According to “Cherokee Nation Facts“, in order to be considered a member of the Cherokee tribe, all one needs is a single Indian ancestor who was listed as such in the 1906 census:
FACT: The Cherokee Nation requires no blood quantum. To be considered a Cherokee citizen, you need one Indian ancestor listed on the 1906 federal census of our people, known as the Dawes Rolls. With that one Indian ancestor, a person is part of our Cherokee family regardless of what other heritage he or she might have.
It is an interesting concept, this Cherokee variant of the “one-drop” rule. They explain their rational as follows:
The United States government, through its courts, has held time and again that Indian tribes have the right to determine their own citizenship. Today, Cherokee Nation’s citizenry is bound together by having in common at least one documented Indian ancestor, regardless of what other heritage they may have. Cherokee Nation citizenship is based upon family ties, not color.
The Cherokee people have spoken three times on this issue in public, democratic elections, each time voting to identify and define ourselves as an Indian tribe composed of Indian people. U.S. courts have consistently agreed and supported this concept of self-determination. Tribes determine tribal citizenship, not Congress and not treaties.
While it is hard to argue that the tribe, and only the tribe, has the right to define itself, one could certainly question the wisdom of this decision. According to this criterion, given enough time, practically every human on Earth could be “Cherokee”. Also, while I do not know any Cherokee personally, I strongly suspect that many of them object to the above definition. But, given the power structure of “federally recognized tribes” those Cherokee lack a voice in the matter.
When we say “the tribe… has the right to define itself”, we need to clarify who is considered “the tribe”. In the case of the Jewish tribe, for example, I do not think it would be fair for artificial Jews (I.E. converts) to have a voice in who is considered fully Jewish. I realize that this position is considered archaic and few of my fellow Jews would agree with me – but the ultimate authority, on membership to a tribe, must rest with those who are unquestionably, and the most pure, members of that tribe. Otherwise, “definition creep” will set in and the criteria for who is a member will inevitably become more and more lenient as ever more marginal “members” gain numbers and clout within the group. This is what’s happening with immigration into Western countries; the immigrants are increasingly running the show.
I am certain that some Cherokee are racially conscious and object to the watering down of their people. There was a dispute, a while back, concerning the “freedmen“:
Cherokee Chief Calls for Removal of the Cherokee
Freedmen from Tribal Membership Status
On Monday, March 13, 2006 at the regular tribal council meeting, Principal Chief Chad Smith of the Cherokee nation of Oklahoma called for the tribal council to propose and approve a constitutional amendment which would be placed on the ballot at the next Cherokee general election to allow the Cherokee voters to strip the Cherokee Freedmen from their status as tribal citizens. The Cherokee Freedmen are descendants of freed slaves and free mixed African Cherokee peoples who received Cherokee citizenship in 1866 based on a treaty with the US government and based on amendments to the 1839 Constitution.
Though some Cherokee wish to ensure that their people survive, “Cherokee Nation Facts” attempts to present a monolithic facade to the general public. Regarding “freedmen”, they write:
MYTH: The Cherokee Nation is expelling all the descendants of their former slaves.
FACT: There are more than 1,500 descendants of former slaves who are Cherokee citizens today because they can find an Indian ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls. The Cherokee Nation is offering free genealogical expertise to assist any descendant of Freedmen who wants to research whether they can find such an Indian ancestor and thus become a permanent citizen. That said, slavery was a grave injustice and a painful chapter in our nation’s history, when 2% of Cherokees owned slaves. It should be noted, however, that the Cherokee Nation voluntarily freed these slaves in 1863.
Just as the Jewish people cannot survive, in any meaningful way, if we interbreed freely with blacks (with any non-Jews, but especially blacks), so too will interbreeding with blacks accelerate the demise of the Cherokee people. Black identity, being constantly bolstered by the powers that be, is too strong. Black features are too dominant and black culture is promoted too much to coexist with a people few in number without erasing the smaller tribe.
Here is the image of the Cherokee nation that “Cherokee Nation Facts” wishes to project to the world:
We can see that, contrary to the claims of some people, it is not only whites who are victims of “multiculturalism”. While it is undeniable that Native Americans have more than their share of issues, it would be beneficial to all parties if conscientious Native Americans joined forces with conscientious whites in the common cause of pan-nationalism.