Thousands of Native Americans live in big cities, including Cherokees who live outside the traditional Cherokee nation. Many are unaware of the benefits and opportunities the tribe has to offer.
Saturday, Tulsa held its first-ever Cherokee Celebration Day.
Cheryl Dechaine of Sand Springs registered to vote today.
"My mother votes and my sister votes, so I was kinda slow here,” said Dechaine. “So, I'm glad that I got all registered and they're gonna send me my paperwork!"
She's one of dozens of at-large members of the Cherokee Tribe who showed up to Saturday's event to learn more about benefits, including healthcare, scholarships and job openings.
And for the kids, it was a chance to make their own beaded necklaces.
"It makes me feel like I'm really welcome because obviously, I’m not a great deal of Cherokee blood,” Dechaine stated. “But the small amount that I have I'm very proud of."
Greater Tulsa Cherokees Founder Linda Leaf-Bolin added says that she is very proud to be Cherokee.
Leaf-Bolin organized the event with the 32,000 Cherokee citizens who live in the greater Tulsa area in mind.
She says the goal is to educate and immerse themselves in Cherokee culture.
"Their heritage is more than just carrying a card in their pocket that says they're Cherokee,” Leaf-Bolin explained. “We have such a rich heritage all the way from the Trail of Tears and where we've come since then, until now."
Bolin says many in the crowd are meeting for the first time, and she encourages new friends to mingle and form relationships.
"If you know six women want to get together and study Cherokee history around coffee in the morning, that's community," said Leaf-Bolin.
It’s a community that Dechaine is already beginning to feel like she's a part of.
"It made me feel like 'Oh! they care about me even though I don't live in Tahlequah or actually within the Cherokee Nation,’” said Cheryl Dechaine.
The Greater Tulsa Cherokees plan to get together for events every month.