Was Your Great-Grandmother Really a Cherokee Princess?

It seems that almost everyone has been told at one time or another that their great grandparent was a Cherokee Indian... in some cases, the stories even go so far as to suggest there was a Cherokee "princess" somewhere back there in the family bloodlines. Often, these are just old family myths passed down for whatever reasons and this is certainly the case where any type of royalty was suggested. The Cherokee people have never recognized any such thing as a Cherokee princess ... at least not since Columbus was discovered on their shores. Still there actually is Cherokee blood in many family lineages, but proving it has been a difficult matter. Until now, that is:

Dr. Tony Mack McClure, a mixed blood Cherokee and resident of Fayette County, Tennessee has released a new book entitled Cherokee Proud: A Guide for Tracing and Honoring Your Cherokee Ancestors which is being hailed as the best aid yet to either confirm or dispel those old family tales about ancestors being Cherokee.

Richard Pangburn, the well-known Bardstown, Kentucky author of the popular Indian Blood reference series found in most libraries says, "I receive a lot of books for review, but this is the very best book I have ever seen for tracing Cherokee ancestry."

According to Don Shadburn, author of Unhallowed Intrusion and other noted historical reference books dealing with the Trail of Tears era, "The contents of Cherokee Proud are exceptional - valuable information that can be used by so many readers and researchers who have Native American Ancestry."

The comprehensive text offers a reasonable explanation for the "princess" theory, but more importantly, includes complete authoritative listings and sources of original data for all Cherokee census and payrolls dating back to 1817 with explanations of their contents; little known sections of Federal U.S. Census records that include separate Native American listings; scores of bibliographical history references that include Cherokee surnames; addresses of all archives known to house important historical records pertaining to the Cherokee people; detailed information on recognition and enrollment in all known tribes; suggested ways to honor Cherokee ancestors; traditional, contemporary dress illustrations; and a brief Cherokee history with maps and photos.

Realizing that so few libraries, especially those in rural areas, have little or no reference material on the subject of Cherokee ancestry, Dr. McClure decided to remedy this shortcoming by publishing Cherokee Proud and giving free copies to all state and federal archives and all public libraries in the nine states crossed by the infamous Trail of Tears.

Over 1500 copies have been donated throughout the Southeast since the book came out. Proceeds from individual and bookstore sales are used to finance free copies for additional libraries.

"At first I wasn't so sure I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew," laughs Dr. McClure. "There are a lot of libraries out there! But already, individual response has far exceeded my expectations. There are even more people than I thought who are seriously interested in following up on family traditions of Native ancestry and many are finding the answers to their questions by using my book."

Dr. McClure is producer-director for the Bill Dance Outdoors National Television Series seen weekly on The Nashville Network, an avid writer, and certified member of the Native American Journalists Association. One of his Cherokee great-grandfathers, John Bryant, was in the party of pioneers headed by Davy Crockett who first settled Gibson County, Tennessee in the early 1800's. This was Crockett's last home before his demise at the Alamo.

"Our Cherokee heritage has always been a matter of great pride for my family," Dr. McClure said in a recent interview, "even in times when it wasn't at all popular to be Indian. People ask me every day if Iím part Indian. I always reply with a smile, "No - actually, I'm part white!" I suppose the title of my book kind of says it all.

This version of Cherokee Proud is no longer available in print.

Copyright © 1997 Tony Mack (McClure), Ph.D.

E-mail: CheroProud@aol.com

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