|MY CHEROKEE TRIBAL CITIZENSHIP|
Names, Clans, Colors and Genealogy
NOTE-- For those who feel some right, entitlement or need to know such personal information, I have never charged members of my own tribe for the work I do. I do not charge ANY fee to members of my own tribe, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian (EBCI). These members 'must be' on the roll and have a roll number that matches their name.
'Siyo or Osiyo [Hello in Cherokee]
I'm Dr. Loretta Standley (pictured left). I am half Eastern Band Cherokee Indian (EBCI), which is why many sacred rituals and ceremonies resonate with my spirit. You can read the rest of my bio on this page.
My mom, Mary (Meli pronounced May-lee), is full-blood Eastern Band Cherokee (see picture below) and was born on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Boundary is not a reservation even though it is often referred to as, "The Rez" and is located in western North Carolina in the Great Smokey Mountains. The Qualla Boundary is a "land trust" supervised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is a tiny fragment of the original homeland of the Cherokee Nation. This land (the Boundary) is land that the Cherokee people owned and had to purchase back after it was taken from them.
Naturally since my mom is full blood then my grandparents were full blood and all of their ancestors were full blood. Since I am a tribal member of the EBCI (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), I am blessed to know my full tribal lineage. To become a tribal member, you have to prove actual blood kinship and not through some DNA cheek swab test that says you have Cherokee ancestry. To be on the roll, you have to prove the blood line.
Pictured left is a great medicine man named, "Swimmer" (A'yun'ini) who is actually my great-great-great grandfather. You may have also seen his picture all over other websites. In James Mooney's book on the Cherokee called, "James Mooney's History, Myths and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees", he credits nearly three-fourths of his book including the myths of the Cherokee to the great medicine man, "Swimmer".
Mooney states that Swimmer was his most valuable informant for his book on Cherokee life and thought. Swimmer is my grandfather's great-grandfather, my mom's great-great grandfather and my great-great-great grandfather of which I'm quite humbled and honored. Swimmer and Mooney spent "day and night, talking and writing" about the Cherokee and it was then that Mooney obtained a journal containing about 120 pages of Swimmer's prayers, songs and prescriptions, which is now in the Smithsonian Institute.
Fast forward many years and came along my dad (pictured below), sweeps my mom off her feet while they were both serving in the U.S. Army and the blood line was cut perfectly in half. This past year, my mom and my cousin (Butter) were both in a movie that came out this past Spring 2009 about 'The Removal' of the Cherokee from their land. It is a five part PBS series called, "We Shall Remain". Mom and Butter were in the 3rd part of the PBS series called, "The Trail of Tears."
Many times people will say to me, "Well 'Standley' doesn't sound Cherokee to me." I respond, "Well it doesn't sound Cherokee to me either. Since it is dad's last name, it's my last name." My siblings and I grew up with people asking if my dad was our "real dad," so if you are wondering . . . yes, he is my real dad and he really is blonde. (winky wink)
My parents are retired, (married 54 years) and live in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Eastern Band Cherokees are mountain people and Cherokee is located in western North Carolina just over the Great Smokey Mountains coming from Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Pictured below is my mom (left) and dad (center) with the Principal Chief, Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (right).
My sister, Ahinawake (pronounced Ah-nah-wake) was also born in Cherokee, NC and also lives in Cherokee, including the majority of my mom's kin with the exception of very few family members (and I mean very very few members live away from Cherokee).
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WHERE DO I LIVE?
I split my time between St. Louis, MO and Cherokee, NC. As you may have noticed at the top of this web page or from my contact page, Cherokee, NC is my official address, although at any given time, I could be in St. Louis, MO or Cherokee, NC.
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[A white dove for Granny, Gramps and Nick]
My sister's name, Ahinawake (pronounced Ah-nah-wake) is a Cherokee name. Translated into English it means "Laughing Eyes." Therefore, the name "Laughing Eyes" is English for the Cherokee name and not vice versa. It is merely English words translating the Cherokee name. Cherokee society is matrilineal and when Cherokee names are given to a newborn, an elder (typically the grandmother) of the Cherokee family give the name to the child.
My Cherokee grandmother "Stella" (Stela pronounced S-tay-la), may God rest granny's spirit, named my sister, Ahinawake.
Eight years ago, my daughter Karmen (Kameni pronounced Ka-may-nee) had identical twin boys, Nicholas (Nigalasi pronounced Nee-gah-la-see) and Jacob (Tsegoqui pronounced Jay-go-kwe). Sorrowfully, Nicholas aka Nigalasi did not survive birth (may God rest his spirit).
Pictured left is my grandson "Big Tree". I always call him "Big Tree" because both Nick and Jake were given their Cherokee name by my mom and myself (since we are great-grandmother and grandmother respectively). Both their middle name is Sequoia, which means "Big Tree."
There is also the name "Sequoyah," derived from the Cherokee word "Siqua" and in English translation means "hog". Sequoyah was the creator of the Cherokee writing system. It is commonly thought that Sequoyah means "disabled" because Sequoyah walked with a limp from a childhood deformity. And the word 'hog' or 'siqua' means having short legs. The Sequoia tree is commonly thought to be named after Sequoyah obviously not because of shortness, but because of greatness.
My name "Loretta" in Cherokee is Lowedi' (pronounced Low-way-dee). Another pronounciation is Loquenieta (pronounced Lo-kwayn-a-ta). If someone asks what my name is in Cherokee, I will typically say Lowedi' because my great uncle (we called G. George who spoke fluent Cherokee) use to call me Lowedi'. During one summer stay he is the one who gave me my first lessons in Cherokee. This is no way means that I'm fluent in Cherokee, far from it, not to mention this was a long time ago but I do remember how he taught me distinctness in the pronounciation and the sound had a 'sing' to it. He also use to call me Kamama, which means 'butterfly' or 'elephant' in Cherokee, depending of course on how you use it. The ears of an elephant look like the wings of a butterfly and that's how kamama can mean butterfly or elephant depending on how you use it. Interestingly enough, my astrologer, Thomas Seers (may God rest his soul) never called me Loretta; he always called me Butterfly. Being the Gemini that I am, he would always say, "And where are you calling me from today Butterfly?"
It is fascinating how . . when it is the Truth, it shows up everywhere.
Click here to see the Cherokee Syllabary.
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THREE TRIBES OF THE CHEROKEE
There are three different tribes of the Cherokees that are federally recognized. The distinction of the three different tribes came during the Trail of Tears from Cherokee, North Carolina to Oklahoma.
The Western Band of Cherokees with headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma is the largest of the three tribes with over 270,000 enrolled tribal members.
Also headquartered in Tahlequah is the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees with approximately 16,000 tribal members.
The Eastern Band of Cherokees is headquartered in Cherokee, North Carolina with approximately 12,000 tribal members and is the smallest of the three.
I AM an Eastern Band Cherokee tribal member.
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DID CHEROKEES WEAR A HEADDRESS?
The Cherokee did not wear a full headdress except to make the tourists happy. They either wore a mohawk or what is called a "porcupine roach" that was made out of porcupine guard hair (not the quills) or they wore one or two feathers tied at the crown of the head.
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Genealogy records exist for tribal members, but it is almost impossible to trace genealogy based on a name that does not already appear as part of the tribal records. So an individual may have Cherokee ancestry, but they are not considered Cherokee tribal members unless they have Cherokee citizenship through enrollment. And you can only gain enrollment if you can prove your Cherokee blood line.
IMPORTANT PLEASE READ! I receive a lot (and I mean a lot) of e-mails and phone calls from people wanting me to help them trace their genealogy but this is not something that I have the time to do. Folks, it's just a time issue that my working hours can't fit in and a time issue that my free time hours can't fit in. I can tell you this, if there is no name to prove blood relation to a tribal member on the tribal rolls then it is virtually impossible to prove your ancestry.
IF I WERE YOU, I would start at www.accessgeneaology.com where there is a list of all the Tribal Rolls. It will say, "Native American Rolls". Start looking there with all the names of the people you have to look up. For instance, my grandparents (my mom's parents who are both full blood) are on the roll as young teenagers in 1924 Baker Roll (for the Eastern Band Cherokee) when the roll was taken. Certainly I can prove blood line through my mom's birth certificate that she is the daughter of these two individuals, which also proves my mom is full-blood since both her parents are full-blood. This proves my blood line and puts me on the roll. Again, if I were you, I would use the www.accessgeneaology.com website and begin my research there.
Also, DNA testing is only accepted with the EBCI (Eastern Band Cherokee Indians) to prove you are Cherokee when there is someone to compare that test to in order to prove parentage, much like a paternity test. Your blood would still have to be compared to someone who is a descendant of someone on the roll, which means you still have to know who that person is and their descendants and the person you are comparing your blood to has to be living. And you have to trace back birth certificates to the person who is found on the 1924 Baker Roll (this is for the Eastern Band Cherokee). Contrary to popular belief, there is NO DNA OR BLOOD TESTING OR SWAB TEST that is performed or accepted by the EBCI that proves you are Eastern Band Cherokee Indian (EBCI). DNA tests are not far enough advanced that prove a specific tribe. The only DNA test accepted is one that proves parentage, so that person would have to be living and a descendant of someone on the 1924 Baker Roll (for the Eastern Band Cherokee). For other tribes, you will have to check their tribal rolls on www.accessgeneaology.com. You can click here to go to the Eastern Band Cherokee Indian website to check out more regarding your possible ancestry. P.S. -- I have no idea where you would get such a DNA test.
And just to set the record straight, NO ONE is related to a Cherokee Princess because the Cherokee Tribe does not have princesses. We never did. We have the Beloved Woman of whom there are very few but there is absolutely no Cherokee Princess.
Another record setting fact, Pocahontas was Algonquian, not Cherokee. She was also not a princess. She was the daughter of a chief (Chief Powhatan) who was paramount chief over an alliance around 30 different Algonquian speaking groups. In 1841 William Watson Waldron wrote about her being the daughter of a chief, which was seen as a king, so he figured she must be a princess if she was the daughter of a leader, king, emperor, etc.
While there are many people who have Cherokee ancestry, not everyone qualifies for tribal citizenship in any of the three bands and they all have separate criteria for citizenship. Federally recognized Cherokee are those formally recognized by the United States government. Groups around the country who have no federal, historic, or cultural foundation often misguide individuals who do not qualify for tribal citizenship.
This is a complex subject because the Cherokee Nation once enveloped parts of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, western West Virginia, southwestern Virginia, western North Carolina, northern Alabama, northwestern South Carolina and northern Georgia. It is further involved by the infamous removal of the Cherokee to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in the late 1830s.
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Cultural information may vary from clan to clan, location to location, family to family, and different experiences and varying opinions. Some Native American art has become inter-tribal due to commercialism and popularity.
Not all "Indian art" is Cherokee. There are over 500 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States and each has their own art, culture, and practices.
Indian art that is considered "truly Cherokee" are: double wall basketry, clay pottery, gourd art and river cane art.
Many of my family members in Cherokee are talented artists who have their work displayed or sold in the many craft shops on the reservation. From hand cut bead work, painting, wood or rock sculpting, pottery, and the above listed "truly" Cherokee art.
Eventually their work will be displayed on this site with contact information.
The "dreamcatcher" is not a part of the Cherokee culture. It appears to belong to the Ojibway people in the north, but due to commercialism and popularity, it has taken on an intertribal identity. It is also thought by many Native Americans that a dreamcatcher made by anyone other than a Native American could bring bad dreams.
The Medicine Wheel, which belongs to the Plains people, has also become an inter-tribal symbol of goodwill, just like cedar, sage and sweetgrass.
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THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES
The Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole.
The Five Civilized Tribes is the term applied to five Aboriginal American nations which lived in the Southeastern United States before their removal to other parts of country, especially the future Oklahoma. They were called "civilized" because they were most like Southern white society.
The tribes were uprooted from their homes east of the Mississippi River in a series of removals over several decades and moved to what was Indian Territory and is now the eastern portion of the state of Oklahoma. The most famous removal was the Trail of Tears, which was ordered by President Andrew Jackson, despite a ruling of the Supreme Court that the order was unlawful.
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THE 7 CHEROKEE CLANS - DO I KNOW MY CLAN? YES!
Remember the Cherokee society is matrilineal and the family or clan lineage runs through the mother. Since my mother is Cherokee, I belong to her clan.
If knowledge of the clan is not known, then more than likely your clan has been lost. This is because there are no tribal records regarding clans because clanship is kept private for spiritual reasons. Down in Cherokee, we typically ask, "Who is your mother?" which is basically the same as asking which clan you belong to. No, I will not tell you my clan. Remember, it is kept secret for spiritual reasons and obviously protects the family.
The seven Cherokee clans are:
- Aniawi . . . or Deer
- Anigilohi . . . or Long Hair
- Anigotegewi . . . or Wild Potato
- Anisahoni . . . or Blue
- Anitsisqua . . . or Bird
- Aniwaya . . . or Wolf
- Aniwodi . . . or Paint
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THE 7 DIRECTIONS and 6 COLORS OF THE CHEROKEE
The Cherokee traditionally recognize seven directions, to encompass a fully dimensional world as opposed to a one-dimensional world. There are four cardinal directions (east, north, west and south), up (above), down (below) and center (where you are).
The colors are black, blue, brown, red, white, and yellow.
The colors most used by the Cherokee are red and white, and then blue would be a close second. Actually, it was Vermilion paint (a bright red mercuric sulfide used as a pigment) that was mainly used by the Cherokee in trade.
Ever so often I will get an e-mail from someone (typically someone not really Cherokee) who will try to set me straight on the colors. But there is a deliberate reason why all of the colors are not given because that would be too close to revealing 'medicine'. A true Cherokee would not reveal every single thing and show all of their cards. So when you see a website claiming this knowledge, I would question it because any Elder or Medicine Man would never reveal it all, especially on a website.
- East = Red (success, triumph)
- West = Black (death)
- South = White (peace, happiness)
- North = Blue (defeat, trouble)
- Above = Brown
- Down =
- Center =
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MEDICINE MEN & WOMEN
One cannot simply 'claim' to be a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman. Nor is it something you take a class on to become. This is a highly respectable gift to those who use the gift wisely and is never taken lightly. A Medicine Man or Medicine Woman receives and learns their gift through the family and it is never just taken or claimed. Remember, I said 'through the family'. Some people have called me and spoken to me as if I am a Medicine Woman and I set that record straight right away. I may be a doctor but a Medicine Woman . . No! Do I know some Cherokee Medicine, absolutely . . but that still in no way makes me a Medicine Woman as it is given, not taken or claimed or pretended.
There are many practicing medicine men and women today and they do not advertise, solicit clients or charge set fees for their assistance.
A traditional Cherokee, who believes and lives the Cherokee way, will be familiar with who these people are, or will know others who can lead someone to a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman. Also, those in the Cherokee tribe such as; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or neighbors would be able to refer someone in the family to the Medicine Man or Woman.
Does this mean that I would be able to access a Medicine Man or Woman? Yes - but I would not be at liberty to suggest this to someone outside the tribe.
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At any time the Cherokee people get married, it is a Cherokee wedding. The Cherokee Nation does have a marriage law permitting tribal citizens to marry within the tribal government and without a state license. The marriage is recognized by all fifty U.S. states and governments throughout the world.
Those who are licensed to perform weddings under the Cherokee Nation law will range from traditional Cherokee people to many Christian denominations.
It is the belief system that makes a Cherokee wedding and not the clothing that is worn.
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THE CHEROKEE AND THE TIPI
The Cherokees never lived in tipi's. The Plains people lived in tipi's because they were constantly on the move and this allowed for their moveable lifestyle and culture.
The Cherokee lived in mud, river cane and grass type huts. Of course, today the Cherokee live in modern homes just like you and me.
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THE LEGEND OF THE CHEROKEE ROSE
This legend of the Cherokee Rose represents the pain and suffering of the "Trail Where They Cried." The mothers of the Cherokee had grieved so endless that the Chiefs prayed for a sign to lift the Cherokee mother's spirits. They also prayed to give the mother's strength to take care of their children.
Since that day, a beautiful new rose grew wherever a mother's tear fell to the ground. The rose is white, which represents the mother's tears. The center is gold, which represents the gold taken from the Cherokee lands. Each stem has seven leaves that represent the seven Cherokee clans that made the journey. To this day, the Cherokee Rose prospers along the route of the "Trail of Tears" and is now the official flower of the State of Georgia.
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**This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.