Looking for truth in family lore

american indian wigwam

Perhaps my American Indian ancestors lived in a wigwam

For as long as I can remember the paternal branch of my family tree has related the story of our American Indian heritage. I have always been told that my Great-Grandfather was from an indigenous culture. The mystery, for myself and my father, has always been “what native culture do we belong to?”. Even my paternal Grandmother didn’t know for sure. She traveled to Oklahoma several times, hoping to find the answers.

You might be asking, “Why didn’t she just ask her father?” Well, he was secretive about his heritage. He rarely mentioned his past and even then he was guarded. Typically, he would have a looser tongue after ingesting a great amount of whiskey but even then he would clam up if questioned too much. He did relate that his father told him to stay away from the reservations, they were not good for the people. For a long time we believed that he had run away from a reservation, but now I wonder. We do know that he was terrified that if he told, even his children, where his people were that he would be forced to go back.

For years, my father and I have tried to unravel the mystery. Dad felt certain that our heritage belonged to the Pottawatomie. That never clicked with me, it just didn’t feel right. After years of searching and contemplating, I have been pretty convinced that we probably belong to the Ojibwe family. Well, until recently, that is.

Test Your DNA
dna kit

DNA Confirms American Indian Ancestry

So, just before Christmas the dna testing went on sale. I decided that would be a perfect gift for my father. Just before I hit the button to place the order, I decided, “Oh what the heck, just order two!” The test kits arrived very quickly and I couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling. I went ahead and spit into the tube of one kit and saved the other to give to Dad. My results are back; we are still waiting for Dad’s.

Turns out that the family legend has truth in it. Dad was wrong about the Pottawatomie and I was wrong about being Ojibwe. From the results it looks like we are most likely from the Apache culture. From the area on the map that shows our dna matches it just about has to be correct. There were connections in southwest New Mexico, northwest Texas and the Durango and Chihuahua regions of Mexico. Researching the specific areas on the map found that one culture was common to all of those areas, the Apache. Certainly there were other indigenous peoples in all of those areas but the only one that was in all of them were the Apaches.

I still want to narrow it down further to find out which band of Apache my ancestors belonged to. It could be Lipan, Mescalero or Jicarilla from what I have found so far. I am kind of leaning closer to Mescalero than the others. As for Great-Grandpa escaping a reservation, it might be more sinister than that. He would have been a child when the Apache were moved to reservations. It is extremely possible that he was one of the children who was taken from their family to be adopted by a Caucasian family. That would explain a lot! For one thing why he had a very European name and the other is that there are no records that I have found for him until the day that he married my Great-Grandmother. My search has been narrowed down by a considerable amount.

I will end this post for today but plan to visit the topic again as I find answers to my true American Indian DNA.


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