LETTER: Apology to Cherokee community

by Aug 14, 2017OPINIONS0 comments


In 2016, I was part of a “cultural exchange” trip to New Zealand.  I made a mistake.  I spoke indirectly on behalf of Cherokee people.

Those in charge of this trip were a Maori woman named Doreen Bennett and a man who claims to be Cherokee named Mashu White Feather, aka Larry Johnson.

At that point in time, I barely knew Mashu and was unaware of his past. The Cherokee Nation, UKB and EBCI have confirmed that he is not a member of any of their tribes.

He is not Cherokee, nor a speaker for Cherokee people and neither am I.

I was mistakenly identified in a news story as a Cherokee Nation member by the Te Karere news service.  At that time, I believed I had Cherokee ancestry.  However, I have since learned there is no proof of that.  I mistakenly referred to myself as Cherokee.

Someone at Te Karere misinterpreted this to mean that I was a Cherokee Nation member, but that is not what I said.

With regard to Mashu, considering he had me convinced that he was a “Cherokee elder” at that point in time, I did not see fit to correct the many inaccuracies and misunderstandings that he delivered as a public speaker.

I received no financial compensation whatsoever for going on this trip.

I want to apologize and make amends for what I have done. I hope in the future I can be a good ally.


Luke Mason

Cherokee, NC