I’ve written a lot about my searches for information on various family members. I use a bunch of sites to find information and sometimes I forget where I’ve seen something interesting. Right before our trip to Colonial Williamsburg, I saw something about being related to Pocahontas. I thought that was pretty cool, especially when I saw tons of information (and historical assumptions) about her and her family on the trip.
It took me until today to figure out where I saw that. It was on the Mormon Family Search page and it led me right back to it. It turns out that one of her sisters or half sisters is my ancestor, making Pocahontas my 12th great-aunt or something like that. What’s cool about what I found is that all the male tribal ancestors I have were Chiefs. How cool is that?!! From royalty in Scotland to Chiefs in Native American ancestors. So why am I so common, huh?? (My guess is all the mingling of all these things. My goal in life is to make my own legacy, not slide along on the coattails of very distant relatives from centuries ago.
Ancestry is seriously lacking all of this information though. So I attempted to cross reference the sites to start adding the information. But stupid autocorrect wants to find “real words” to switch these native names to that “make sense” to AI. Fuck that. I never realized how racist autocorrect actually is and how if you’re not paying close enough attention, you can’t even spell your own name correctly. Ridiculous.
After everything I’ve learned this past week on vacation, I’m wondering how exactly these white people mixed with this native tribe. Did they kidnap these women? Were they given away as part of negotiations? How did the woman feel living among a bunch of white people who treated the natives as primitive idiots with no culture of their own? I grew up with stories about having a Native American woman in my background, but it wasn’t nearly as close as I’ve been told. This gigantic distance between these ancestors and me accounts for the .1% that 23andMe calls “trace” Native American DNA.
It’s amazing how much education can change your perspective. I think about the people and politicians who criticize the “woke” movement and shout in the faces of people who question their motives that the “woke” just hate America and want to destroy the country and “brainwash” everyone. Basically they believe America is AMAZING and there is nothing to criticize about it. But nothing about the people in my family tree. change who I am fundamentally as a person. The existence of sin in my forefathers doesn’t mean that I should feel guilty for what they did. Was the treatment of Native Americans terrible? YES. Does it continue to be horrific? YES! Is there evidence in my direct family line of crimes against Native Americans? YES! And sadly, that led to all the people who made me. It is what it is. The only way I know how to be about this is to make it known that the things that happened DID happen, educating my kids on how we all came to be while acknowledging something horrible probably happened in our family, but definitely in this country. Pretending it didn’t happen and never talking about it is what is criminal. This country can be great AND these horrible things happened. Why can’t those things BOTH exist in the narrative?
What are these people really about? Why do facts in history need to be covered up and ignored? Why should we pretend these things didn’t happen? Why would we continue the cycle of shutting up the voices we don’t want to hear? Why do they value certain opinions over others? I do not understand this thought process at all. Why would politicians want to split us like this? Why would they play with this nutty idea that slavery and the treatment of Native Americans doesn’t really impact us today?
I think about this kind of stuff over and over, as things come up or I read something new. I can’t stop thinking about how harsh things have been for all of our ancestors and we are busy fighting about stupid shit that’s not even that big of a deal. No one is brainwashing children. No one wants to make children feel bad. But we also can’t back away from history and how damn inappropriate it was for us to cut paper bags into little “Indian vests”, make feather headbands, and eat a pretend Thanksgiving meal. I’ve done this in my lifetime, obviously when I was much younger and didn’t know any better. This wasn’t ok. And talking about why it was never ok is really important to all Americans, but especially the ones who lost their cultural identity, their land, their birthrights, and the things their ancestors did for tens of thousands of years. No, no one alive was an active part of that process, but we all should be part of the solution.
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