Posted By BrokenClaw on September 24, 2007
Readers of this website may already know that I am a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a faithful fan of Sooner sports, particularly football. So I was glad when my father called me last week to remind me that the Sooners were playing Tulsa on Friday night, and that the game would be telecast on ESPN2.
During the course of the game, the play-by-play announcer brought up the fact that the Sooners’ quarterback, Sam Bradford, is of native American descent. Sam was raised in Oklahoma City and is a former all-state player from Putnam City North High School. His father, Kent Bradford, was an offensive lineman at OU when I was a student there.
I don’t remember exactly how the announcer started the sentence, but he ended by stating that Sam Bradford was “certified Cherokee“. Of course that brought a smile to my face. I give the announcer and the ESPN research team credit, even though the terminology was unintentionally humorous, for properly identifying Sam’s ancestor, Susie Walkingstick, certainly a well-known surname among the Cherokee. The announcer also pointed out that Oklahoma has the largest native American population of any state.
The next day when I talked to my father about it, he chuckled, too.
To be fair, the Cherokee, as well as other tribes, use the CDIB — Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood — to identify and document tribal enrollment. I suppose ESPN learned from somewhere that Sam is an enrolled Cherokee, and maybe that he has a CDIB card, so they made the semantic jump from having a certificate to being certified.
Since Sam was named the starting quarterback in August, and with his surprising success, much has been written about his native ancestry. Sam and Kent have embraced the attention, but they have also been forthright about their personal involvement, or lack thereof, in their Cherokee roots. Susie Walkingstick, Sam’s great-great-grandmother, was a full-blood Cherokee, but she is Sam’s only native ancestor. In other words, his other 15 great-great-grandparents were all white, making Sam officially, by blood quanta, 1/16th Cherokee.