First Families of the Cherokee Nation Welcomes New Members
Principal Chief Chad "Corntassel" Smith presents a First Families certificate on behalf of the Cherokee Heritage Center to Austin Nash Dillon, pictured here with his grandparents.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - When Austin Nash Dillon of Plano, Texas, decided to take a vacation with his grandparents, he had no idea he would end up sitting in the office of Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith.
"It caught me off guard," Dillon said. "They didn’t tell me we were doing this. It was very interesting to meet him."
Dillon, a senior in high school and a member of his student-run school government, is very interested in learning about his Cherokee heritage.
"I think since it is my senior year, and especially before going to college, it is important for me to see where I come from," said Dillon. "A large part of who I am goes back to my heritage."
Chief Smith presented Dillon with a certificate to the First Families of the Cherokee Nation on behalf of the Cherokee Heritage Center.
"I’m working on our family genealogy," said Dillon’s grandmother Wanda Dillon. "I joined the First Families and I wanted Austin and his sister to have their certificates as well."
First Families of the Cherokee Nation is a unique organization operated by the Cherokee Heritage Center and its genealogy department, the Cherokee Family Research Center. It offers lifetime membership as a means of recognizing the early families who formed the Cherokee Nation. First Families is a heraldic society sponsored by the Cherokee National Historical Society Inc.
Gene Norris, CNHS genealogist, and a genealogy committee accept and approve applicants. Marjorie Lowe of Houston, Texas, a Cherokee historian, member of the FFCN and the Cherokee National Historical Society for many years, was instrumental in the formation of this organization and continues to support the society.
"We are pleased to have Austin and his family as members," said genealogist Gene Norris. "It is always exciting when people show their appreciation and interest in their Cherokee ancestry. We currently have 610 members and counting."
Membership in First Families is limited to those persons who can document their ancestor was a lawful resident of the Cherokee Nation, East or West, prior to the ratification of the Cherokee Nation Constitution on Sept., 6, 1839.
For more First Families information and applications, call the Cherokee Heritage Center’s genealogy department at (918) 456-6007, ext. 27 or send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.