We used to think that human beings matured by stages. They walked, talked, potty trained, went to school, graduated, became adults, married and had children to start the process all over again. Progress for many, stopped at 21.
Life holds many more growth challenges than these. A lot happens between young adulthood and old age, mellow wisdom for one. Midlife often requires family, work, and careers be adjusted for the stretch run into old age.
Important questions emerge in the late 30's and early 40's; questions like, Who am I? and "What does my life mean?" These are the years when people inquire about their American Indian ancestry. Suddenly, knowing one's Cherokee roots becomes important. Our European, African, or Asian ancestry loses its dominance over us.
A Grandfather once taught that every breed encounters a moment of truth when he confronts his Indian past (Please read "he" and "she" as gender inclusive). At that moment he either ignores the invitation or cries a resounding "Yes!" to the Grandfathers and Grandmothers. The smallest drop of Indian blood suffices if one's heart is Indian.
The reservation-raised full blood also faces the moment of choice to either abandon his people and assimilate, or forever embrace his Tribe with all the tears and glory that may entail. The greatest volume of Indian blood is insufficient if one's heart is not Indian.
The Free Cherokee Tribe emerged to help lonely breeds reconnect with their past, their ancestors, and the spiritual ways of the Red Nations. Our dream was to be as open and inclusive as possible. There are many lanes in the Great Red Highway. We required only that practices identified as traditional be manifestly so, and that revealed and/or New Age concepts be labeled as such.
The organization of Free Cherokees provides an umbrella for the many disparate Bands, a way of mutual support and identification. However, many Free Cherokees live detached from the formal organization. Being a Free Cherokee is a state of mind. There are many "Free" Cherokees inside and outside the traditional tribes. We honor our ancestors, choose to be unfettered by the White-man governments (State or Federal), and strive to walk quietly, simply, and sacredly on the Grandmother Earth.
If you are questing for your Indian identity, welcome aboard. You have company. Attach yourself to one of our Bands. You learn faster that way. Recognize that wearing buckskin and feathers do not make you an Indian. Strive to be who you are; a human being learning to live in a Sacred, respectful way.