Official Statement Cherokee Nation,
Oklahoma, Monday, November 13, 2000

“When it comes to groups that claim to be Cherokee tribes or nations, let the buyer beware. Across the United States, more than 200 groups claim to be some sort of Cherokee nation, but the federal government recognizes just three groups: the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees.

Of the remaining groups, many are cultural societies or history clubs whose members may or may not belong to any of the federally recognized tribes, but enjoy learning about the history, language and traditions of the Cherokee.

However, some groups are not as harmless. In the past, government agencies have exposed fraudulent organizations purporting to be Cherokee. One group conned investors with a scheme to create it’s own nation on an island in the Rio Grande. Other scammers have claimed to be a Cherokee tribe and solicited donations, which were used for personal gain.

Recently, a group claiming to be a Cherokee Nation made false claims to land that belongs to private citizens in Oklahoma. It had also announced plans to open casinos in Oklahoma and South Carolina, even though the group had no legal authority to do so. Another group sold ‘membership’ cards, which they claimed would entitle their members to services. The unknowing victims tried to use these cards only to find out that they have been swindled. Other groups have taken similar action. This has caused confusion, frustration and bad will among Indians and non-Indians.

There are currently 30 Cherokee groups seeking recognition as Cherokee nations or tribes from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The last group to gain recognition as a Cherokee tribe was the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees, located in Tahlequah OK, more than 50 years ago. No group outside of North Carolina and Oklahoma has ever been recognized as a legitimate Cherokee sovereign.

Again, most non-recognized “tribes” or nations are not troublemakers, but it is impossible to sort the good from the bad, the criminal from the well meaning. With so much misinformation regarding the Cherokee tribes and Native Americans in general, it is hard for the unknowing bystander to separate the truth from fiction.

When seeking authentic information about tribal culture, history, traditions, genealogy and government, the public should carefully look into claims made by groups that are not recognized by the federal government, especially those that claim to represent a tribe or the Cherokee Nation. For further information with regard to dispelling myths and exposing frauds, call the Cherokee Nation or the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a list of legitimate nations, tribes and bands.

Some descendants of Cherokee Indians cannot qualify for tribal membership in the Cherokee Nation because their ancestors were not enrolled during the final enrollment. The Cherokee Nation encourages people who fall into this category that want to embrace their Cherokee heritage to do so through a Cherokee cultural or historical society with like minded individuals rather than joining a group which claims to be a Cherokee nation, band or tribe.”

Official Statement Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma ~ November 13, 2000