I’ve written before about having some Melungeon ancestry [here, here, and here], but I think this will be the last in the series. This, admittedly, is just a theory. I was very confident in it, but really it’s just conjecture from the internet, so I’ve downgraded my confidence to just “it’s likely” or perhaps even “it’s a real possibility.” I’m looking at inconclusive physical characteristics and inconclusive migration patterns. All of this is very plausible, but thinking about it further, I think I might have been too eager in my conclusions. I don’t have any hard evidence.
Most people with significant enough (New World) Indian ancestry to look vaguely Indian can tell you their exact ancestry percentage. My family has never done that. It was just a guess. This should in theory point to an ancestry like Elizabeth Warren’s, but I have such clear physical traits. Most half-Indians I meet look like regular White people. I look like a terrorist.
I haven’t had an immigrant ancestor since at least the 1800s but probably much farther back. Most immigrants at that time had been from northwestern Europe. That side of the family has always said, “We’re Scotch-Irish,” and although they came from southern Indiana, it really points to a Southeastern origin. There were some Scotch-Irish in the back country of Pennsylvania and New York, but they were less common and would have probably migrated east to the industrial mid-Atlantic cities instead of the Midwest.
The Melungeons I saw in Hancock County have a similar skin tint and facial structure, but of course that’s not conclusive. Melungeons tend to be very tall, and I have a brother who is 6’5″, but that could just as easily point to any number of ethnicities. Most of my family on that side has straight black hair, which, again, is a common Melungeon trait that is shared with a wide variety of other peoples.
I have a bump on the back of my head. This can point to a Melungeon ancestry, but it is also indicative of Central Asian, American Indian, or even Germanic heritage. I’m pretty sure my Germanic heritage is minimal (as far as I know, there was a great great great grandmother from the Netherlands, and that was on a different side of the family). American Indian heritage is almost certain, but that alone doesn’t explain anything. I also have shovel teeth, which is indicative of a Central Asian or American Indian background and is common among Melungeons. Previously these two were the two most conclusive pieces of evidence, but further reading has shown me that these are actually kind of common in a variety of ethnicities and really just indicate that you aren’t totally White.
Did I do the internet thing where you read too much and make sweeping judgments about yourselves? I remember one time I diagnosed myself with borderline personality disorder because I get kind of moody and I read a brief article on it. Did I do the same thing with Melungeon ancestry?
It’s the only theory I’ve ever heard that actually makes sense. It also has no direct evidence. It’s certainly extremely plausible, and it’s a better answer than giving a blank stare when people ask me my ethnicity. I think I could get away with a “I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure I have some Melungeon ancestry.”
If that’s not the answer, what else possibly could be? There were no Mexicans east of the Mississippi River aside from occasional migrant farm workers (hence Mississippi tamales), and I don’t have the Denise Huxtable skin color. I don’t have any physical characteristics of either of those two races. The only other common colored race at the time was the Indians, and the ancestry would be too far back for the physical characteristics to still be present.
And anyway, whatever the source of my physical appearance, the vast majority of my ancestry is Celtic. I don’t really care whatever small element gives me dark skin. I’m not about to join the heritage society, write a doctoral thesis, or decry the evils of racism. I just don’t want to feel like an orphan without any papers.
Maybe I should go back to the old “It’s some vague Indian element. Who knows?” line. Though that always leads to someone telling me to look into it and getting a government check, when really I just want to drop the conversation. I can’t tell you how sick I was in high school of people asking me my ethnicity. I would just make up answers like Dravidian or Bulgarian.
Can’t we just accept the 90-ish% Celtic ancestry and the distant uncle who signed the Declaration of Independence? The Blacks at work tell me I’m the Whitest person they’ve ever met. I’m certainly more American than the white-looking children of Polish immigrants.
See, this is why I could never be a Buddhist. Buddhism teaches that the origins of humanity don’t matter. But it’s a question people aren’t able to get past. I’ve read a lot lately on how children of donor sperm have a lot of problems as adults wondering about their other genetic half.
And I’m really pissed at my family for never providing an answer beyond, “We’ve got some Cherokee on John’s side.” Which, no, we almost certainly do not, because there were no Cherokee in Indiana. Some moved there in the late 1800s, but that’s probably too late for the ancestry to be this ambiguous. “I’ve got some Cherokee background” is such a common thing for pasty White Tennesseans to say without any evidence (though it’s often true) that I have a hard time believing that the Indiana Martins actually say that. Although, again, the Martin family most likely migrated from the rural South, so maybe it’s not just a dismissive explanation.
My father and his father certainly knew a wider family network in Indiana. They could have done more research and found out. They were intelligent and financially well-off. It would have made a much better mid-life hobby than buying a Lexus.
My grandmother on my father’s side claimed she had a similar dark sin, but really it was just a slight olive tint you would only notice if you compared her to a Scandinavian. Her family actually is from Chattanooga, so sure, I’ll believe there’s some Cherokee there. She tried to convince me we’re part Black because of there’s a street in the ghetto with the same name as some distant relatives, so I’m pretty sure she just wants to be colored for the liberal credits. She is the only person in the country who was genuinely excited about Hillary Clinton becoming president, and she used to have a painting of Lyndon Johnson she salvaged from a post office.
So fine. I’m a Celt. There’s almost certainly some Injun in there. There’s a definite possibility of Melungeon ancestry. Ultimately, I’m an angry Southern Appalachian Scots-Irish who hates President Washington, refuses to respect DUI laws, and thinks it was a mistake to free the niggers. That’s my race. That’s the tribe I’m loyal to. All you Krauts, Slavs, and Catholics who keep voting Democrat need to get out of my country. Fuck off.