Letters to the Editor


Congratulations on your well-researched and interesting first newsletter [Explorers Club August 6, 2020]. The quality of the subjects and writing comes through loud and clear. As a Jew, I was fascinated to learn that Cherokee had Orthodox Jewish beards and that Sequoyah may have been part Jewish. Sounds as though he would feel right at home in today’s Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Keep up the good work.

Barry Cohen

Scottsdale, Ariz.

I’m enjoying this publication. Many lines in my family have been in the U.S. since the early 1700s at least, and most of these lines ended up in the Southeast (before migrating westward after the Removal Act was passed). My grandpa was born in the Cherokee Nation in 1885. Your DNA Fingerprint Plus report (2019) showed my ancestry to be a lot like yours. Like you, most of the DNA companies don’t find Native DNA. 23andMe, FTDNA and MyHeritage found Middle Eastern and Jewish but no American Indian. Two of the companies I tested with determined I’m part North African. Ethnogene found 1 percent Native American.

Sally Gillette

Portland, Ore.


I just finished listening to Richard Thornton on The Time Traveler’s Suitcase (sponsored by DNA Consultants) from last year [Episode 6 and 7, “True History of the Creek Indians,” June 4 & 11, 2019] and I just wanted to thank both of you for teaching me more about my ancestry and heritage than anyone else I know.  Donald, from your work, I learned that I carry the DNA of Thuya, the grandmother of Akhenaten.  And Richard, from your work, I found out that my Pee Dee ancestor is probably a descendant of the Maya and Muskogean Creeks.  What a great mystery from which we all come! Thank you both for who you are and for the work you do. . . .

Duann Kier

Florence, Miss.


Richard Thornton replies:

The original tribal name of the Pee Dee was an Itza Maya name – Vehi-te. They are now known as the Hillabee Creeks. The DNA of the Creeks can alternatively be labeled “Brunswick Stew” because the origins of the member tribes of the Creek Confederacy were from all over the globe.

I thank you for your work; I have read many of Donald Yates’s books and find them fascinating. You helped spark an interest in me to better understanding my own genealogy and DNA. You state that Hicks and Ross “neither of whom seemed to have any Cherokee blood” (“Update on Cherokee DNA Studies Phase III Publication,” Aug. 6, 2020). I am Cherokee and have traced the genealogy of my own ancestors, and have roots in the Hicks and McDonald/Ross families. Your statement calls into doubt what I understand about the Cherokee roots of the Hicks and Ross/McDonald families. What evidence do you have to support they were not Cherokee by blood?

Thank you,

P.  George

Washington State

Donald Yates replies:

I’m not really completely versed on these genealogies, but I seem to remember John Ross’s Cherokee ancestor was four generations back in his line and did not originate in traditional Cherokee territory, making him one-sixteenth something. The family later moved to Cherokee country, of course, and subsequent descendants could have married Cherokees or part-Cherokees. John Ross’s second wife was a Quaker white lady. As for the Hickses, they came from Creek territory in central Georgia, half lived as white people and apparently were “purely” white people. Charles Hicks, as I recall, married a half-Jewish, half Natchez woman. A lot of the traditional Cherokee genealogies are coming under scrutiny. See this page by Richard Thornton, who is writing a book on the life of Charles Renatus Hicks: https://apalacheresearch.com/2020/04/10/guess-where-the-father-of-cherokee-principal-chief-charles-hicks-lived/. I found out one of the Cherokee Seven in London, Tathtowe, is the same as Willenawah or Great Eagle who haunts the Motoy genealogies. John Brown or some other reputable source says his father was a French Huguenot and he was from Nickajack/Nacoochee. We now know that Beamer was also a Sephardic Jew and his home stomping ground was in Apalache land, not the Lower, Middle or Upper towns of the Cherokee. All these “Cherokees” have Orthodox Jewish sidelocks. And we have also found that Nancy Ward’s origins lead in the same direction. Her mitochondrial DNA is not Cherokee but either Creek or Mexican and a common type among Hispanic people in the Southwest today. Stay tuned!

Your information about Cher having no Cherokee ancestry is incorrect (“Cher the ‘Half Breed,’” March 12, 2019). My great-grandfather, Silas Clayton Green and Cher’s great-grandmother, Laura Belle Green were brother and sister. Our great-great grandfather was Cherokee and his father had more Cherokee blood because of his parents. I have this documentation in my family history. Cher is listed as my 1st cousin, 3 times removed. I think that’s 3rd cousins. We have never met, although I was told that one of my first cousins had been in contact with Cher’s mother. We came from Arkansas, my great-grandfather from Independence County and later our family settled in Izard County. I have never met Cher, but my cousin has corresponded with her mother and being quite the artist, sent her one of his drawings. Cher is on my Dad’s maternal side of the family, but Dad’s paternal grandmother was actually born on the Trail of Tears in a place called Camp Reservation, Izard County, Arkansas, where his family came from. His grandmother lost both parents very young and was raised by a brother. This was the side of our family I always tried to research and just kind of stumbled on to the other.

Annita J. (Taylor) Fulton

Plattsmouth, Neb.


Since getting my results I was amazed. I think that every person should have the test done. It could wipe out racial hatred.

Anna Kassapian


I was born and raised in the Old Cherokee Nation, my home two miles from the NE mountainous Alabama homes of Sequoyah, members of the Chief John Ross family, and Vice Chief, George Lowrey. My Cherokee ancestors were living here in 1837, a year before the horrific Trail of Tears. In 1989, to honor the Cherokee and raise Awareness of their history, I became the first person in the modern world to walk the 900 mile route of the Trail. My resulting book, Walking the Trail, One Man’s Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by Random House. The book is required reading in some schools in the USA, Germany and Japan. I took the Native American Plus and Rare Genes tests at DNA Consultants, and I highly recommend it. Its science digs much deeper into your DNA than other popular tests and gets to the truth. AND you can call the company with any questions.

Jerry Ellis

Ft. Payne, Ala.


We are trying to find out what we can about our Indian heritage. We would like to hear about anything involving Captain John Cooper (“J. Cooper – Two Days Too Late,” June 22, 2011).

Tammy Jackson 

Denton, Texas