NY Times report questions Kevin Stitt’s tribal ancestry…

Yesterday afternoon, the NY Times covered Governor Kevin Stitt’s bungled, poorly-executed attempt to secure the state a bigger chunk of gaming revenue from Oklahoma tribal casinos. A lot of what the Times reported has already been extensively covered in the local media, but one revelation stuck out like a colorful circle of chevrons.

According to the Times, Kevin Stitt’s lone ancestral connection to the Cherokee Nation – a man by the name of Francis Dawson – may have bribed his way into becoming a Cherokee in the early 1900s. If true, and it probably is, it would mean that Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt – a member of the Cherokee Nation – may not have any Cherokee ancestry in his bloodline. Imagine That!

Here are details via The NY Times:

In an outgrowth of the dispute, several citizens of Mr. Stitt’s own tribe have voiced doubts about the governor’s family background, raising questions as to whether the governor has any Cherokee ancestry at all.

According to tribal membership documents from 1900 reviewed by The New York Times and High Country News, Cherokee Nation lawyers fought the tribal enrollment of Mr. Stitt’s ancestor, Francis Dawson, who they claimed pretended to be a Cherokee and bribed Cherokee commissioners.

Aside from Francis Dawson, Mr. Stitt has no documented Cherokee ancestry, according to David Cornsilk, a genealogist for the Cherokee Nation who did not speak on its behalf. The lawyer who assisted the Dawsons was later convicted and imprisoned for fraud. When the Cherokee Nation’s lawyers tried to remove the Dawsons from the tribe’s membership rolls, American officials overruled them.

Cherokee Nation citizenship is not based on race, and Mr. Stitt is a citizen under the tribe’s law. When asked about the research of genealogists in connection to his family’s history, Mr. Stitt called the findings “unsubstantiated slander.”

Unsubstantiated slander? That’s a strong accusation. Perhaps Kevin Stitt should take a DNA test to prove…wait. The last time a politician from Oklahoma with questionable Native American heritage tried something like that, it didn’t work out very well.

Plus, as the Times mention, just because you don’t have Native American DNA on Your 23 and Me doesn’t mean you can’t be a citizen of a tribal nation. We actually talked about that topic in detail with Chuck Hoskin Jr., Chief of the Cherokee Nation, on The Lost Ogle Show back in December. We also talked about the whole tribal gaming dispute. It was an informative conversation, and you should listen to it.

In the meantime, can someone from OETA get Henry Louis Gates Jr. on the phone and get him to Oklahoma? I think we could have one very interesting episode of Finding Your Roots.

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69 Responses


  1. I subscribe to the online version of the NY Times and read this article yesterday. Not surprising you are the first to bring this up locally; now the question is how long before the lazy OKC media pick up on the story??


  2. Cherokees don’t renege on deals!


    1. Really? they built a dozen casinos claiming they were NOT going to change the use of the property yet built casino’s immediately when they were placed into trust. They now make $400 million a year from that which would have landed any other citizen (or group thereof) in jail.


  3. From what I have seen, and if I’m mistaken please correct me, Oklahoma seems to have more tribal casinos that any state that surrounds us. 6% doesn’t sound like much, but wouldn’t we rather have 6% of everything they take in rather than 18-25% of a much smaller amount?


    1. Actually more casinos than any other state. 143 by last count.


  4. The Times quotes his ancestor as Francis Dawson, while another publication quotes his great grandfather as Robert Benton Dawson??

    Which is it??
    # Stittgate


  5. As you point out, tribal membership and First Nation ancestry are separate things. The reason that Elizabeth Warren’s DNA results — which SUPPORTED her family stories — “didn’t work out very well” was because anti-science tribal leaders saw the DNA EVIDENCE as a threat to their power even though membership and ancestry are separate entities. (And, some of them support a racist president.)

    I grew up assured by the most upright, church-going aunt anyone could wish for that our family tree included Choctaws. When I couldn’t find a vacant spot along those branches for possible native inclusion, I took a DNA test which confirmed a lack of native ancestry.

    Assailed and mocked by our bigot-in-chief about her own family lore, Sen. Warren took a similar test that backed up her family stories. And, illogically, that scientific evidence — and even taking the test! — was twisted into something evil. Haters gonna hate.


    1. Slow down, Eddie.


    2. You know not if which you speak. DNA showed she wasn’t Native American as in Cherokee, Chickasaw etc. She was for lack of correct term Native Mexican Indian.
      Completely different than what she was claiming. You’ve been fact checked


      1. On Oct. 30, 2018, Jessica McDonald at FactCheck. org looked at the situation and reported:

        “The new findings support Warren’s claim that she has at least one Native American ancestor, although they cannot reveal whether that individual was a member of any specific tribe. The results were not peer-reviewed, as they would be in a formal scientific publication, but four anthropological geneticists told us the methodologies were valid and the conclusions reasonable.”

        As the Ol’ Perfesser said, “You can look it up.”

        And whatever a “Native Mexican Indian” might mean, it acknowledges First Nation heritage. Thanks for fact-checking yourself.


        1. Apparently, they think they can just lie like Drump.
          News flash MAGA traitors:
          Everybody has access to Google now…..
          …and nobody with more than two brain cells together watches Fox News.


          1. On at least three occasions, Donald Trump has claimed that his father, Fred Trump, was born in Germany.

            In reality, Fred Trump was born in the Bronx. You might expect Donald to know that.

            Sen. Warren’s claim of Native ancestry contains more truth than Trump’s claim about his father’s birthplace.


      2. My brother did this and it synced up perfectly with our % and it said we were natives of Mexico. I mean they’re “Indian”, they just migrated past the line.


      3. Mexico is part of America.


    3. This so much.
      After years of being slurred by the Great Orange Turd, she took a DNA test which proved her family claims and yet the msm both right and left still! inexplicably turned it against her. Including the great “paper of record” The NYT.
      Surely it doesn’t have anything to do with the 1 percenters (including those in tribal leadership) fearing her more than any other candidate in modern history? – With her decades long quest to reign in the historic obscenity of wealth inequality that we all live under today.
      Just like she had been virtually “disappeared” from the conversation – until she dismantled a billionaire like a lego statue on live tv this week..
      Sh*ting Bull will prevail here though because, as usual: IOKIYR


      1. Her financial disclosures show her and her husband to be worth around $12M. So she does know a lot about wealth inequality, being a 1%er her own self.


        1. Hard to tell what is dumber here: Those numbers you pulled out of your ass or the fact that you think somebody worth $12 million is part of the “one percent”. On one hand, Warren’s net worth is no where near even $12 million..but on the other hand
          Bloomberg alone is worth $62 BILLION DOLLARS…and your hero Drump (while not even a billionaire..but he is working on getting there..with your tax money and campaign contributions which he directly pockets) works for the richest man on the planet …who would be…Vladimir Putin!
          So you think Warren’s plan of taxing the hell out of the real one percenters is all some kind of ruse ..huh?
          God you people are deluded beyond salvation.


          1. To begin with JOE, I’m not a trump supporter and nowhere did I say I was. Second, I got the numbers from her mandated financial disclosures. But believe what you want, it don’t matter to me.


          2. A middle-class person can make a lot of money by writing a best-selling book. That’s how the Clintons, the Obamas, and Elizabeth Warren got relatively wealthy. And that REALLY pisses off Republicans. How DARE a person who is wealthy become traitors to their “class”!

            But to write a best-selling book, you need to have something interesting to say. That’s why most of us have not become wealthy in that way.


    4. Elizabeth Warren 1/64000th degree of Indian blood was NOT Native American, it was SOUTH AMERICAN INDIANS DUMBASS! Get your facts straight! Her family stories DID NOT BACK UP 💩💩💩💩!!


      1. “Get your facts straight!” “Her family did not back up!” (SIC..sick)
        You left out “MORANS!”
        Moron.
        Keep living down to your name.


      2. What part of the Amercas do not appear on your globe?


  6. Anyone who considers “Pocahontas” to be an apt nickname fo Elizabeth Warren surely wouldn’t object to a similar nickname for our Governor, who trumpets his Native qualifications much more loudly than Warren ever has.

    I suggest the nickname “Sitting Bull.” 😀


    1. May I add “Stitting Bull”?


      1. You win!!


      2. Joe’s nomination is better!


      3. 👊🤣🤣👊


      4. I think that is disrespectful towards Sitting Bull. You are using his name to make fun of some one else.


      5. Stitting Bull…….IMAGINE THAT!!!


      6. Joe wins!


      7. More like BULLSTITT! 🐂💩


    2. They’re both great nicknames.


    3. Since the gaming issue has become a nightmare for him, I’d go with PokerHaunted.


  7. There is no “Native American” DNA marker. There has not been sufficient genetic time for any differential in the gnome. Directly from 23&Me,
    “Your Native American ancestry may be assigned to the Broadly East Asian & Native American population. Even using state-of-the-art science, the Native American and East Asian populations are genetically similar, and sometimes they can’t be distinguished from each other with high confidence.
    Throughout American history, people without a genetically Native American background have claimed Native American heritage for a variety of social reasons related to the shifting politics of race and indigeneity in the United States. As a result, many families without any genetically Native American ancestors have passed down stories about Native American ancestry. For examples, see this article or the book, Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century, by Circe Strum.” – 23&Me


  8. So higher taxes are bad now? I’m so confused…


    1. Leave the Tribes alone. We stole enough from them already.


      1. Why did you steal from them?


        1. If you haven’t read “Killers of the Flower Moon,” you should.


      2. leave the “WE” out…you may have stolen from them but I didn’t!!!


        1. +1000000


  9. The Local media should be all over this story.

    Come on KWTV, KFOR, KOCO, Tulsa World, Oklahoman, OKG.


  10. It kills me how ol’ Bull Stitt is fixated on taking more money from those with red skin while simultaneously allowing them to reduce what the state takes from old guys with white skin. If he was really looking to tap into a ready source of cash for the state, he would be pushing for increasing oil production taxes. #stittingbull


    1. +1,000,000 to infinity.


  11. Around here it seems like those that tout their Native American ancestry the most are the ones that have the least amount of it.


    1. No one has less Native ancestry than me. So I don’t tout having any.


  12. Francis Dawson was the test case for the ancestors of Gov. Stitt. The lion’s share of documents showing the events and fraud appear in his Dawes enrollment file. All of the records, over 200 pages, amassed in the Francis Dawson file apply to Stitt’s direct ancestor Robert Dawson and the 150 some odd members of the family who got enrolled. The Dawsons aren’t the only non-Indians on the Cherokee roll there by fraud. Other families include Shoemake, Troglin and Cumiford, all with descendants enrolled as tribal citizens today. The ironic part of the enrollment of those families is the small price they represent in protecting the Cherokee Nation from even wider fraud perpetrated by hundreds of families in 1896. The Dawes Commission was prepared to enroll hundreds of fake Cherokees based on nothing more than family rumors until Congress stepped in and overturned those cases and ordered that the Cherokee rolls of 1880 and 1896 be used as the baseline for enrollment. Had the Cherokee authorities not been so distracted in the 1890s defending our lands from white intruders, they might have had the time and resources to ferret out and remove the frauds. But because of the Act of Congress I mentioned, those two rolls were set in stone and the Dawsons et al, were grandfathered in. An interesting aside to the Stitt ancestry issue and likely why it resonates with real Cherokees is our strong belief that blood influences behavior. Since he has no Cherokee blood he’s not influenced internally to really care about the tribe. As a scientist I don’t buybinto that, but as a Cherokee it does play into how I feel about his behavior.


    1. Was hoping David would weigh on on this….


    2. Nice to see the folks who refused to recognize the Freedmen (for “political” purposes citing no cherokee blood) are now recognizing the importance of at least one drop of ancestry defined by blood. Maybe the age of enlightenment has descended upon the trail of tears they have forced upon other tribes who dare to remain “native”. All the while they grab $700 million a year in finite federal funds when they only have 5,000 1/4 bloods (yet claim 300,000 members) while their brethren, the United Keetoowah band UKB, have 3 to 5 times the amount of 1/4 bloods and only get $1.5 million a year from the feds. The whole thing is a fraud on the American people and more importantly the really Natives whose only desire was to remain well native. Ironically the cultural genocide of the 19th century has been replaced by economic genocide of the late 20th century. As the drum beats on.


  13. OUR TRIBAL GOVT. AND THE OKLA. GOVT. IS CORRUPT,, IT IS LIKE TWO THIEVES TRYING TO ROB EACH OTHER,, AND EITHER ONE DON’T GIVE A DAM ABOUT THE WORKING CLASS ,,,
    NAME EACH ONE ” TWO THIEVES RUNNING”


  14. As for Stitt’s bits I always thought he was of the Bodine tribe what with that bad Mohawk haircut. As for Mr. Small Paws how’s about Dumbass Kraut for a nickname?


  15. Some call it unsubstantiated slander; a lot of us call it well-researched journalism.


    1. After decades of abusing other smaller less politically connected tribes who have a real sblood quantum requirements like 1/2, 1/4 or even 1/8th (by grabbing all their federal funds via watering down the requirements for tribal membership to now 1 in roughly 5,000
      ) the Cherokee are now for a blood quantum. Now that is progress!


      1. Cherokees now favor a blood quantum? Who told you that?


        1. By claiming Stitt is an imposter, they are by definition claiming that blood is important. They age of enlightenment has descended upon someone over there.


          1. That ain’t so. “Fraud” is much different than “insufficient blood quantum.”


            1. Bullshit! By saying he has no ancestry they are saying he has no blood quantum which means he is a Fraud. The Cherokee Nation is a $700 million a year fraud on the american people. Plain and Simple. End it don’t mend it.


  16. Anyone else not surprised by this? Once again, more BULL STITT!


  17. Genetic genealogist here. DNA cannot be used to determine Native American ancestry. Currently, NA ancestry can’t even reliably be distinguished from East Asian; they are usually lumped together in an ethnicity breakdown. Assuming that you take at face value evidence of NA ancestry can be construed as PROOF, there is absolutely zero way (currently) to distinguish among the hundreds of federally recognized tribes. Ergo, DNA is basically worthless in proving ancestry to a specific tribe. No tribes accept it. DNA doesn’t lie when it comes to familial relationships; as the databases increase ethnicity will become more clear over time. Not there yet.


  18. Maybe he and Elizabeth are related?


  19. You have SDS the only cure is to elevate the status of Turpin and Boren get to it .


    1. Still got Boren on the brain, eh?


  20. I believe an Oklahoma native and member of the Cherokee Nation actually wrote the article in conjunction with the NYT. Would have been nice to have seen that highlighted as well. Good work, Graham Lee Brewer.


  21. I wonder if and if so, how much in tax breaks Stitt’s received for being a tribal member. It seems he could claim Minority Business Enterprise status.


  22. When he was a child his parents to the USSR for his birthday.


  23. I am puzzled by this quote in the article:

    “When the Cherokee Nation’s lawyers tried to remove the Dawsons from the tribe’s membership rolls, American officials overruled them. ”

    I thought all the Indian Nations were sovereign and rule themselves. Is America so powerful they can over rule a nation and how they define the populace? I would think they can recognize whoever, or even put someone on their roll in the same way a country could bestow nobility on a non citizen.

    Does this mean that at one point the Cherokee Nation didn’t (and possibly doesn’t) recognize the Stitt family as citizens of their nation, but the American judicial system does? I’m so confused. Is the Stitt family only recognized as Cherokee by America, but not the nation they say they are member?

    Seriously, what does this mean?


    1. I think tribes enjoy a unique status in the United States, in that they are sovereign nations of American citizens. The Federal court system ultimately decides tribal and non-tribal disputes. Seems like the BIA is still the US Government overseeing the tribes.

      I think tribal sovereignty became more defined throughout the 20th century. The 19th century was filled with relocating tribes and punishing the Cherokee and other members of the 5 Civilized Tribes for aligning with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

      I recall the Cherokee have had Federal oversight as recently as the last 20 years regarding the Freedmen citizenship issue.


  24. More of the same Bullshit from the pseudo indian class (PIC) who have personally made billions off the misery of their ancestors while using the current misery of their truly native relatives who have become nothing but postcards so the PIC can continue the scam.


    1. Specifics?


  25. The gaming machines in Oklahoma cost 5 times what they do in Vegas. Roughly 1/3 of all net revenues. The skimming operation directed by and benefitted for the PIC would make Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky do cartwheels. Stay tuned. All things will be revealed in due time.

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