The Cherokees of Lawrence County

On a recent drive across Tennessee on Highway 64, I stopped in the town square of Lawrenceburg. Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign may not exactly be setting the Republican woods on fire, but he is hot stuff here. One of his more interesting supporters claims that the Cherokees are descendants of the Hebrews.



Chief Joe “Sitting Owl” White is the proprietor of the Cherokee David Crockett Museum on the square in Lawrenceburg. I arrived just as the Chief was opening up for the day. An amicable fellow, he invited me in and told me he would have a pot of coffee on before long. I looked around this free museum, which offers a collection of Native American items as well as some natural oddities. On finding out that my wife and I were from Colorado, he urged us to support Fred Thompson, saying that his inauguration would do a lot for Lawrenceburg.

According to his website, the Chief is a member of the Cherokee of Lawrence County, an offshoot of the larger Cherokee population, who somehow avoided being rounded up in the infamous Trail of Tears and marched to Oklahoma. This seemed reasonable enough, but then the Chief asked if I would like to buy a book listing “23 Arguments Why the Cherokee are Ancient Israelites.”

It was too early in the day for just one argument, so I passed on the book. Back home, I looked up his news release–you can download it here–and from what I can tell, one member of the tribe had some DNA work done and spotted the word “Ashkenazi” on the results, and, after making several comparisons between the Hebrews and Cherokees, came to the conclusion that the Cherokee are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.


Seems that the Chief might gravitate more to the theology of Mitt Romney than the politics of Fred Thompson, but I’ll leave that to him. He does have some people who are on his bad list. This notice was posted on the door:


I somehow didn’t want to ask about these people and whatever offense they had given to the Chief.

The Cherokee David Crockett Museum makes for a pleasant stop in Lawrenceburg–one seldom walks into a museum and chats with its founder–and, if the planets line up and Fred Thompson gets to play the role of president, I hope that the Chief and his institution get all manner of visitors.

3 Responses to The Cherokees of Lawrence County

  1. Susan Schaeffer says:

    Cherokee / Israel Connection

    I am looking for individuals who speak the Cherokee language in Israel. I know that the Cherokees of Lawrence had in the past connections with Israel. Do you by chance know anyone who will be able to help me with the language?
    Thank you.

  2. tennesseeguy says:

    Alas, I do not know anyone who speaks Cherokee in Israel. Good luck in finding such a person.

  3. tennesseeguy, you didn’t look very hard! There are many Cherokee speakers in Israel such as Howshua Amariel, The famed Rabbi Lazer Brody is a Cherokee descendant. There are many Hebrew words in the Cherokees language. Most Hebrew “M” and “R” speaking Cherokees migrated to Mexico in 1721 but a small remnant remained in the USA.I personally toured Jewish Synagogues in the explaining the Cherokee/Hebrew linguistic coincidences. Any questions as Rabbi Dr. Jana L. De Benedetti and Rabbi Foster E. Kawaler, DD, MA in Shreveport, LA. See and

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