What is the enrollment audit?
A review of the nearly 14,000 people on the tribe’s roll to determine whether they qualify as being Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires members to be one-quarter Cherokee by blood and to have a direct link to the Baker Roll of 1924.
An outside firm, The Falmouth Institute, was hired to do the audit. So far, the Cherokee have spent $746,000 on the audit, with another $100,000 budgeted for its completion, which is slated for September.
What is the Baker Roll?
The final roll of the Eastern Cherokee, prepared by United States Agent Fred A. Baker, in 1924. Termination of the Tribe as a government and political entity was the ultimate goal of the Congressional act that initiated the Baker Roll. After termination efforts failed, the Tribe continued to use the 1924 Baker Roll as its base roll. Descendants of those persons of the original Baker Roll are enrolled on the Baker Revised Roll, providing they meet the membership requirements of the Tribe.
What did the audit find?
The report found 2,251 “actionable” files, meaning that some action needed to be taken to correct their status. Most were only minor incongruities that were easily cleared up.
The audit turned up only 303 tribal members with no direct link to the Baker Rolls, the majority of them the result of missing birth certificates.
Perhaps the most crucial number turned up by the audit was the 50 enrolled members who were revealed to have insufficient blood quantum levels to meet the enrollment requirements.
What’s at stake?
Enrollment bring with it a host of benefits, including the right to own land in the Qualla Boundary and about $8,000 a year per person in shared casino revenues.