The binary racial system of the South leaves no room for the kind of ancestry most native Southerners actually carry around. That is to say white/black lines don’t allow for the phenotypically white to be cool with their African or Native ancestry without either being labeled Black or Indian. You can’t just be an Alabaman, you know? Of course you do. As a nation we’ve been trying to be “just Americans” for a long time I suppose. As for all the white folks in the South who claim native ancestry, my theory is that at the time of removal in the 19th century, wealthy, landed mixed race Native Americans were made to move West if they wanted to keep their slaves and plantations and deeply traditional Native Americans were made to go West because of their perceived military threat to the white settlers anxious to get at new farm land. I think there were probably a lot of landless, culturally Anglo, mixed race people who posed neither an economic nor military threat already living in North GA, NE Alabama., etc. who were allowed to stay put. Hence the tradition. That’s my theory, anyway. I’d love to know if a historian somewhere can either back it up or tell me I’m completely nuts. The Poarch Creek in South Alabama are an example of a Native community (really just a handful of families) that was already completely mixed race by the time of Removal but which was allowed to stay in Alabama because their historic alliance with the US government.