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Cherokee Blood, Little Tree Book and Grandmothers

April 27, 2009
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If you read my The Education of Little Tree post you will know that one of my grandmother’s of generations past told Patti to have me read this and you will know, that I couldn’t really find the message.

My grandmother (she married a Ralston) used to tell me that the Ralston’s were Cherokee. Now, the Ralston’s married into the Sinkey-Houston-Green families and they are likely mixed blood Shawnee.

The Dna male test results came back and we have Cherokee heritage. This means Cherokee through the male line. This is what my grandmother of long ago was trying to tell me.

The most American Indian blood I have would be 25%. My grandmother was 100% Irish and my mother is 100% English and we are not sure about the Ralston’s at all.  We are still figuring that out.

But something happened to me the other night that is difficult to put into words. It shook me up for several days. During the night, I had an experience that seemed very real. It was as if I were having someone else’s experience, including their feelings. I cried out in a voice not like mine (so loudly and different from mine that the sound awakened me) and I cried for a long time after. I was completely disoriented and had to continually tell myself that I was me, in this century and in my own home. It took about two hours to settle down, heart rate and all.

I was a young female in a bed with another young female. Two men woke me up. One had white hair and a calico shirt. His nose was big and sharp and his skin was brown. His hair was medium length and wavy. He was older. His was the face I looked at and then screamed. They were going to take us.  It was not the future. It was the past.

And that is all I can say, except that it was not a nightmare, nor a night terror (as I remember it vividly), and it was not a haunting. And it depressed me for quite a few days after and I felt disoriented and I wondered if my grandmother was talking to me through a vision. And who was in the vision and what happened?

I respect that my ancestors chose to assimilate into white culture, marrying other mixed bloods and generally sticking together, including moving from PA to OH to IA en masse. I think they made the best decision possible under the circumstances they were forced into. I am content with the reality that their choosing to not be on the Dawes Roll made them no longer part of the Cherokee Nation and also content that to be in the Cherokee Nation, your direct ancestor must be on this roll.  I say this because nearly everyone asks me if we had the DNA tested in order to join a tribe — to get free college, etc. For me, it is more about understanding where I come from.

But, I very much would like to spend time with the Cherokee and the Shawnee (as I’m pretty certain of this heritage also) and learn about my ancestor’s people. My people too.

Just as I would like to spend time in Ireland and in England and in Scotland. I would like to meet my awesome cousins in Northern Ireland. Get to know my family in Ireland and England. My Grandmother Ellison nee Tasker is a direct descendant of King Henry II and Elineaor of Aquitaine and their son John, the bad dude in Robin Hood. I should probably go hang out in Sherwood Forrest.

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