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African-Native American Genealogy Forum

Re: Obama's Cherokee Heritage
In Response To: Re: Obama's Cherokee Heritage ()

Elkhorn said:
The probability

David replies:
You should have used the word "possibility" because absent proof of Indian ancestry, there is no probability, only a possibility, and extremely slight at that.

Elkhorn said:
of Obama's ancestors being listed as "Indian" or "Cherokee" on state census records is next to zero.

David replies:
Exactly, it is next to zero because it is probably zero (proper use of the word "probably").

Elkhorn said:
The practice of states was to record people of mixed-blood as "mulatto" or black or white rather than acknowledge their Indian ancestry for various reasons.

David replies:
This statement is more false than true. While there may be an instance of someone being identified as mulatto, black or white when that person had some Indian ancestry, the liklihood that the person recorded or the person recording considered the individual Indian is highly unlikely. Remember, race is a social construct and a negro or caucasian with some Indian ancestry is not necessarily an Indian. He/she is what the community says he/she is. White or black people with distant Indian ancestry didn't have to pass. They were what the times said they were, white or black. I am taken back to the Guion Miller applications wherein many many white and black people attempted to secure a share of that payment by claiming Indian ancestry. Most were rejected. The interesting point of many of those applications is their statements about their own racial identity. Most said, "I recognized in my community as a white person (or black person as the case may be)."

Elkhorn said:
Prior to emancipation, Tribal Rolls would have been a fairly reliable indication, given of course that his ancestors were still tribally connected.

David replies:
For Indian people, it is the "tribal connection" that is important. The individual is lost in that concept. Anyone who no longer has the tribal connection is lost to us. We no longer know you, nor do we want to know you. Our tribal belief is that you are either one of us, or you are one of them. To be one of us, you must be recognized by us in the ways in which we proscribe by our law. Creating fake tribes with fake identity cards does not make anyone an Indian. Only the authentic Indians can say whether someone is an Indian. Who are the Authentic Cherokees? They are the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. Anyone who does not meet the requirements of one of those tribes is NOT a Cherokee.

Elkhorn said:
After emancipation, the various General Allotment Rolls would have listed them by tribe, but they would then have had to be already living on a tribal reservation. As previously stated by others, not all people of Native descent (and who yet still identified themselves as being Native) lived on tribal lands

David replies:
It is easy to dismiss tribal identity as being merely living on tribal land. That, my friend, is the crux of Indian identity. In tandem with the recognition by the tribal people themselves and residency WITH the tribal people, a black or white person with no Indian blood at all, can become an Indian under the law. By the same token, absent the recognition by the tribal people, which would be withdrawn during pre-statehood times from anyone not a resident, removes that persons tribal identity. And witout proof of any previous connection to the tribe, it is fraud to claim Indian descent.

Elkhorn said:
and some, given the social climate of the times, preferred to "pass" as white in so far as how they were perceived by "outsiders" due to federal & state laws passed that disenfranchised Indians.

David replies:
This statement is, based on my research, is false. There were no punitive laws passed against Indians who were not members of tribes. Laws regulating Indians was always directed at tribal Indians, not white or black people pretending to be Indians. In fact, most states sought to make Indians into citizens of the state so that their tribal existance would be ended and their lands available for purchase or redistribution to whites. The phenomenon of people today claiming to be Indians is rooted in fantacy and fallacy, rather than fact.

Elkhorn said:
The vast majority of these Natives were absorbed into the dominant culture through gradual assimilation, but still retain some memory of being descended or connected to Native America...just like Obama.

David replies:
There is no evidence that any of these fantastic claims of Indian ancestry have any further historical roots than the person making that claim woke up one day and said, "I think I'll be an Indian today!" And as far as I know, Barak Obama has never made the claim that any of his ancestors were Indians.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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