McMillon v. Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc. — Probate Case

Strange little case involving the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc. — here is the opinion, which will be published in the Southwest Reporter. From the majority opinion:

This appeal arises from a petition to clarify a will filed by First State Bank in which it asked the court to clarify several issues, including whether the references in the will of Opal Gefon to “savings and checking account” and “remainder of my savings and checking” included the cash located in the decedent’s safety deposit box. Appellants, heirs of the decedent Opal Gefon, assert only one point of error on appeal: The trial court was clearly erroneous in finding that appellee Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc. was entitled to the $226,000 in cash located in the decedent’s safety deposit box at the time of her death. We find no error and affirm.

The dissent seems to have a point:

The majority affirms the trial court’s decision that the phrases “checking and savings account” and “remainder of my savings and checking” in a holographic will included $226,000 in cash that was stored in the testator’s safe-deposit box. I would reverse because those phrases can only be reasonably interpreted to dispose of the contents of the testator’s banking accounts and because the trial court’s interpretation of the provisions of the will runs contrary to Arkansas law defining “safe-deposit box” and “account .”

This non-recognized tribe has at least petitioned for federal recognition, see 64 Fed. Reg. 67585. They’ll need the quarter million.

12 thoughts on “McMillon v. Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc. — Probate Case

  1. Carol April 24, 2008 / 1:24 am

    actually – I think that you have confused two different groups —
    1) the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri, Inc.
    2) the Lost Cherokee Tribe of Arkansas and Missouri

    I believe that it is the ‘tribe’ that is in the process of applying for recognition —

    and that there is some sort of legal struggle between the two entities

    just a heads up if you want to pursue this further — the ‘tribe’ has a web page which list some legal correspondence regarding the conflict

  2. Threeoaks May 4, 2008 / 4:10 pm

    I personally believe that the court proceedings and findings in the Opal Gefon case were deeply flawed from the start. Mrs. Gefon’s relatives had expressed that she had a long empathy for American Indians and they way they had been treated. The Lost Cherokee did not enter into the equation until the attorney who drew up the will for her placed them in the documents. Prior to this, Mrs. Gefon had never heard of the group. A decent forensic psychological study would have shown Mrs. Gefon’s true intent. There is a strong possibility that the attorney involved was a member of the Lost Cherokee or had family members who belonged to the organization. There is no doubt that the attorney exercised undue influence in getting the Lost Cherokee included in the will. There is a also the same possibility that exists for the judge that heard the original case. Hundreds of families in the area had been signed up for the Lost Cherokee during that organization’s fraudulent OIE Title VII scam with local school districts. Unfortunately, this leaves subsequent hearings such as the Appeal Court decision in the realm of being flawed also. A great injustice has been done.

  3. Threeoaks May 4, 2008 / 10:31 pm

    Re: Carol’s 24 April comments:

    The two groups of the Lost Cherokee did not split until after the exposure to the OIE Title VII scam and the Lost Cherokee came under federal investigation. At the time of Mrs. Gefon’s will being formed, they were still together. This split caused third faction to be formed, the “Lost Cherokee Oversight Committee”, headed by Doyle Turner of Palo Cedro, California. Both Bishop’s faction in Conway and Maxwell’s faction out of Dover have fought over which group should receive the Gefon windfall.

    A fourth group, calling itself the “Arkansas Cherokee Nation, aka the Chickamauga Cherokee of Arkansas“, has recently split off within the past few months and is actively soliciting other LCN members to join it. This group is also headquartered in Conway, AR, the location of Bishop’s faction.

  4. John Doe May 27, 2008 / 4:59 pm

    Lets not confuse the Arkansas Cherokee Nation with
    Bishop. This group was started because Bishop Conned folks out of their money so he and his cronies could live high on the hog and spend money how they want. The Arkansas Cherokee Chiefs have met with the IRS, FBI and Submitted information to the Arkansas Attorney General about the illegal activities of Bishop. Watch for future turn of events on these criminals. The Arkansas Cherokee Nation is a legitimate group trying to help the Cherokee people of Arkansas and is no way connected with Bishop or his cronies.

  5. kit kat September 4, 2008 / 2:40 am

    If you look hard enough you will see that the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri Inc. has only 3 members. Cliff Bishop, Curtis Smith, and John Brown. The Heltons in Conway and Cliff took all the files out of the office on a Sunday. Heltons thought that they would get along with Cliff and make a lot of money. Cliff even conned some people out of 5 thousand dollars a piece. He told them that when they recieved all the money from Mrs Gefon that they would be a part of some big deal. Bishop was at Mrs Gefons alot. He knew what he was doing. The Heltons have butted heads with the Chickamauga over their news letter called Smoke Signals. The Heltons said that they did not care if they were taking the name of someone else’s newletter. Cliff and the Heltons are a lot alike when it comes to MONEY. Please be carefull of them both. Ask the Heltons how they went about getting grants. People talk about the Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri and the schools. Well, what Bishop and Heltons did was way beyond any school grants.

  6. Paul Vickers December 9, 2008 / 9:43 pm

    Public Notice: We the Arkansas Band Of Western Cherokee are the original Arkansas Cherokee Organization that claims Arkansas Cherokee heritage from the 1817 Arkansas Cherokee Boundaries.We meet With both Cliff Bishop and Dub Maxwell in 1999; at this point they wanted us to help them with research in regards to thier alleged Arkansas Cherokee Heritage.This group was then organized and had an office in Thayer Missouri.After 2 meetings we decided not to continue our alliance with them.It was made clear that We are decended from the Arkansas cherokee Boundaries and our claim predates theirs.Additionally we own the brunt of this documented history.You can review the basic history at our website at or from our book Chiefs of Nations: The Cherokee Nation 1730 to 1839. We are a legitimate American Indian organization that has both State and Federally recognized board members.

  7. sue potts December 4, 2009 / 1:38 am

    I am a member of THE LOST CHEROKEES OF AR.AND MO. I am not so sure of the tribe since I have been reading these comments. I would really like to be with a tribe that is federally recognized. Is this possible? These people seem to be a bit shady, if you know what I mean. I am CHEROKEE I am proud of that. I am a honest person and expect others to be the same. If you would, please e-mail me back and let me know if I and my children may be part of another tribe that will tell the truth and want to help one another, rather than fight among themselves….or is that just what indians do? THANKS!!! Evening Spirit (Sue Potts)

  8. Sarah January 20, 2012 / 9:55 pm

    What a mess .I’m so confused ,Me ,my children and grand children have all went through alot to be part of The Lost Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri.I have have relatives in this group/tribe,I fill as if I may have been miss lead.I was told to stay away from the other group,Because they where not the real thing.Also ,like I said This is part of my family and I have had this info with held from(about the tribe even being a tribe)me for years and just happen to stumble across the info in a another family members home.I kept my mouth shut and just wrote down the address and got in contact with them myself and did the work.The sad thing is,is this is my dead fathers brother and he likes to pick and chose who is family.Well “I AM Cherokee”and so was my father,and I’m pround to be.It realy bothers me that they are doing this and have miss lead me and my heirs.I work like crazy to no who I am,and to be able to leave a link for my children and their children and so on,I am shamed at how they are doing thing.My family blood runs deep in the Cherokee Blood line an would love to no where Me/We fit in. It seems as if it is all so hush hush,and clanish.We just want to belong with a proud ,truthful,honorable Cherokee Tribe.This so saddens me….please help Thank you

  9. Cynthia March 27, 2012 / 11:26 am

    Sara, My name is Cynthia Cottrill. I like you would like to know where I/my children fit in. I only found out about the lost Cherokee of Ark. and Mo. yesterday. My Dad died 3/2/2012 and his great great grandfather was Joseph James House born 4/21/1852 and was full blooded Cherokee. I just want to know which Cherokee relatives I may have still living and where we came from.

  10. Rice December 21, 2013 / 1:20 pm

    Is this tribe the one that their application was sent to Washington DC a few years ago? if so, has the US decided to accept it as a ligit Indian tribe ? if not, what is the present situation with “members” of this tribe in Conway AR?

  11. Todd May 17, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    Cliff Bishop and John Brown Resigned as Headsman, Curtis Smith is no longer a headsman because he was voted out.

  12. Wanda Esker April 10, 2016 / 7:07 pm

    I am so confused, in 2004, I sent in $25 as all my brothers and sisters sent in the same amount, we were told that all information on the people that sent in their money for the membership into the Lost Cherokee’s was sent in to get approved. My family and I went to Conroy, Arkansas and met with the people running the office, that was quite a ways for us to drive as we live in Oklahoma. I have emailed them several times, but always get the same answer, WE HAVEN’T BEEN APPROVED YET, WE HAVE SENT IN ALL THE INFORMATION THAT WAS NEEDED TO GET THE LOST CHEROKEE’S APPROVED. They have told me when we sent in our money for the Application that we should approved within 6 months to a year. Was this legit or was it a scam just to get our money. Sure wish I knew the answer to this. Hopefully someone will let me know. Thank you very much. They gave me the Roll number #M24800. I was so hoping, but after 12 years of waiting, guess it wasn’t approved.

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