Native American ~ Not?

I did not intend to read, write or think about anyone’s Native ancestry, at least not today; it just kind of fell into the room from the cybersphere. So I did a little google that led me to a long-time great blogger’s take, and I had a good read about what Native is not. But nothing to help answer those legitimate questions which leave me wanting to know how much fairy ancestry I have from the feengrotten of my German Caves.  Seriously. As for the blogger, I agree with everything she said, about the dos and don’ts of asking whether you have any Native American ancestral heritage.

But I do think that she and all the others who have written about this, including me, (I celebrate my 15th year this year of reading and working with DNA for genealogy), have been a bit too harsh in judging people, and too fussy about people’s lack of education about researching ancestral heritage.

And this is just one of those issues in DNA-for-genealogy that STILL CANNOT be answered, fully. Not that anyone should identify as anything; this is not the point. Do I have German?  Of course I do, and I have every right to go have a beer for Octoberfest. And if I want to go have a good time by visiting a PowWow in Virginia or Ontario, I might do that also. I also visited Spain, which was the home of an H10a1 some time in the last few thousands of years.

This has nothing to do with identifying as this or that; it is about having a wonderful time with tourism inspired by genealogy and DNA.

How many Native American people are in the reference populations used by the DNA companies for their ethnic breakdowns? We cannot really answer these questions yet. Like we cannot identify the exact breakdown of the British Isles and Western Europe; the DNA all looks too much alike. There are other tools for that, but not from DNA.

I bought one of those fancy analyses for my G2a husband years ago – a couple of hundred dollars and today we can see its guesses are utterly hogwash.

I was furious years ago with Dr Gates for laughing at people in such a sarcastic way about “did so’n’so have Native American ancestry?” and the old high-cheekbone story, and “this question cannot be answered yet.”  Yes, it can, and has been somewhat. But as with so much else in DNA-for-genealogy, there are so many things we still don’t know.

I also heard recently a person who began a lecture with,  “All of you who want to (find) your Native American ancestry …” Was the person being sarcastic? And later there was another reminder about appropriate and inappropriate reasons for searching.

So you let some orphanage nun beat the flaming … out of you because of your heritage, which you know nothing about (even though you might want to know).  Take that one from the North. As for the South, you put up with all the jack-a-s-es making fun of your mother and wanting to know, “where is she from?” and “are you sure that is… isn’t…?” And later, in politically correct world: “Oh I didn’t know your mother is Mulatto.” I didn’t start it, but I grew up with the questions about “what” she was.

I am glad my mother didn’t live to see her results; it would have killed her.  There was no Native, not then anyway. Later on, comparing her in different databases with different populations,  there is the trace of something. But who knows what?

cherie Shirley

I have no interest in joining any population. Familiarity breeds contempt, and I have learned too much about too many populations to want to claim or admit to any of them. But …for folks who might dearly hope for membership and help? Dear God have mercy, there are folks who are desperate for a heritage, any heritage. This is part of why ancestry is so popular. And yet the industry can’t talk about all the reasons people search except rudely. And it won’t teach people that there are other ways to express the desire to know where they come from.

Dr. Gates made me furious. Such snobbery — “oh the family stories are just not true.” And when you think about how difficult it must be, for some at least, to reach back to their white ancestors to find someone to love and embrace , then it is easy for me to understand why anyone would hope they have honored Native forebears.

I have a client who was praying to find a Native American ancestor because she knew if it was not that, then it was African American. Now, understand me: Personally I wish I had more recent African ancestry. But I am not going to judge her hopes. Certainly it is rank bigotry and yuck! But she also knows she will spend her last days being cared for by her bigoted son-in-law, and if African turns up in her ancestry …. Well, he is not likely to be kind about it, and he could become very angry thinking about his children and blame her for their impurity.

Folks think the one-drop laws were outrageous. Daggum right they were, and folks need to realize this mess is still with us today, and in some ways more dangerous than ever before.

I am not telling that woman her updated results. What if she takes it badly and gets mad, and then paranoid, about me knowing her secret? And I see there is enough identifiable ancestry that it was likely a rumor or whispered family secret. But when she first tested, there was nothing. I wish I could… have never known.

My mouth dropped when another lady wrote asking, “Is there this, or this ancestry?” and it was for college hopes. I was going to write a scolding email. Then I thought again. She works full time – both she and her husband do – both with long commutes. Both participate in the school lives of  their four children 24/7. She likely got the idea from a bulk email of worthless info that might have come from space aliens (the information was certainly space junk).

I am a true mixed mutt myself, and so I know I cannot claim anything really. Yes, I grew up in the Deep South with some of the worst bigotry the world has to offer. But in my running away from it, I found bigotry and cruelty and bias and unfair practices in every bloody corner of the earth.

Although I was growing up in the South, I had a few folks in my life who were just the opposite of bigots. But because I had hard-core liberals, as well as the one-drop-law people who hated everyone except “lily white” people in my life, I was hurt by both extremes and working constantly to not let each side see the other in me. I had to be a chameleon around all sides of my several divorced families, each with a different culture and background.

1 Copy of knight harry and pearl Stripling Knight and cropped

I learned my family history while being rocked as a child – rocked until my feet drug the floor. I was living with my grandparents who loved their families’ many histories and herstories. We went multi-state searching for both the ancestors and the descendants of folks. I was taught my snooty Southern ancestry which was compared to that of my mother: the Northern outsider, different – that bad blood – that hue, color, shade – whatever anyone wanted to call it.  And besides that, Catholic. Our family history was full of who was acceptable and who was not. That blood ancestry – that one-drop world – was maybe no longer the law of the land but it was the law at home. “But don’t you worry Cherie Lynn, you do have your daddy’s side,” I would be reminded by the so-called genteel side of the family.

Oh yes, I know about source snobbery, pedigree snobbery, and still am shocked by how mean people can be to each other.

1953 cherie and co atlanta

The maid or my mother.

I will never forget telling my mother she could not attend functions at my school. She and most of her siblings favored their French Canadian grandmother, who carried her heritage like a badge of honor and would have thought the bigots insane to include her among the ones they were rejecting. But every place on earth has someone who gets kicked down the pecking order, and I do believe all these issues tie in together. That is why I deplore the use of the term “ethnicity” to describe our admixture or origins or whatever else “this thing” gets called.

Yes, yes, this and that company has this and that great feature using massive amounts of data and correlating it and sending people notifications. And yet we know the current “no trace” reading for some or many populations will also change. All the readings will change to some degree as more and different populations are added to the computer databases.

And shame on those teachers who will pooh-pooh someone’s desire to belong, and scold them for their misconceptions, and all the while they are shilling the charts and graphs and maps showing people their forebears, all based on misidentified admixture. And what cute outfit should they wear? A buckskin tunic or leather chaps?

People have been living together from the depths of the mountains to the shores for many years now on this continent, and it is not only Native Americans who have traces (and sometimes lots) of European ancestry, and not just African Americans who have traces and often lots of European and Caucasian ancestries. It is also European-Caucasian folks who have been here for these centuries and several generations who are now discovering their African forebears. So why wouldn’t they   see their Native American ancestry if those people were well represented in the reference populations and the tests results would reach that far back?

The very idea that the test companies can truly distinguish all the specific regions of the British Isles and Western Europe is also conveniently not questioned. Sites and scientists like Insitome’s and Razib Khan’s and Dr Wells’ clearly show what I wrote before and before: Choosing your ancestry from an autosomal test is like throwing darts, so who is in a position to deprecate someone else?

I visited northern Spain and southern France and I did not see much of anyone other than white people. It was so much so that it was noticeable and I remarked on it. In one place where we spent a week in Spain, I saw one black person. From top to bottom, all the workers in the place were white – not light brown or cream, white. I was not expecting it to be so much a place for only one kind of people.

My experiences run from Asia to the Middle East; from Canada to my birth home in Alabama. So many of my friends are displaced migrants whose ancestries make up a true global melting pot. No wonder countless people long to know who they are. Even Native Americans must now want to learn all about their first wave of Native ancestors and the second wave who arrived from Asia later. They must want to know their trace ancestors and cousins, not only in Europe but also in Polynesia and Siberia! They can have a new homeland to visit – Mother Russia!

Of course none of us mutts can claim anything. We are mutant mixes making up a newly formed people — not Native American or African American or Iberian American or Anatolian American or my favorite, Romanian American.

Do I have to pick one ethnicity to love over the other? I can’t – I love them all. But if I were forced to pick only two? No, I can’t. I love learning about every one of me.

I began adding music, some video and some fun complementary genealogy “stuff” to my blogs, as and when they might fit. YouTube has had loads of fun things that are easy and free to add to your blog, or family history and herstory from a Google-associated outfit. All folks know I say Google it, google it, and google it again, over and over, and learn all the tricks to searching in any website.

If I picked a song would that reveal how I identify? Well maybe, depending on what mood I was in for music. My Dai and I love a lot of the same 60s and there abouts and we might like some rockin’ Lovin Spoonful or some soul, heart stirrin’ R and B of early Aretha. So only maybe would a song reveal my id and in what mood, but… you tube has the proof of our anniversary celebrations but the music can never really be hear – but SRV’s Pride and Joy says it all. See below and many other blogs with Dancing German Witches, Finnish Rock Stars and long lost Russian choirs.

Copy of Jen Shirley and jenny and Gerrie

The definitions of what is what in the south become very specific – very certain. Very wrong and awful and disgusting and heartbreaking and altogether too real.

This is how a decade ago I found family heirlooms and also sent out the word to help missing family heirlooms get back home again. I am out of time for helping any more heirlooms find their way home, but there are many groups on Facebook and other social media sites where you can learn about groups of peoples, families of peoples and the true implications of coping with one’s identity.

What do I identify as? I am a white mutt – but I knew people who would have snickered under their breath if they heard me say that. We certainly don’t need snickering genealogists laughing at our family stories.

My mother went to her grave: I’m Irish. Her experience in the south was something else. With updated reference populations in databases to compare her to she shows more and more Native American. I feel for the times I have said what I was supposed to say according to the company line – “you have no Native, the family story was wrong.”

Ten years later from the early mistakes in reporting folks makeup – – yes, many White folks and Black folks do have some Native American. Don’t belittle or minimize or distract from my learning my herstory – it is not mean t to be anything but what it is – mine. And it is Irish Scottish Welsh English French German Finnish First Nations Romanian Russian Siberian Iberian Anatolian Indus Valley Ancient and others!

This is a tiny part of my history or herstory, and with the much-beloved pedigree collapse that I go on and on about, I remind all who have even an iota of European, about this – we are everybody we wish.

This was written about Britons but…

“The mathematics of descent has fascinated many people. “If we could go back and live again in all of our two hundred and fifty million arithmetical ancestors of the eleventh century,” Henry Adams wrote in 1904 of those with Norman-English blood, “we should find ourselves doing many surprising things, but among the rest we should certainly be ploughing most of the fields of the Contentin and Calvados; going to mass in every parish church in Normand y; rendering military service to every lord, spiritual or temporal, in all this region; and helping to build the Abbey Church at MontSaint- Michel.” And, more recently, the sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson has written, “The gene pool from which one modern Briton has emerged spreads over Europe, to North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. The individual is an evanescent combination of genes drawn from this pool, one whose hereditary material will soon be dissolved back into it.”

The Mountain of Names

Just how many populations do we all descend from? Some more than others, certainly . Add five thousand years — a few, short, five thousand years — and we all will descend from more peoples and many populations. These early populations moved across the globe like ocean currents. How many times now?

Ice-age ancestors — who very likely were brown or even black or something other than white and European-looking — capture our imaginations and hearts with their 25,000-year-old artwork, the beautiful bull gods and mother goddesses of Willendorf. These are the stags of our dreams and the eye of our hearts. They watch after us, eon after eon, these symbols of our earliest cultures and peoples the world over.

In thanks to and memory of Father Raya who was a blessing and wonderful example of true openness and oneness for all peoples. He was in Birmingham, Alabama, for a short while during my life there and shone the light to follow during integration. My mother was Catholic and my father and his traditional Southern family were  fundamentalist Protestants and far too many preachers.

Father Raya’s stories and findagrave.

From his birth to the years in Egypt before this time…

“Settling in the United States of America, Father Joseph Raya mostly served as a priest in Birmingham, Alabama. His sixteen years in Birmingham were characterized by a number of ambitious, but successful undertakings: he promoted vernacular (English) in Byzantine Church services, he engaged in deep interpretive study and activity whereby he reframed many traditional Orthodox theological constructs. For example, he redesigned theological constructs that would negate violence, especially towards Jews. He recognized and responded to various racial, religious, and ethnic inequalities, and became a close personal friend of Martin Luther King Sr. and Martin Luther King Jr. Finally, he supported and embraced their philosophies of non-violent resistance.”

…and after in Israel and Palestine.

Archbishop Joseph Raya – Apostle of Peace and Love


…also remembering Rafi who said he was a white man in America, but he was a black man in Israel and Palestine.

I heard just this week a person say, something to the effect of, “no, you don’t know what white is”

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