Why your Great Great Great Grandmother May Not Be Cherokee

So many people believe that they have a (usually) female ancestor who was a member of the Cherokee Tribe. They describe the grandmother as full or half blooded and that this is a story they have been told and has been passed down in the family for generations. I belong to two Facebook groups who do free genealogy for people who believe they are Cherokee by descent. Cherokee Indian Genealogy and Cherokee Indians Research and Genealogy  each are contact daily by people who ask for their help. I would have to guess that 90% of the people who claim they have Cherokee ancestry are proven wrong. Some take the news rather well, but often times the reaction is one of anger as if some important part of them has been ripped away. We have 64 great x 4 grandparents, 128 5x and 256 6x great grandparents, but for some reason that 1 out of 64 or 128 or 256 holds more importance than the other 63, 127 or 255. 

A lot of people are turning to DNA to prove their Native ancestry. But again, the further back you go, you Native DNA is going to be more and more diluted. I have seem many people claim to be related to Pocahontas, she might be their 12x grandmother, that one Native out of 2048 ancestors. That far back it is unlikely that any DNA will show up on your test. 

But what if it does? Does this mean that your family was correct in claiming Grandma was Cherokee? No it doesn't. The video, below, explains why Grandma, who might very well have been a Native American, might not be Cherokee, she might be from some other tribe. Remember DNA cannot pinpoint tribal affiliation, only that your ancestor was native to Americas, including, Middle America, South America and Canada.

This video is by RF Genealogy, and is hosted here with his permission. I found it very insightful and it goes along in explaining why Grandma just might not be Cherokee. See his youtube video channel here.


  1. I was with the video guy until the end when he said there are lots of white people on the rolls, wth the implication that they had no Cherokee ancestor or tribal connection. Were there lots of people on the Guion Miller roll who were mostly white? Yes, but that roll wasn’t about race or citizenship, it was about tribal ancestry. The Cherokee Dawes Rolls include the Freedmen, who were classifed as black even though some had a Cherokee parent or other ancestor, and about 300 intermarried whites (married before 1875). That roll was about citizenship, not race. Everyone on the Guion Miller roll was traced back to a Cherokee person on an earlier roll. Many of those approved for the payment no longer had a tribal affiliation, but they were descendants of people who were identified as Cherokee on earlier Cherokee census records. Did all those rolls have errors? Did some people sneak through a crack? Probably, since human beings were involved. Were there a lot of those mistakes? No. Finding a name on a Cherokee roll doen’t mean your ancestor was Cherokee, but NOT finding you ancestor on any roll pretty much guarantees they were not Cherokee.

  2. Thanks Kathy for your input, I bow to your superior knowledge. I do think the video does a pretty good job of laying out the migratory paths of which would lead people to believe that their ancestor was Cherokee.

  3. My daughter-in-law is related to William David McDaniel, who was supposedly "married" to Sookie "Grasshopper Turkey" "Granny Hopper". Their daughter, Catherine "Katy" McDaniel, is reliably traced "downward" to my daughter-in-law. Are there any reliable facts about Sookie's parents?

  4. The woman known as “Granny Hopper”, likely born abt. 1740-45 is probably real, although very little is known about her, including her birth name. “Granny” first appears in a genealogy prepared by descendant Clara Ward (born 1859) which she based on her family’s records, stories, and family Bible. Emmet Starr did not include Granny Hopper in his History of the Cherokee Indians.
    Muriel Wright implies, but does not state, that Granny Hopper was the daughter of Old Hop even though Miss Ward’s genealogy begins with Granny and makes no mention of her parents.
    Some trees list her mother as Su-a-gi Moytoy without supporting documentation; many genealogists believe that any connection between Old Hop and the name ‘Hopper’ is only coincidental. Hopper may be the name of a later husband since it was “Granny’s” name in her old age.
    It is not known where or how the names ‘Su-gi’ or “Sookie” were attached to her.
    See: Muriel Hazel Wright. Spring Place Moravian Mission and the Ward Family of the Cherokee Nation, (original data from the genealogical notes of Miss Clara A. Ward and others). Originally published by Co-operative Publishing Co., Guthrie, OK 1940, p. 86


Post a Comment

Thank you for reading this blog. Please cite your sources for any information you have to add to this article. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted and/or reported.