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The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee

The Keetoowah Cherokee are a separate political entity, separate from the Cherokee Nation although both are based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Keetoowah are federally recognized as a separate tribe. This is quite common amongst tribes that are geographically separate such as the differing bands of Ojibwe, but a unique situation where two separate bands of the same tribe exist in the same exact locale.

The current chief of the Keetoowah is John Ross. This is the same name as the principal chief of the Cherokee who argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1830 against the eviction of the Cherokee people from their traditional lands. Although the earlier Chief John Ross won his case before the court, President Andrew Jackson went ahead with the forced removal of the Cherokee and other tribes to the Indian Territory (ENAT, 46).

The current Chief John Ross (the author apologizes, he forgot to ask the current chief if he his descended from the earlier John Ross) explains the seal of the Keetoowah as three circles surrounding a central blue disc (sample seal provided by the United Keetoowah Band) . The outer most circle contains nineteen black seven pointed stars. The next innermost circle is orange and contains the name of the band in black capital letters, English at the top, Cherokee script at the bottom. The third ring is yellow and bears eleven more seven pointed black stars.

The central light blue disc bears the yellow seven pointed star surrounded by oak branches that is common to the other Cherokee of the North Carolina and Oklahoma tribes, but not found in the seal of the Chickamauga Cherokee noor in the flag and seal of the Cherokee of Georgia.

Beyond the central seal are four additional black seven pointed stars. These four stars recall the four primary directions of the compass, a recurring theme in Native American design.

Chief Ross explained that the thirty black stars contained within the rings stand for the extinguished campfires of the thirty original Keetoowah villages back in their hommelands of North Carolina and Georgia. They act as a constant reminder of the Keetoowah's past and their continuing ties to their original lands.

The three rings stand for the colorful history of the Keetoowah people. The central star, as with the other Cherokee people, is used to recall the seven original clans of the Cherokee while the oak branches symbolize strength.

The seal was originally adopted in 1968 and was modified into its current form in 1991. For a tribal flag, the Keetoowah use their tribal seal on a plain white background that signifies that the Keetoowah people are at peace.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603