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Old 05-08-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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Growing up my dad would always tell us we were Cherokee, that I had Native American blood. And I believed him.

All my husbands life his dad told him he was Irish. That he was from an old Irish family and that made my husband half-Irish (his mother is Asian). And my husband believed his dad.

Fast forward 30'ish years and now I'm researching the family tree for our kids.

Guess what? I'm not part Native American and my husband is not part Irish. He's mostly Scottish (on his dad's side, Asian on his mom's) and I'm mostly French! lol

It seems this is pretty common with a lot of families.

Why do people verbally attach themselves to a culture or race or community to which they do not actually belong - and then lie to their kids about it?

And what's the big deal about being Irish anyway? Or Native American? And why would someone want to ditch being French, English, or Scottish?

Of course, for a few hundred years, anyway, we've all been plain ole' Americans... so perhaps none of it really matters anyway?
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:47 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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My MIL did this. She was Irish, and made a big deal of it. Collecting Irish things, lace, Beleek China, etc., and always bragging and talking about her Irish Heritage.

In fact, she was also Scottish and English and never mentioned those ethnicities. They were not a secret, but she would down play them and say she was only a "bit" not Irish, when in fact, it was pretty equal.

This was not a lie, but she really did attach herself to one culture and forget about the rest.
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Old 05-08-2012, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
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My cousin swears he is Scot despite the fact our ancestor married a Dutch woman and we cannot prove conclusively the ancestor ever set foot in Scotland. I know for a fact my mother came from a long line of Ducth and my father from a long line of English.

One of the funniest stories is my father's great-grandfather whom he was named after. He never had any children.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:15 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
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I had been told all my life I was Native American and never believed it until I started digging through my family tree.. of course I started 11 yrs ago and never found anything. But one day we went to Cherokee and was walking around and I had an Indian Chief come up to me and ask if I was Indian I of course said um I duno. He said you should check your family history..your bone structure in your face tells the truth. So I had a DNA Test done and it came back saying I was 1/8 Native American. Which left me wondering, So of course this prompted me to start asking questions.. I ask My mom and as she always said yes we do somewhere..lol I ask my dad and he insisted his Grandmother..my Great Grandmother was Cherokee.. so I dug some more.. and FINALLY Finally found what I had been looking for all these years.. I found 3 lines on his side that are Native American.. I was so excited. So I am Cherokee, Shawnee/Cherokee, Cherokee/Powhatan-which was the Virginia Algonquians..and of course he is also English and Irish Gotta love History..
My mom side so far there is no Native American.. which leaves her a bit disappointed, but I am still digging so maybe someday Ill find it on her side to. But she is English, Irish/Scottish, French, German/Prussia, Swedish, Norwegian..lol I'm not sure if theirs room for Native American in there.

I think the main reasons people has problems finding their Native American side is due to the fact that back then families would put them as White in census and hide the fact that they were Indian because they were ashamed of it.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
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If you go back to the era of the Trail of Tears the Native Americans that with very fair skin coloring denied their heritage to avoid the soldiers. I lived in Cherokee territory in Oklahoma and never met and Native American who was ashamed of their heritage. A best friend is Cherokee/Irish. She is true to her heritage and not at all ashamed.
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:26 AM
 
6,061 posts, read 14,055,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfeyes View Post
..
I think the main reasons people has problems finding their Native American side is due to the fact that back then families would put them as White in census and hide the fact that they were Indian because they were ashamed of it.
I didn't know this. I am really new to researching the family tree. I just recently signed up with ancestry.com.

My dad swore we were Cherokee, and I do have many relatives like my grandfather who were born in Indian territory, Claremore, OK. Several generations were born and died there - his dad and his dad's dad. I do have relatives - their brothers and sisters - who are not direct relatives who are on the Dawes rolls and who were actual members of the tribe, I have their documentation and all of that, but they weren't a direct line to me, they were my great uncles and great aunts, and great-great uncles and great-great aunts and so on. On the census and other documents I have found which is my direct line it always says white, and of course the names are all American sounding, "Ben Franklin" this and "Henry Lee" that...

So how or what do you look for if you can't trust the census information when researching native american lineage?

I'm all befuddled now.
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Old 05-11-2012, 04:49 AM
 
22,769 posts, read 28,446,817 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haggardhouseelf View Post
Growing up my dad would always tell us we were Cherokee, that I had Native American blood. And I believed him.

All my husbands life his dad told him he was Irish. That he was from an old Irish family and that made my husband half-Irish (his mother is Asian). And my husband believed his dad.

Fast forward 30'ish years and now I'm researching the family tree for our kids.

Guess what? I'm not part Native American and my husband is not part Irish. He's mostly Scottish (on his dad's side, Asian on his mom's) and I'm mostly French! lol

It seems this is pretty common with a lot of families.

Why do people verbally attach themselves to a culture or race or community to which they do not actually belong - and then lie to their kids about it?

And what's the big deal about being Irish anyway? Or Native American? And why would someone want to ditch being French, English, or Scottish?

Of course, for a few hundred years, anyway, we've all been plain ole' Americans... so perhaps none of it really matters anyway?
i think the "irish" thing is just ignorance. i grew up in a town where very few people ought to have been Irish. Yet, an awful lot of people called themselves "Irish" because they didn't understand there was a difference between Irish and Scots-Irish, and they hadn't done any reading to figure it out.

As far as the native american thing goes... thats a touchy subject for some people on this board.

Both these ancestries have some degree of "mythology" behind them, native americans and celts, that people really become attached to. Being English or German is not so sexy.

Last edited by le roi; 05-11-2012 at 04:59 AM..
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:44 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linicx View Post
If you go back to the era of the Trail of Tears the Native Americans that with very fair skin coloring denied their heritage to avoid the soldiers. I lived in Cherokee territory in Oklahoma and never met and Native American who was ashamed of their heritage. A best friend is Cherokee/Irish. She is true to her heritage and not at all ashamed.

Quoting on the part in Bold..
I don't think your understanding what I'm saying..I NEVER said the Native American's were ashamed of their heritage! IF a Native American married into a White family.. the white family was usually ashamed of this..not all but it depended on the family religion.. Quakers mainly! This would be back in the 1800's NOT 1900's I am assuming you was not born in the early to mid 1800's.. The white families of the person whom was Native American were shamed. I have found that some families whom were Quakers if a Native American was married into the family they would bury whichever was NA on the opposite side of the family graveyard and put them in the census as White instead of Native American and not involve them in family outings!!!

On my mother's side.. I have one Great Grandfather that is possible Native American whom I am told the family was ashamed of him due to this.. they would hide him when family came around.. and he is buried on the opposite side of the graveyard from his own wife.. and I have also found him in the census marked as white and can not find his parents. Everyone in our family insist he was Native American.. but of course I have not found proof of this.. With this part of my family being Quakers it's uncommon for this to have happened back then.
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Old 05-11-2012, 10:19 AM
 
355 posts, read 1,116,133 times
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[quote=haggardhouseelf;24211518]Growing up my dad would always tell us we were Cherokee, that I had Native American blood. And I believed him.

All my husbands life his dad told him he was Irish. That he was from an old Irish family and that made my husband half-Irish (his mother is Asian). And my husband believed his dad.

Fast forward 30'ish years and now I'm researching the family tree for our kids.

Guess what? I'm not part Native American and my husband is not part Irish. He's mostly Scottish (on his dad's side, Asian on his mom's) and I'm mostly French! lol

---------------

I would not be so sure, there is always some true in old family tales. Probably some of your ancestors had some black blood (quite common back in those days) and they said they had Cherokee blood during the 19th and 20th Century.

There are no old Irish families in the US, but Scot Irish.
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Old 05-11-2012, 10:26 AM
 
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I never before heard of Quakers being discriminatory against Indians - this would seem to be in direct contradiction to their religious principles.

However, it's true that many early French and Scottish traders had Cherokee wives in the backcountry of NC and SC, back in the 18th century. These same men may well have had white wives down in Charleston or Wilmington or perhaps up in Philadelphia, if they traveled the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, aka The Great Wagon Road, down through the Valley of Virginia and on into the mountains. But many prominent Cherokee leaders of this era were part-Scottish, as can be seen readily by their surnames.

Not a problem - until gold was discovered in north Georgia, and greed led to the Trail of Tears. By then, a large number of Cherokees were very assimilated, and this was especially true for part-blood people, who often did not have traditional Cherokee names, were well-educated, and for the most part, had given up their traditional Cherokee ways. Such people might have been only 1/8 Cherokee - but they were rounded up like the rest and sent to the Indian Territory, later Oklahoma.

So it made sense to hide one's Cherokee background, if at all possible. Non-Indian names, particularly very "patriotic" given names, like "George Washington Ross" (not a real person), or "Benjamin Frankin McClure" (again, not a real person), plus fair skin, lighter eye and hair coloring, etc. could work in one's favor and help one avoid being sent west and losing almost all of one's possessions in the process.

High cheekbones? Dark hair? Slightly slanted dark eyes? Not necessarily a problem, as these traits occur in other ethnicities. One could always claim to be Black Irish, or Black Dutch, or to have a Spanish grandmother.

Nowadays, descendents of those mixed-blood people who avoided the Removal and avoided being listed on the various Cherokee rolls as a result of their hiding their background, only have family legends of Cherokee background rather than actual legal proof. But there is a way...DNA testing can show one's ethnic background(s). There are also a few rather subtle physical traits which can be inherited - shovel teeth, propensity to certain autoimmune disorders, and so on.

So, talk with your older relatives and compare notes. Look at photographs or portraits of your ancestors. Find out where and how your ancestors lived. Check given names and surnames. There may be no absolute proof, short of DNA testing, but the clues will point in a certain direction if indeed you have hidden Cherokee or other Indian background. If Cherokee doesn't seem to quite fit, but the other clues are there, consider Choctaw lineage.

In my case, it was a simple line in my western Arkansas g-grandmother's obituary, indicating that she had many friends among the "old settlers". I thought that meant just those folks who got there early - the pioneers - until I learned that the term "Old Settlers" was used to indicate a group of conservative Cherokees who voluntarily moved to Arkansas well prior to the Removal.

My g-grandmother was born in southeast Tennessee, close to Monteagle Mountain, and would have been a young girl at the time of the removal. She had dark hair and dark eyes, a full face with high cheekbones and prominent, rather flat cheeks, and a Scottish surname, while her mother had a French maiden name. Her mother's line cannot be traced, but my g-g-grandmother gave her daughters names of European queens: Mary Caroline, Victoria, Isabella, etc. She remarried as a young widow with one child (my g-grandmother), to a man born in Virginia who seems to have been of English ancestry.
There's quite a bit of information to be found about him - but very, very little about my g-g-grandmother, who was born in SC, or her first husband, born in NC and bearing a Scottish surname.

Rumor has it that my g-g-grandmother was part-blood, and that this was a deeply guarded family secret - and that same rumor has descended through different branches of our family. How true is it? We do not know, as none of our family has undergone DNA testing - yet - but all the signs point in the direction of this being a very likely possibility. Could be Cherokee, could be Choctaw - my Arkansas grandmother could count to ten in what she always called simply "Indian", and taught all her grandchildren. We assumed it was Cherokee - and only in recent years learned it was a variation of Choctaw ("chaffa, tuklo, tusk-cheney" - tushina is more correct, but Grandmother always said "tusk-cheney"...). No one ever thought to ask her where she'd learned it - how I wish someone had!

So, look at the family legends, look at the ancestral map, check the dates and places and see what was going on with your ancestors back at the time of the Removal: Where were they? What were they doing? Were they in harm's way? What was their occupation? All the clues from the hidden past may start to emerge...
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