Chief Disappointment

Science and medicine have come a long way since sage smoke was used to help heal and ward off evil spirits. In most cases, advances have been beneficial and productive. Still, there are times when even the most well-intentioned advancements can lead to disappointment.

For example, the advances made through the study of DNA resulted in all sorts of benefits. From helping identify potential health risks to reuniting siblings separated at birth or helping provide justice for the victims of horrible crimes.

DNA analysis also made genealogy a big business. Today, anyone who wishes can spit in a test tube, and one company or another will begin tracing their genetic history. Of course, there are downsides to almost any scientific breakthrough, and those researching their heritage through the scientific method are not always happy with the findings.

Take my family for example. My mother’s side of the family tree was proud and vocal about their Native American heritage. I remember hearing stories of our Cherokee and Choctaw heritage from a young age. One in particular was told regularly.

It was the tale of the young Cherokee cousin who decided to leave Oklahoma and move to Florida. He became a successful entrepreneur in the hotel business and was the family’s pride.

No one could provide any evidence that the story and heritage were true. However, if looks meant anything, they were spot on as far as ancestry was concerned. My grandmother’s features and bearing would have allowed her to play a Native American matriarch in any Hollywood Western.

Thankfully, my mother and grandmother passed before DNA tests became a feature of the modern world. Otherwise, they might have received devastating news when I took two DNA tests to learn more about my lineage.

The reason for my research had nothing to do with my mom’s family history. No, I was checking on my dad’s side of the family. My goal was to identify my father’s lineage. His biological father was known only to his mom, and she never shared the info.

I still receive notifications about potential relatives and ancestors from the services I used. Most of those are worthless or validate what I already knew. However, the original DNA tests answered a question I did not ask.

As expected, I discovered that my dad’s heritage was likely Scottish-Irish, with some Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA thrown in for good measure. I also found there was not one small percentage of Native American DNA in my body. The closest I came to Native American DNA was Asian.

The Asian DNA match makes sense. Most experts agree groups from Asia originally populated the Americas. Still, as much as I’d like to think otherwise, there is little chance I am probably related to Sitting Bull, Geronimo, or any other famous Chief. *

* I know! None of the most well-known chiefs were Cherokee or Choctaw, but one can dream, can’t he?

© 2023

About S. Eric Jackson

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9 Responses to Chief Disappointment

  1. The Hinoeuma says:

    Interesting info. Ken’s daughter did the 23&me test and babbled on about all the people she was a-kin to. She got a kit for Ken and he had no interest, what so ever.

    You know, thousands of years ago, there was a land bridge between Alaska & Russia. Have you ever noticed that the Inuit look very much like Mongols? Over time, I think with evolution, ultimately, Native Americans are mixed with Asians…long, long, long time ago.

    Case in point:

    • It’s interesting how this Native American heritage thing works. My mom’s family had nothing to prove such heritage, though as I understand it some of the extended family ended up in a tribe that achieved recognition in the early 20th century. it was allegedly composed of folks with Native American heritage marrying Mexican-Americans. In other cases, you or your clear ancestry must be noted in some official or semi-official documents.

      Then, last year a friend was contacted by a group I’d never heard of before. Their chief had started a search for descendants who might have been missed or overlooked. Suddenly, he was acknowledged as a full member of the tribe. Personally, I think it helped that he was extremely wealthy and well known. Still, he felt very honored. Sadly, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer a short time later and succumbed to the cancer.

      AS for the passage from Asia to Alaska, here’s something I wrote earlier this year you might find interesting. It’s a bit long winded, but it is one of my fond memories from my nomadic youth.

      • The Hinoeuma says:

        There is Native American blood in my family, undocumented. My maternal grandmother had the high cheekbones and the face shape. A maternal uncle, one of my mom’s younger brothers, talked about a great aunt with an olive complexion and the black, straight hair. Plus, I remember a great uncle with the black hair, high cheek bones and olive complexion. That maternal uncle has done some research but, we don’t have enough blood percentage to be tribe members…but, the resemblance to Natives is there.

        NC has a tribe in the Eastern portion of the state around Lumberton. That tribe is recognized as Lumbee in the state but, unrecognized by the Federal Government because that tribe never had a treaty with the US government. The small town that I live in was built over an ancient Native American trading path, home to the Eno tribe and, later the Occaneechi-Saponi. The Ocaneechi-Saponi left the area and headed into lower Virginia. The blended tribe split and the Ocaneechi moved to the county west of here (my home county of Alamance), in the southern end, trading with the Haw tribe and the Saxapahaw. I have family that goes back many generations in Alamance. I suspect a LOT of people in NC, that have families going back centuries, are of Native blood, unrecognized or not. I mean, NC is the home of the Lost Colony & the “Croatan” carved into the tree. And, of course, the mountain area is full of Cherokee.

        Then, there is the Scottish ancestry on my paternal side….LOL!

      • That is the beauty of this part of the world. We are a living montage of the human race.

      • The Hinoeuma says:

        I so agree. Wonderfully said…

      • Crashing here. Goodnight.

      • The Hinoeuma says:

        Yikes. A disingenuous teacher. Good on you for standing up and speaking your mind.


      • This was a country school. There were two buildings. One contained two classrooms. The second was a combination cafeteria and auditorium, thus a cafetorium. We had grades 1-3 in one classroom and grades 4-5 in the other. The last time I was out that way, years ago, the only thing still standing was the cafetorium building. It was a swap and shop operation.

      • The Hinoeuma says:

        Clever. Cafeteria & auditorium. Thanks for the explanation.

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