The connection between the early Scots-Irish and the Cherokee Nation are well documented. Yes, we often to go records generated about Cherokee families, to learn about the Scots-Irish part of the family. However, once you have begun research, what exactly is meant by “Cherokee” can become somewhat muddled. This blog doesn’t seek to answer that question, but it does seek to let you know there’s a wide variety of records generated for both “recognized” and “unrecognized” Cherokee tribes. Maybe more appropriately, legally “acknowledged” and “unacknowledged” tribes
There are three federally recognized tribes: the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (Tahlequah, OK): www.cherokee.org the Eastern Band Cherokee Indians (Cherokee, NC): www.nc-cherokee.com and the United Keetoowah Band of Oklahoma (Tahlequah, OK): www.ukb-nsn.govThere are also smaller tribes of mixed-bloods who have obtained state but not federal recognition. In addition, numerous tribes have submitted genealogies in support of either state or federal claims for recognition but the applications of these tribes have been rejected or still pending. For this reason, it is important to understand which tribes are state or federally recognized based upon their genealogies and which are not.
Applying for state and federal recognition is a long and complicated legal process that takes years, and sometimes decades. When an organization is not legally seen as a tribe or has a pending petition, it generally means that the compiled history and submitted genealogies of the tribe do not meet either a state or a federal standard. It does not mean the tribe is not Cherokee, nor does it mean that their genealogies are invalid. Whether a tribe is approved or unapproved it still has some Scots-Irish connections. However, some organizations are indeed fraudulent and you need to be aware of this possibility as it affects genealogical research.
In Part 2 of this topic, I will discuss different Cherokee tribes and opinions regarding them.