My family history has always been a mystery to me. When asked about my medical history I can say ‘I don’t know, I’m adopted’ generally about twice a year. I’ve never known but now I do. I have gotten more information on my lineage in the past few weeks than I could ever have imagined. My sisters have been supplying the information.
They have been shining a light on our mother’s history and leading me on a path back through time. Knowing who my family is has always been important to me but only recently has the past come to light. I found my family August 22nd and I have a family tree that goes back hundreds of years. My poster board and markers haven’t even begun to crack the wealth of information my extended family can provide me on who I am.
Some people don’t need a family tree to tell them who they are. Some will never know it and until recently I was one of those people and I can tell you that it didn’t affect me much. I was confident I would never know and that part of my life would go unanswered. How wrong was I? I am working on my family tree but the Indians will know more. My sisters have informed me that the Quapaw have kept a very good genealogy record that one day soon I hope to be added to. I am related to the Quapaw by blood. My mother was half Indian and depending on who my father was will determine how much Indian blood I have.
I have sent away for my original birth certificate. Soon I will the last piece of information needed to become a member of the tribe and my children will be given the same opportunity. You need two things to obtain membership: an original birth certificate and be able to trace your lineage by name to a full standing member. Meaning you have to be related by blood to someone who has a roll number. My mother has a roll number as did my grandmother.
My sisters do too and I love the tidbits of Indian everyday life I glean from our conversations. My sister Season tells me she is busy making moccasins and purses and was pleased to know that I loved fry bread (my Mom made fry bread a couple of times growing up, it is good). Most of what I know about Indians is having known a couple of them throughout my life. It is respectful to give something when you first meet an elder either tobacco, sage, or sweet grass and you never know when you’ll meet an Indian. I met Samuel Holiday, one of the last Navajo Code Talkers, back in 2005. I met Marcy Tiger, Muscogee Creek Nation and his lovely wife, Sandy, last year when I arrived in Washington.
As I said you never know when you’ll meet one so I keep a stash of sweet grass with me at all times. I’m sure if anyone saw it, in the trunk of my car, they would think it was marijuana but no one has ever asked me yet, what the heck is that?!
I think history is as relevant as you want to make it. For instance, you might not want to dwell on history if you happen to uncover a serial killer, but medically it can be really revealing. You might find depression runs in the family. You might find schizophrenia there as well or diabetes or cancer. Things you might not have known were hereditary and therefore you should be watchful of. My mother died of cancer. My Mom’s family has a history of breast cancer so each year my Mom, my sister and eventually my niece get preventative check-ups. I will have to do that too.
Now not only do I have a medical history but I also have names for unknown faces for family living in and around Oklahoma. My ancestral tree resembles a Redwood! And guess what? It includes a Chief, the last traditional Chief of the Quapaw Nation. How cool is that?