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Dethroning Mary McDaniel, the Cherokee Princess

Like many families in the south, mine has its share of folklore. But the most pervasive story has been about Mary McDaniel Greene, "the full-blood Cherokee princess." The number of people in my family who believe this story is a significant factor in its pervasiveness. And we aren't alone.

Many families across the United States have perpetuated stories (without evidence) of the existence of Native American royalty, and their connection to it. This article goes into the pervasiveness of claiming Native American heritage you cannot prove. Similar to the camp of people who try to argue for benevolent slave owners of African Americans, those who claim Native American ancestry often do so from a combination of ignorance and racism. It's simply easier to legitimize the violent white expansion of the early Colonial and Antebellum periods if we can connect ourselves to the marginalized groups, and rewrite the story of their disenfranchisement. Controlling the narrative of occ…

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