August 25, 2009

Reynolds and Coolidge aren't Cherokee?

Cherokee celebs actually Creek?I will give you two examples of celebrities, who claim Cherokee ancestry, but probably are from another tribe.

Burt Reynolds--Burt's Native ancestry comes from northern Florida and Waycross, GA--deep within the Okefenokee Swamp and 300 miles from nearest place that Cherokees ever lived. I was born in Waycross, but lived most of my life in the mountains near my Highland Creek grandparents. The Okefenokee was one of the last places Creeks lived in traditional Creek towns, and they never left. South Georgia Creeks still hold rituals there.

Burt's first television role was that of the Cherokee blacksmith. Maybe that's why he started telling people that he was Cherokee. Prior to that he told reporters that he was Seminole. Burt had played football for the FSU Seminoles. Well the Seminoles are basically the same people as the Creeks, so that was accurate.

From Burt's appearance, I can tell he has substantial Creek heritage, probably more than 1/4. I also know which branch of the Creeks it is from--the Apalachicola or Lower Creeks. Other branches of the Creeks averaged a foot taller than Europeans, while the Apalchicola were on the short side.

Rita Coolidge--The beautiful Rita Coolidge is obviously of substantial Native heritage, but the Cherokees are right in refusing to acknowledge her. Where Rita's family lived in Tennessee was ALWAYS Chickasaw, and Rita looks Chickasaw. Why she chose to call herself Cherokee, I have not a clue. The Cherokees only lived in the far eastern edge of Tennessee from about 1725 until 1805.
Comment:  Reynolds and Coolidge could've had Cherokee ancestors who moved a few hundred miles from their traditional homelands. Reynolds's parents could've misinformed him about his heritage, which might account for his changing story. I haven't heard anything about the Cherokees' refusing to acknowledge Coolidge.

In short, this speculation is interesting, but it doesn't prove anything. We need more information before we can come to any conclusions.

P.S. As usual, I corrected a few typos.

1 comment:

MountainLion said...

You right, a lot more research would have to be done to be absolutely sure of most celebreties' ethnic ancestry.

Beautiful Rita Cooledge has always called herself a Cherokee, but the Cherokees have always called her a wannabe. Rita and her sister even gave Native American music concerts in the 1990s.

Burt's Native ancestors lived in areas that still have Creek communities and were at least 300 miles from the nearest Cherokee area. Cherokees didn't leave the NC mountains much, until the late 20th century.

The Muskogeans have distinct physical characteristics than the Cherokees. Their DNA is entirely different from most Native American groups in the USA. That is why I can usually quickly tell if someone has Creek ancestry. I knew Carrie Underwood was a Creek the first time that she performed on American Idol. However, she didn't public admit to being a Citizen of the Creek Nation for another of couple of years.