More and more frequently, people are discovering their Cherokee ancestry. The reasons are varied. Many times, elders have not passed this information along, and it is only as the sun is setting on their lives do they talk about their parents and grandparents--their roots.
In the early part of this century, there were many economical reasons for leaving your Native ancestry unclaimed. A "guardian" was assigned to full-bloods to help them in managing affairs. More often than not, the "guardian" benefited more than the Indian. Women were discouraged from registering by their Anglo husbands, especially if they were living outside the Indian Territory. Voting was a privilege denied Native Americans and women until 1924. The reasons can be as different as the phases of the moon, yet all had merit to that person at that time in history.
In 1976, Cherokee voters ratified a new Cherokee Constitution which changed the ways of measuring tribal membership. At that time, it was determined that anyone who could trace direct descent from the Dawes Rolls, a census taken between 1902-1907, could become a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation. There are now over 165,000 registered Cherokee citizens.
It doesn't matter if you are rediscovering your ancestry, or fulfilling a long-time wish of "getting registered". It does matter that you are doing it now. It is a pivotal time in our lifetime for Native Americans, and it is very important to make a "voice." The first step is tracing your lineage.