Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Of Ancestry, Arrowheads and Aztecs
So I've written to a state archive center for information about my ancestors as I've been looking into my heritage, looking to see if the Cherokee heritage is true. Up until now I haven't found the proof, and it looks more and more like things will show there was none in the first place.
Currently I'm waiting to hear back from a worker there (or former worker) who told stories of the Cherokee heritage to one person I met online. Other than that I have little to go on, except for rumors among descendants of Cherokee heritage that don't seem to match the historical evidence.
Now more than ever I regret not asking my grandfather what he knew. But he was on his deathbed when we last talked via Skype, and it had been years since we had talked at that point. It didn't seem right to me to bring it up at that point. It felt like it would be selfish of me. I didn't know until after he walked on that he had been really interested in his heritage, loved talking about it, and up till the end still had a sharp memory.
He would have loved it if I had asked!
He kept a collection of arrowheads he had found growing up in Missouri, and wanted to pass them onto his grandchildren. But apparently my cousins didn't take good care of them and that upset him. My mother still has the arrowheads that he gave to us, and she packed them up to keep them nice when she moved. She has offered to send them to me, but I want her to keep them for now.
I handled some of them on my last two visits. It's very interesting to hold them and think of their history. Who owned them? Who made them? How were they used? What were they used for? Were some of them my ancestors? Did these ones kill anyone or any animal? (They are obviously pre-Columbian Mississippian—too large to be from the contact era or later.)
My heart has gone through a lot of questions, some of which I've aired here in writings and poems. I want to be willing to accept whatever verdict comes from the evidence. Somehow I sense and feel that evidence will come, one way or the other, about this part of my overall ancestry.
One thing I feel is that I do not want to "switch over" Native ancestries to my Mexican-Aztec side. I felt called and moved more toward the Cherokee side than to the Native ancestry in my Mexican heritage. If the Cherokee ancestry turns out to be non-existent, I don't want to suddenly become interested in Aztec ancestry. Somehow that doesn't seem right to me.
Firstly because although I am interested and curious about it, I've not felt half the strength of the pull towards the Cherokee ancestry. Secondly I don't want to "switch" to Aztec interest in order to "stay Native"—I don't want to use that heritage just so that I can save face and keep "feeling Native." I don't think my Native Mexican ancestors deserve that. It doesn't feel respectful to them or to Native Mexican identity. I don't want to use it as a "backup" Native ancestry in case the primary one I felt turns out to not exist.
If I felt pulled and called to Native Mexican ancestry, I would want that to happen in its own right, of its own virtue, for its own sake and with its own call, so to speak. I understand that my Mexican heritage is Native because Mexicans *are* Native and indigenous to the land.
But at the same time, I haven't felt the closeness or "draw" that I have to the Cherokees and tribes north of the border. I haven't felt a similar stirring with the songs, regalia, dances and stories from the Aztecs. Granted, I would love to know more about my indigenous Mexican heritage and become closer to it.
And I pray that happens in time... but for its own sake. Not as a "fallback" if the Cherokee heritage isn't proved. If I identify strongly with indigenous Mexican heritage, I want it to be a love affair instead of a "second best" choice.
Posted by Ramone at 10:33 AM