Office of Civil Rights
November 1, 2012

Date: 11/05/2012 Description: Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: John (Jake) Cosmos Aller - State Dept Image(Jake) Cosmos Aller joined the Department in 1991 and has served in 10 countries thus far including Korea, Thailand, India, Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean (Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada), and Spain, as well as four tours in DC in the bureaus of Consular Affairs (CA), Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), and East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP.)

Jake is a consular-coned officer but has spent half his career doing out-of-cone assignments mostly economic positions.

Jake is a runner-up for Department of State and Department of Labor's Labor Officer of the Year Award in 2010. Jake has also received four meritorious honor awards and step increases.

Prior to joining the Department, Jake taught overseas for almost ten years in Korea, including as an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland. He also served in the Peace Corps in Korea.

Jake graduated from the University of the Pacific, (BA, political science) and from the University of Washington, MA in Korean studies and MPA degree. He also speaks Korean, Spanish, Thai, and some Hindi.

Family Cherokee History

Jake's mother's parents were both part Cherokee and spoke Cherokee among themselves and their relatives, but refused to teach their children Cherokee because of social prejudice against Indians at that time. His mother's sisters had Cherokee names and his sister was given a Cherokee name ceremony when she was born. Several of his mother's siblings learned how to speak Cherokee, but his mother had forgotten everything other than a few words. Her relatives were always reluctant to talk about their Cherokee ancestry considering it to be private history.

"Our family always considered ourselves to be part Cherokee and I have done a lot of research on Cherokee history over the years. My mother’s Cherokee ancestry is complicated because her ancestors were descended from the so called “Lost Tribe of the Cherokees.” Her ancestors fled to the Arkansas Hills, Texas and neighboring states rather than joining the Indian removal “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma, or staying in North Carolina and joining the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Her “lost tribe” thus were never enrolled as “official” members of either tribe and became lost to history. When I went to college, I sought a BIA scholarship but was told that since my ancestors were never enrolled as members of an enrolled tribe, I was not eligible. My mother’s iconic comment when I explained this to her was , “No money for you since officially my ancestors never existed as official Cherokees.”