Your Ancestors Must Be Cherokee; Look at their photos!

The Facebook group, Cherokee Indians--Research and Genealogy, is an amazing group of researchers who will help you find your connections to Cherokee ancestry, if you have any. If they cannot connect you to an ancestor who was a member of the tribe, it is unlikely that you have one. While most folks accept the outcome, others are adamant and leave in a decidedly unfriendly manner. 

One of the many complaints these seekers have is that their grandmother must be Cherokee, just look at her photo! This statement is both insulting to today's Cherokee and their ancestors. By implying that there is a 'Cherokee look' is ignorant it it's attempt to assume that all Cherokee people look a certain way and that no other ethnic group shares a similar appearance. This claim also ignores the fact that many Cherokee ancestors were racially white and that many Cherokee Citizens are of mixed race. 

These people also ignore the fact that the majority of our 19th century ancestors worked outdoors. There is a reason for the name 'redneck'.  Women wore their hair long and in braids, this doesn't mean their are Native American they could just as easily be German or Polish. It is also possible that they are biracial and part African American.  Iron Eyes Cody, a well-known actor who portrayed Indians in movies and on television was actually Italian-American. 

Another common issue with photos is that people have found them on the internet, especially on websites like Ancestry and other genealogy websites. People put all kinds of stuff on these sites including photos that they have found somewhere else. Have a Cherokee Grandma, hears a picture of a nice-looking woman dressed up in a deerskin dress. Soon others are copying the photo and giving her a name, dates and parents. 

These people bring these photos to Cherokee sites that help with genealogy as proof that they have a Cherokee Grandma. But the researchers have seen these same photos over and over. Recently, someone claimed this photo was her grandmother. (See below)

This is actually the picture of Mrs. Anna Bennett who in 1907 was Miss Indian Territory. She was born Anna Catherine Trainor, and she married multiple times. Her father was white and her mother was part native. Anna herself was said to be 1/16 Cherokee. Clearly she is a very good-looking lady and who wouldn't want to claim her. Her photo is all over the internet, especially on Pinterest. 

If Anna Catherine Trainor is your grandmother, congratulations not only can you claim a Cherokee ancestor but you also have a photo of her! Here's a later photo of her.

So two lessons we can learn from this:

1. Just because your ancestors appear dark complected does not mean they are Native.

2. Do not believe every family tree that claims a photo is of  a relative. 

Do your research! 

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