Cherokee Nation ID cards accepted in most places

Aaron Neeley, left, and Chris Kelsey visit the Cherokee Nation Registration Department to apply for Cherokee Nation citizenship, which is required to receive a tribal ID.

There are many forms of identification people can carry, but residents of Northeast Oklahoma have another option if they're members of a federally recognized tribe.

The Cherokee Nation offers its own form of photo ID for its citizens. Just a couple of years ago, the tribe issued its 100,000th ID, but that number has now grown to approximately 123,000. Where they are accepted depends on the facility, though, according to a CN Registration employee.

"We haven't had any trouble with TSA when we travel, but we've had a couple of instances where they didn't really want to take it, but they did," the employee said. "We are REAL ID-compliant, but we do not have enhanced travel IDs."

CN citizens should not have to show their tribal IDs in addition to driver's licenses for air travel, but the rule does not apply to other federal facilities. The tribe's registration department has seen a few cases of citizens trying use their IDs to enter federal facilities, "just for the simple fact that it's not an enhanced ID."

"I've had a few cases like that and I've also had a few cases where they were trying to go to Canada and the border did not accept those as a form of identification, just because they'd never seen them before," according to the registration employee.

Because the CN IDs "verify age," citizens should also be able to purchase alcohol with the cards. They cannot be used as driver's licenses, but the state of Oklahoma does accept them as alternate forms of ID.

To receive a Cherokee Nation photo ID, a citizenship number is required. To receive a citizenship number, a tribal member must have one or more direct ancestors listed on the Dawes Rolls. These were used during the allotment process of the early 20th century to divvy up land for Native Americans. A CDIB - Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood - card is not required to receive a citizenship number or ID.

There's no cost to purchase a Cherokee Nation ID. Replacements, however, are $5. Photos must be taken in person at the CN Registration Office. For more information, call the registration department at 918-458-6980.

In recent years, some CN citizens have reported having trouble with local convenience stores and other businesses not accepting tribal cards when they try to write checks. No incidents have occurred recently, but there are situations where a state-issued ID might be needed.

Glenn Stafford, manager at the Tahlequah Reasor's, said he isn't sure whether the store accepts tribal IDs to purchase alcohol, but to pay for groceries using a check, a state ID must be presented.

TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon and Cherokee Nation officials did not return media requests by press time.

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