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So your family is from Alabama, Georgia or South Carolina and think you are Cherokee?

So your family is from Alabama, Georgia or South Carolina and think you are Cherokee?

As commercial DNA labs are becoming more skilled in mass testing genetic samples, a lot of folks in the Southeast, whose great-grandmother was a Cherokee Princess, are finding out that she was more likely a daughter of Zion or the descendants of Spanish grandees.   There is an answer in history . . . at least in the factual history that POOF researchers are developing.

The drawing above portrays a Sephardic Jewish or Spanish gold mining village on Dukes Creek in White County, GA, which was discovered in 1828, mentioned in the first archaeological book on the Southeast in 1873, then erased from Georgia’s history books.

This past Thursday, a lovely lady with jet black hair stalked me for awhile then approached me at the cheese counter of the Dahlonega, GA Walmart.  She whispered,  “Excuse me sir.” 

I was not accustomed to having attractive female strangers speak to me. I looked around to see if she was actually talking to someone else.   She smiled directly at me  . . . “Are you the guy on the History Channel program about the Mayas?” 

Still surprised, I answered, “Yep, that’s me.  You are one of the few people in Dahlonega, I’ve met that even knew about the program.  For some reason,  everybody at the Fresh ‘N Frugal Supermarket watched it, though.

She smiled, “Wow, that’s weird.  I thought you were famous.  I just subscribed to y’all’s newsletter, The People of One Fire. It’s great!  What are you doing in Dahlonega ?  Have you found a Maya city here?”

I answered, “Oh, I live here.  The premier of “America Unearthed” was filmed here.  For reasons, I still can’t figure out,  the Dahlonega Nugget (local newspaper)  decided to censure out anything to do with the film crew being here, the Mayas in Georgia program on the History Channel, the Creek Indians or me individually.  

She laughed and said, “I’d believe that.  Unless you have a kid playing sports at Lumpkin High School, there is not a whole lot in the Nugget these days, but ads.

Hey, I’m glad I ran into you, because I have been wanting to write y’all.  Both my mama’s and my daddy’s family always thought that they were Cherokees.  In fact, they were members of a Cherokee Tribe when I was little, but I am not sure if it still exists.”

I sent off DNA samples of me and my kids to “23 and Me” in hope that we could be made members of the Cherokee Tribe in North Carolina.  The tests came back that we were Jewish, Scottish . . . uh-h-h . . . Iberian, North African and  uh-h-h . . . Northern Germanic.  We had absolutely no Indian blood.  So my great-great-great-grandmother that we always said was a full-blooded Cherokee princess who married a gold miner, wasn’t a Cherokee at all.”

What’s really weird is that back in the 1990s, one of my best friends was a gal here in Dahlonega, whose family was from Nazareth in Israel.  They were Christian Palestinians and could have been descended from Jesus.  She is really pretty and almost looks oriental.”

“Boy did she tell a different story than what the newspapers and Muslims are saying.  She said that most of the people calling themselves Palestinians today are Arabs.  The real Palestinians are either Christians or Jewish.  First, the Muslim Arabs stole their land in the 1800s and then after Israel became a separate country, the European Jews stole their businesses.

Well, anyway . . . everyone always said that she and I could be twin sisters.   We do look alike.  I always joked that maybe the Mormons were right.  The Ten Tribes of Israel did settle here and become Cherokee Indians.  But then, after I read your article about New Jerusalem, it all made sense.  We could have been twin sisters . . . well, distant cousins.  Why don’t my kids’ history textbooks talk about that?”

The only answer that I could give her was, “I don’t know”, but added, “Hey, this will blow your mind.  You know the (censored) Museum down on (censored) Street?    (Censored)  is a Creek word, not Cherokee.  It is still the official title of the Speaker of the Muscogee-Creek National Council.”

*On February 10, 2016. a white couple, living about a mile to the northwest and wearing Indian “thangs” drove up to my house in a jeep, festooned with Injun thangs.  The man delivered a letter from a lawyer in Gainesville, GA  that said if I mentioned name of their tribe or the name of the museum in this article they would sue me for libel.  We removed the words, but they have a big surprise coming.  As the white man wearing the bear claws drove away from my cabin, he announced, “We know who we are. Do you know what you are?”   He displayed a demonic smile and walked back to his jeep. I didn’t even know the name of the tribe, until they threatened to sue me.  That’s why I never mentioned the name of a local Cherokee tribe in the article.  Even the lady, who talked to me, didn’t know it still existed.

She looked dumbfounded.  “You’re kidding.  My children’s father and I  gave money to that museum in honor of my Cherokee ancestor, who we now know was not even Cherokee!”

Yep . . . welcome to the world of Southeastern non-history.

Native descendants in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina

There were definitely hundreds or thousands of people from the Old World living in the Southern Highlands in the 1600s.  Where they went or what happened to their descendants has always been an enigma.  Maybe they never left the Southeast.

There is a gross misconception of where the Cherokees lived in South Carolina and Georgia.  Cherokee villages were never located anywhere but in the extreme northwestern tip of South Carolina.  Their maximum population was about 1200, but declined steadily to a handful by 1776.  Yet half the white people in Piedmont and Up Country of South Carolina claim to be the descendant of a Cherokee Princess.

In recent years, several Chambers of Commerce in North Georgia have adopted the motto, “Home of the Cherokee Indians for at least 10,000 years.”  Of course, the $1000 a year that they get from the North Carolina Cherokees encourages that belief.  The first Cherokee village appeared in what is now Georgia in the 1720s. However, until the American Revolution, the Cherokees were never located anywhere in Georgia, but the extreme northeastern tip.  In 1776, the British government estimated the entire Cherokee population of Georgia to be about 100 persons.

The boundary line between the Creeks and the Cherokees ran through the middle of Stephens, Habersham and White Counties.  Clarkesville, GA originated as a trading post that mainly served the Georgia Creeks in the southern half of the county and the Soque from South Carolina, who had been settled in the northern half of the county.  The Soque were NOT Cherokees, but a Muskogean people assigned to Cherokee territory.   You can check the official history of Habersham County, if you don’t believe me.

All of the village and stream names in the Nacoochee Valley of White County are Creek words.   Mt. Yonah had a Creek name of Nocasee until after the Indians were gone. The Chickasaw were the aboriginal occupants of the Nacoochee Valley and continued to live in the southern half of White County, plus parts of Banks County, as members of the Creek Confederacy. These days White County is one of those counties that call themselves the home of the Cherokee Indians for 10,000 years.

Let’s just tell like it is.  The State of Georgia did a far more efficient job of a  “Final Solution” for the Cherokees than the Gestapo’s rounding up of the Jews during World War II.  Between 1828 and 1832, every square foot of Cherokee territory was surveyed. The surveys included every building, every fruit tree and every Cherokee located on that farm.

By the time of the Trail of Tears, Georgia officials also knew the names of virtually every Cherokee, who had earlier moved west, or  were from the wealthy Cherokee slave-owning class, that had sold their property and moved to Tennessee.  All Cherokees and Free Blacks in Georgia were required to have the equivalent of passports to travel through the state, outside the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

Creeks, Uchees and Caucasians inside the Cherokee Nation were not usually listed in the surveys.  In fact, over 3,000 Creeks were living in the Cherokee Nation, when the roundup began in 1838.   About 800 were seized by federal troops anyway, but the majority hid out in the rugged Cohutta, Brasstown and Nantahala Mountain Ranges to avoid capture. With them were a few hundred Cherokees, who became the nucleus of the Qualla Cherokees in North Carolina.  Most Towns County, GA Indians were living at such remote locations that they avoided detection.  The mountain Creeks just became invisible and assimilated with the arriving white settlers.

A vast area of northern Alabama was first settled in the 1700s by people of Sephardic Jewish ancestry or mixed Jewish, Northern European and indigenous ancestry, who had been driven out of eastern Tennessee by the invading Cherokees.  In the hill country around Jasper, Alabama, the local families acknowledge their Jewish ancestry.  However, to the north, in an area of Northwest Alabama that was always Chickasaw, quite a few of these Sephardic descendants have organized “Cherokee” tribes and given themselves Cherokee names and Cherokee clan membership.  They can’t understand why their DNA tests show up with “zip” or only minuscule Asiatic ancestry.

Native America descendants in  North Georgia

The only location in North Georgia where authentic Cherokee ancestry can easily be documented is Bartow and Gordon Counties.  This area is where wealthy members of the Vann, Ross, Hicks, Thomas, Saunders, Adair, Ralston and Hughes families resettled from Tennessee after the troops had left.

The only other locations of legitimate Cherokee ancestry would be a Cherokee woman, who was married to a white man.   Such families were allowed to stay in Georgia, but not at the same location as where they lived in the Cherokee Nation.  The chance of any of you having a “full blooded Cherokee” female ancestor is almost zero.  White men by the late 1700s preferred light skinned mixed bloods to insure that they were not part African.  At any rate,  the term, full blood, is an oxymoron when applied to Cherokees.  Almost none of the important leaders of the Cherokees were ethnic Cherokees in the 1700s and early 1800s.  They were either from some other tribe or of predominantly European ancestry.

Most of the Native American descendants in Murray, Fannin, western Gilmer and Union Counties call themselves Cherokees.  However, many wonder why their physical appearance is of tall, gracile eagle-like people, and very different than the Cherokees up in North Carolina.

These raptor-like people are the descendants of the aboriginal Kusa Creeks and Uchee.   in the late 1780s, the  Overhill Cherokees were not particularly interested in locating within rugged mountains and so let the indigenous peoples remain, if they submitted to Cherokee authority.  That is why the Creek place names of Coosa and Nottely, plus the Uchee place name of Choestoe still exist in Union County.

Choestoe is the Anglicization for the Uchee word for their Rabbit Clan.  There were originally a chain of villages with that name along the Hiwassee River in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

If your  “Native ancestry” is from White, Stephens, Habersham, Banks, Jackson, Hart or Elbert Counties in Georgia, plus all points south, your Native ancestry is most likely either Creek, Chickasaw, Uchee, Sephardic Jewish or Middle Eastern . . . no matter what your family tradition says you are.

Very few of the Native American place names in North Georgia are actually Cherokee words.  Most that are Cherokee words were added after the Cherokees left.    The general assumption among most North Georgians is that if it is an Indian word, it must be Cherokee.   The creator of the premier web site for translating Cherokee place names gave himself a Cherokee name.  It was a mountain in his county.  He has always been frustrated, though, because he couldn’t translate his official Cherokee name with a Cherokee dictionary.  Good reason, the mountain’s name is straight out of a modern Muskogee-Creek dictionary.

If your “Native Ancestry” is from Gwinnett, Lumpkin, Dawson, Pickens or Gilmer County Counties in Georgia,  it is most likely a mixture of Spanish, Sephardic Jewish, Dutch and Middle Eastern. For example,  the Perry Family of Ellijay-Gilmer County are considered scions of Georgia Cherokees.  However, they look like people of Spanish-British ancestry.  There is a good reason.  Their original name was Perez.

The ethnic origins of the Mestizo peoples of Northern Alabama and Northern Georgia will have to remain in the realm of speculation, until there is comprehensive genetic study on the scale of those being done in the British Isles and Scandinavia to determine ethnic history.   My guess is, however, that the geneticists will find a much higher percentage of ancestry from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and Middle East among these “Native American descendants” than anyone has ever thought possible.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Out standing article! You have lit the brilliant torchlight of truth and awaken the sleeping silent! Before we were ignorant and through institutionalized, so called, education have been kept so. Many Blessings and safe life journey, I pray for you, for your enlightenment and hard work!!


    Hooboy…. this means my cousins married my cousins even more than we already knew!! Explains a lot about my DNA results too. My mother’s family is from Fayette county, Alabama, near Jasper where my uncle lives. My father’s family is from St Augustine and we’ve learned the first Solana to arrive married into the Peres or Perez family that was part of the colony at Santa Elena, in fact two of my 9x great grandmothers were Peres sisters on that side. My mother’s family was one of many with a legend about a Cherokee ancestor. So now I likely descend from the Peres line on both sides. The hidden Spanish history of the now U.S. really needs to be taught. Bartolome Peres and Maria Rica or Arica, their descendants find each other even when they’re trying to not marry cousins!
    Los Floridanos Society held a 450th Family Reunion last year and participated in the National Geographic’s Genographic Project.


    I am from Union County GA, and have recently been working on my family tree. Most of my ancestors filtered through Western NC after arriving from Europe. I, like so many others, grew up hearing about some Indian ancestors. So far, I can’t really find anything concerning native Americans. Are there any clues as far as dates, places and names that I should be looking for? I was also told that there is a list of those that were sent away on the Trail of Tears, is that true, and where would I find it? Thank you for the enlightening article.

    • Yes, there are lists of those members in all five tribes, who went on the Trail of Tears. However, in Union County, you have a special problem. There were very few real Cherokees in what is now Union and Fannin Counties. Most of the Native American in Union County were Creeks and Uchees and they were not on the federal soldiers “pickup list.” For that reason, many Upper Creeks were able to hide in the mountains and their descendants still live in Union County. Coosa (as in Coosa Creek in Union County) is another name for Upper Creek. If you had ancestors living in the Coosa Creek area right after the Trail of Tears, there is a good chance of Upper Creek ancestry.


    Wow….just couldn’t stop reading this article. Amazing.


    Richard, do you know much about the Catawba? I’ve seen several people say they and the Cherokee were close in this area. MY husband is a descendant of the Catawba tribe. His great-great-grandfather fought in the civil war, his photograph is the oldest known photograph of a Catawba Native. I’m doing a bunch of digging and research right now, I love all of this his to Rica information!



    • Hey Kelly,

      This is what we know so far . . . it is quite a bit more than what the academicians know. LOL Catawba is an Anglicized word. The original word is Katawpa. It is a Maya word that means “Crown – Place of”. The original Katawpa occupied the region between Atlanta and Gainesville, GA. Those in Georgia became members of the Creek Confederacy. Some migrated to northern South Carolina and became the elite of a province that mostly included Southern Siouan tribes. During the 1700s, the Katawpa Alliance in South Carolina lost about 95% of its population due to epidemics and war. Those who survived, were Commoners, who ended up speaking a hybrid Siouan language. So today, despite their Maya-Creek name, the surviving Catawba should be considered Southern Siouans. Their name for themselves is Issi.


        My 9th great grandparents were killed by a group of Catawba raiders in 1694 near Hiawasee Georgia or Running Water Tennessee. The children were left alive. They were Shawnee and the children were raised by a Cherokee chief.
        I love learning about my history.


    I have family from Alabama who are Creek. They endured the Indian Removal & live in Oklahoma now. My grandfather was “full blood” Creek & Seminole. I searched for his family history & found a lot of native/ceeek names (fixico/Harjo/tiger etc) . I was wondering if you may have a clue about 2 names I had trouble tracing 1 is cosar. I’m not sure if this is originally kusa/coosa? I couldn’t find much on this side of my family pre- the Dawes rolls And the other being Warledo which was the original native name of a family member that enrolled in the Dawes roll & also went by 2 English names. I got stuck on Warledo aswell & couldn’t find anything prior to the Dawes roll on him either. I was wondering if Warledo may have been a Spanish name for Walter? I’m not sure. I was curious if you knew anything about these names.

    • 1. Cosar could well be derived from Kusa. I couldn’t find a similar Muskogee word in the Creek dictionary.

      2. The Spanish equivalent of Walter is Gualtierre. Warledo sounds like Pigeon English for War Leader.


    Mvto for the reply!



    • Yes, it can be true. Your last name is the actual name of the tribe that became the Miccosukee-Seminole. Many Seminoles moved to Cuba . . . especially after it became independent from Spain. There is a Soque River in northern Georgia.


        There is a “Little Sokee” [sp.?] in Taylor or Talbot Co., GA as well.

        • Yes, that is the same people. They moved south during the Creek-Cherokee War and then again when much of North Georgia was secretly given to the Cherokees in the 1784 Treaty of Augusta.


    Hello. I am originally from SC but have
    resided in Montana for ten years.
    My mother had a pottery piece, best I can describe it is a vase/ jug of
    some sort. Would love to send you photos.
    After having it many years, my mother looked at bottom. It seems to
    have etched in it when made the name Selocta.
    During researching my Creek ancestors, I saw their was a Chief
    Selocta. Naturally I began looking for info on Creek pottery. Even
    though this piece has a rough texture, I do not think it could be as
    old as Selocta’s time and looks Asian to me, but I’ no expert. I was wondering if any pieces were made in his
    honor, or if there is a way I can email you photos and you can help me find its origin. I have
    researched for several years and cannot find any information.
    Thank you for any help you can offer.
    Many Blessings,

    • Hey Anita
      As soon as the Southeastern Indians had access to cast iron and copper cooking ware, they stopped making very much pottery. If the piece has a rough outside texture, it is probably earthenware from the late 1700s or 1800s. Originally, Native Americans did not autograph their pottery. Most likely the name on the bottom is a more recent piece of pottery . . . signed by a Native American named Selocta. You can contact us at


        Thank you! I sent you an email with photos and texture description.


    Hello, I’m in Oklahoma and my ancestors were on the trail of tears although one was Scottish ancestry, the others were cherokee and a little Spaniard. I am a cherokee citizen. All the birth places of them on days Cherokee Georgia. Can you tell me what that means? Last names are Miller, Hogg, and McAlexander which was the Scottish man. There was also Hawkens surname but idk where they were born. I found this article quite interesting as on the other side of my family there have been stories of marrying Cherokee’s.
    Thank you.

    • Cherokee – Georgia means that your ancestors were from the part of the Cherokee Nation that was within the State of Georgia. The books Cherokee Footprints (Two Volume Set: Vol I. The Principal People and Vol.II Home and Hearth) by Charles O. Walker will probably tell you exactly where your ancestors lived. They are hard to find, because the author died several years ago, but there may be some still for sale in the Museum of the Cherokees in Tallequah, OK or perhaps, the museum shop at New Echota State Historic Site in Georgia.


        Thank you very much! Maybe I can find the books.


    Halito nakini. I continue to learn so much from your research and writings. It has been very difficult to find my ancestors that lived in Georgia and in Alabama. I was always told that we came from Creek people. I found some relatives on the Dawes Roll and our surnames on the 1832 Henderson Roll but I can not find where they are buried. My GGG grandma Rhody Moore (Creek) and Grandpa Jerry Moore (Choctaw) walked on about 1889 but were citizens in their tribes. When their son Zeke came before the Dawes commission they made him and the rest of the family into freedmen in spite of the fact that his parents were enrolled citizens and Zeke was drawing the $29.00 allotment. There is a letter in his packet saying that someone should write the Creek or Choctaw on his behalf to let them know that Zeke was seeking enrollment but they decided to “demote” us instead. After that I lose all contact with whatever happened to them. But later some of the Moore family appear in Macon Alabama where they remain for some time until 1930’s. Then my GG grandfathers brother Dan Moore was said to have his 150 acre farm which is where my grandmother was born and raised. Can you tell me anything about the Moore and Chappell family. My G Grandmother was Laura Chappell (a mulatto) married to Dub Moore (a Creek). I think they died in Alabama but I can not find their resting places. As a family I do know that we migrated consistently to and fro from Leesburg Lake Florida, Georgia, Tuskegee Alabama and Cleveland Ohio. Also my mother and aunt were given aboriginal names of Arrissia and Flutchie which I have been unable to trace. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Wado!

    • Hey Patricia

      I am not a genealogist, but everything you said sound like your family is legitimately Creek . . . You are even in the right part of Alabama. You might try contacting the Muskogee Creek Nation’s citizenship committee. They are listed on the tribe’s web site.


        Thank you for your reply. I will continue to learn and grow at pow wow’s and other gatherings before making a formal contact. Many have been very rude at gathering events assuming that I am another culture vulture and they do let me know that I am an outsider. I will one day soon but I am not ready to deal with opposition & rejection from my own people right now. I truly value and appreciate your work because you examine and verify before accepting the status quo no matter who is standing by these false doctrines. Hoke!


    I had my DNA Tests done by Viagurad, they went out and too DNA Samples from the Tribes; most there DNA labs only say what percent of Native American you are. I have native American on both sides but only my Dads side shows up; 12 % Cherokee and 2% Comanche My Dad looks like a full blooded Cherokee, with both of his parents being part Cherokee

    • You got ripped off by that lab. There are NO DNA test markers for either the Cherokee or the Comanche. In fact, some of the most famous Cherokee families are showing up with ZERO Native American DNA. Oklahoma Cherokees average 0-2% Native American.


        Hi Richard!
        Are you familiar with the Crittenden name in Georgia Cherokee history? There are Crittenden on the dawes rolls. My Crittenden family can be traced back to elbert co., which I noticed you said could have an area occupied by the Creek? All the Crittenden were enrolled as Cherokee. Also, what area would have been considered Cherokee nation east? Thanks richard!

        • Hey Mike,
          Elbert, Hart, Madison and Wilkes Counties were always Creek. During the peak of their power, the Cherokees claimed Northeast Georgia, but only lived in the extreme northeastern corner. In 1776, the British Army estimated that there were only 25 Cherokee men of military age in the entire Province of Georgia, which then stretched to the Mississippi River. If you recall the account of Patriot Nancy Hart, her CREEK neighbors and friends gave her the name, War Woman. There is still the remnants of a Creek Community between Elberton and Ruckers Bottom, but almost all of the Creek descendants born in the late 20th century have left the county because of the drug-related crime and the lack of economic activity.

          Crittenden is an English name! Almost all Southeastern Indians obtained an English name, when a white trader married an Indian woman. There are also Crittendens on the rolls of the Muscogee Creek Nation. However, very few Northeast Georgia Creeks will be eligible for Muscogee-Creek enrollment because their ancestors broke off from the Creek Nation when the Upper Creeks attacked them during the American Revolution and Chickamauga Wars.


            Hello Mr. Thornton,

            I’ve just discovered your site. Great site! I am also a Crittenden from Mississippi, but my line comes from Elbert Co. Georgia as well. In fact, the last documented person I can find in my Crittenden line is a John Seales Crittenden, born 1817 in Elbert Co. and lived also in Coosa, but the trail goes cold there and I’m having a hard time finding anyone else online who is also descended from him that has any more reliable info. Would you happen to know of any way that I can access info such as the Muscogee Creek rolls? I’ve gone to a few websites to search the dawes rolls but there is only one Crittenden listed as Creek and she is a freedman. I’ve already done my DNA with and I don’t show any African American DNA in my results, so I’m not sure if I should still pursue that route. I have pictures of almost every Crittenden in my line back to John Seales’ son James Jackson Crittenden, but none of John Seales himself.

          • Have you checked the Seminole rolls. My Creek heritage is from Elbert County and we are most closely related to the Hitchiti Creeks and Seminoles. I don’t know if the Muskogee-Creek Nation has their records online or not. You might try contacting them. They are more likely to respond to a phone call rather than an email.


            Thanks so much for the quick reply. I’ll see if I can check that out.


        Are you saying that if I get my DNA checked, it will not tell me the percentage of Native American that I am? My fathers people descended from Creek and my mothers were from the Cherokee. I really would like to know but I don’t want to waste my money.

        • There are no DNA test markers for the Southeastern Tribes. What many of the commercial labs do with DNA samples from the Southeast is compare them with Canadian Algonquian DNA samples. Since the ancestors of the Creeks came from several parts of Mesoamerica and South America, it going to be very difficult of an inexpensive “consumer” DNA test to accurately measure their DNA. So don’t expect any inexpensive DNA test to accurately measure your Creek and Cherokee heritage.


    What a Great READ. I have learned a lot just reading this. Is there more. I was told that I had Indian ancestry in my family too. Our family names are Perry from where I’m not sure, Wright out of North Carolina possibly, was told they FPOC and Smith out of Florence South Carolina. I DNA tested my mom and her results are 95% African and 2% Iberian among a few other things. My question is where do start to look for more information on the Smith name, oh and she was 0% non European. I don’t get that mine was 9% European. HELP


    Richard do you have any info on what tribes may have been present in South Carolina?

    • Yes – many articles – Google People of One Fire – South Carolina


    Rather than there being a “family legend” about being part Indian (a Cherokee princess or otherwise!), I turned up our Indian ancestors quite by accident. Instead of being celebrated, they were apparently a deep, dark secret that my grandmother, who was probably about a quarter to an eighth Indian, had no clue about. (There was mixed blood in both her parents’ families.) Her father mentioned bigotry and ridicule as a child in the late 1800s, but I’d just thought it was because he was poor. Then I realized, from a number of clues, that his mother was almost certainly Indian in identity and appearance, if not unmixed already. To be honest, it never even crossed my mind why her father looked so, well, brown in old photographs even though he had a strictly indoor occupation and why all of his children had jet black hair and broad jaws. Her family’s name is now on both the Creek and the Cherokee roles, and both were found in the area. Another line, I traced back to a (part) Cherokee woman (from contemporary sources), but from there…nothing! No clue about her parents. It’s very frustrating. And there’s a third one who was always a brick wall to me with a VERY unusual first name…and then I discovered that this strange first name was extremely common where she lived among Indian women related to a certain family in the same county, as apparently they were all named after one woman who once had this name. That makes me suspect that she was either Indian or named after a relative by marriage who was Indian…which should narrow it down but doesn’t seem to.

    I have also tracked down a final woman to a different tribe, but that was from much, much earlier in the family’s history–and a different side entirely! The sons of that marriage went to the Indian side, culturally, and their descendants are there to this day, though the tribe slowly assimilated to the point that all language and almost all culture was lost, and all the daughters married other white men–from one of whom I’m descended. There’s no record or her parents, either, or even much certainty about her name, but at least there’s an excuse as it’s from the late 1600s.

    I’m extremely frustrated with trying to do any genealogy on the rest of the Indian connections. I’m not interested and pretending that I’m culturally Indian. Obviously, I’m not. I just like the story of my family to be clarified. I may end up hiring a genealogist who specializes in Indian genealogies, but I’m not holding my breath about it. THREE different women with THREE loose connections, all from the 19th century, is very frustrating when I can trace practically every one else back to the 1700s or far earlier than that!


      Miss Ely, Would you mind sharing the very unusual woman’s name? I have one as well – Ochichi/Ochesi. I know it’s a slim chance but, who knows? I had been told there was “Indian” ancestry in my family, but I didn’t have any real clues until I obtained my gg grandmother’s death certificate and it showed her mother’s name.


    My grandfather, Mat Rose (that is how it is spelled on his tombstone) was born in Graham County, NC. It appears that as a child he moved to eastern Tennessee. As an adult he moved to near Eatonton GA and farmed. My grandmother always told us he was of Indian descent. Where is a reputable DNA testing lab that I can send a sample to for testing?

    • Keep in mind Cindy that there are NO DNA test markers for any of the Southeastern tribes. All of the commercial labs are using DNA samples from Algonquians in Canada to determine if a person in the Southeast has Native American ancestry. The Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Alabama and Koasati Indians are not related whatsoever to the Algonquians. So automatically your test will not be accurate. A lot of Uchee (Yuchi) moved from North Central Georgia to Graham County, NC You can be almost full blood Uchee and yet some labs will tell you that you have no Native American heritage. I am not an expert on genetics, so my recommendation is to look at the reviews about any labs that you are interested in. DNA Consultants, Inc. has done the most DNA testing in Western North Carolina. Their owners are reputable, but there are probably also other labs, who can be trusted.


    This is fascinating! My step-father’s family was very “proud” of their Cherokee Princess storyline. It was the only “claim” to Native American I really ever heard. My mother’s family is from Dillsboro, NC and my mother always believed that her grandmother’s family was actually Jewish. Their last name was Jacobs. Anyway, this posting has me convinced that perhaps she was on to something, since you mentioned Sephardic Jewish could have been in the general area. Thank you!

    • Actually, Christen, while former National Park Service Director, Roger Kennedy was supporting my research in western North Carolina, I found very old stone ruins near Sylva and Dillsboro (fairly close to the Tuckaseegee River) which I strongly suspect are the ruins of Sephardic villages. I was particularly interested in the Dillsboro and Sylva Area because the Cherokees sent a report to British officials in Charleston in 1745, stating that they had encountered Spanish-speaking residents in that region, who “worshiped a book” had long beards (hopefully just the men), plus worked as gold and silver smiths.

      Thanks for writing us.


    I’ve been at an impasse in researching my 3rd great grandfather on my mother’s side. He seems to have sprung from the ground. Renewing my interest in this line, recently, I started reading about the area he was supposedly born in. It is listed as Jasper county Georgia. But in 1801 when he was born, there was no Jasper county. In fact that area was still part of the Creek Nation, not the United States! That got me wondering. Could he have been descended from European fur traders ( a big business in those days) and perhaps a daughter of the Creek nation? That might explain why there seems to be absolutely NO information out there about his parents. I wonder if there are any records which might show such a union among the history of the Creeks. ( Long shot, I know.) Thanks very much for this article. It is one more bit of understanding I can take with me as I search.

    • There are no marital records inside the Eastern Creek Nation. However, by 1818, the majority of Creeks in Georgia were living outside the boundaries of the Creek Nation.

      Jasper County was cut out of Baldwin County, GA. Baldwin was created in 1802. Originally, Jasper County was named Randolph County. Randolph was cut out of Baldwin. That might help you some.


    Great article! I am deeply into geneology, and love trying to figure all this out!

    My husband and I have done the DNA and we both came up with African roots to counter our family’s native american claims…

    The one part that stuck out and stumped me, was, my husband’s 10% Iberian peninsula DNA… I have his ancestry confirmed at least 5++ generations back, and I have found nothing that indicates Spanish/Portuguese relatives. His family hails from the regions of Hampton, SC, Putnam, GA, Thomas Co, GA, Baker Co, Ga, and Franklin Co, VA… No one seems to come up with any clues, except the surname “Bunch,” which has been attributed to “melungeon” origins…?

    Would there be a resource you could reference that might help me figure out this high percentage of Iberian?

    Thank you!

    • Bunch? That’s an easy one. Bunch is a Melungeon family name from NE Tennessee. In 1674, Virginia explorer, Gabriel Arthur, encountered several “Spanyards” and “Portugeese” on the trail that passed through SW Virginia and NE Tennessee. In 1781, Colonel John Tipton (whose house I owned in while in the Shenandoah County, VA) and Colonel John Sevier were leading a party of 80 Shenandoah County families to settle in NE Tennessee. They mentioned that on several occasions, while in SW Virginia and NE Tennessee, they passed through “ancient villages” inhabited by Jews, who spoke Spanish.



    I am happy to have stumbled across this blog. I have been doing my family’s geneology (genetic and paper-based) for a few years now, and we never had any family legend of Native ancestry. However, my maternal side all carries a small amount of Native DNA as per the reliable testing platforms like Ancestry and 23andMe. Using a combination of methods to rule out the possibility of a lab misread as well as tracing one of my Kentucky lines further back in time, I found out my 6th great grandmother was likely a woman named Go-Sda-Ya, who married a white trader named Sam Green in North Georgia (place unknown). They later relocated to North Carolina, where their daughter Delilah followed suit and married another white man, Joseph Case. She then went with him to Bourbon County, Kentucky, where they remained.

    In the late 1800s, their descendant, George Case, applied for tribal membership in IT in Oklahoma, and was denied. He then appealed to the Indian Court and was ruled Cherokee by blood, but not eligible (and rightly so) for membership on the technicality that none of this ancestors resided in Cherokee land after 1810, and none appeared on the 1835 Henderson rolls or any rolls thereafter, as they were living in Kentucky instead.

    I’ve read through the nearly 66 pages of witness testimony and court deliberation and believe it all to be credible – the depth of the details and consistency of the testimony from witnesses who didn’t know each other, and knew my ancestors at different points in their life, having met them in different places – is remarkable to me.

    However, as I’d expect, Go-Sda-Ya is the last traceable ancestor on that line. No evidence of her in Georgia or NC. I know she outlived her daughter, dying around 1833.

    I’d love to find more information about her but have not bee able to. Do you have any additional lines of research I could pursue?

    Thank you,
    Micaela Browning

    • Hey Micaela

      The People of One Fire is not involved at all in genealogy. The thing you have to remember is that with the Cherokees, you are not going to see a high percentage of Native American DNA, even among enrolled members of the tribe. The percentage of Native American DNA among Oklahoma Cherokees typically runs 0%-2%. Cherokees typically have very high levels of Iberian, Middle Eastern and North African DNA. On the other hand, Uchee will show high levels of Sami, Finnish, Basque and Black Irish DNA.

      There is another problem with tracing “Cherokee” ancestors. Many Native descendants in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and northern Alabama will call themselves Cherokee, when it was actually another tribe. in Georgia the problem is that there were several other tribes occupying North Georgia, when it was given to the Cherokees in 1794. These people had no political rights in the Cherokee government, but were forced to call themselves Cherokee in order to remain on their land. Many eventually moved to Alabama.


    Everyone in my mother’s family had always been told their great-great-great (or so) grandmother was “full blooded Cherokee” and was a “Cherokee Princess, the chief’s daughter”. She lived in northern Alabama in the 1820s. Two people I went to college with had similar family folklore. We always took this information it at face value.

    A couple of years ago, my mother’s sister took a genetic DNA test which showed no Native American, or Asian for that matter, but did show her as 4% Jewish. This dumbfounded everyone because we were certain there were no Jews in our family. About a year later, I also took a DNA test. NO Native American, but surprisingly 24% Southern European. Soon after that when researching something else, I came upon information about Sephardic Jews in Southeastern North America, and I began to suspect that our Cherokee grandma was actually Jewish. Her last name was Naylor or Naler, I have seen both spellings. My mother took a DNA test about a year after mine and also was 4% Jewish like her sister and interestingly about 15% Iberian.

    Interestingly, while my father has no Jewish heritage, he also tested heavily for Iberian, 30%. He originally believed he was only of German and British Isles descent. One of the names in his upstate South Carolina family is “Neves” which we originally believed to be Irish, but instead is most likely Portuguese. We’re still trying to figure out what a Portuguese family would be doing in upstate SC in the 1780s.

    • Oh I can answer that! A large group of immigrants from the Balearic Islands off the coast of Iberia were allowed to settle in the upper Savannah River Basin. However, your ancestors could have come even earlier. There was a Spanish gem mining colony near Franklin, NC in the 1600s.

      It appears that most of the Sephardic Jews in NE Tennessee moved down into north-central and Northwestern Alabama. Sephardic descendants are concentrated between Jasper, AL and the Tennessee River.


    to richard thornton id like your help with my genealogy pls ….. i wont go into detail here because what i have is quite lengthy


    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your article. I was born in northeastern Alabama. I’ve been told by members of both sides of my family that we have Cherokee roots. My paternal grandmother (maiden name Milner) always talked about being “black Dutch”. In a genealogy class, I was told that people of black Dutch – or Melungeon – ancestry are a mixture of possibly Cherokee, African, Turkish, Sephardic Jew, Romani (Gypsy) and European. Milner is Anglo-Saxon, but I found out recently that there is a Jewish connection with Anglo-Saxons. I was once asked by an Arab if I were Jewish. An Italian-American once asked me if I were Italian. I have dark, coarse, curly hair, brown eyes, & tan easily, so who knows? I haven’t submitted by DNA yet, but my mother has: she is 48% European – 12% of that being Great Britain; not sure what the other 52% is, but that’s the majority of her DNA! And my father (Ross) could be descended from a wealthy Cherokee family on one side & Melungeon on the other. Pretty exciting! Thank you for the new information.


    Excellent article. I’ve recently been trying to pin down a 3% Sephardic-related ancestry on my mother’s side of the family. They were from the areas you’ve mentioned. Great site.


    Youre so cool!


    Hello Richard,
    Our Chief, Dode Macintosh came to visit the town named after his mother, Princess Senoia, some years ago. He talked a long time with my mother and family. My mother, Nonie Middlebrooks was named by her father to honor his family members and he also named another Narvee and my oldest sister Irie. We always thought our family had odd names but learned from Chief Dode Macintosh that like his mother Senoia our names are Muscogee names. We have sense learned that DNA is not what make a person family or native, but acceptance by the group or tribe is what really makes you a part of the people. We have no DNA or government numbers to validate who we are, but a visit from our Chief told us we have not been forgotten.

    So we too are still here, hidden in plain sight.

    • That was the policy of the Creek Nation, until the Bureau of Indian Affairs forced blood quantum on them. By the way, Senoia is actually a Jewish name. Her father was Jewish and Senoia is the name of an angel, who Jewish people traditionally believed protected infants. The angel’s name was typically carved on the baby’s cradle or rocker. Here is Dode’s obituary.


    This is an interesting article. On my mother’s side of the family, my grandfather’s family is from Early County, GA–which is a bit south of the areas discussed in this article–and he claimed to have Creek ancestry; my grandmother’s family is from eastern West Virginia. I’ve sent my DNA off to 2 labs. The first was a whole genome sequence, which when I ran it in ADMIXTURE at K=6 with the 1000 Genomes data came back, for the non-European groups, about 5% East African, 5% South Asian, and 2% East Asian. I also had sequencing done by, which showed no non-European ancestry; but using the Ancestry data, I uploaded it to MyHeritage, which showed about 10% Sephardic Jewish-North African ancestry. At Family Tree, the same data showed less than 1% South American ancestry.

    So when you mentioned those states and the fact a lot of white people who think they have Native American ancestry in those regions are found to have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, what I’ve found seems to match. One discrepancy is that where my grandfather’s family comes from in Georgia seems to be quite a bit further south than what you discuss here. What do you think?

    P.S. I spoke to Razib Khan, who is a genetics expert at UC Davis, over at via email about what you discussed here. Razib has recently done an article on Elizabeth Warren’s claim to having some Native American ancestry and the data she presented, which Razib found credible. In our email conversation, he suggested that you run an identity-by-descent (IBD) tract analysis of their DNA sequences.

    • Many, if not most of the Indian traders based in South Carolina and Georgia, were of Jewish or partial Jewish ancestry. For example, the grandfather of the famous Creek mikko, William McIntosh, was a Jewish trader based in what is now Coweta County, GA. His mother was half Jewish and had a Jewish name, Senoia. Indian traders almost always took a Creek wife, who was the daughter of a prominent leaders, in order to facilitate positive relations with the Creek community. So it is highly likely that descendants of these mixed-heritage marriages would spread out through the Creek domain. Creeks knew that they were the result of many ethnic groups mixing, so it was not necessary to conceal having such ancestry.


    I am thankful for your article this was a breath of fresh air. I am currently doing genealogy on my family who are primarily from GA. Specifically Wilkinson county,ga the city of toomsboro/irwinton. My great grandmother always said are family is Cherokee. As of recent I have started reading this history of Wilkinson county. This book gives great info I’m not finished reading it yet. From what I have been reading the county was originally creek/yuchi/cussetaw and a few other tribes. Now I’m wondering which direction should I go in. Also you mentioned the Hughes surname which is apart of our family. Our family surname is Brown primarily . As I stated before the family is from Wilkinson county,Ga. I also found we have two relatives from Va not sure which part. I do know they came to GA in the early 1800’s. Reading your article turned on some light bulbs for me. What do you think I should do as far as where should I look. Any suggestions are welcome and again gratitude for your great article.

    • There was a Uchee-Creek enclave near Irwinton for decades after most Muskogee-Creeks were forcibly moved to Oklahoma. It was one of the communities where my ancestors went to find a spouse. Nearby Hawkinsville, GA is another location where still today there are many Uchee-Creek descendants. By the way, Brown is a common Uchee family name. Their most prominent chief in the 20th century was a Brown.


        Much gratitude for you speedy response you don’t know how this means. My the ancestors and our great creator continue to provide for you on your journey. I will be signing up to this site and will support your efforts. The insight you provide is invaluable gratitude again.


    Seriously, the most enlightening yet entertaining thing I’ve read in a long while! I’ve got to look to see if you have a newsletter. If not, I’ll just check back in.
    I have a question for you. I know you’ve said you’re not a genealogist but you seem to have an amazing wealth of knowledge about a variety of topics that my question involves. In general, how likely do you think it would be for a white man from a fairly prominent family (Teasley) in either Wilkes or Elbert County to be disowned for taking a Native American wife between 1805 – 1830(ish)? I read above about the practice of traders taking Indian wives. This family owned several properties, land and slaves. I don’t know if societal norms were different for different occupations or socioeconomic standings. The ancestor I’m researching is absent from his father’s will and the family story is that he was disowned. Some have said the wife was Cherokee but I also came across the theory that she was Creek. They did remain in the area for a number of years before moving to “Wildcat, Cherokee, Georgia” sometime before 1870. I believe he later died in “Upper Hiwassee, Towns, Georgia”. Any and all thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hey Bonnie

      The Teasily’s were married into my maternal family tree. Wilkes and Elbert Counties were solid Creek and Uchee territory. The northern boundary of the Creek Nation until 1817 was Clarkesville, GA in Habersham County. Wildcat is a community in Cherokee County, GA and has nothing to do with the Cherokee Tribe, which departed between 1832 and 1838. The Upper Hiwassee River is in Towns County, GA. Many Virginians moved down to Elbert County in the 1790s. They would have had a very different attitude toward the Creeks than Native Georgians. There was an existing Uchee-Creek community which continued being in NE Elbert until the late 20th century. So that probably was the source of the contact.


        I can’t say I’m surprised – the Teasleys were a fruitful bunch! LOL I am descended from John II’s son, William (1759-1825). From there it gets less clear because of 3 Thomas Teasleys(at least) being born in the next generation within the extended family. I believe I am descended from Thomas H. Teasley (~1788 – aft 1870). If you’re familiar with the original Teasleys from VI you might be familiar with some of these names. Anyway, This Thomas H. Teasley was the reason for my question to you. Forgive me if this should be evident but based on the Teasleys migrating to GA from VI between 1765-1779, would you say they would have been tolerant to Thomas marrying a Creek woman? IF that is indeed what happened. I’m just trying to understand the societal norms better for this time and place. I realize any opinion offered doesn’t constitute proof of anything. I’m just looking for avenues to explore and am thrilled to be talking to someone with such knowledge of the area and time period! (Sorry, I’m fan-girling a bit over here! LOL)

        • Well, the Teasleys in our Elbert County family were part Creek. Mixed blood Creeks married only other Creeks and Uchees until after World War II. My genealogy is in a box somewhere so I can’t readily give you some first names.


    I dont trust these DNA companies. My family was in South Carolina prior to the Civil War and my gg grandpa and my gg uncle married two Native American women and they were sisters. I have actual pictures of my gg grandma and she was of Native decent, so knowing this, I see no reason to take a DNA test. I dont have Native looks and look like my Irish/English ancestors, but I know the truth.


      You know the truth, until you don’t. Just ask Mrs. Warren.

      • Keep in mind, though, that many official members of the Cherokee Nation do not have ANY Native American DNA.


          So, how can you be member the Tribe, and not have any blood from the Tribe? Honorary member?

          • Most of the tribes in the Southeastern United States were composed of remnants of other tribes. About 90% of the Native people in the Southeastern United States died after the arrival of Europeans. In some cases, Europeans joined these new tribes also because they wanted to live like American Indians.


      Hi Vicki,

      I agree with you however, I have found NA DNA thru GEDMATCH of about 3%. They do admixture. My line to this point is my ggm whom I have a telling picture of. My so called Cherokee line is from the Liles family. So far we know an ancestor John Liles had a license to be an Indian Trader in far northwestern SC ( in 1755 just over the border from NC where his son was born). It’s said many Indian Traders also took NA wives. I’ll send you her picture if you like.

      I’m too far removed to have NA show up on my DNA test. I’ve read they’re (ancestry and 23andMe) only good to the 5th generation and I’m further back.


    DNA test (particular commercial ones) are bogus DNA cannot trace culture and geography without the proper historical context behind it and its proven that DNA as it pertains to ancestry have been proven false..come on now they found that a chihuahua had 56% native american…many of the Indians are alive and well just that they were enslaved and were forced into assimilation over the course of 400 years.

    • I agree with you totally. What do you mean by Chihuahua? Are you talking about the breed of dog or a Native American tribe.



  1. thanksgiven | embodhiment - […] Part Cherokee, are you now? […]
  2. thanksgiven&taken | embodhiment - […] part Cherokee? […]

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