The Cherokee nation was broken into two bands when Andrew Jackson decided that he didn’t need to pay attention to the Supreme Courts order to not move the clans off of their land and sent the Cherokee off to Oaklahoma, creating the Trail of Tears. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee nation is the group that lives in the North Carolina and Tennesee area and are the decendants of the indians that hid out in the hills when the government began rounding them up. They currently have 56,000 acres of land in the area and claim that much of their success and wealth has come from the casino that they operate on their property.
During a demonstration we learned that they have been able to begin to reverse the near loss of their language by teaching Cherokee in an immersion class in their nursery schools, requiring a year of Cherokee in their high school, offering college level Cherokee in the nearby college and branching out to the public school system and sharing their language, customs and skills in that venue as well. What a fantastic thing to find out. When I went to Wyoming, I was devastated by the condition of the Blackfeet nation. They lived in slums that even inner city people might take a second look at. During one of my visits to a museum there, I saw a video in which members of the Blackfeet nation lamented the loss of their culture and the difficulty in keeping their tribe together and surviving. There seemed to be an inner turmoil between a part of the tribe that wanted to go the way the Cherokee and Seminole have, and build a casino, and a portion that felt as though that was selling out. In a way it is, but if you can keep commercialism in one area of your reservation to keep your culture alive in a more private area, isn’t it worth it? Wouldn’t it be basically the same as farming your land and making sure that the crop was contained in one field?
I wish I had the information available to me to do a lineage search. I am one eighth Cherokee and thus the last of my line to be considered part of the nation. At least I believe that I am, based on what my mom had told me about my great grandmother being a full blooded Cherokee. I’m pretty sure she told me that Grandma Hutt was, but since that is about the extent of the information I have, it would take some time to figure out. Guess I’ll file that in the “things to do if I ever have extra money and spare time” box.