Tahlequah Daily Press

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January 6, 2006

A league of nations?

Living in Tahlequah, we probably tend to take the word “Cherokee” for granted. It’s hard to look anywhere in this town and not see the word right in front of you.

This is, after all, Cherokee County. There’s a Cherokee Avenue; numerous businesses call themselves Cherokee, or Cherokee County something-or-other. And of course, Tahlequah’s home to two Cherokee tribes: The Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

Those two tribes, along with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, are the only ones officially recognized by the federal government.

But there are other groups that identify themselves as Cherokees – in fact, a couple of hundred of them – and quite a few have pretty interesting Web sites.

For example, there’s the Cherokee Nation of Mexico, whose chief, Charles “Jahtlohi” Rogers, claims to be carrying on the work of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary.

“Like migratory birds, my family and I found the tomb of Sequoyah and learned of his prophecy - that ‘a child would come and find the tomb’ (as did my son Charles Ah-doh-lay-hoh-sgee Rogers),” Rogers states on his site, www.cherokeenationmexico.com. “When this occurred, the story told us, Sequoyah’s spirit would come back to his people to help unite all Cherokees. Shortly after this discovery, the Cherokee Nation of Mexico received re-affirmation of its historic recognition.”

Evidently, although the Cherokee Nation of Mexico isn’t recognized by the U.S. government, the group was recognized by the governor of Coahuila in 1839, and the president of Mexico in 1822. So in a sense, it does have federal – or “federale,” as the case may be – recognition.

“There are more than 200 groups that we’ve been able to recognize that call themselves a Cherokee nation, tribe, or band,” said Mike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation (the one based here in Tahlequah, at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex).

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