Cherokee man's lack of birth certificate turns into driver's license problem

Cherokee man's lack of birth certificate turns into driver's license problem

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6 On Your Side recently met Hawk and his wife, Loreen, at the Living Heritage Museum in Athens to learn more about his dilemma. 6 On Your Side recently met Hawk and his wife, Loreen, at the Living Heritage Museum in Athens to learn more about his dilemma.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Reporter

ATHENS (WATE) -- There's a new federal ID requirement that says you have to produce a birth certificate when your driver's license expires.

A Native American named Aldea "Hawk" Silverhawk called 6 On Your Side to explain why he doesn't have a birth certificate and how difficult it is to prove where he was born.

Years ago, many Tennesseans were born at home and delivered by a midwife. In some cases, there's no record of the birth.

For those who fall under these circumstances, if you can show documentation of early schooling or your parent's birth, you can get what's called a delayed birth certificate.

6 On Your Side recently met Hawk and his wife, Loreen, at the Living Heritage Museum in Athens to learn more about his dilemma.

Hawk is a Cherokee who was delivered by a midwife in 1938. At age seven, he left the Tennessee mountains. He was sent west by himself where he attended a private boarding school on a reservation.

At 18, Hawk joined the Army which later gave him an honorable discharge.

He's driven big trucks for nearly 50 years, but his commercial Tennessee license expired three months ago and he can't get an error on it changed.

"Well all I'm trying to do is get the driver's license corrected," Hawk said.

His age on his Tennessee license is 60, as of last November." "My birthday, proven by the (family) Bible, is 22 August, 1938. But my driver's license says November 23, 1949. That's when they handed us papers on the reservation."

"When you deal with Native Americans, a lot of times there are no actual written records," Loreen said.

Hawk has no school records, no birth certificate and now there's the conflict with his age.

"The Tennessee driver's license that he has says he was born the 23rd of November, 1949. The problem with that is, it's incorrect. It was the date of issuance that he was given when they came out on the reservation," Loreen explained.

Loreen now drives the family car since Hawk's license has expired. The couple has tried to acquire a delayed birth certificate from the state, but their efforts have failed.

The office of vital records wrote a few months ago that research shows from 1937 through 1939, there's no record of Aldea Silverhawk's birth.

Hawk was recently sent a family Bible that shows proof of his birth. "Right here is the date of birth, August 22, 1938."

He said the Bible is from his mother's side of the family. There's reference to her birth, his older sister's birth and his birth.

"Thankfully this was kept by someone and sent to us," Loreen said.

Hawk hopes references from the Bible will be enough evidence for him to eventually acquire a delayed birth.

"I just want to get a birth certificate so I can bring my driver's license up to legal standards, as anyone else," Hawk said.

To obtain a delayed birth certificate, you fill out an application form at your county health department. The processing fee is $15. Then there's a search.

If no certificate is found, you can try to locate old school documents or a parent's birth certificate that shows date and place of birth. A marriage certificate can also be used to secure a delayed birth certificate.

Since Hawk can't produce any of these documents, as a last resort he's been asked to contact a special Social Security office in Maryland where his original application for a Social Security card is located.

That information, plus the record in his Bible, may be enough for him to get his delayed birth certificate.

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