The Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center maintains a registry and database of descendants, events, and documents related to the historical Cherokee Nation. The center assists people in obtaining the documentation needed for tribal enrollment and operates as a repository of cultural, historical, anecdotal, and genealogical information. The public information on this website is provided as a free resource to aid in research, genealogy, and education about the Cherokee people.
The historical Cherokee Nation existed long before there were U.S. government rolls and census. The Cherokee exist today through descendants of those who remained connected as a tribal people. The three Cherokee "federally recognized tribes" have chosen to use particular Indian rolls to meet citizenship requirements. Although the U.S. government has never had real plenary power over the tribes, it continues to make decisions that affect our lives, business, economy, lands, and tribal government.
The Cherokee Nation encourages people of Cherokee heritage to take pride in their heritage and become active in heritage groups even if they are not eligible for citizenship. Many people with genuine Cherokee heritage will never meet the qualifications to become citizens in a federally recognized tribe. However, it is the duty of all people of Cherokee blood to discourage the misappropriation of Cherokee culture, and to educate themselves on the truth of our history.
In earlier times few Cherokee kept detailed records of family marriages, births, and deaths. From it's earliest beginnings as an oral history, the "Cherokee Registry" as it's known today was simply a record of the descendants of one chief. Sustained through time by a small number of Cherokee families, the names were eventually written down in Cherokee syllabary script, and later into English. This compilation was never intended to be a family secret or complete tribal roll. However, religious and political events helped shape it into much more than a private comprehensive collection of information. Genealogical notations were collected from a variety of sources including tribal rolls, family recipe books, dried gourds, and even the journals of a Cherokee medicine man. Through war, government intrusion, and tribal politics it has survived by the efforts of families like Gourd, Chunestudy, Chuckluck, and Cloud.
In the 1950's due to the health and finances of some elder maintainers, portions of the records were being kept in damp moldy cellars. In 1959 with the help of a private donor, all materials were moved to dryer conditions for preservation and organized for better access. Genealogical information was then isolated. From 1978 to 1993 this heritage collection was digitized. Beginning in 1997 the registry would be matched against historical documents. Genetic algorithms were explored to aid in new research. In 2008 the registry was opened to all descendants of the historical Cherokee Nation. Today's goals are focused on matching contributed family stories with information in the registry, historical documentation, and DNA results. We are developing better algorithms to track the movement of Cherokee families in the past.
Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center, cherokeeregistry.org and cherokeeregistry.com are owned and operated by Cherokee Nation tribal members. This is an independent entity, not affiliated with nor endorsed by any tribe, heritage group, or government agency. Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center does not claim to be and is not considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian tribe or an Indian organization for any purpose and receives no federal or state funding. There is no connection either real or inferred between the Cherokee Heritage Documentation Center and the Cherokee Heritage Center.