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My Cherokee Heritage and General Cherokee History

I started my genealogy search when I was in 8th grade. DNA testing led me to Saint Luke, Napoleon Bonaparte, & Marie Antoinette.


Characteristics of Native Americans

I found out not too long ago that my maternal Haplogroup comes from European men having taken Cherokee wives. Therefore, I have continued my research into this part of my heritage. I found many to be quite fascinating.

Physical characteristics that I exhibit are noted in ( ).

  • High cheekbones. (They were higher when I was younger.)
  • Almond shaped almost oriental looking eyes. (Something that is quite obvious that I have.)
  • Heavy “fat” eyelids where the eyelid appears to have an extra fold. (I believe I have this as well.)
  • “Shovel” teeth, the teeth have a ledge on the backside. Run your tongue across them; they feel almost like a shovel shape.
  • Large front teeth with a slight or more than slight gap. (No gap.)
  • Lack of the Carabelli cusp on the maxillary first molars (a little bump), which is missing in Native Americans.
  • Large heavy earlobes.
  • An inverted breastbone. Often called a Chicken Breast. The bone actually makes an indentation in the chest.
  • Little toes that lie under the next one.
  • A second toe longer than the big toe. (I have this)
  • A wider space between the big toe and second one. (I have this)
  • A straight back, which means a flat butt (My youngest brother has this one.)
  • An extra ridge of bone along the outside of the foot.
  • “Lingual nodes,” the two bony nodes that protrude from the jaw bone under the tongue.
  • A pigmentation in the back of the eye on the retina peculiar to Native Americans.

In addition to the listed characteristics, Native Americans also have the following:

  • Higher occurrence of hypoglycemia. (I have this, and apparently so does my son.)
  • Higher occurrence of Type-2 Diabetes. (My son and I both need to watch out for this.)

***Just FYI, when I was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia, the doctor told me that it could very easily switch to diabetes. It has been 18 years since my Hypoglycemic diagnosis and diabetes has not reared its ugly head. My hope is that my son will have the same success that I have had in keeping diabetes at bay.

  • Thyroid conditions Hypo and Hyper are often found in those with Native Ancestry. (My mom has this)
  • Alcoholism is due to the lack of an enzyme to convert the alcohol in the bloodstream.
  • Oclesia of the Esophagus – the last muscle in the esophagus becomes too strong and closes off after just a few bites and the person can not swallow anymore.
  • Heart Disease. (My maternal grandmother, who is the line of Cherokee Indian died of a heart attack. My Aunt has been put on Lipitor. My younger brothers have been on Lipitor or still are/have been for awhile now. I was just put on Lipitor as well. Our direct connection to this gene.)
  • Arthritis. (My mom has this, and I won't be surprised when I get it to.)
  • Kidney problems, most likely related to the occurrence of diabetes.
  • Native Americans are harder to match to for blood transfusions and marrow donations due to their antigens being harder to match. This is usually in cases of cancer where this is needed. (Wonder if this could mean that even though my children have the same blood type as their father, he still will not be able to match them in this??)
  • Pudgy jowls that most Native American women end up with as they age. (I got this.)

Therefore, physical characteristics to the Native Americans is not limited to just the traditional dark hair, high cheekbones, nose shape and darker skin that most people associate with them. However, not all Cherokees possess these physical features, due to early contact with Scottish and German miners in the southeast. Some Cherokees can be blond, blue-eyed and fair-skinned. Cherokee men are typically between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 5 inches tall, with women usually being less than 6 inches shorter. Interestingly, Cherokees may gain some of their physical features from Middle Eastern people, as their DNA has trace similarities with that of Egyptians, Turks, Lebanese, Hebrews and Mesopotamians.


The Cherokee Indians settled in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. They did not live in tipis; contrary to popular belief, the only Indians to live in tipis were the nomadic Plains Indians. The Cherokee were relatively settled in their communities and built their more durable homes close to where they grew their crops. At the time of the first contact with European settlers, the Cherokee villages were permanent communities consisting of about 30 to 60 dwellings surrounded by agricultural fields.

The Cherokee Indians needed resilient housing to protect themselves from the elements. In winter, they covered their woven sapling log cabins with mud to keep out the frigid air and snow. During summer, the Cherokee resided in larger dwellings with grass and bark roofs to let in more light and air.

Though friendly with the European settlers, the Cherokee tribe sided with the British during the American Revolution, even participating in a few attacks against the colonists.

After gold was discovered on Cherokee lands in the 1830s, the Indian Removal Act was passed. Many fled to North Carolina or the Appalachian Mountains to avoid being forcefully relocated. In violation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, President Andrew Jackson ordered those that remained to be taken into custody and placed in an internment camp in preparation for this "Indian removal." Many died in the internment camp.

Those that survived were forced to march 1,000 miles to Oklahoma, an event that became known as the Trail of Tears. (Which is kind of funny to me now. Because I had my own Trail of Tears in June 2013, when I left NC for MO. Who says life isn't a circle?) Thousands of people died during this arduous journey; others succumbed to illness and injuries sustained on this march once they arrived in their new lands.

The Cherokee quickly rebuilt their community, which eventually grew to include newspapers, schools and churches. Today, more Cherokees live in Oklahoma than any other state, and their communities are federally protected

Natural resources to make weapons

To make stone weapons, arrowheads and spear points, Cherokees sharpened rocks using harder rocks or deer antlers. They also used rocks to create grooves in stones and wrapped string made out of rawhide around the grooves, so they could attach the arrowheads or spear points to a wooden handle made from a branch. If a piece of wood had a knot in it, that was used to hold the head of the weapon in place.

Blowguns were made of long pieces of wood and were filled with darts made out of hardwoods. To poison the dart, the Cherokees tricked venomous snakes into biting rotten meat, which the Cherokees dipped their darts into. Thistledown was attached to the darts to create a seal in the blowgun. They also used poisonous plant extracts to poison their darts.

To make fishing hooks, Cherokees used fish bones, another natural resource, or sticks. They also harvested clay to make pottery.

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The Cherokee believe that decisions affecting the entire tribe must be met and discussed as a group. They treated each other with respect and believed that bad deeds are always punished, so they are careful to avoid committing them. When the Europeans arrived in the New World, the Cherokee were quick to welcome them with open arms. They often intermarried with the newcomers and incorporated their foods, philosophies and languages into their own culture. Their open and adaptable nature has allowed them to survive as a tribe into the 21st century, despite the incredible hardships their people have suffered.



The Cherokee claim to have always lived in the southeast region of the United States. Their lifestyle was that of an agricultural society. They lived in permanent settlements along the banks of rivers, raised crops and hunted wild game. The Cherokee are matrilineal, with the line of descent passing through the mother. Men were in charge of hunting and fishing while women tended the gardens, growing vegetables and herbs for both food and medicine.

Earthling or Grounding

I have read much about 'earthing or grounding' techniques, because I have experienced their benefits personally. When I had problems sleeping as a child, (what can I say, I was an over thinker) my grandmother, while I was in Canada visiting, sat with me on the ground, where I finally fell asleep. When I woke up from my nap, my grandmother was back in the house, tending to her daily routine. I had awakened from one of the best naps I ever had. Completely surprised that I had fallen asleep.

The benefits of 'earthing' can reduce inflammation, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and promote deeper sleep, increase energy, lower stress, improve blood pressure and blood flow, relieve muscle tension and headaches, lessen hormonal symptoms, speeds healing time, reduce jet lag, protect body against environmental electromagnetic fields and even accelerate recovery from intense athletic activity.

Of course, everybody is different, and not everyone will get the same results with 'earthing'. Some research has shown that the body reacts with muscles relaxing and stress starts to dissipate. Within 30 minutes to 90 minutes you may start to notice a real difference with pain levels, stress, calmness, easier to get to sleep or just feeling better than before.

The bottom line is that some people experience Earthing benefits quickly and for others it may take time. Apparently, it worked rather quickly when I was an adolescent. The experience of Native American ancestry just came, beautifully, through into my childhood. (My grandmother will be 97 March 2018)

Cherokee Celebrities

Cher - actor/singer

Kevin Costner - actor

Johnny Depp - actor

Cameron Diaz -actor

Crystal Gale - country singer

James Garner - actor

Jimi Hendrix - musician, singer and song writer

Loretta Lynn - country singer

Chuck Norris - actor

Dolly Parton - country singer

Burt Reynolds - actor, director

Will Rogers - entertainer, roper, journalist, author

Quentin Tarantino - film director


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Jackie Summerford Waldrop on April 22, 2020:

My grandmother's grandpa was a Cherokee medicine man. Im very proud of my Cherokee heritage.

carol luna on March 03, 2020:

in 1600 my great great great grandma is a cherokee. thats on my moms side. my great. grandpas great great grandma. thats my grannys dad. but they all are dead. i love being part cherokee.

Robert Feltner on January 29, 2020:

Yep, I’m Cherokee!!!!! My Dad’s Family for Hazard, KY were the Combs. His Mom has Type 2 Diabetes and so did he. I have the Chicken Breast Chest and the Shovel Teeth!!!!! My Great Great Grandfather was Black Ed Combs, he was 100% Cherokee. Look me up on Facebook, Robert Lee

Pathways thru life (author) from Mid West on November 21, 2019:

How would I do that without sharing my information for you to send it??

Penny on November 21, 2019:

Heyy can i send you a pic and tell me if I'm native American?

Me on November 09, 2019:

unfortunately, those who have Native American blood running through their veins of color are not represented. African Americans and people of color are largely incorporated in the Native American Social climate. We do not hear much about them for whatever reason. They exist and are beautiful people.

Stacey on May 19, 2019:

Interested in learning the NA surnames. I have been told by researchers that a lot of the people claiming to be Indians were actually mulligans.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 01, 2019:

@ Tigrelily: Check out FamilySearch, the genealogy website of the Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) It is free and the LDS has research on people going back to Rome, maybe farther. They have a vested interest in genealogy and could already have genealogy on your family. I was shocked to find I descended from Julius Caesar's cousin and Charlemagne. But disappointedly, neither my Choctaw or Eastern Band Cherokee line showed up there.

Tigrelily on May 01, 2019:

I am glad to see that others believe what I suspected, that 23 and Me and Other DNA tests show 100% European even if you know you have Cherokee blood. I have the shovel type front teeth (it feels that way anyway) and lack of rear end. We have been told we are related to the Will Rogers family line. Haven’t yet hired a genealogist to prove that yet though so still uncertain. ??

Pathways thru life (author) from Mid West on April 17, 2019:

I have heard the same stories too. However, I found a French and Indian Trading post Museum in Washington MO, about 45 minutes away from where I live....I took my parents and brothers there....Turns out the trading post was run by a pair of Roy (my maiden name) brothers from Quebec, and their families....Their brides were Native American

Jessica on April 17, 2019:

This is pretty cool to read. I have heard my entire life that I have NA ancestery and have some of the gentic traits, like shovel shaped incisors, darker skin tone, and a torus palatinus. My family were poor historians so not a lot of records to find any proof. I decided to do a DNA test and it says Im 100% European and shows that I have Italian DNA link. Have never heard of any ancestors from Italy. Good to know that it may not be very accurate after grand parents. My paternal greatgrandmother was supposedly part Cherokee and was kind of sad to think my family family may have lied about this for years.

Anna Laura on October 29, 2018:

The various rolls enumerating the Cherokee can be very helpful as well as the hard work of genealogy.. the simple DNA tests offered from many sources are not as much help as people have been led to expect. You can begin your genealogy research most easily if your family actually has some family records and you can purchase the books with all of the rolls to look for your ancestors. If you find ancestors who were indeed successfully registered then, you need to have the proof documents that link you to them(ie Birth and death records, marriage records, censuses, etc....again, a lot of research is required.

Brenda on August 10, 2018:

Family roots Eastern and Western European, missing piece of the puzzle also part Native American East Coast. Not certain of tribe, I think I might be part Mic Mac. If I'm correct that would be great. The slightest amount of info, trying to piece together a puzzle for some years. Hoping to locate a paper trail. Its my belief my native ancestry was located in New Hampshire. I live in Massachusetts, got many of the genes just want more info. I'm 68, elders have passed, The Native lineage should be found, its a means to end the puzzle for those of us proud to be native..

Pathways thru life (author) from Mid West on August 05, 2018:

No worries Mizbejabbers. I have a lot going on right now. Thanks.

Mizbejabbers on August 05, 2018:

Pathways, I hope you don't mind my chiming in here to answer Barbara's question because I can speak only for my family and for a couple of Native American tribal members whom I've met. The ones in my family, great grandmothers, who claimed to be white were born in the late 1800s at a time when 1) people were ashamed to have any kind of non-Caucasian blood. One of my great grandmothers kept telling people that she was "Black Dutch." It was later found through genealogy research that her paternal line actually was a race referred to as "Black Dutch" (Jewish from Germany), but her mother probably was Native American or at least part NA. A family tale was that the men of that line preferred to marry "Indian women."

The second and most scary reason Native Americans hid out when tribal rolls were being written and lied about their race was that their children could be taken from them by the U.S. government and placed in "Indian schools" (boarding institutions that tried to take away their tribal identities). This occurred even after Native Åmericans finally received U.S. citizenship in 1924.

I knew a Nez Perce woman who said that her father was a tribal member and her mother was white. She and her sister were taken from their family in the 1930s and placed in one of these institutions. They ran away. When this happened, their mother actually divorced their father for their sakes and moved to another state. She was allowed to keep her daughters only by breaking up their home. So the Cherokee weren't the only ones who claimed to be white if they could pass for white.

Barbara Evans on August 05, 2018:

Why did the Cherokee state they were white on the censes ???

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 02, 2018:

Pathways, certainly, add it if you like. It is a well-known trait of Native Americans here where I live. Now that both my husband and I have had DNA tests, I can't help but add another comment. These DNA test websites like Ancestry, National Geographic, and 23andMe have certainly lost my trust. They are not picking up Native American DNA any farther back than parents and grandparents. They do warn the user that they don't, but by leaving out non-European DNA, they are sure creating a lot of "all-White" people in this country. I have Native American ancestry in three of my great-grandmothers, yet 23andMe says that I am 100% European. It also did not pick up my Jewish ancestry from one of the great grandmothers who also has Native American ancestry.

When he was a child, my husband used to visit his Cherokee great grandmother on the reservation. His father told me that his mother was a Cherokee full-blood, (which I have some doubt) and that his father was half Cherokee. Yet my husband is 100% European, according to 23andMe. My cousin's test showed the same result, and she is telling around that we aren't Native American at all, "that's just an old family story." I don't think all our families were lied to by our ancestors. It seems to me to be a disservice to people if they can't offer tests more accurate than these.

Of course, all our grandmas and grandpas can't be "full-bloods" as so many people say because by the 1800s so many white people had been assimilated into their tribes, and their genetics already present. Tribes didn't discriminate between full-bloods and adopted members from other races, so I can see where there would be some confusion between "full tribal member" and "full-blood," but that much...really?

Willis on May 01, 2018:

1/16 Cherokee here.

My grandfather had the large hands and distinctive nose shape common to many Cherokee people. His grandmother (my gg-grandmother) was full Cherokee, but lived as a "white woman" after marrying her husband.

Cathy Carlin on October 26, 2017:

Where did you get your information about Cherokees ?

Pathways thru life (author) from Mid West on April 01, 2017:

It's funny that you mention "straight back and flat butt," my youngest brother has that one to a tee. I will have to make sure that I add it to the list. If you don't mind, of course?

I know an 82 year old Cherokee Native American who is from the Ozark area. He has children who actually lives in Arkansas too. Pretty interesting stuff.

Thanks for the comment.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 31, 2017:

Excellent and informative article about "our" people. A program on the History Channel (so I can't vouch for the truth of it) said that our forefathers admired the Cherokee democracy so much that they modeled the U.S.A.'s democratic republic after it. From 1817 through 1828 lands were set aside in the Ozark Mountains in what was to become Arkansas for Native Americans, and those who came at that time were referred to as the "Cherokee Old Settlers". My parents home was located just 5 miles east of the Eastern border of this land.

I trace one line back to 1811, the Eastern Band in VA, but I have a couple of other lines that I suspect, but haven't been able to prove were Cherokee from their settling in TN. I have many of the characteristics that you listed, including one that you left out, the "straight back" which is a nice way of saying "flat butt." LOL

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 25, 2017:

This is a fascinating hub, I know that my great, great grandmother was in the "Trail of Tears" when she was a child, this is on my mother's side of my family. On my father's side my great, great grandmother full blood Cherokee who married a man was half Cherokee. These are facts from researching genealogy.

Thank you for all the information.

Blessings my friend

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