Saturday, February 4, 2012

Native American or just American?

As I was growing up I was always told that we were part Indian (in today's politically correct world that would be Native American), I took this information passed down from great grandparents to grandparents to my parents and then to me to be true and indisputable. Three of my Great Great Grandmothers were supposed to be  full blood and someone on another branch as well.

Fast forward to August 2010 when I started my family research and decided to track down these Indians and find their Indian names.  

Shock of all shocks, I cannot find one ancestor with a non-Christian name.  Well heck, what happened ? where are my Indians? who are they? 

Fortunately one of my cousins, on my dads' side, had tracked down an ancestor, Elija "Elihu" Debord, with a Roll Number.  Never heard of a roll number? ("During the Indian Removal beginning in 1831 extensive records were generated through the turn of the century... )   I had heard of roll numbers but I did not know how important they were, and truthfully I always figured my Indian ancestors had hid from any "Government" men and therefore would not have been on any rolls. Okay now that she had found an ancestor with a roll number all she has to do is apply to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma  to be admitted to the tribe, right? Wrong. Our ancestor never made the Trail of Tears, as far as our research indicates he never lived on a reservation either. Okay, fair enough, he lived free but he was still a Cherokee.  My cousin did more research over several years contacting tribes and historians finally finding a small group of Cherokee Indians in Kentucky who had never left Kentucky and that is the small poor tribe we are members of. Cool so we get admitted right? 

Hold your horses, just because you CLAIM this Indian on the rolls is your ancestor doesn't make it so. Now you must PROVE your lineage to said person. 

WHAT???  These hill people, farmers, independent people probably didn't leave any proof behind , how to prove?   Thankfully my cousin did finally get census records with names of the parents and children until she came to our Great Grandmother who actually had a birth certificate.  Of course by now we are into modern times and our grandparents and parents do have birth certificates we can use for proof.  Cannot thank my cousin enough for proving our lineage. 

But hey , what about the other three Indian ancestors?

Truthfully I am still searching, connecting with people who are also descended from the same "Indian" on my tree.  One of the first things I will ask a new found cousin is "Have you ever been told you were Indian on this line?" Some people will say "Absolutely NOT! Not a drop of Indian blood"  others will say "Yes I was told I am 1/4 Cherokee but the ancestors didn't want anyone to know they were Indian so they never applied for "Headrights" "
Eliza or Elizabeth Arnett told my grandpa that she was a Cherokee Indian but did not register because her husband was an outlaw.
 Great great grandmother, Dafayette "Dave" Kimbal-Kimble-Kimbrel (not sure how either of her names were spelled) some family members think she was Cherokee others Choctaw,  was disowned when she married my white great great grandfather, okay fair enough , she married white and lived white. 
 My great great grandfather, Albert Pitts,  expressed that if he applied for Indian rights he would never be free again, once again , fair enough , except.. what the heck tribe were you?  I know this branch used to live in a covered wagon and would spend about 2 months every year living on an "Osage" reservation , but were they Osage? Am I? 

My quest continues and I invite you to ride along.