I’m an American, a product of our country’s cultural “melting pot.”
I am third generation American in descent from my Czech great-grandparents.
I am thirteen or fourteen generations removed from my English ancestors who settled in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Rhode Island in the 17th and 18th centuries. My ancestors came from Ireland, Germany, France and probably other parts of Europe, many from before the Revolutionary War and some from after.
However, according to my grandfather, we don’t have any Indian ancestors!
The question apparently came up more than once. One instance recounted by my stepmother has her telling my father, “I’m not going anywhere with no Mexican.” Dad had been working long days shirtless and hatless in the summer heat. Like me, he tans very darkly with long exposure to the sun. I had a similar response from a girl many years ago, except I think she said something like, “Ewww, you’re as dark as a Mexican,” somewhat disdainfully.
A few years after that, I asked my grandfather if we had any Indian ancestry on his side. According to him, we didn’t.
Later, after he died, I began researching our ancestry. While I didn’t have a lot to go on, through various databases and the internet, I learned more about my ancestry, including a dirty little secret that wasn’t so dirty and not so much a secret in other branches of our family.
It turns out, of course, that there is some amount of Indian ancestry in my grandfather’s ancestry. I’m sure that he knew it or at least had some suspicion.
It was his grandmother, according to others who knew her, who tried to lighten her skin to be more attractive to the young man she was interested in, who tried to “pass” for white.
Whether or not I have Native American ancestry is not important, just interesting. It does not change who I am.
It does, however, change my views, though only slightly. I can accept that I have ancestry that some view as less than equal.
The thing that really interests me, though, is that very few people really know their ancestry. It is likely that there are many in America with ancestors who may have decided to “pass,” possibly including some who today have very narrow and bigoted views.
Post from one of my abandoned blogs – North Farnham Freeholder – recovered from Internet Archive WayBackMachine and edited 2/27/2011 – page