I celebrated a birthday a while back, and my sister gifted me with an Ancestery.com account. For years I was curious about where my family roots came from and who they were, really. I knew about the crazy aunts and rowdy cowboys in old Fort Worth, but I was interested in the other ghost from the family’s past.
When the kit arrived, I spat into the tube and sent it away. A few weeks later, I received the results via email. It was not what I had expected.
I look like an Indian, and my mother looked Indian, as well as my grandmother, an American Indian. She grew up on the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, making Buffalo hide clothing and sleeping in a teepee. So who is to question that? Ansestery.com, of course. They say I am a full-bore European from Scotland and Ireland. Not one mention of my Native American genealogy. Furious with the outcome, I call Ancestry and give them a piece of my mind.
I ranted a bit about this and that and how wrong they are. Then, the kind lady told me that Native American heritage is almost impossible to confirm because the tribal counsels refuse to comply with DNA testing and release records. She assured me I was an Indian and could go on acting like one if it pleased me. I am better now.
I am pleased to let my family and friends know that we are still related to Belle Starr, Chief Quanah Parker, Chief Grey Squirrel, and Dancing Rain Doe. Our Cherokee heritage is intact and our war bonnets are flying in the wind.
The best part is that as a kid playing cowboys and Indians, I always played Tonto, and can now prove I was a real Indian. As Chief Dan George once said, “May the wings of Eagles carry you to a peaceful land full of fat game and cold beer.” Kemosabe.