American Indian languages * Native Indian culture * Find Native American ancestors in your family tree

Cherokee hair and skin color

Q: What is the original hair color of the Cherokee Indian tribe? What do they consider their skin color to be. I know they consider their nationality to be Native American, but what do they consider their skin color to be? I have a friend whose hair color is light brown, his skin is lighter than mine. My skin color is olive and I know my grandmother was full Cherokee Indian, from North Carolina. The only thing that contributes to his nationality is he has high cheek bones. I'm sure he has Indian in him, but he gets upset if you say anything else.

Sponsored Links


A: I'm not sure exactly what your question is. Yes, there is and has always been variation among skin tones and hair color in the Americas, just as there is in Africa or Europe. Some people are naturally lighter skinned and others are darker skinned. This was already true when European colonists first arrived here. Nowadays the variation among Native Americans is even greater than it once was because of intermarriage (with both white and black people).

I think I'd advise you not to get into arguments with your friends over who is "more Indian" based on who has darker skin. It isn't surprising that this is making people upset. In particular, the statement "the only thing that contributes to his nationality is his high cheekbones" is very inaccurate. The only thing that contributes to anyone's nationality is their parents, their grandparents and the culture they were raised in. You don't get your ethnicity from a facial feature, you get a facial feature from your ethnicity. Big difference.

Best of luck!
Native Languages of the Americas

Related Links

 The Cherokee language
 Cherokee names and meanings
 The Cherokee Indians
 Blood quantum
 Native American genealogy



Give us feedback (or ask a question of your own!)
Back to our American Indian mail



Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?

Native Languages of the Americas website 1998-2015 * Contacts and FAQ page