Many families have such a woman of mystery on their family tree.  

She was supposed to be an 'Indian princes'.  She was supposed to have been a member of a southern tribe. Native Americans laugh and deride the claims, rightly feeling that at times it has been an attempt to 'get free stuff from the Government.'  Or worse, to grab land promised to Native peoples via various treaties.  

Sometimes, she was an African-American woman bought and sold in slavery.  She was devalued because of her color and her status.  Sometimes, she was Hispanic or Asian and disparaged for her color, language, or customs. Driven underground, living a lie to be accepted and raising families during terrible racism and limitation.

New DNA research is indicating that the myth of 'pure bloodlines' is mostly myth.  We are ALL products of a mixing and mating of diverse people groups since the first days we stood and looked around our world.  The concept of race is a fairly recent, and notorious, invention designed to limit and control.  

In my own family is such a story in one line.  She was supposed to have been 'an Indian' and her name was either Washtella or Watella or something similar.  She came to be a partner with an ancestor (I like to think it was love but am realistic to known such mating often occurred for very different reasons: economic, convenience, political,  etc).  She adopted the customs, name, and language of her new family.  She was a good mother and faithful wife, she was a quiet woman, and strong, yet who she was, who her birth family was, was lost and buried long ago.  

I can learn nothing about her for some of the reasons listed above. I have had the story laughed at and been accused of trying to 'get something'.  Well, yes I am. I am trying like any family historian to get the story and know the truth.  Who else will care about the mystery woman on the family tree?

Another group dealing with these issues are called the Melungeons.  This label refers to a group who may have started out as Portuguese sailors abandoned off the eastern seaboard of the US in the 1500's.  They also include people whose ancestry included Native Americans and African ancestry as well. They tended to seek out the lonely, isolated regions and are found in all the places where two family lines can be found.

I do not care if I have a Native American, African American, Asian, or Hispanic in my family tree.  I am opposed to the concept of race because it tends to divide people rather than unite them as humans.  

As DNA continues to break down the old structures and make clear how interconnected the human family really is, it is hoped that we can also mature in our acceptance of one another without registers, rolls, or government designations.

All because of that mystery woman on the family tree and our rediscovery of what it means to be humans rather than labels.

No comments:


Search 113.0 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: