By Ginger Brown
Fraudulent groups and individuals passing themselves off as Native American have become big business over the past two decades, with more than 200 groups that claim to be some sort of Cherokee tribe. There are also hundreds of individuals who claim to be Cherokee or from the Cherokee Nation and offer services that range from teaching culture to spiritual advice.
However, there are only three federally recognized Cherokee tribes--the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians both located in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in North Carolina. The Cherokee Nation is alive and well in Tahlequah, Okla., as it has been for 170 years. Cherokee language and culture still thrive here, as well as in North Carolina with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. No group outside of North Carolina and Oklahoma has ever been recognized as a legitimate Cherokee sovereign.
Fake tribes and individuals with unverifiable ties to Native American citizenship often claim to be passing on Cherokee cultural knowledge and traditional arts. But the reality is these groups and individuals dilute true Indian culture and identity. Many of them pass along cultural information that is incorrect or that perpetuates harmful stereotypes.