There are a couple of things going on here: first, it sounds like you have passing privilege, which is to say that you ‘look white’ & that most people ‘read’ you as white & treat you accordingly even though you have some heritage that would otherwise be considered a PoC group. Having passing privilege doesn’t make a person any less of a PoC, but as with other privileges, it’s important to be aware of it & how it means that you’re treated differently from other people who don’t have it. HERE is an example that I really like.
In terms of your Native heritage, there’s good news in that there’s not really a way to “look Native”, since there’s such a huge amount of variety in what we look like. As you talk to other Natives, you’ll find that a lot of us are skeptical of people who claim Cherokee heritage; it’s one of those groups that it seems everyone wants to claim membership in, so… be aware of that. Since it sounds like you can trace your family to one of the Dawes rolls, though, you have a good place to start from. If that were not the case, I’d encourage you to confirm heritage in another way, either by doing your genealogy or by getting a DNA test (if you can afford it; they run about $2k, IIRC).
In short, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of & involved with your heritage, no matter what you look like. Just be sure that the heritage that you’re proud of is actually part of your heritage.#onejediswore #ask