So if your boss isn't Cherokee, why does he keep telling people he is every Thanksgiving? There's a long, robust history behind this bullshit that first stems from a hint of reality and then gets shat about by idjits, as is the case with most things. Cherokee Indians had been living in the southeast U.S. for about 600 years by the time Europeans showed up. And being a savvy people, they started marrying Europeans to solidify trade deals and other such business relationships, the way people did back in the day.
Then one day the Trail of Tears happened. The government didn't want any Native tribes just wandering around doing as they pleased, and tried to usher them all together in a forced upheaval. The Cherokee, as it happens, were some of the most educated amongst the tribes at the time, and were also some of the most resistant to their forced displacement. Now picture this idea of an educated group of individuals and businesspeople, in the South, being told by the government that they couldn't stay in their homes and fighting to resist it. In the South, the Cherokee became heroic figures -- fighting the government that tried to take their land and tell them how to live. Combine this with their openness to living with and intermarrying with other cultures, and they were just the friendliest, coolest kids on the block. Who wouldn't want to be part Cherokee?
Probably these guys, right about then.
White Southerners began claiming Cherokee ancestry as a sort of social status. They had a Cherokee princess grandmother who fought against the meddlesome government, despite the fact there's no such thing as a princess in Cherokee culture.
A more sinister motive lies in how, after the Trail of Tears, members of the Cherokee Nation were entitled to compensation from the federal government. And if people exploiting tragedies in modern times have taught us nothing else, it's that people love exploiting tragedies. If you could just claim to be Cherokee and get some cash back in the day, why not? Of course, most false claims were rejected, because the Cherokee have impeccable records about bloodlines and ancestry. But that's not going to stand in the way of confused white people. Because since the Cherokee are the perfect mixed of oppressed, light-skinned, and "civilized," they really appealed to those who wanted a little exotic flavor in their family tree, but didn't want to resort to seeming unsavory in any way. So next time someone claims to be part Cherokee but can't accurately detail their family tree, which they should be able to do, feel free to point all of this out.