David Cornsilk: Clearing up misconceptions about Cherokee ancestry

David Cornsilk. Photo from Facebook

Cherokee genealogist David Cornsilk explains why professor Andrea Smith isn't Cherokee even though she claims she will "always be Cherokee" despite her lack of proof:
In the 1990s, Andrea Smith sought me out as a Cherokee genealogist, on two separate occasions, to see if she had any connections. My research into Smith’s ancestry showed that her ancestry was not connected to the Cherokee people. In the subsequent years, many have challenged her identity including representatives of the Cherokee Nation. In those ensuing years, she has had ample opportunity to come forth with proof of her Cherokee claims. Instead, she has admitted to not being Cherokee or promised to stop claiming Cherokee; but perhaps because the foundation of her work as a ‘woman of color’ depended upon making others believe her claim she would back paddle and like a drug addict, fall off the truth wagon. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed in the evidence of her ancestry that would lead me to believe she is or even might be of Cherokee descent.

Smith’s supporters don't like to be shown so lacking in knowledge of all things Indian; unwilling to admit they got duped by Smith. They are fully invested in her web of lies that they are willing to throw tribal sovereignty and self-determination under the proverbial bus. If they adore Smith's work, more power to ‘em. But do not let your love of one person's work blind you to the dangers false claims of Indian identity carry within it. Andrea Smith and all those like her are nothing more than the latest incarnation of settler colonial violence. Their apologists and collaborators are nothing new either.

Cherokees are among the best documented people in the world. We probably come in 3rd after royalty and Mormons. Very likely, we are claimed by many more. Our blood quantums range from 4/4 to 1/8192. All are embraced as equal, though not 100% Indian, they are 100% Cherokee. What all real Cherokees have in common is proof of ancestry whether they can enroll or not.

Get the Story:
David Cornsilk: An Open Letter to Defenders of Andrea Smith: Clearing Up Misconceptions about Cherokee Identification (Indian Country Today 7/10)

Also Today:
Andrea Smith: 'I Have Always Been, and Will Always Be Cherokee.' (Colorlines 7/10)
Tribes Blast ‘Wannabe’ Native American Professor (The Daily Beast 7/11)

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