I am 69 years old. If I can prove I am at least 25% Cherokee, can I register and receive benefits from the Eastern band of the Cherokee Nation?
To be blunt, if you could prove that, you’d almost certainly be a member already.
Not trying to be mean here, but just putting this into true context.
If one is 69, and actually 1/4 Eastern Cherokee, then a parent would likely be 1/2 degree found enumerated on the Baker Roll of 1924. If they were born right after the enumeration, their parent would still be found without exception. Further your family would be in a very small cohort, which would also be recorded in BIA records and Qualla Boundary land records. And if your parent or grandparent was found on the Baker Roll, they be part of a total population of about 3,000 people. Or, you could break it down by gender, and they be one of only about 1,500 females or males enumerated. That s a very small and finite community indeed. Very easy to trace and prove one’s lineage.
Likewise, no other community could produce a person who is one quarter blood, born in the 1940s. You HAVE to be able to find your parent or grandparent listed on Baker Roll for this claim to be accurate.
Next, you’d have an issue of getting enrolled under current protocols. The tribe changed it just a bit a few years ago. Now there can be no skipped or missed generations. So, your parent would have to be enrolled. If they weren’t, then you could not enroll yourself.
Also, you have to understand that there are more Americans that claim they are of some relatively high degree (1/8 — 1/4) of blood, who have no such ancestry, than there are actual Cherokee. This is simply a matter of bogus or exaggerated lore. It’s a very widespread phenomenon. Yet, people that inherit such lore truly believe the family stories. They are usually quite sincere in their beliefs, and aren’t lying. But, this sincerity is vastly different from veracity.
Is your family found on Baker Roll? Was your parent a tribal member? That’s the first thing to confirm or clarify.
If so, then you should be able to enroll and then you could look at individual benefits or per caps that the tribe might have.