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Quickie: More “mysteriously” disappearing colonists

January 11, 2013

“Clip from Gutiérrez map of Spanish North America, 1562” The best I can tell, I’m from the province of Mocosa?

One I thought I may as well go ahead and post here, with some added links and a bit more info, since I already accidentally shared it to public on G+. Oops. 🙂

DNA scientists claim that Cherokees are from the Middle East »

Richard Thornton rather amusingly keeps up the good old Creek-Cherokee political rivalry here, with his usual “take a remarkably firm grasp on history, run with some odd conclusions” pattern.

He does keep making some good points about what’s now Cherokee Nation as a newly-formed political federation made up of a variety of groups who hadn’t been allied before, purposely put between a rock and a hard place by the British to use against surrounding groups, with the classic “slave and attack for us, or be killed/enslaved yourselves” thing. (Besides the Creeks, including us “Rickahockans”, some of whom spoke Cherokee. While a lot of the folks who got Borged into present-CN didn’t, starting out.*) European-style nationalism based partly on language was just not a thing, back then, as much as some run with it now. Totally different political systems, from the ground up.

But, yeah, I was interested to see that there’s actual research suggesting a significant number of Separdim did, indeed, marry into Native groups in some areas. Huge step from the “absorb a lot of Sephardim and some Moors”, to that being used in past to support the Lost Tribes rubbish, indeed. (Besides the “we don’t have African ancestry which would previously have lost us some rights, we’re just of Mediterranean extraction!”continuing Melungeon meme. :/ And my Mamaw’s family having used probably very real Jewish ancestry as a cover story, for the same reasons.) Besides this even being considered relevant, other than as an historical curiosity, once various groups have been thoroughly Borged for centuries. 😐 But, only certain cultures are allowed to change and incorporate new groups of people.**

And I can’t help but think of that group of Cajuns who apparently started out as a Sephardic community, but are now “just” Cajuns with some unusual surnames who were surprised to find out they hadn’t all come down from Canada too. Or hadn’t started out Houma, Chitimacha, etc., since the English were the only ones who seemed to have any problem whatsoever with intermarriage. Erm, yeah. [I can’t find anything easily now on that specific case I remember reading about probably 10 years ago, borne out by records and DNA markers, but there may be a wider pattern, going back to France. In the realm of maybe not-so-wild speculation, I would not be surprised if other colonial Sephardim joined up with some coming from France with the Acadians.]

I am not even that interested in the details here–which really aren’t even very relevant, at this point–as in the stories that get told around them, and what purposes those stories serve.

The old rivalries, with purposeful obscuring of how much Spanish (and French) colonists got around in what are now English-speaking areas has an awful lot to do with any surprise here. (Probably even in Louisiana, by now.) I had to find out on my own as an adult that the Spanish were sailing around the Chesapeake and setting up missions there, well before the English got to North America at all. But most of Southern Appalachia was claimed by all three European countries, at various times, and Spain dumped a bunch of Jews and Moorish Conversos in the colonies to get rid of them, as one might expect. They didn’t just magically disappear any more than the “Rickahockans” (or Roanoke Island colonists) did.

The cognitive dissonance factor is a major reason I continue to be interested in debunking the propaganda. While hopefully sounding less nutty than Richard Thornton does, at times. 😉

Another that should probably get worked into a blog post, but for the fully expected widgetry-based trolling on multiple counts. 😐

And here it is, with advance warning that I’m just not engaging with any of those potential trolls.

ETA: I also don’t want to sound like I’m being too harsh on Mr. Thornton, rather than doing some good-natured ribbing. I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of his works, and admire the amount of time and energy he has obviously put into historical research.


More clarification added as a note, because that’s the only place it seemed to fit.

* Similar was also the case with the Creeks (and just about everyone else, yeah):

Rudiments of the Confederacy were already in place and working prior to European Contact. However, early contact provided the impetus, which caused this informal system of rule, by mutual consent, to crystallize into a formal confederacy, bringing together approximately fifty-five small nations who acted for their mutual defense and growth. There is no question that the foundations of the Confederacy were laid in pre contact times; it is historical fact that the final formation took place as a result of the European invasion of Vnewetv (Please read the related article, Vnewetv).

All Tvlwv were similar but not identical. Consequently, ceremonies were similar but not identical, as customs, traditions and beliefs were similar but local practices varied. Some spoke languages completely unrelated to languages of other Tvlwv. For instance, some Creek Towns spoke Cherokee in everyday life and a few Cherokee Towns spoke Creek. Yuchi, Alabamu, Koshartie, Shawnee, Hitchiti, Naktche (Natchez) and others were among the common tongues of many Tribal Towns. In typically Muskogean fashion, language, political unity or loyalty were not always the same. However, Muskogee Creek was the common tongue or Lingua Franca used in national affairs and between Towns. Muskogees were, and still are, a people in unity, not uniformity.

My copy of Alan Briceland’s Westward from Virginia: Exploration of the Virginia/Carolina Frontier, 1650-1710 is still boxed up somewhere, but he also observed that, judging from primary sources, not only did different language speakers live in overlapping areas an awful lot, trade and political alliances had precious little to do with even linguistic family. Then there are the groups like the “Mingo”, with allied Northern Iroquoian people, Lenape, and Shawnee–who moved under pressure into where other people from all these linguistic groups were already living. Speakers of a certain language and actual political organizations continue to get conflated a lot, with results that just make no sense.

This is also, AFAICT, why there is still all kinds of confusion about who the people who got called Rickahockans by those on the coastal fringe actually were. Were they Cherokee, Tutelo/Saponi/Monacans and other Siouan speakers (who were most of the people where the “Rickahockans” were coming from), refugees from Old Huronia or other Northern Iroquoian people? Probably all of that, and more, in reality. Because that’s just the way people rolled back then. And they all wanted to see what the English were up to, particularly after the coastal refugees started coming.

Thinking in terms of Euro-styley nationalism with any kinds of set borders (or, indeed, “The Cherokee, etc., were all doing X as a unified group, for Y reason”) will only confuse, trying to make sense of what was actually going on back then. (Hint: Things were very purposely set up so that nobody could actually make everyone do anything, even within the same alliance.) And this kind of confusion is positively encouraged, still, because their “savage” motives just don’t make any sense when viewed totally out of any kind of reasonable political or social context.  I have meant to write more about my understanding of the very different political systems involved, but have not gotten around to it yet.

Not surprisingly, this is also one of the reasons single-nation “blood quantum” makes no freaking sense, especially in the East where people did need to form all kinds of alliances for mutual protection, besides the numbers of refugees getting adopted and combined towns getting set up. (For at least a couple of centuries before anyone got Removed out West and had single-nation “blood quantum” assigned, as well.)

That is also a lot of the reason that demonstrably Cherokee-descended people in the New River Valley–including some of my relatives, yeah–will sometimes still go on about those damned arrogant Cherokee, meaning some from further south. (And in spite of the continuing back-and-forth between there and down in NC, particularly.) The old “Cherokee War” (which also got the locals retaliated against, of course!) and “join our federation or we’ll keep raiding you!” out of Georgia–with people in between letting them through to do it–no doubt had a lot to do with that. The raiding was bad enough that an awful lot of Tutelo fled to Canada, but mostly Snipe and Turtle clans got stubborn and allied more closely with neighboring Cherokee. (If you’ve only got two clans left, and can’t marry somebody from the same clan, you pretty obviously also need to find somebody else to marry and keep your society going.) Also, I am very aware that nobody cares if I consider the Treaty of Lochaber, among others, valid in any way–but it was signed by members of a totally different federation from the people who were actually living in the area ceded (and where I grew up, just over the line joining up the Holston and the Kanawha). That couldn’t have made that bunch very popular, either.

IOW, the politics are still a lot more complicated than usually presented, and a lot of people engaging in them don’t even know why anymore. *sigh*

** From Jack Forbes’ The Mestizo Concept: A Product of European Imperialism. I had to pare this quote down an awful lot, but he looks briefly at migration and cultural change over the millennia in a number of European countries, starting with Spain. Some excellent points overall, about who gets pinned down in time, in order to supposedly qualify as “True X”. It’s not just obsession with those strange people’s (presumed) ancestry, it’s deciding you get to define other people’s cultures for them. (And I can only assume that his generic use of “Anishinabe” is intended to point out the ridiculousness of some of the generic names which do get applied by outsiders.)

The same kind of analysis can be made about England, Scotland, Russia, and a number of other nations. The English are clearly mestizos- a mixture of Celtic (and pre-Celtic), Angle, Saxon, Danish, Norman-French, Flemish, and other descent. Likewise, English cultures highly mixed (for example, half of the words in these-called English language are of Latin origin, the English practice a “foreign” religion- Christianity-and the great bulk of contemporary English characteristics are of foreign origin- including even tea drinking!) It is safe to say that the modern Englishman has very little in common with the Britons and pre-Roman times or even with the Anglo-Saxons before Christianity…

Interestingly, the English, Scots, and Russians (like the Spanish) are never categorized as mestizos. Seldom does one ever ask a Scotsman if he is part Norman-French, nor indeed, does anyone ever ask a Scotsman if he has even a drop of Celtic (Pictish-Scottish) blood. Such questions are seemingly only asked of knocked-down, conquered, colonized, and powerless peoples.

The same kind of analysis can be made of almost all major ethnic groups- Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Arabs, Turks, and so on. Almost all such peoples possess a mixed racial heritage and a mixed culture. But they are not mestizos (even when their ancient “race” and culture have been almost totally erased or altered). Furthermore modern Mexican and Chicano people possess far greater connection with their ancient Mexican past than many European groups do with their respective past.

I have to get amused at that, living in Greater London, with the very strong “immigrants are destroying our society” meme. As if there were never any before. It’s also kind of sad that so many people really do seem to think that their own way of life is fragile enough that some weirdos being all foreign (or gay, or…) at them can possibly destroy it!

From that last link:

In other words, even among people who perceive the number of migrants in their country as large, people in Britain are more likely than others to evaluate this as “too many”. Immigration is also more often viewed as a salient and pressing political problem in Britain than elsewhere. More people in Britain than in several comparable countries rank immigration as the single most important issue facing their country, and more claim that parties’ positions on immigration will influence their vote.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2013 5:42 pm

    My take is all of these people are Metis of some sort. In Canada, both Anglophone and Francophone Metis get recognized as aboriginals and get aboriginal hunting and trapping rights.

    The whole continent from Tierra del Fuego to the point in Canada when Inuit (“Eskimo”) people and the indigenous people we’ve called Indians meet is really just a mixture of European, indigenous, and Africa. Each country and each region has its own racial make up, but you can find “pure” Europeans in the Dominican Republic. They are quite inbred for they refuse to intermarry with anyone of African ancestry. Similarly, you can find the blood of Caribs and Arawaks in some people of primarily African descent even in the Caribbean.

    I’m a bit skeptical of claims of Turkish or Portuguese origin.

    There is an alternative explanation for the claims of Portuguese descent. The Portuguese were the first European colonizers who came into Sub-Saharan Africa, and they were the first to start the slave trade. Many Africans who became slaves in the Americas were from Angola, where the Portuguese were primarily stationed and many of the early ones came on Portuguese ships, either directly from Africa or from the Azores or Madeira. There was some intermarrying among Portuguese and African slaves, and it is possible that a slave with partial Portuguese ancestry could be sold in the Americas.

    Turkish origin is harder to explain, but a lot of the really good genetic studies on people of Melungeon ancestry have show that they are some sort of Metis.

    I’d say that had we not had the vast migration of Germans and Irish in the 1840’s, America’s racial make-up would not have been as “European” as we think it is today. Argentina was mostly Mestizo until this time, but now it’s mostly European.

    I think the lesson from all of this is never to hate people of other races. You never know what’s in your background. Even a guy who looked as Russian as Peter Ustinov was actually descended from Ethiopian nobility.

  2. urocyon permalink*
    January 11, 2013 6:31 pm

    Exactly. The constructed classification systems say a lot more about how some people are thinking than about real humans, anywhere on the planet.

    I’m also reminded of one from Frank Sweet, Afro-European Genetic Admixture in the United States:

    Three points of interest present themselves upon your examining this graph. First, as in the prior chart, there is genetic admixture overlap between Americans of the Black and White endogamous groups within the range of from zero to thirty percent African genetic admixture. As in the Shriver study of skin tone, some so-called “White” Americans have over twenty percent African genetic admixture and some so-called “Black” Americans have little or none. Indeed, other studies have found that approximately 5.5 percent of members of the U.S. Black community have no detectable African genetic admixture.15…

    What is remarkable about the two U.S. endogamous groups is not that each spans a wide range of Afro-European admixture. That many White Americans carry up to 20 percent African genetic admixture may startle the uninformed, but this is typical of New World populations descended from demographically European colonies with few African slaves. And the admixture plot of Black Americans resembles those of the West Indies, where African slaves were a demographic majority. What is remarkable about the two U.S. groups is that they both live within the same society. Such a bimodal distribution of Afro-European admixture is characteristic of no other nation on earth. The separation, of course, is the result of the endogamous U.S. color line.

    Darkly amusing, thinking of some dedicated racists who would no doubt be very surprised.

    I have also read about the Angolan “Portuguese” connection there, which sounded a lot more plausible than large numbers of actual Portuguese people running around British colonies, otherwise unnoticed. Apparently, under the system where Christians were not supposed to be subject to chattel slavery, some Angolans also managed to produce baptism certificates (in Portuguese) and start going on about being Christian Portuguese subjects who should be freed immediately. And, indeed, a lot of folks still find the idea of Iberian or Turkish ancestry much less appalling than the Sub-Saharan African reality in most cases.


  1. Musical interlude: Talking Leaves « Urocyon's Meanderings

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