Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm An Indian....Honest

When Oklahoma became a state in the early 1900's all the Cherokee Indian lands were deeded out to the individual Indians. In order to do this the government made a census of all the natives and put their names on a roll, now known as the Dawes Roll. My grandmother, Pearl Anderson Kennedy was one of those whose name was put on the Roll.
Today membership in the Cherokee tribe is an important thing. People who are members get job preference at Indian business's (for example casinos), get health insurance, free commodities, help maintaining their homes, help buying, building or renting a home, scholarships, etc. So being a member carries many benefits. My Mother was a member, both my sisters are members, my nieces are members. So last year I decided I should apply for membership too.
So I downloaded the paperwork from the tribe and started work on it. The first thing I saw was that I needed an official birth certificate, something I don't have, I just have a facsimile. So I went to the California website to order one. Seeing that it took more than 3 months to get a state one I ordered a county one. Before I could order one I had to go to a Notary Public and swear that I had the right to order it, in other words that I was me and needed my birth certificate. I then mailed in the forms, including the $14.00 the paperwork said it would cost and sent it to California. After about 6 weeks I got it back, including my check, telling me the certificate cost $19.00. So I mailed a new check with the paper work (after highlighting on their paperwork where it had told me to send $14.00) and waited another 6 weeks and finally got my birth certificate. I then filled out all the Cherokee forms, included my birth certificate, my Grandmother's Roll number (from the Dawe's Roll), a copy of my sister's Tribal card and mailed it all to the Cherokees. And I waited. After 6 months I went back to their web site, checked on how long this process should take, saw that 8-10 months was normal, and waited again.
After 10 months I called them, at first they couldn't find my application, but then they did and said, "Oh, you sent a county birth certificate, we have to have a state one."
So tomorrow I'll be sending California another check, not for $14.00 , though that's still what their application says, and starting the process all over again.
But honestly, blond hair and blue eyes aside, I am an Indian.

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