RT Cunningham

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My Native American Ancestry

Tagged with native american, tribe on March 3, 2024

Native American My younger sister and I have disagreed on many things in the past. There is one thing that my younger sister and I never disagreed on, and that was our Native American ancestry. We never really got along when it concerned anything else, even before I joined the military.

I haven’t seen her or any of her children, physically, since sometime before I moved to the Philippines in 2006. That’s despite that fact that I’ve visited other siblings during trips back to the United States since then.

Native Americans

My siblings and I knew, based on what our mother told us when we were all young, that we had 1/16th Native American ancestry because my grandfather was 1/2 Native American. Of course, we didn’t use that terminology back then.

I don’t know when “American Indian” became politically incorrect, but that’s the terminology we used until we were told not to. My mother thought that it was the Cherokee tribe, but she was wrong. I’m getting ahead of myself, but my younger sister and my younger brother located my grandfather shortly before he died of old age.

My grandfather left my grandmother and my mother sometime around World War II and started another family. This was a family no one in my family knew about until Facebook became a thing. They have the same last name as my mother’s maiden name. I communicated with some of my cousins (or half cousins) several years ago, but I’ve long since stopped communicating with any of them.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

There are three Choctaw tribes. One is located in Louisiana and another in Mississippi. The third is in Oklahoma. The tribe resides on a reservation in the southeast corner of the state. My mother was born in Hugo, near the southern border of that section. I don’t know why she thought we descended from the Cherokee tribe, but it was probably because it was the largest tribe in Oklahoma.

My mother never really “talked” to her father, other than how a child talks to a parent. She never bothered to ask him which tribe was involved. Later in life, she didn’t want to know anything about him.

Sometime after I joined the military, my younger brother and younger sister decided they wanted to locate him. They found him living on a Choctaw reservation, and that’s all they ever told me. My mother, when she found out what they did, was so angry she didn’t talk to either of them for months.

My Ancestry Doesn’t Matter

At least, not to me or any of my siblings who are still living. It’s something we know about and that’s about it. We’ve never talked about it, outside the family, and I’m including my current family as well.

Unlike a politician I won’t name, none of us has ever checked or written “American Indian” or “Native American” on any forms in order to obtain some kind of advantage. There are a lot of Americans in the Western United States with Native American ancestry. We are only a few of them.

Image by Tcr25, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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