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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is eligible for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation?

 A: Cherokee Nation is comprised of the descendants of Cherokees and Cherokee Freemen who removed here to Indian Territory (present-day northeastern Oklahoma) in the 1800s, either as “Early Settlers” prior to 1830 or through forced federal relocation commonly known as the “Trail of Tears.” Cherokees who established themselves in this new land were listed on several tribal censuses. A final federal census called the Dawes Rolls was taken of tribal citizens living here from 1898-1906. To be eligible for Cherokee Nation citizenship, a person must have one or more direct ancestors listed on Dawes.

Q: What are the Dawes Rolls?

A: The Dawes Act of February 8, 1887 was a turning point in determining tribal citizenship. The Act developed a Federal commission tasked with creating Final Rolls for the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The Commission prepared new citizenship rolls for each tribe, incorporating names of approved applicants while simultaneously documenting those who were considered doubtful and ultimately rejected. Upon approval of the Rolls, the Dawes Commission allotted a share of communal land to the approved individual citizens of these Tribes in preparation for Oklahoma statehood (1907). The Dawes Commission required that the individual or family reside in Indian Territory to be considered for approval.

While the official process started with the 1896 Applications, these were eventually declared null and void. Two years later, the Curtis Act amended the process and required applicants to re-apply even if they had filed under the original 1896 process. With new guidelines in place, the Commission continued to accept applications from 1898 through 1907, with a handful accepted in 1914. The list of approved applications created the " Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory." –source www.archives.gov

Q: What is an “original enrollee”?

A: Original enrollees are people listed on the Dawes Rolls of the Cherokee Nation. Their direct descendants make up the citizenry of the Cherokee Nation. You must trace directly back to at least one original enrollee on Dawes to be eligible for tribal citizenship.

Q: How can I find out how much Indian/Cherokee I am?

 A: Each person listed on the Dawes Rolls of Cherokees by Blood was assigned a blood quantum fraction to express their amount of Cherokee ancestry. Blood quantums begin at 4/4 and divide in half with each successive generation. Your blood quantum will be computed and placed on your CDIB. If you do not have a CDIB, you will not have a blood quantum.

Q: Are there other Cherokee tribes?

A: There are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: Cherokee Nation and United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians, both located in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, located in North Carolina. Each has its own citizenship laws and requirements.

Q: Can I just take a DNA test and send you the results?

A: We are unable to accept DNA results, blood tests or family photos as proof of ancestry.

Q: I found my family tree on a genealogy website—can I just send you that?

A: Most genealogy websites are created by and have input from varied subscribers, most of whom are not professional researchers. Many have noticeable mistakes and simply are not usable as documentation, as the content is constantly changing.

Q: Can I send photocopies of documentation (e.g. birth and/or death certificates) with my application by mail?

A: No. You must send the ORIGINAL documentation (originals will be mailed back to you). You may bring in originals and a copy will be made for files (we do not keep the originals).

Q: Do Indian Health Service or tribal hospitals register new births with the Registration office?

A: It is the parent's responsibility to apply for their children's CDIBs and Citizenship cards once they receive their birth certificate. We strongly recommend you do this at the time of birth.

Q: Can I get a CDIB card through Cherokee Nation for another tribe?

A: You cannot apply for a CDIB card for another tribe through Cherokee Nation.

Q: How long does the process take for new applications for Cherokee Nation citizenship?

A: Processing time varies

Q: How long does it take to get replacement cards processed?

A: 10 to 15 days

Q: How long does it take to process an amendment to a CDIB?

A: Processing time varies

Q: How can I get a Cherokee Nation photo ID card?

A. You may visit the main CN Registration office in Tahlequah Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Please bring your paper blue card and CDIB with you, along with another form of photo ID. Children under 18 without a photo ID can receive a CN Photo ID with parental consent. You can also receive a photo ID from Registration during some community and at-large events if staff is available. Please check with your local Tribal Council member or at-large community group leadership for upcoming events.

Q. Can I just send you a photo and signature in the mail and have you make a photo ID for me?

A. You must have your photo taken in person using the system that creates the ID cards. We regret that we are unable to process CN Photo ID cards by mail.

Q. Is the Cherokee Nation photo ID compliant with the REAL ID act?

A. The REAL ID law applies to whether ‘state-issued’ IDs are compliant and our Cherokee Nation photo ID is not state-issued.  The REAL ID law ONLY applies to state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.  Our tribal IDs are accepted as a ‘Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID’ for flying per the TSA website (See https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification) and you should not have to show your tribal ID in addition to a driver’s license.  This applies only to air travel, not other federal facilities.  Tribal IDs may be acceptable forms of identification at some federal facilities and may not be considered acceptable at others.

Q. Is the new Cherokee Nation Photo ID mandatory?

A. The new card is for your convenience. It combines your blue citizenship card with your CDIB into a single card. It is not mandatory and your old cards will still be valid.

Q: Can I vote in tribal elections with my Citizenship (Blue) Card?

A: Your blue card is a citizenship card only. You may not vote with the blue card alone.

Q: Am I eligible to vote now that I am registered with the Cherokee Nation?

A: In order to vote in Cherokee Nation elections you must first register to vote. To be eligible for voter registration you must be 18 years of age or older and have a Cherokee Nation citizenship card. You MUST fill out a voter registration application. You are not automatically eligible to vote unless the above criteria are met. Please visit the Cherokee Nation Election Commission's page http://www.cherokee.org/Our-Government/Commissions/Election-Commission to access information on tribal elections and to download a voter registration form.

Q. Will I get money or land?

A. There no specific benefits guaranteed to you as a Cherokee Nation citizen. However, you may be eligible for some services through tribal, BIA or Indian Health Service programs, depending on your specific situation and the service's eligibility requirements (such as income, age, disability or residence).

There is no per capita money or monthly check given to Cherokee Nation citizens. Instead, Cherokee Nation re-invests the profits from its tribal enterprises into job creation, economic development and services for tribal citizens who are prioritized as those highest in need, such as the elderly, low-income or disabled.

Q. Will my college be paid for if I become a tribal citizen?

A. Cherokee Nation and other entities do have some grants and scholarships available to tribal citizens. They are not guaranteed, though, and you should plan your school finances accordingly.

Q. Do I still have to file and pay income tax or other taxes?

A. Cherokee Nation citizens are required to pay all applicable taxes. Cherokee Nation citizens hold a dual citizenship but are not exempt from paying taxes.

General Contact for Cherokee Nation Registration
registration@cherokee.org 918-458-6980 OR 800-256-0671, ext.6980