How many times have i heard this? Too many to count. And frankly, I wish people would be honest and confront some things.
As a genealogist and speaker, I often remark about this when I’m giving talks. One of the most common misconceptions that people have when beginning their genealogy research is the time honored “My ____________ was (fill in the blank Native American group).” My response? “Is someone in your family collecting benefits from (fill in the blank Native American group)? Is your ___________ on the dawes roll?” 99% of the time, the answer to both of those questions is no. It’s so prevalent, that folks are even giving genealogy lessons on the “Indian in their family” in cosmetic advertisements. lol
This is one of the few genealogy topics that irks me to no end. Why? I see it being passed down to our younger generations. Of course, if someone is going on hearsay, they are naturally going to pass down these things to their children because they heard them as a child. Most likely, no one in the family is going to bother to research whether or not it’s true. I mean, if you do, this means that folks have been telling a lie for a long time and that the story has to change. lol Most folks would rather just keep on believing a lie.
As a child, I heard from many relatives that our family was Cherokee. folks would point to the time honored classics of “Indian indentification,” – high cheek bones, long hair, or just “lookin’ like one of them Indians.” lol For the longest time, I thought people were talking out of the side of their necks although I knew that the grandparent on this side was from Oklahoma. I’ll admit that i claimed Cherokee ancestry without really knowing if I had it. I mean, how else did i inherit the hair and features I have? lol Not entirely true. As my research further showed, me and many others like me could have inherited these things due to a percentage of European ancestry. Regardless, along I went trying to verify these claims.
What I found humbled me, shocked me, and gave me some things to think about. One of those things was:
Did I ever consider the price that was paid to bring non African ancestry into my lineage?
There was a price paid, period. Bills have been paid left and right for centuries and to this day, they still are. When folks throw this and that group around like it’s a Girl Scout badge, I think they may forget that they had a bill or two taken care of by someone who preceded them. We rarely think about these bills when were just throwing things around casually and in my opinion, we all should be more careful.
Why? The person who brought that additional ancestry into your family may have endured a rape or a forced relationship that they didn’t want and couldn’t control. On the other hand, the ancestor could have wanted the relationship but had to endure horrible treatment from others because it wasn’t the norm at the time. Regardless off the positive or negative feeling, a bill was paid. Some were heftier than others. I’m coming to several conclusions about my own that I’ll blog about here. It’s my way of honoring those who paid a price for me.