The English Cherokee ( IPA : ˈtʃɛrəkiː ; German Tscherokesen , own name Tsalagi ( Cherokee ᏣᎳᎩ ), originally also Aniyunwiya ( ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ Aniyvwiya ) and Anikituhwagi ( ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ Anigiduwagi )) are the largest still existing indigenous people in North America . Their settlement area originally comprised the area from the Ohio River to what is now the US states of Georgia and Alabama . With theChickasaw , Choctaw , Muskogee and Seminoles they were counted among the five civilized nations in 1820 .
Origin of name
In 1708, the English first met speakers of the Elati dialect (R dialect) of the Cherokee language ( ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ Tsalagi Gawonihisdi ), who called themselves Tsa-ra-gi , hence the English settlers called these Cherokee . Coming from the south, however, the Spaniards first met speakers of the Otali dialect (L dialect), who called themselves Tsa-la-gi . Hence the Spanish name, first mentioned in 1755, as Tchalaquei or Chalaque . Since the Elati dialect is no longer spoken, today's Cherokee call themselves: Tsi-tsa-la-gi - 'I am a Cherokee', literally 'I am a Tsa-la-gi' or simply as Tsalagi ( ᏣᎳᎩ ).
The correct name the Cherokee use to designate themselves, however, is Aniyvwiyaʔi ( ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ , ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ Aniyvwiya , German 'Real or First People' , derived from Yun-wi 'Person' , ya 'Real' or 'First' and the prefix Ani , Singular: yun-wi-yah ) or Anikituhwagi ( ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ Anigiduwagi , German 'People of Kituhwa' , a city that once belonged to the Middle Towns and is considered the oldest city by the Cherokee and its mother city ).
Because of the language relationship, it is assumed that the Cherokee originally descended from the Iroquois . They formed their own people as early as 1300. At the time of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Cherokee were the most powerful people in the eastern part of North America . They inhabited an area of about 60,000 square kilometers in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains .
They had their first contact with Europeans around 1540, when the Spanish conqueror Hernando de Soto came north from Florida to their area. Since the Spaniards were only interested in gold and silver , they responded to Cherokee hospitality with murder and violence. In 1654 the first contacts with the English came about . After some fighting, the Cherokee came to one of the first trade agreements with the white settlers in 1684. They traded in skins and slaves (prisoners from other Indian tribes) in return for weapons, tools and animals for farming.
Although another trade treaty was signed with the colony of South Carolina in 1721 , which strengthened trade ties and clearly defined the border between the colony and the Cherokee, the Cherokee also began to establish trade relations with the Alabama- based French, especially as they were also more respected by them . To prevent an alliance with the French , Sir Alexander Cuming came as a negotiator from the British Crown with the mandate to bind the Cherokee more closely to England. In 1730, seven representatives of the tribe, accompanied by Cuming, traveled to England to conclude a friendship and trade agreement with King George II . Another treaty, signed in Charleston in 1743 , guaranteed England sole trade with the Cherokee while ensuring that all white non-British descent were expelled from Cherokee territory. In return, England supplied weapons and ammunition.
In the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763 the Cherokee fought faithfully on the British side, which finally won the war and drove the French out. After the Pontiac Uprising of 1763, the royal proclamation that British settlers should stay east of the Appalachians and that the area west of it was reserved for the Indians caused resentment among the settlers. The settlers ignored the proclamation and advanced further west into the Cherokee area.
In the American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783, the Cherokee once again stood loyally on the side of the British. After the British lost the War of Independence, the Cherokee sought support from Spain in 1793. President George Washington (1732–1799) assured the Cherokee that they would receive training and support and serve as models for integrating other Native American peoples. The Cherokee accepted the offer and thus took over the political and economic structures of the whites. This agreement did not save this Native American tribe from being ultimately driven out by the Americans.
In 1820, the Cherokee Nation was founded in the tribal areas of Georgia and Alabama, and a system of government modeled on the USA was established. The Western Cherokee, also known as the Keetoowah Cherokee , agreed to the relocation in an 1828 treaty and received promised land in northeast Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Cherokee continued to oppose and oppose forced relocation.
On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) signed the Indian Removal Act and thus resolved the forcible expulsion of the Cherokee from their tribal areas and resettlement to Oklahoma. Gold was found in the Cherokee area of Georgia at the time. Cherokee's lawsuit before the US Supreme Court was upheld in 1832 and the law was annulled. However, President Jackson defied the verdict and ordered the eviction of 18,000 Cherokee. In 1835 Jackson succeeded in persuading a few tribal members to consent to their expulsion, which he had made palatable to them with a payment of US $ 5.7 million and land promises in the Indian Territory. Jackson signed the contract, even though it went against the will of a majority of 90% of the Cherokee. About 1,000 members of the tribe escaped, the rest were escorted by the US Army . More than 4,000 Cherokee died on the Trail of Tears from 1838 to 1839.
Those Cherokee who escaped evacuation now refer to themselves as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians ; the two groups that settled in Oklahoma are called the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians .
In 1859 the Keetoowah Society was formed in order to maintain its traditional property and to fight against slavery . In the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, the Keetoowah Cherokee fought on the side of the Northern States . The other two Cherokee tribes sided with the Confederation . For them the slave trade and slave keeping were part of their tribal culture.
In 1887, the General Allotment Act was passed, which stipulated that land that previously belonged to the Indian tribes now had to be allocated to private persons. From 1889 on, unallocated land of Indian territories was given to white settlers.
In 1898, the Curtis Act banned Indian tribes from holding tribal courts. This was followed in 1907 by the abolition and prohibition of a separate tribal government. In 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act returned land to the tribes and allowed them to self-govern again. In 1961, the Cherokee received $ 15 million in compensation from the US Claims Commission for looted land. A 96 mile segment of the Arkansas River was awarded to the Cherokee by the US Supreme Court in 1970.
In 1984, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation held their first joint tribal council meeting in 146 years. This was followed in 1988 together with the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, a first joint commemorative event for the Trail of Tears from (1838-1839). After the self-government agreement was signed in 1990, the first tribal election for self-government took place in 1991.
Decimation of the population
From the Spanish conquerors to the American Civil War, the tribal population was decimated considerably by armed conflicts and by murder and expulsion by the Europeans. In addition, the Europeans brought in numerous diseases to which the Indian population was not resistant enough. In two major smallpox epidemics in 1738 and 1753, more than half of the Cherokee tribal population was killed. How large the Cherokee tribe was when the Spaniards arrived is not known. If British estimates from 1674 are to be believed, the Cherokee tribe is said to have comprised around 50,000 members at the time. Around 20,000-25,000 were assumed after the smallpox epidemics, around a quarter died in the Civil War and around a quarter died on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.
Language and writing
In total, there were three different dialects of the Cherokee language:
- Elati dialect (Lower Cherokee, Eastern Cherokee, R dialect)
- Kituhwa dialect (Middle Cherokee, L dialect) as well
- Otali dialect (Upper Cherokee, Western Cherokee, Overhill Cherokee, L dialect)
The Elati dialect (Lower Cherokee, Eastern Cherokee, R dialect) is now extinct. It was spoken in Cherokee cities in what is now South Carolina, which were the first to make contact with the English. Because of the wars in the 18th and 19th centuries, from which these Cherokee suffered particularly, the Elati dialect died out around 1900.
Because of its isolation, the Kituhwa dialect (Middle Cherokee, L dialect) was less influenced by neighboring indigenous cultures and languages.
The Otali dialect (Upper Cherokee, Western Cherokee, Overhill Cherokee, L dialect) is the softest and most musical of the Cherokee language.
From 1809 to 1819 Sequoyah (1770–1843), son of a Cherokee and a European trader, developed his own syllabary for his people, the Cherokee alphabet . This font was also distributed via the Cherokee's first newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix , published from 1828 . The script is still used and taught today, even though only around 10% of Cherokee can speak their native language today.
The font was included in Unicode 3.0.0 in 1999 and has since been used in an internationally standardized way in data processing.
The traditional religion of the Cherokee was both animistic and polytheistic : the whole world was considered to be populated by spirits who lived in certain places and certain animal spirits were associated with the four cardinal points; Various gods lived in heaven, especially the sun goddess. Together with her brother Mond, both gods were respectfully addressed as grandparents, although there was no human lineage associated with them. Other gods were z. B. the thunderer, two sons of thunder and the "deified river". Fire was seen to represent the sun on earth. The smoke that rose from the flames of the sacred council fire carried the prayers of the people and various food offerings up to the spirits. The morning star embodied a renegade priest who fled to heaven when some warriors tried to punish him for the evil spell he had cast in their villages. Since that time the shining star has wandered across the firmament. In addition to the upper world, where the gods lived, and the human world, the Cherokee also adopted an underworld, home to evil monsters such as Uktena , the winged serpent.
Religion and everyday life were closely interwoven, and the myths , cult and ceremonies, beliefs , taboos and religious- social norms were extremely complex. The most important ceremony was the busk , the green corn ceremony: like almost all ceremonies, it had to do with agriculture. It was held at the end of September before the great harvest. The celebrations lasted four days. First everyone involved washed in the river. They then burned the branch of a tree that was struck by lightning. The Cherokee considered this wood sacred. Then they honored the sun, which had given them the harvest, with dances and songs. There were also rituals to heal the sick. The medicine man (Didahnvsisgi) had duties as a priest and healer.
Yowa , the "common force behind the apparitions" , also played an important role . The name was considered so sacred that it was only allowed to be pronounced by members of the priestly caste (Ani-Kutani) . Yowa is similar to Wakan Sioux both a deity and an impersonal force acting in all of creation. Moreover, Yowa is sometimes referred to as the unity of the "three oldest fires" Uhahetaqua , Atanoti and Usquahula , which represent Yowa's will or intention, action or mediation, love or compassion as three facets of the "innumerable ways". It is translated today as Jehovah . This is possibly a mythification of Christian ideas that the adventurer and ex-Jesuit Christian Gottlieb Prieber brought with him in the early 18th century. Men and women who had Yowa were capable of special deeds, good or bad. They became healers, magicians, fortune tellers, magicians or witches.
Since the Cherokee voluntarily adapted to the lifestyle of the Euro-Americans immediately after the founding of the USA, they also opened up to the Christian religion, which was so successful with hardly any other tribe: Moravians , Presbyterians , Baptists , Methodists and other evangelical missions contributed the Cherokee and converted them very successfully until the 1820s, although there was also resistance against the missionaries . When the forced relocation was decided in 1830, most missionaries defended the interests of the Christianized Indians as a moral obligation of the United States. Since they, too, could not change the will of the government, many Cherokee turned away from the new religion in frustration.
According to the 2010 census, the United States had 819,105 Cherokee or Cherokee people. They were by far the largest Indian ethnic group in the United States. Of the approximately 281,000 Cherokee of pure descent counted in the US in the 2000 census, approximately 97,300 came from Oklahoma , approximately 13,000 from North Carolina , approximately 9,000 Alabama , around 5,600 from Georgia , around 5,500 from Tennessee and around 3,000 from South Carolina . The rest of them live scattered in the other states.
Economically speaking, the Cherokee are doing relatively well today. For example, in the last 30 to 40 years the Cherokee Nation organization has seen a number of industries that provide tribal people with modern jobs and secure their income (Cherokee CRC, LLC (CCRC) Professional and Environmental Service, Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Industries, Cherokee Nation Business to name a few). Cherokee Nation itself, as self-governing and organized like a government, had a budget of around $ 380 million in 2006.
From the beginning, the Cherokee had adapted to the white invaders more than any other Indian tribes in North America. This adaptation and the adoption of European structures has given them at least a relative economic success. The invasion of the white settlers was a catastrophe for their culture and their identity, they are still fighting today to restore their culture and identity.
One of the most famous Cherokee is the actor Wes Studi . He played u. a. in films like The Doors , Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans . In the film Geronimo - Eine Legende he embodies the famous Apache chief in the leading role.
Well-known personalities whose ancestors are Cherokee descendants include a. Hollywood stars like Johnny Depp , Kevin Costner , Val Kilmer , Chuck Norris and Burt Reynolds , the rock 'n' roll singer Elvis Presley , the singer and actress Cher and the singer and guitarist Jimi Hendrix .
Federally recognized Cherokee tribes
More than 200 groups claim to belong to the Cherokee, but only three have been recognized by the federal government - are so-called federally recognized tribes . In addition, there are groups recognized by individual states (state recognized tribes, state recognized groups) , but their criteria are much less strict and sometimes contradictory. The three recognized groups defend themselves against often undetectable claims, including by individuals, to descend from the Cherokee.
The Cherokee Nation was founded in the Georgia and Alabama tribal area in 1820. After the forced relocation to Oklahoma and the establishment of Oklahoma in 1907, the Cherokee tribal government was dissolved and the Cherokee lost the right to choose their leader and speak their language. By signing the Congressional Act by President Richard Nixon , the occupiers restored the Cherokee to self-government. The surviving Cherokees regrouped and formed one of the most successful organizations of the American Indian population.
From 1985 to 1995, Wilma Pearl Mankiller, born in 1945, was the first female chief of the Cherokee nation. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, the highest civil honor in the United States. She died on April 6, 2010. The principal chief is currently Chuck Hoskin, Jr. (since 2019).
The motto of the Cherokee Nation are “The five Cs” for: “Country” - to exercise the sovereignty of one's own nation, “Competence” - to maximize organization and efficiency, “Capacity” ( Capacity) - helping one's own country people, “Community” - supporting and strengthening tribal members, “Culture” - speaking and singing one's own language.
The Cherokee Nation claims to have approximately 230,000 members today. The members of the Cherokee Nation speak the Otali dialect (Upper Cherokee, Western Cherokee, Overhill Cherokee, L dialect) of the Cherokee language (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi ).
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB)
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ) see themselves as descendants of Cherokee, who previously lived in the former Cherokee city of Keetoowah ( abbreviated from Kituhwa ), which was once one of the Middle Towns and is close along the Tuckasegee River what is now Bryson City. The Cherokee believe that Kituhwa is the oldest Cherokee city. They called themselves Keetoowah , Kituhwah , Ani 'Kituhwagi , Anigiduwagi (' People of Kituhwa ') or Anitsalagi . In 1828 they were relocated to Oklahoma following contractual promises by the government.
After the displacement and the threatened loss of language and identity, the Keetoowah Nighthawk Society was formed as a secret society with the aim of preserving language, culture and customs and protecting itself from censorship and reprisals by the United States .
This group later helped form the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma in 1946. This group of Cherokee speaks the Kituhwa dialect (Middle Cherokee, L dialect) of the Cherokee language (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi ).
Today about 12,000 members of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians live in northeast Oklahoma. The organization is the political representation of the tribe and a helper in all situations for its members.
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians requires at least a quarter of Cherokee ancestry to become a member. In addition, all tribal members must be able to demonstrate verifiable agreements from a person of Cherokee descent from either the Dawes Roll or the UKB Base Roll of 1949.
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI)
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (ᏣᎳᎩᏱ ᏕᏣᏓᏂᎸᎩ, proper name: Tsalagiyi Detsadanilvgi ) has its administrative headquarters in Cherokee within the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina, approx. 96 km west of Asheville , North Carolina, approx. 130 km east of Knoxville , Tennessee and 170 miles north of Atlanta , Georgia. The Qualla Boundary is not a reservation, but a so-called land trust of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA, 'Office for Indian Affairs') and is located south of the Great Smoky Mountains (and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ) and the Blue Ridge Parkway . In addition, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians owns land rights in the vicinity as well as up to 170 km from the Qualla Boundary, so that all areas cover approximately 213 km². However, all of these areas had to be purchased by the Cherokee from the US government after they had wrested their tribal territory from them. Of the approximately 13,400 tribe members today, approximately 9,000 live on the tribe's lands. The tribal members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are mostly descendants of Cherokee who are listed on the Baker Rolls of Cherokee Indians.
They are also often referred to as Oconaluftee Cherokees , after a former village called Oconaluftee, along the Oconaluftee River near what is now the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Oconaluftee is the only known permanently inhabited Cherokee village within the national park.
In 1827 self-government was organized by the Cherokee North Carolinas. The tribal members of today's Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians descend from Cherokee, who were able to successfully claim their land rights. In addition, of the descendants of those who were able to successfully evade the forced relocation of the Cherokee to Oklahoma (so-called Trail of Tears of 1838, Nu na da ul tsun yi - 'the Place Where They Cried') in the west by moving to their native southern Appalachian Mountains hid or, despite the vast distance, returned on foot from the west to their ancient tribal territory. After the state of North Carolina had assured the Cherokee their tribal territory in 1865, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was recognized as an independent tribe three years later in 1868. On December 1, 1870, tribal government was introduced.
Today only about 900 tribal members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians within the Qualla Boundary speak the Kituhwa dialect (Middle Cherokee, L dialect) of the Cherokee language (ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi ), 72% of whom are over 50 years old .
State recognized tribes of the Cherokee
- Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama (formerly Cherokees of Jackson County, Alabama , administrative seat is Woodville, Alabama, approx. 3,000 tribal members)
- Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama (administrative seat is Falkville, Alabama, was officially recognized by the State of Alabama as a tribe under the Davis - Strong Act in 1984 - State Recognition )
- United Cherokee Ani-Yun-Wiya Nation (UCAN) (formerly United Cherokee Intertribal , administrative headquarters is Guntersville, Alabama)
- Cherokees of Southeast Alabama (administrative seat is Dothan, Alabama)
- Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians (descendants of all five civilized tribes , but the majority are Creek and Cherokee, many have Creek and Cherokee ancestors at the same time)
The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (also Dahlonega Band or Cane Break Band , administrative headquarters is Dahlonega, Georgia, officially recognized by Georgia in 1993 with GA Code OCGA 44-12-300 as a state recognized tribe , not identical to the non- state recognized eponymous tribe in Cumming resident Cherokee group, only legitimate state recognized Eastern Cherokee) - another three unrecognized tribes of the same name (so-called: Fake Tribes):
- (The) Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee (also Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee Inc., Cumming or Georgia Cherokee Indians , administrative seat is Cumming, Georgia, most of them are so-called mixed blood Cherokee, whose ancestors married white people, because only families with one Whole-blood Cherokeewere relocated westas the chief during the Trail of Tears in 1838, mixed blood Cherokeewere able toremain in Georgia with a white head of the family whose descendants married not only whites but other mixed blood Cherokee identified as Tsaligi , also claiming from Georgia to have been officially recognized as a state recognized tribe in 1993 with GA Code OCGA 44-12-300, but are officially considered a fake tribe )
- The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee Indians Inc., Dahlonega (administrative headquarters Dahlonega, Georgia, also claim to have been officially recognized as a state recognized tribe by Georgia in 1993 with GA Code OCGA 44-12-300, but are officially considered a fake tribe )
- The Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee, Echota Fire Inc. (UKB), Dahlonega (
- Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky, Inc. (the administrative seat is Henderson, Kentucky, now mostly lives in the parishes of Scuffltown and Henderson, Kentucky, were officially recognized as a state recognized Indian tribe by Governor John Y. Brown in 1893 by the state of Kentucky )
- Four Winds Tribe, Louisiana Cherokee Confederacy (were state recognized by Louisiana in 1997, i.e. recognized as a tribe within the state, the majority are Cherokee, but there are also some Choctaw, Micmac, Attakapa and Creek descendants, hidden for fear of their land being taken away they themselves and had denied their Indian identity, often gave as "race" White, Free Person of Color, Black or Free Person )
- Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquois & United Tribes of South Carolina, Inc. (also Cherokee Indian Tribe of South Carolina or ECSIUT , were recognized by South Carolina in 2005 as a state recognized tribal group )
- Piedmont American Indian Association Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation South Carolina (also PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation , was recognized by the State of South Carolina in 2006 as a State recognized tribal group )
Status of the descendants of former slaves
An ongoing controversy within the Cherokee is waging over the legal status of the descendants of slaves held by the Cherokee following their social transformation along the lines of the USA (see Five Civilized Tribes ) in the early 19th century. In 1860 the Cherokee owned 2,511 slaves, slavery was an important economic factor. After the end of the American Civil War , the tribe committed to accept its freedmen, released in 1863, as full members of the tribe. Until the end of the 1980s, however, they actually had neither the passive nor the active right to vote in tribal elections. In 2006 the Judicial Appeals Tribunal of the Cherokee Nation ruled that such a restriction was not covered by the tribal constitution. At the same time, however, the fundamental right was recognized to carry out such a revocation of the civil rights of the descendants of black slaves if the legal framework is changed.
On March 3, 2007, the Cherokee voted in favor of such a change with a majority of 76.6%. The constitutional amendment was upheld in August 2011 by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court , the supreme court of the independent Cherokee Nation in the United States. In response to criticism from African-American congressmen, the supporters of the decision replied that it was not a question of racism, since members of any ethnic group can be members of the Cherokee, as long as they can show at least one Cherokee as ancestor. 1860 had 18% of Cherokee Africans among their ancestors, after the Civil War the proportion is said to have increased considerably. For those affected who do not have a Cherokee as an ancestor, this has immediate effects, such as exclusion from free health care and other educational and social services of the Cherokee Nation. Since the Cherokee are considered a separate nation under international law, it is unclear whether the descendants of their slaves have legal recourse against expulsion.
Songs about the Cherokee
In 1959, John D. Loudermilk wrote a socially critical lament about the fate of the Cherokee under the title Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian) , which in the versions of Don Fardon and Paul Revere & the Raiders each achieved million seller status. Also on the successful album The Final Countdown by the band Europe , released in 1986, there is a song about the Cherokee, which addresses their suffering and despair on the "Trail of Tears". The band White Lion released a song called Cherokee on their 1985 album Fight to Survive , which deals with the fight and suffering of the Cherokee. Heavy metal band WASP also recorded a track called Trail of Tears for their album Dying for the World in 2002, which deals with the suffering of the Cherokee on the path of tears.
Numerous counties are named after the Cherokee:
- Cherokee County, Alabama
- Cherokee County, Georgia
- Cherokee County, Iowa
- Cherokee County, Kansas
- Cherokee County, North Carolina
- Cherokee County, Oklahoma
- Cherokee County, South Carolina
- Cherokee County, Texas
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- State recognized tribal group refers to a group with once different ethnic and cultural origins, which in addition to Native Americans also included other ethnic groups such as whites and African Americans. Therefore, not all of them are related by blood. They also have a tribal council and a tribal government that are only owned by Indian tribes.