The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky (SCNK) is an unrecognized tribe based in Kentucky. Members of the SCNK claim descent from the Cherokee forcibly removed to Indian Territory in 1838, and to have first emerged as a distinct political faction known as the Treaty Party before the Trail of Tears, c. 1835. They report having fled Indian territory, after the American Civil War, c. 1871 for Kentucky to escape Reconstruction era violence. The City of Henderson, Kentucky published a proclamation stating they have been headquartered there since the late 19th century, and according to the State-Journal of Frankfort, Kentucky, they are assumed to be the oldest Native American presence in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The SCNK states it had an estimated one thousand members as of 2009, living in several US states, and that it is "not affiliated with any other group calling themselves Southern Cherokee".
The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky was recognized by Governor John Young Brown on December 26, 1893, and then acclaimed by Governor Ernie Fletcher, on November 20, 2006 Although Gov. Brown's executive letter specifically states: "We regonize[sic] the Southern Cherokee Nation, as an Indian tribe...", the 2006 proclamation from Gov. Fletcher makes no such statement. However, within the proclamation the Governor does state: "Whereas, on December 26, 1893, the Southern Cherokee were welcomed to Kentucky and recognized as an Indian tribe by Governor John Y. Brown...". The City of Henderson, Kentucky also issued a proclamation paying tribute to the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky on February 24, 2009, and it also acknowledges Gov. Brown's 1893 recognition.
State recognition status
Although the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky is recognized by the Executive Branch in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the state has no formal legislative criteria for the recognition of Indian tribes. However, Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, as of January 24, 2011 introduced a bill (HB 50) in the Kentucky House of Representatives to establish a formal process for state recognition of American Indian tribes. On Feb 23-3rd reading the bill passed 60-37, and on Feb 24 it was received in the Kentucky Senate. Rep. Meeks filed the same bill in the House twice before, and seen it passed there only to see it then locked in the "Senate State and Local Government Committee". Thus far the bill has not made it to the Senate Floor for a vote.