the Appalachian Cherokee Nation marched in 2004 at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, but the three Federally-recognized Cherokee tribes oppose giving it official recognition
Source: Appalachian Cherokee Nation, PowWow Photos
In 2010 the Virginia General Assembly passed a law granting state recognition to the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Nottoway of Virginia, and Patawomeck tribes, ignoring the recommendations of the Virginia Council on Indians. In response, the members of that council stopped meeting, and the state legislature formally abolished it in 2012.
Ending the council's administrative review process placed all responsibility for tribal recognition on the General Assembly. Since 2010, however, no group claiming a Native American heritage has been able to get a law passed by the legislature.
The Virginia General Assembly has postponed action on the Appalachian Cherokee Nation's request for state recognition since it first sought recognition in 2012. That group was based at Montross in Westmoreland County then, but in 2015 it closed the Cultural Center in Montross and announced plans to move to Williamsburg.
When advertising plans for a community meeting at the James City County Library, the group said:1
Williamsburg was, like Montross, in Tidewater Virginia. That territory was controlled by Algonquian-speaking tribes in 1607, and was far from the areas traditionally occupied by Iroquian-speaking Cherokee in the Tennessee River watershed. By 2016, the Appalachian Cherokee Nation had moved again and advertised an address in Gore, in Frederick County near Winchester.2
The Cherokee may have traveled through Gore on the way to attack the Iroquois in the 1600's and 1700's, but northwestern Virginia was never occupied by Cherokee. In colonial times, the Cherokee were an Iroquoian-speaking tribe based in the Tennessee River watershed, including southwestern Virginia. In 1838, much of that tribe was forced to relocate to Oklahoma, following a "Trail of Tears." The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians avoided expulsion, and today are a Federally-recognized tribe with a reservation near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
the shifting locations of the Appalachian Cherokee Nation are outside the area traditionally occupied by the Cherokee
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online
In 2013, bills to consider recognition of the Appalachian Cherokee Nation and the United Cherokee Indian Tribe of Virginia (Buffalo Ridge Band of Cherokee) were introduced in the Virginia General Assembly.
Opposition to recognition came from the three Federally-recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. They had created the Cherokee Identity Protection Committee in 2011, which identified 200 groups that claimed to be affiliated with Cherokee heritage and might seek some form of recognition. A member of the Cherokee Identity Protection Committee wrote:3
The widow of the former chief of the Appalachian Cherokee Nation expressed her opposition to state recognition of the Appalachian Cherokee Nation:4
The Cherokee Identity Protection Committee also made clear it would oppose any effort of the United Cherokee Indian Tribe of Virginia to be recognized as a "government" of some sort. That group has more-generic requirements for membership than just Cherokee heritage:5
the United Cherokee Indian Tribe of Virginia welcomes descendants of Native Americans who lived in an area traditionally considered to be the home of the Siouan-speaking Monacan tribe
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online
In 2019, a different group claiing assiciation with the Cherokee petitioned for state recognition. The Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribe filed a Statement of Intent with the Virginia Indian Advisory Board, which the General Assembly had authorized in 2016 to establish an administrative channel for granting recognition. The Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribe was based in Henrico County, but named after places in Giles County which were far closer to the area of Cherokee settlement in the 1600's and 1700's.6
1. "Appalachian Cherokee tribe moving office from Montross to Williamsburg," Westmoreland News, May 28, 2015, http://www.westmorelandnews.net/appalachian-cherokee-tribe-moving-office-from-montross-to-williamsburg/; "Appalachian Cherokee Nation Tribe," The Virginia Gazette< May 21, 2015, http://www.vagazette.com/news/community/vg-ugc-article-appalachian-cherokee-nation-tribe-2015-05-22-story.html (last checked September 25, 2016)
2. "Contact Us," Appalachian Cherokee Nation, http://www.appalachiancherokeenation.net/contactus.html (last checked September 25, 2016)
3. "Two groups claiming Cherokee heritage seeking recognition in Virginia," Cherokee One Feather, February 28, 2013, https://theonefeather.com/2013/02/two-groups-claiming-cherokee-heritage-seeking-recognition-in-virginia/ (last checked September 25, 2016)
4. "No celebrity in tow, Va. Cherokee tribe is told to wait", The Virginian-Pilot, March 4, 2014, http://www.freelancestar.com/2013-02-08/articles/593/letter-appalachian-cherokees-a-club-not-a-tribe/ (last checked September 25, 2016)
5. "Membership," United Cherokee Indian Tribe of Virginia, http://www.ucitova.org/membership.html (last checked September 25, 2016)
6. "Resolution of the Tribal Council of the Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribe," September 30, 2019, https://www.commonwealth.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/secretary-of-the-commonwealth/indian-advisory-board/pdf/Wolf-Creek-Cherokee-Tribe---Letter-of-Intent.pdf (last checked November 29, 2019)