Do you have Native American ancestry?

Published 7:30 am Saturday, October 29, 2022

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Do you have Indian blood? I once claimed I was part Indian. I am not.

When I was a youngster, my fun-loving daddy, my mother and I were sitting around the table reminiscing about a recent visit with my paternal grandparents. My grandmother had a dark complexion and high cheekbones. She wore her long grey hair wrapped in a knot on top of the back of her head. My daddy had coal black hair with features similar to grandmother’s. In my imagination, I always thought of her with black hair as a little girl.

During that table conversation, my daddy perhaps with an impish grin on his face and a wink at my mother I missed, told me grandmother was a full-blooded Indian. That really set my imagination on fire. My class had been studying Indian culture, so why would I doubt Daddy’s statement? Remembering the pictures I saw in books and Indians portrayed in the movies. It seemed logical to me that Grandmother was an Indian. Nothing else about that little talk stuck with me.

The next morning I couldn’t wait to get to school to tell my teacher and my classmates about my Indian Heritage. I knew because my daddy said so. When I told my parents that I had astounded my teacher and whole class with my wonderful news, they looked uncomfortable. Then they explained that my daddy had only been teasing me. I felt terrible about telling my friends it was untrue that I had Indian blood. My mother told me later that I was not the only one who had spread that rumor. It seemed that during his school days, one of daddy’s brothers got in a discussion with a doctor’s son in the community. Both were bragging that one could beat up the other when my uncle bested the other’s statement with the declaration he was the best fighter. He said he was such a good fighter because he had Indian blood. To make his claim even more authentic, he added that his mother was a full blooded Indian. Maybe it had even been discussed at home that she certainly looked like she had Indian blood with her high cheekbones and dark complexion. This so impressed the other boy that he informed his dad, the doctor.

On our grandmother’s next doctor visit, he told her he had heard about her Indian heritage.

I suspect that it was this family story that prompted my daddy to jokingly pass the word onto me. After that, any time he shared a story with me, he was careful to mention if it was truth or fiction. And I made sure to listen closely.