Another group, however – the Southern Cherokee Nation, based in Kentucky – disavows any connection to the Oklahoma group calling itself the Southern Cherokees, and says so plainly on its Web site at www.southerncherokeenation.net. According to a letter written to the Muskogee Phoenix last June by the Kentucky Cherokee chief, Michael Buley, the Webber Falls group (which also has a Web site, www.southern-cherokee.com) is giving his tribe “a bad name” by selling illegal car tags and tribal memberships.
“This reflects back on us because we are the real Southern Cherokee people,” wrote Buley. “We consider the Cherokee Nation our mother nation, and would do whatever we could for the nation.”
Why is it, one might ask, that so many people want to be recognized as Cherokees?
According to UKB Assistant Chief Charles Locust, it’s because of the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation’s lack of a blood quantum. His own tribe requires members to be at least one-quarter Cherokee.
“The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has perpetuated this idea and trend with people claiming to be Cherokee,” he said. “Their tribe allows a person with 1/4,000-and-something [Cherokee blood] to be a carded Cherokee.”
But according to Miller, the fact that so many people identify themselves as Cherokee is a good sign.
“According to the 2000 census, more than 750,000 people identify themselves as Cherokee, and that’s far more than the membership of the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band, and the Eastern Band combined,” he said. “What that tells you is people like the idea of being Cherokee, for whatever reason. People usually don’t identify with something they don’t like, so we take it as a good thing: People like Cherokees.”