Excellent points, one & all, & I whole heartedly agree on all of them. I would add only one small, but possibly significant point relating to one's claims of Cherokee/Native American heritabe at that time. Up until about the 1960's, it was considered somewhat unpopular to be Native American/Cherokee at that time. So if one didn't necessairly come forward and claim Native American heritage/blood, such would have probably been the norm in society in those days.
Yes, the [federal & state governments] benifits were/are overwhelming, to say the least, & still are today. Cradle to grave, if you could/can prove [with the proper records] of Native American heritage by blood, you were/are basically set for life. You had/have it made, so to speak.
Still, up until about the 1960's, it was probably looked down on by the majorityof Americans to have blood ties with this group of people, for several reasons.
Even today, no group or blood related association of American citizens in this country gets more benifits, hand outs and free rides than document/record proven Native Americans. Some of those benifits are just & wise, & some are only hurting & addicting the Native Americans who[m] depend on them for survival. Just look at today's Greece.
Still though, they were, as a group, looked down on by many in society, for just that reason, & a few related reasons.
One last note, for the vast majority of those who[m] try, it's not easy [in most instances] proving one's blood relationship to recorded Native Americans of record. Better have every i dotted, t crossed, date, time, place and record in proper order, or you're wasting your time & money.
To tell you the truth, many, many more American citizens have blood ties to Native Americans in this country than will ever know, or in some instances care. Many, many documents, records and related information relating to genealogy were lost, burned, destroyed or misplaced, leading to today's tangled mess we look through.
Your best bet in such a Native American search today might be with DNA testing & Fold 3/government Native American records, applications and related information.