Over the generations, Cherokee citizens became a conglomerate people. Early in the nineteenth century, tribal leaders adapted their government to mirror the new American model. While accommodating institutional slavery of black people, they abandoned the Cherokee matrilineal clan structure that once determined their citizenship. The 1851 census revealed a total population nearing 18,000, which included 1,844 slaves and 64 free blacks. What it means to be Cherokee has continued to evolve over the past century, yet the histories assembled here by Ty Wilson, Karen Coody Cooper and other contributing authors reveal a meaningful story of identity and survival.