"What is the Cherokee translation for _____ ?" (Fill in whatever name you'd like)

Or "I don't know the Cherokee name" and then there is always "Is _____ an Indian name? "

Does one of the above questions fit your situation?

Are you trying desperately to determine what the Cherokee name would be of your ancestor because you think it is the only way you will ever find them?

This is going to come as a surprise to you, BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER AT THIS POINT!!

Now, that's a broad statement, I know, but I will illustrate what I mean, and set your mind at ease over this one question that seems to be a hangup' for so many people.

Let's look at the Henry Blackfox family, all of them full-blood Cherokees.

Henry Blackfox applied to the Guion Miller Roll of Eastern Cherokee, application 5441. On his application summary is the following:

"Henry Blackfox and 1 child, Southwest City, MO. Admitted. Applicant and his parents enrolled in 1851 by Drennen, Delaware 796."

When we look at the Drennen Roll of 1851 in the Delaware District, Group 796, we find:

The numbers in the [] beside the names appear on the copy of the Drennen Roll which Guion Miller used in checking the applicants. The numbers were placed there by Mr. Miller or his associates. They do not appear on the original roll. You will notice that number "5441" is the Miller application number of Henry.

So, in 1851, Henry was known as Oo-na-gah or Henry and his father was Black Fox. All is well so far, but let's check further.

Henry Blackfox has a Dawes number as does his wife and children, BUT YOU WON'T FIND HENRY BLACKFOX ON THE DAWES ROLL.

Why is that?

Because on the Dawes Roll he is enrolled under the name Henry WHITE.

How did we get WHITE from BLACKFOX and then back to BLACKFOX?

I don't know. There may be an explanation on Henry's Application, or on his Dawes Roll packet. But the point is this:

His father's name was "Black Fox." Henry, at some point and time, took the last name WHITE and was still going by WHITE at the time he applied to the Dawes Commission. Then between that time (1896) and 1906 he began going by the name BLACKFOX.

There are many other full blood families whose last names were derived from many different factors. Sometimes it was a translation of the Cherokee name. Sometimes it was the last name of someone their family respected. You will also find times when a statement is made that an individual was given an anglicized last name by their commanding officer when they were in the Civil War.

The same thing applies to the half-bloods, although their last name was often the name of their white ancestor, but not always.   Many Cherokees did not take a last name until about the time of the Civil War. If they served during that war their respective army wanted TWO NAMES and either "gave" them an anglicized name or they picked one.

If your ancestor was of "mixed blood" then they probably already had a last name. Just follow that surname through the records. You may even discover that they never had an "Indian Name" - many of them didn't.

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Page created by Jerry Wright Jordan.