Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation
Membership, Census Data Records, and Genealogy Tools
Cherokee Tribal Membership
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian membership is closed except to those who can prove that they have an ancestor on the "Baker Roll of 1924"
and who can prove that they are at least 1/16th Cherokee by blood.
Enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is governed by tribal
ordinance #284 dated June 24, 1996, and restricts enrollment to the following: direct lineal ancestor must appear
on the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Baker Roll is the base roll of the Eastern Cherokee
and contains the name, birth date, Eastern Cherokee Blood quantum, and roll number of the base enrollees.
Today’s Eastern Band members
are direct descendants of the Cherokee Indians who avoided the Indian Removal Act and "Trail of Tears." Their home today is the 56,000-acre Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The largest section of the Qualla
Boundary, approximately 50,000 acres, surrounds the Swain County town of Cherokee. Sixty miles away, in Graham County, a parcel
of 2,250 acres is occupied by about 400 members of the Cherokee's Snowbird Community. Another 5,575 acres of Cherokee land
lies in various parts of Cherokee County. Individual Cherokees can sell or exchange their land only to other Eastern Band
Today there are more than 13,000
enrolled members of the Tribe, over 60% currently live on the Boundary. The
Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation is a sovereign nation within the larger nation of the United States. The Eastern Band of Cherokee is
governed by a Principal Chief and a Vice-Chief and a tribal council made up of twelve members; two representatives each from
six townships. They are elected democratically and "voter turnout" at the last major election was 70%. Tribal members
also vote in state and national elections. The tribe pays for its own schools, water, sewer, fire, and emergency services.
The Cherokee do not live on a reservation, which is defined as land
given by the federal government to a tribe. The Eastern Cherokee own 57,000 acres of land which they bought in the 1800's,
and which is now owned by them but held in trust by the federal government. This land, called the Qualla Boundary, is mostly
woods and mountains in western North Carolina, adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
For further information contact
the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian Enrollment Office at (828)
497-7000 or (828) 497-4771;
fax: (828) 497-2952. You may also write to: EBCI
ENROLLMENT DEPT-Eastern Band of the Cherokee, P.O. Box 455, Aquoni Road, Cherokee, NC 28719. Also, for your convenience,
additional Cherokee Indian facts, history, heritage, research and genealogy information, including an online 1924
Baker Roll, are listed below. (Recommended assistance in researching your genealogy
North Carolina counties which are likely to contain "American Indian" information:
"The bulk of North Carolina county records pertaining to Native Americans concern the Cherokees of western
North Carolina. Comprising the largest tribe of Native Americans in the state, the Cherokees entered into six separate treaties
with the U.S. government between 1777 and 1835. In each case, federal authorities sought to extend the frontiers of white
settlement by extinguishing Indian title to land. Following a pattern set by the first treaty, North Carolina Cherokees repeatedly
ceded territory in exchange for compensation in money or goods and for the promise of a permanent homeland further westward."
North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Department
of Cultural Resources: Raleigh, North Carolina
One of the original counties created by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, Albemarle contained the settled
part of the seventeenth-century colony. As settlement expanded beyond the limits of the county after 1700, Albemarle ceased
to exist as a political unit. References to Native Americans in the Albemarle records refer to those on the south side of
the Albemarle Sound, rather than those on the north side. The most important Indian-related materials in this group are probably
tax records reflecting the financing of the Tuscarora War (1711-1715). A few other scattered references to Native Americans
can also be found.
Carved in 1839 from the last Cherokee cession in North Carolina, Cherokee is the westernmost county in the
state. The early Indian-related records of the county largely pertain to the sale and transfer of land. Many Native Americans
engaged in land transactions, and their names frequently appear in deed books in conjunction with that of William H. Thomas.
Land in present-day Cherokee County was first offered for sale in September 1838. Purchasers could either pay the full purchase
price or make a down payment and then pay the rest over a specified number of years. Those who chose to buy land in installments
were required to furnish bond. Beginning in 1843, the General Assembly passed a series of acts designed to relieve the financial
burden on bondholders who had not yet discharged their land debts. Original purchasers who could not meet their payments,
and who surrendered their land to the state, were granted preemption rights to buy the land back at a lower price set by a
special state valuation board. This data is contained in the Cherokee County Pre-emption Bond Book and Record of Solvent and
Insolvent Principals, 1844-1845.
Eighth U.S. Census, 1860, Cherokee County: Identifies nine persons as "Indian" or "1/2 Indian.”
Ninth U.S. Census, 1870, Cherokee County: Identifies more than 450 persons as "Indian.”
Established in 1872, Graham County consists of land that was once held by Cherokee Indians. Researchers
should be aware that because Graham was formed from part of Cherokee County, some deeds to land in present-day Graham are
recorded in Cherokee County deed books. Most of the Indians in Graham County have lived along the Cheoah and its creeks in
the southwest near Little Snowbird Creek, and in central Graham along Buffalo Creek West. A number of them held title to their
land by purchase and not by occupancy. Thus, many Native American names are recorded in the deed books of the county.
Tenth U.S. Census, 1880, Graham County: Identifies 156 persons as "Indian.”
As the oldest of the western counties (1808), Haywood has generated an abundance of records relating to
Native Americans. The original Haywood County, from which Macon and Jackson were later formed, consisted largely of land ceded
by the Cherokee Indians under the Treaty of 1819. This treaty also provided that individual Native Americans who chose to remain in North Carolina and become citizens of
the state would be granted 640-acre tracts within the ceded territory. The first public sale of Indian lands acquired in 1819
was held at Waynesville in 1820. Purchasers either paid the full price or put part of the money down and paid the rest in
installments. Within the next few years a number of Indians sold their 640-acre tracts. These transactions are recorded in
the court minutes and deed books of Haywood County. Many Cherokees who became citizens of the state settled at or near Qualla
Town along the Oconaluftee River. Until the formation of Jackson County in 1851, this village was located in Haywood. Thus,
many records relating to the Qualla Band can be found among the archives of Haywood County. For instance, the appointment
of William H. Thomas as legal agent for the Qualla Indians is recorded in the Record of Deeds, for the year 1843.
Seventh U.S. Census, 1850, Haywood County: Lists 692 persons as “Indian.”
Named in honor of Andrew Jackson, Jackson County was formed in 1851 from Haywood and Macon. Most of Jackson was originally part of the Cherokee cession of
1819. Under the terms of the treaty, a number of Indians chose to remain in North Carolina; they would eventually become
citizens of the state. They settled in and around Qualla Town, along Soco Creek in the northwest corner of Jackson. Many Cherokees
were compelled to emigrate from North Carolina in 1838; however, because of Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas's persuasive intervention at Washington, 1000 Qualla Indians were exempted from the forced removal. These Cherokees,
consequently, demanded the same financial compensation received by Cherokees who had been forced west. Finally,
in 1846 the Quallas were granted a financial settlement by the federal government. Since the Cherokees were not allowed to
own land, they entrusted these funds to their agent, William Holland Thomas, and authorized him to purchase for the tribe
thousands of acres in Jackson and other counties. Upon government recognition of the Cherokees' rights to the land,
Thomas intended to convey the deeds to the Native Americans. Thomas subsequently became indebted,
involved in four exhaustive years of the American Civil War, and title to the American Indian lands became
the subject of years of litigation. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, of which the Quallas form a significant part, instituted
a federal suit against Thomas in 1873. (See William Holland Thomas and the Results of the Civil War: The Emotional,
Financial, and Physical Toll.) Three years later the tribe was awarded formal title to the Qualla Boundary and outlying tracts in Jackson and other counties.
At one time more than a thousand Cherokee Indians resided in Jackson County. Indian names frequently appear in court minutes
and deed books. Important material relating to the federal suit of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians against William H.
Thomas et al is also contained in the archives of the county.
Eighth U.S. Census, 1860, Jackson County: Identifies 1063 persons as "Indian.”
Ninth U.S. Census, 1870, Jackson County: Identifies 920 persons as “Indian.”
Formed from Haywood County and the remaining territory in western North Carolina in 1828, Macon consists
of Indian land acquired by the Treaties of 1819 and 1835. Under the terms of the earlier treaty, Native Americans who chose
to remain in North Carolina and become citizens of the state were granted 640-acre tracts within the ceded territory. The
sale of a number of these tracts is recorded in the deed books of Macon County. Land acquired from the Native Americans in
1835 was surveyed, divided into tracts, and valued according to a series of Acts of Assembly. First offered for sale at Franklin
in September 1838, more than three fourths of the land was disposed of within three weeks. Purchasers either paid the full
price or made initial payment and paid the rest in installments. Buyers who paid on time were required to furnish bond. Many
documents relating to Indians pertain to the sale of land, the transfer of titles, etc.
Eighth U.S. Census, 1860, Macon County: Identifies fifty-six persons as "Indian.”
Ninth U.S. Census, 1870, Macon County: Identifies forty persons as "Indian.”
The Lumbee Indians, most of who reside in Robeson County, constitute the largest group of Native Americans
in eastern North Carolina. Although their exact origin is a complex matter, they are undoubtedly the descendants of several
tribes, which occupied eastern Carolina during the earliest days of white settlement. Living along the Pee Dee and Lumber
Rivers in present-day Robeson and adjacent counties, these Native Americans of mixed blood were officially designated as Lumbees
by the General Assembly in 1956. During the Civil War, Robeson County Indians, having been classified with "free Negroes,
free mulattos, or free persons of mixed blood" in the disfranchisement amendment to the North Carolina Constitution in 1835,
were then prohibited from bearing arms. They were conscripted for service on Confederate fortifications near Wilmington to
labor side-by-side with slaves. Discontented and humiliated, a number of Lumbees escaped into the swamps of Robeson County
where they formed the nucleus of a band under the leadership of Henry Berry Lowry. Using familiar swamplands as their hideout,
they remained an outlaw band for more than seven years. Although the records of Robeson County contain much material relating
to the Lumbee Indians, certain identification of Lumbees in the county archives is not always possible. Most of the Native
Americans have Anglo-Saxon names and they are generally designated as "black" or "mulatto" in nineteenth-century documents;
for example, in the U.S. Censuses of 1850-1880, the designation for Lumbee families is usually "mulatto.” Nevertheless,
a few common Lumbee family names, which appear frequently in the county records are likely to represent Indian individuals,
especially when such names are found in records originating in Scuffletown (present-day
Pembroke) and Lumberton. (See Famed Lumbee Indian and Guerrilla Leader Henry Berry Lowry and
the North Carolina Lumbees.)
Some common Lumbee family names are Bullard, Chavis, Comboes, Dial, Drinkwater,
Harding, Locklear, Lowry, Oxendine, and Sampson.
Native American territory acquired by the state under the treaties of 1819 and 1835 comprises most of the
land from which Swain County was formed. In 1819, individual Indians who chose to remain in North Carolina and become citizens
of the state were granted 640-acre tracts within the ceded territory. These Native Americans, who formed the nucleus of the
Qualla Band, settled along the Oconaluftee River in southwest Swain County. In later years they received treaty benefits from
the federal government in the form of financial payments. The Eastern Band of Cherokees, of which the Quallas were a significant
part, entrusted these tribal funds to William H. Thomas, authorizing him to purchase lands for them in his name. Thomas subsequently
incurred a number of debts, and when Indian titles to land became entangled in his own financial affairs, the Eastern Band
sued him in federal court. As a result, the tribe was awarded formal title to the Qualla Boundary (50,000 acres in Swain,
Jackson, and Haywood Counties), and outlying tracts in Swain and several other counties. Documents relating to the case of
the Eastern Band of Cherokees v. W. H. Thomas et al are contained in the archives of Swain County. Although there are scattered
references to Native Americans in Swain County deed books, the names of Indians who bought and sold land in what is now Swain
County are largely recorded in the official papers of the counties from which Swain was formed (Macon and Jackson).
Tenth U.S. Census, 1880, Swain County: Identifies 465 persons as "Indian.”
Formed in 1861 from Henderson and Jackson Counties, Transylvania was inhabited by few Native Americans.
It is quite possible that Cherokees who may have once lived within the borders of present-day Transylvania were forcibly removed
westward or settled upon land in adjacent counties. This record group is not an important source of materials relating to
Can you prove that you are Cherokee?
Are you Cherokee?
you the individual that has always been told that you are a Cherokee, but have no facts or records to prove it? To claim Cherokee
membership means that you must prove it – you must have the facts, so toss the doubt away, get the facts, and claim
what is rightfully your heritage by blood quantum. Now, are you ready to prove that you are a Cherokee? It’s not difficult
if you take the time to locate the facts. Below are proven resources for tracing your family genealogy, the family tree, roots,
bloodline, and for researching your ancestors to prove that you meet the blood requirements (qualifications) for Cherokee
membership and tribal enrollment. Those that qualify as “Native Americans are American Indians” and are entitled
to the rights and benefits of the tribe! Below is a proven “how to dos” written by the foremost expert in
Cherokee history, genealogy and heritage. Cherokee membership is not like joining a gym or paying dues, it’s your blood,
so claim it. Are you remotely interested in knowing that you are a “Cherokee Indian” or are you the individual
that enjoys genealogy? Do you want to locate and preserve your Native American ancestry? Finding information about ancestors
for genealogy and heritage is also a lot of fun. Moreover, you are preserving your own family history and heritage with your
relatives and loved ones for generations and generations… Take a look below at exactly
what is required to locate and organize and present your information to prove that you meet the qualifications as a member
of the Cherokee tribe. Cherokee Proud, by Tony McClure, is referred to as the "Bible for Cherokee Genealogy." Cherokee Proud has also
been rated a SOLID FIVE STARS by every person that has read and rated it. To see if you meet the 'Cherokee qualification
and requirement for membership', then look no further -- purchase Cherokee Proud. Read the reviews below
and see what people and organizations are saying about it.
Cherokee Proud, Second Edition, by Tony Mack McClure. Description: Absolutely
the "Bible" of Cherokee Genealogy. New, 336 pages, 2nd Edition. If the information in this remarkable new book doesn't lead
a person to proof of their Cherokee roots, nothing can! “It is an A-to-Z on organizing and locating the requirements
/ qualifications for membership.” Continued below...
"Cherokee Proud is the very
best book I have ever seen on tracing Cherokee genealogy." -- RICHARD PANGBURN, acclaimed author of Indian Blood, Vol. I &
II found in most libraries
"McClure unabashedly loosens
his journalistic standards for portions of this book which reach him too emotionally. Understood. Fascinating and enlightening."
BACK COVER: Among the people
of this country are individuals in whose blood runs the proud heritage of a noble and resilient people whose ways and talents
rank with the finest civilizations the world has known. They are the " Tsalagi ". . . the Cherokee. This book will help you
learn if you are one of them. -- BOOK READER
"The contents of Cherokee
Proud are exceptional - valuable information that can be used by so many readers and researchers who have Native American
(Cherokee) ancestry." -- DON SHADBURN, Famous Georgia historian and noted author of Unhallowed Intrusion and Cherokee Planters
"This Cherokee guide is
the best yet!" -- LAWTON CONSTITUTION
the Author: Well known and acclaimed Cherokee author Dr. Tony Mack McClure, a native of Tennessee, is a certified
member of the Native American Journalists Association, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and Committeeman
for the Tennessee Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, over 250
newspapers, on all major television networks and many cable systems.
Sources, Credits, and Additional Reading:
Recommended Reading: The Cherokee Nation:
A History. Description:
Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History" is an eminently readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee
people from prehistoric times to the present day. The book is formatted in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high
school and college classes. At the end of each chapter is a source list and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end
of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a glossary of key terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs
and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various factions of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued below...
to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs and sources
about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing. One such example
is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to England
in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George
as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white our hands and
hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually said those words and points out that the only version
we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if
his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture,
the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native
American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly
dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available. The skill of Conley in communicating his
ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start the study of Cherokee history. It serves
as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about the study of Native Americans.
Viewing: The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (2006), Starring: James Earl Jones and Wes Studi; Director: Chip Richie, Steven R. Heape.
Description: The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is an engaging two
hour documentary exploring one of America's darkest periods in which President
Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 consequently transported Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation to the bleak
and unsupportive Oklahoma Territory
in the year 1838. Deftly presented by the talents of Wes Studi ("Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves"), James Earl
Jones, and James Garner, The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy also includes narrations of famed celebrities Crystal Gayle,
Johnt Buttrum, Governor Douglas Wilder, and Steven R. Heape. Continued below...
Cherokee Nation members which add authenticity to the production… A welcome DVD addition to personal, school, and community
library Native American history collections. The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is strongly recommended for its informative
and tactful presentation of such a tragic and controversial historical occurrence in 19th century American history.
Reading: Trail of Tears: The
Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. Description: One of the many ironies
of U.S. government policy toward Indians
in the early 1800s is that it persisted in removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values.
As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing
plantations. Such a leader was Ridge, who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. Continued below...
As he and other
Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislators, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded
in ousting the Cherokee from their land, forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." ...A treasured addition for the individual remotely interested in American Indian history
as well as general American history.
Reading: Footsteps of the Cherokees: A Guide to the Eastern Homelands of the Cherokee Nation.
Description: Footsteps of the Cherokees
divides the Cherokees' eastern homeland into 19 geographical sections and explores many of the historic Cherokee sites in
these areas. Sites range from Moccasin Bend in Chattanooga, inhabited by Cherokees and earlier Indian cultures and considered
one of the most important archaeological complexes within a United States city, to the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Eastern
Cherokee reservation, where visitors can still experience the historic Cherokee culture. For each site, Rozema gives historical
background, directions to the site, and the hours of operation and telephone numbers if the site is located within a park
or museum area. The book also includes an overview of Cherokee history that sets the stage for the tours of the historic sites.
About the Author: Vicki Rozema is the editor of Cherokee Voices: Early Accounts of Cherokee Life in the
East and Voices from the Trail of Tears (see page 15). She is currently working on a Ph.D. in early American history with
a specialization in Cherokee history at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but she still maintains a home near Chattanooga.
for Cherokee History and History of the Cherokee Indian Nation: Storm in the Mountains,
Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers. Description: Storm in the Mountains, by Vernon Crow,
offers the Legion's American Civil War rosters and partial Confederate military service records (CMSR). Moreover, it
offers a more detailed account of the Legion's inception and fighting history. Vernon spent ten years conducting extensive
Thomas' Legion research.
Researching Family Lineage and Genealogy, Ancestry,
History Heritage, Folklore, Myths, Culture, Customs, Blood Requirements and Qualifications for Cherokee Nation Membership,
Requirement and list of Requirements for Cherokee Indians, Cherokees and Indian Genealogy. (Included are Native American and
Detailed Native Americans Census Records and Data with Helpful Details.)