Author Topic: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada  (Read 9309 times)

Offline BlackWolf

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American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« on: February 27, 2010, 10:19:02 pm »
I think that there is a lot of misinformation out there in regards to American Indian Genealogy.  My personal opinion is that a lot of people's genealogy research in regards to their American Indian heritage is not done propertly.  I wanted to start this thread in order to discuss issues with American Indian Genealogy and to clarify things that people should look for and also Red Flags people should look for.  Besides TribAL Rolls, many people also base these claims on other evidence such as censues, birth certificates, affidavits, church records etc.  Some of these claims may be correct, while many others may not be.  I put a link for the National Archives that deals with Native American Records.  Does anybody else have any suggestions of how to differeniate between legit and bogus claims?


http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/heritage/native-american/
« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 10:21:28 pm by BlackWolf »

Offline earthw7

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2010, 06:58:09 pm »
I do my tribes genealogy I use
first our enrollment records then the tribal census records.
Since we did not have contact until 1870s our names are all
in our native language then we did not adapt to frist and last
names until 1890s to 1920, so finding who is related is pretty
easy for me. When i get a request like Sally Hanson born 1860 I can tell
right away you are not related to my nation.
In Spirit

Offline educatedindian

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2010, 03:27:13 pm »
While we're not a genealogy board, the issue does come up often enough that I think we should have a thread just for it. Moved to Non Frauds.

For all visitors and newbies: This does NOT mean we can do your genealogy search for you.

Instead this is simply a thread to help with general questions, misconceptions, good resources, etc.

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2010, 03:06:41 am »
I have noticed what looks like a lot of smoke and mirrors in genealogies which people claim go back to a ancestor who was NDN.

Looking at the number of people reporting a family story of an Indian great grandma on their maternal line, and then looking at the number of mtDNA results in North America which show a indigenous mtDNA type, generally shows there is about 10 stories of a distant Native ancestor on the maternal line for every mtDNA result that actually confirms this. On the other hand, there is almost no one getting an mtDNA result showing a maternal line that is indigenous, when they always thought great granny was completely non native....

http://www.kerchner.com/cgi-kerchner/mtdna.cgi

http://www.mitosearch.org/haplosearch_start.asp?uid=

You have to read through a lot to get the picture, as a lot of people are just reporting European results and family history, but if you do, the pattern that emerges is very clear.

The numbers show a lot more stories a gr gr grandma was an Indian than there was gr gr grandma's who actually have a maternal line that was Indian.And I would imagine a lot of people who had a story their great grandma was native who got a result which did not support this either did not report the story or did not report their test result.

Probably this is evidence that most family stories of NDN ancestry are not very reliable.

From what I've seen, there is a lot of inaccuarate genealogical information on line.

Genealogies which other people have put together can be helpful starting points, but if the conclusions they reach are important, all the facts they present and the conclusions they reach need to be checked out.

When I read a genealogy, I always wonder how the person who is making these claims knows this.

Reading this type of information I find it helpful to try and identify the essential facts which are the basis of the conclusion people reach , and I try and see if this fact is really a fact.

In genealogies, the basic relationships of people further back then grandparents is usually only accurately reconstructed through getting copies of old records like a birth record , marriage record, a death record, a will or deed. Assuming the history a person is reconstructing is based on facts, these records will be the backbone of the research and as a part of the research these records will be quoted and they will all have an exact date.

If people tell a story about what they claim happened,  but there is no exact dates or sources for the records of the key events, and this involves a family history from more than 100 years ago , it is usually a big clue that even the basic facts the story is built on may not be facts at all.

If someone claims to have a record, or some historical information, which is important to proving their claim, but the source they give is so vague it is impossible to verify , they may be a sloppy researcher or they may be intentionally writing a work of fiction.

When people explain the location of a record , this information should contain whatever details another researcher needs to easily locate this.

Sometime people seem to try to gives a source which does not lead to a source, like for example , saying

"The record of this is in the Archives in Ohio"
or
"A French naval report for 1821 states"

They may as well say it is in a cardboard box somewhere in California.

When people know enough to want to seem to provide credible sounding sources, but manage to sidestep actually doing this, providing only enough information to give the appearence of credibility, I always get suspisious the author may be being intentionally decietful, and more research is needed before accepting their conclusions.

Another deception I have noticed in wannabe NDN genealogies, is that people claim their ancestor with a non native name was originally named something else but changed it  without any explanation of how this is known.

In a proper genealogy , if a person has been recorded under two different names, these various records are quoted, the relationships which are proven by these different records are pointed out, along which the fact that the persons who are repeatedly described as having particular qualities or relationships with other people, appears to be the same person using 2 different names. And all of this should be accompanied by clearly described and accessible sources.

Another thing i've noticed which just seems crazy is when people assume that if a few people in a community are mixed blood and have a particular surname, then everyone with this same surname must also be mixed blood.

This is just silly. There is often many people who arrived on this continent with the same surname who aren't even related , and even those that are related have many different branches and lines of descent. If a non native family arrived on this continent and produced several sons with the same surname, and one of these sons or grandsons or great grandsons got partnered up with a Native women, the offspring of the other sons or grandsons or great grandsons will not inherit any Native blood through the wife of the one son who married her. I know this seems obvious, but for some reason people don't want to notice the obvious when it comes to American Indian genealogies.

If some people in an area with a particular surname are of native decent, it will create an important sense of context to find out how many people in the area have the same surname, and are of entirely non native descent.

I  suspect these stories about distant relatives who married someone who was Native is the origin of the common story of an NDN grandma back there somewhere. I think often this was the story of an Uncle or cousin who married a Native , but over a few generations people gradually forgot the names and relationships to the person , and it became a story about " someone back there was an Indian".

In researching family history it's important to remember that people have first names, birth dates, brothers and sisters , parents , marriages, and dates of death and as it is very common for there to be 2 or more people in the same area with the same first and last name, all these details are important. Lots of families have a fondness for a particular set of first names and once there is a few generations living in the same area, there can be many people with the same name, and even the same general year of birth, who are not the same person.

The only way to be sure of the identity of a particular individual is to find several records left by their family that all fit together into the same picture.

Context is really important, so i think it's also important to learn about the general history of an area, and in mixed blood families I think it's important to learn both the native and non native versions of this..

I remember reading a genealogy where someone was claiming that because a family lived on a particular Island , and there was a native community there, it was evidence these people were native. This sounded like a reasonable conclusion, until I read that this island had been divided up into lots to distributed to many non native settlers a few years before the couple that was claimed to be Native moved there.    

By learning the general history of an area it's easier to make sure all the details fit with what is being claimed and to avoid getting taken in by people who only select the parts of the history that support their calms to a Native identity that may not be real.  

I've noticed it isn't that uncommon for some records to be flat out wrong, so finding more than one record which says the same thing seems like a good idea. I guess sometimes people lied or didn't know or the person writing everything down had had a long day and got confused.

The information which is wrong can usually be spotted when people use various sources, because mistakes and lies are usually inconsistent.

I  think that learning how Native people in an area were identified, when they were identified, can give valuable clues about what to expect.

But I really don't think these occaisional mistakes and lies can be used to explain away not being able to find any documentation at all.

If someone has enough Native identity to be considered NDN, there will be records left by parents grandparents aunts and uncles, and if a family had a Native identity, even if some family members denied this or in some circumstances or times and places people didn't feel like saying this about themselves, it seems there should be at least a few records which identify the ancestors or direct maternal or paternal relatives as Indian over several generations.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 02:13:17 pm by Moma_porcupine »

Offline Ric_Richardson

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2010, 01:30:45 pm »
For those people who believe that they have Metis ancestry, there are many resources available, which help people to trace their ancestry.  In Saskatchewan, we are currently tracing ancestry, mainly to the 1901 Census, which included "Race".  As well, Scrip records are very helpful in proving Metis ancestry, even though most of the Scrip was bought by unscrupulous "speculators," from many of the Metis recipients.  Assistance can be obtained, in Saskatchewan, by contacting the Metis Nation, Saskatchewan, who have a team working on helping to develop the registry.
Ric

Offline indianexpert

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 03:04:20 pm »
Howdy folks,

One of my favorite resources in helping to determine Aboriginal ancestry is the 1901 Canadian Census.  It has a "race" category that does not appear on any other Canadian Census. What is interesting is that the racial category is often very different from the Nationality/Racial Origins category in the same census.  The 1851 Census has a second page for the entries that has an "Indian" category. 

Hmm just realized my post was identical to the one above that I missed.  Sorry.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2010, 03:09:32 pm by indianexpert »

Offline earthw7

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2010, 03:37:57 pm »
The spring has brought out all kind of stories and people who want to be....
I have told people who give me stories of my great great great grandma
was Sitting Bull's daughter/wife/sister. No you are not related Sitting Bull's
family is well documented and kept with the tribe not for public release.
He never had a white wife, daughter or a daughter or sister who married
a white man. All his wives are identified and accounted for and none married
white men.
Then the stories of my family said our great great great grandma was Lakota
I have to tell them we did not have white contact until 1870s and anyone born
before 1830 would not be apart of our tribe and amrried to whiteman.
Stories i hear them all day....................
In Spirit

Offline Yiwah

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Re: American Indian Genealogy Discussion: USA and Canada
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2010, 01:13:25 am »
For those people who believe that they have Metis ancestry, there are many resources available, which help people to trace their ancestry.  In Saskatchewan, we are currently tracing ancestry, mainly to the 1901 Census, which included "Race".  As well, Scrip records are very helpful in proving Metis ancestry, even though most of the Scrip was bought by unscrupulous "speculators," from many of the Metis recipients.  Assistance can be obtained, in Saskatchewan, by contacting the Metis Nation, Saskatchewan, who have a team working on helping to develop the registry.
Ric

In Alberta, there are a lot of records at the Glenbow Museum for Alberta Metis.  Some of it will be scrip, but there are a lot of other documents, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates...the Oblates also kept a lot of records on baptisms and so on.

It's sort of strange to be tracing your ancestry though.  I mean, you have to do it, and provide sources in order to keep your membership in the Alberta Metis Nation, and it doesn't hurt to have that all on file.  It's an interesting exercise too...we discovered my mom's grandmother was born with a different spelling of her name than we knew her by.  It was like discovering something new and secret and special about her.  It also helped clarify which Belcourt sister was my mom's great-grandfather's wife, since there were two women of the same name, and sometimes the families weren't sure which was which.

However, I grew up being able to rattle off my relations all the way back to my gggg grandfather, because our communities are so inter-related, if you don't find a familial link in the first generation, you will somewhere along the line .... sometimes you can't tell which line to follow until you go back to the original members of certain communities, because there are just so many similar names and you get tangled in the family lines otherwise!  The point is though...if you don't already know...why do you want to know?  If it's just interest, because it IS interesting, okay fine.  But are you doing it to get something?  Forget it. 

As an aside....There's a joke about two Metis coming across one another in the morning and saying hello.  Then it was time for bed :D  The joke makes no sense unless you know that Metis, like a lot of First Nations people too, greet each other and then immediately start trying to find out who they know or are related to in common, which can take a lot of time once in a while :D
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 01:16:25 am by Yiwah »