American Genealogist

In midlife, Yates rediscovered his Native American genealogy and made numerous contributions to American Indian, and in particular, Cherokee studies.


“Donald Panther-Yates” (also published as “Donald N. Yates” or “Donald Neal Yates”) is an American genealogist, author and DNA investigator. Yates was born July 9, 1950 in a North Georgia town where his grandparents were farmers and his father ran a grocery store. He was the fourth of five children. His genealogical memoir The Bear Went Over the Mountain (Cherokee Press, 1995) draws on stories (“an exalted type of gossip”), courthouse records and then-scarce family history publications in the days before the Internet, as well as literary sources like W.J. Cash’s The Mind of the South. In various state chapters, ranging from Virginia to Georgia, Alabama and Florida, sketches of pioneer life appear, inspired in part by the writers of the 1930s Work Projects Administration series, when the Federal government hired out-of-work writers to pen travel and history guides, just as it commissioned painters to produce murals in post offices across the country.

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