Musings, rants, rambling, general nonsense

Fauxcohontas & Me

Posted on | June 7, 2012 | No Comments

The recent brouhaha caused by Elizabeth Warren‘s claims of Native American ancestry reminded me of stories from my childhood. Specifically, that we are related to Pocahontas*.

My paternal grandmother was very thorough about researching and documenting her family tree. I knew her to be a reliable source, and I know she must have had some strong documentation, as she arranged our membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution**

However, some of the names I heard listed in the family line seemed…fanciful. Robert E Lee, Pocahontas…. I remember just assuming she had embellished to make us pay attention LOL

Still, I felt enough of a connection to feel a bit protective of the Pocahontas story. The Disney-esque versions that have a sexy, post-pubescent Indian princess frolicking with John Smith always get my back up.

This latest news cycle inspired me to do a bit of reading, and just a cursory glance at readily available online documents (I have no idea what became of all my grandmother’s genealogical documents, hopefully one of my siblings rescued them when she passed) prove that, whad’ya know – Grandma was right. So now I guess I can send in those applications for Ivy League employment 😉

The fact is, though, that even if I had known for certain all my life that my father had descended from not just Indian blood***, but one of the most famous natives in American history, I would not have considered claiming “minority status” as a way to get ahead. There is just nothing in my upbringing that would lead me to believe that would be the proper course.

But I may be able to contribute a recipe for corned beef & cabbage to a book of Native American recipes….

* I actually always felt OK saying I was related to Pocahontas, because that was the given name of my grandmother’s sister (they called her “Pokey”… for short) I suppose I should have considered the possibility that a family of decidedly English ancestry choosing that particular name might have supported the story’s veracity. It seems others in the line were named for her father Powhatan, and for her younger names, Matoaka and Amonute.

** I recall attending 1 or 2 events as a child, but not being particularly interested. As I’ve grown older and developed a greater appreciation for history, I wish I had been more appreciative of the work she did – as well as the insight and opportunities the membership would have afforded me. I know they do good work – and offer some sweet scholarships.

*** I guess I still don’t know we descended from Pocahontas, as the begets that are listed get a bit confusing. Related to, definitely. Descended from, eh…maybe


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