southeastern United States, they were among the people forcibly evicted by President Andrew Jackson’s policies in the 1830s through the Trail of Tears. Today, most of their descendants are based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. They were known as one of the “Five Civilized Nations,” and they were known to be very cooperative and to meet the residents in their areas. They even began to be U.S. citizens. In the 1810s and 1820s.

Cherokees are known for having the first written language of any North American indigenous group, founded by a man named Sequoyah in the early 19th century. As a result, Cherokee’s literacy rate was much higher than that of Southern white settlers.

The method used to study the genealogy of a Cherokee person may be quite different from other ancestral research.

Unlike European culture, the Cherokee family belongs to the matrilineal. This means that the mother follows families and that a person is considered a Cherokee if his mother was a Cherokee, not the father himself. Cherokee people are divided into families, named as follows:

Anigilohi (Longhair)

Region (Paint)

Anitsisqua (Bird)

Anniversary (Wolf)

Anigodagewi (Wild Potatoes)

Aniawi (Deer)

Anisahoni (Blue)

Membership of one’s family was considered personal and private. Although not a secret, they have never been officially recorded by the nations. Unfortunately, if the family name has not been passed down from generation to generation, there is no way to determine it today.

The concept of Cherokee surnames was very watery, and no surnames are directly associated with a family membership. Thus, for example, the children of a famous Cherokee leader may have had his father’s surname (according to European tradition), but they were members of his mother’s family, which was different.

Although specifying a Cherokee’s legacy can be difficult, many rolls and treats are maintained by various government agencies dating back to the early 1800s. Some were created before removal and some after that, but all can be important sources. Native Americans are also recorded in common historical documents, such as state census and important records, and more frequent marriages, where they can be found mostly in government records.

If you want to decide if you have Native American ancestors, here are some suggestions:

Do regular genetic research. Searching for your ancestors can help guide you in the right direction if your ancestors could be Native Americans. 

Find your ancestor in all available U.S. statistics, Then check out the recorded race (but keep in mind that most Native Americans at the time preferred “white transfer” and reported themselves as white or mulatto to the counters rather than claiming Native American status). In addition to the general census, an Indian census database from 1885-1940 is available at

Get a DNA test. The test can estimate the various origins of your ancestry and can be a good starting point. Also, after some research, the DNA test can be very helpful because you will have a specific goal in mind and knowledge to work with.

Search history – colonial, state, and local.

See Cherokee volumes. Many records are listing the people who were Cherokee between the years 1810 to 1925. This was often related to land redistribution and relocation. Dawes Roll, one of Cherokee’s most popular lists, can be searched here.

Finally, it is always helpful to dispel some of the common myths about Cherokee descent:

The “Cherokee princess” – according to the official website of the Cherokee tribe, the concept of royalty did not exist. Most people use this word when referring to the king’s daughter, but doing so would be wrong.

If you have certain physical features, you should be a part of the Aborigines – we have generally heard that because a person has dark hair, brown eyes, high cheeks, or an olive complex, they believe they have Native American ancestors. While this may be the case, using a phenotypic definition to make claims about a person’s estate is more likely to be wrong. Many other races around the world also have these traits. In any case, DNA testing is the most effective method you can take to get to know the truth, and we can help select and analyze that test.

While it is sometimes more subtle than researching other groups, finding an American ancestor can be very rewarding when done right. Like any other genealogy, it requires a case built on solid evidence.


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