Life in Possum Holler

Saline County, Arkansas, United States
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31 August 2008

Arkansas Cherokees Strive For Recognition

Times Record, (Fort Smith, Arkansas) Tuesday, 26 August 2008, by Hicham Raache

In its quest to gain federal recognition, the Arkansas Cherokee Nation tribe visited Fort Smith Saturday and helped residents toward claiming their Cherokee heritage.Members of the Arkansas Cherokee Nation, aka Chickamauga Cherokee, met with community members and visitors from afar at Creekmore Park’s Azalea Room Saturday afternoon and advised them on how to become official members of the Cherokee Nation.

The Conway-based Chickamauga Cherokee has been striving since December 2007 to be officially recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, thus becoming Arkansas’ first federally recognized American Indianorganization, according to Principal Chief Harold Helton.“We need to prove we existed as a community,”

Helton said to the handfuls of community members in attendance. “We can’t (be recognized) just by filling out an application and getting an Indian identification card.”While they are currently in the process of petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs for tribal recognition, Chickamauga Cherokee members are traveling throughout the state and educating anyone who may have Cherokee ancestry on how to become a federally recognized Cherokee and gain benefits.

“If you have one drop of Cherokee blood, you’re Cherokee as far as I’m concerned,” Helton said.Guiding Cherokee descendants in registering with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Helton said, helps build his tribe’s base roll, which he said is based on all of the Cherokees who were in Arkansas in the 1800s. . . .

For information about the Arkansas Cherokee Nation, contact Smith at (501) 963-3713 or visit on the Web. {For complete story, click on link]

25 August 2008

Link sought to a Founding Father

Link sought to a Founding Father - The Boston Globe: "

By Kyle Alspach, Globe Correspondent July 22, 2007

DOVER -- Bettye Kearse's ancestors had ties to President James Madison -- they were slaves owned by the Madison family. But she thinks there's more to the story.

She says that Madison fathered a child by one of those slaves, producing her family line.

Her assertion is a matter of much debate, and proof hasn't been found. Kearse, 64, of Dover, still believes it, certain there's truth in a story that has become part of her family's lore."

[Click on link for entire story.]

Also click on this article in the Seattle Times:

African American seeks to prove genetic link to James Madison
By Jonathan Mummolo
The Washington Post

Bettye Kearse hopes to prove she is a direct descendant of James Madison.

MONTPELIER STATION, Va. — Bettye Kearse stepped inside the mansion at Montpelier, President James Madison's estate in Virginia, and found the walls stripped bare. Rooms that were once opulently adorned have been deconstructed by archaeologists to reveal the slatted wooden frame holding together the home of one of the nation's premier architects. . . . [more at link.]

21 August 2008

Your Family. Myths and Legends in Genealogy

Your Family. Myths and Legends in Genealogy at

Last Updated: August 20th, 2008
Every family has the age old myth or the legend of the grandmother who was a “full blooded Indian princess”. In fact, the Native American tribes didn’t sport many “Indian Princesses, but almost every family has some degree of native American blood and all of them, by and large due to prejudices that used to, and in some cases, still do exist in this country, want that Native American blood to be something that is a bit more acceptable than just a “Native American woman who was part of the family”.

Admit it, Indian Princess sounds so much more acceptable and so much more romanticized than simply saying that great grandfather married a Navaho woman. In days past, having Native American blood in your family wasn’t quite as acceptable as it is in today’s society, so it was by and large hidden. The family may never had been told exactly what tribe the great grandmother came from, or if in fact she was Native.

Many families who believed their family to have native blood, particularly in areas such as Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginian are finding instead that the blood was of a race determined to be Melungeon, not the Native American they thought it was originally.

Some family legends aren’t truth at all, while others are in some cases, completely factual. Only research is going to help you determine which is which, but paying attention to them only makes sense. In most cases, legend or an old family tale has a grain of some kind of truth to it .

Legends about family history don’t normally get invented from no basis and aren’t usually completely invented from thin air. There will be somewhere in that legend a single grain of truth that you have to sift out of the dune of sand to get the real story for your family.
Some family legends you will hear as you work through your genealogy will be red flags to you however to dig a bit deeper and see if there is a grain of sand, or truth to the family legend or if it is in fact fallacy.

The more common things you might hear that should raise a flag for you will be:

• The Indian Princess Myth. Usually you’re going to hear Cherokee Indian Princess, but it may manifest itself as a Mayan Princess or any other tribe. Rest assured that it may be that there is Native American blood in the family, but Indian Princesses by and large don’t exist. In point of fact there were no tribes who actively made use of the feudal type system that was by and large a Caucasian invention, so the title Indian princess would not have been used. For the most part you’re going to find that this is always a myth, but do pay attention to it and dig around a bit to search for Native blood in your family history. Usually you are going to find it with this kind of legend in the family’s history. . . .

[Click link to read the rest of this post.]
Copyright © 2008
NOTE that this entire site has a great deal of valuable information for genealogists. At this point, I could not determine the name of the administrator for the site, however.

20 August 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Armpit

Science News / Ground Squirrels Use ‘armpit Effect’

By Susan Milius; Web edition: Wednesday, August 20th, 2008; SNOWBIRD, UTAH
Wake up and smell the armpit.

Ground squirrels use their own odors to reconstruct family relationships after hibernation.

That’s basically what Belding’s ground squirrels do in spring when hibernation has wiped out their memory of their society’s smells, says Jill Mateo of the University of Chicago. Using their own body odors as reference points, the ground squirrels figure out anew each year who’s kin and who’s not.

Self-sniffing as a guide to kinship has earned the nickname “armpit effect.” Biologists have theorized that plenty of animal species rely on their armpits when they do favors for kin or avoid relatives as mates. “There’s tantalizing evidence for the armpit effect in people,” Mateo says, but ruling out other possible explanations has been tricky in any species.

[Follow link for entire article.]

14 August 2008

Public trust societies and kinship societies

Kenneth Anderson's Law of War and Just War Theory Blog

Public trust societies and kinship societies

Huntington famously argues that a clash of civilizations is underway, and locates it as a clash of religious traditions, Christianity and Islam. But it seems to me more correct to think of a clash, less of two universalist religious traditions, than of two fundamental organizational principles, kinship societies and those limited number of societies that have managed to establish, however incompletely, social organization on the basis of public trust that goes beyond ties of kinship. Those ‘public trust’ societies in one sense define modernity, but some of the core conditions predate modernity by centuries - monogamy and out-marriage, to start with.

Monogamy is a necessary, although obviously far from sufficient, condition of a society that is both egalitarian and free: a society in which a group of males has no real access to sexual reproduction is not an egalitarian society, by definition, nor a free one, and that inequality in reproductive access is tied to every other form of economic inequality. And that is to speak only of the men. From this standpoint, the fact that Christianity, for reasons that appear to me, at least, historically and even theologically quite contingent, favored both monogamy and out-marriage over cousin marriage, however much honored only in the breach, sets it apart as a form of social organization.

Modernity in some sense starts with those preconditions. The development of a social ethos that accepts the idea that individuals have fiduciary duties in the abstract, that do not pertain solely to those who are members of extended family groups - even where those extended family groups are as much or more socially, rather than genetically, defined - is what gives rise to the public trust necessary to modern Western society and the modern democratic state: that the state, and its officials, will treat people neutrally, without regard to kinship or other pre-modern markers of identity. Without that trust, the result is the form of the state, but an animating principle quite at odds with it. It is the marker of the rule of law and, it increasingly seems to me, the real line of division between societies today.

What gets the cultural cycle of public trust going in society? I have no idea but certainly it appears to be a long term cultural fact, rather than a short term political creation. Samuel Pepys, for example, wrote his diary at what appeared to be the beginning of a long term shift in English political culture: a time in which offices were still heritable and for sale, but also at a time when officials - in vital public positions such as the Royal Navy - were also beginning to be held to account for corruption and fraud. By the Industrial Revolution, the culture of the civil service was taking hold, and with it an ideal of neutrality in dealing with alternating governments and with the public. The very notion of “honor” and to whom it was owed had shifted.

The idea of equality before the law, in matters related to integrity of person, is a very old one and found widely across cultures. The idea of equality in the distribution of the largesse of state favor, and that it is dishonorable for me as a public official to favor me and mine over you and yours in the matter of state property and privilege, because it is a “public trust,” is a quite new one, and very limited in cultural scope. Yet it is the basis of legitimacy - even more the democracy - of the modern state worldwide. What we call a ‘failed state’, after all, is almost by definition that there is no concept of public trust, that it has been exhausted and depleted.

(Useful reading on this includes James Bowman, Honor; and Francis Fukuyama, Trust. Of course, if your view is that all societies are equally successful in their social and cultural arrangements, just different, but no one is better or worse, then none of this will make much sense.)

From: Kenneth Anderson's Law of War and Just War Theory Blog
Kenneth Anderson, a law professor at Washington College of Law, American University, Washington DC, and a research fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, blogs on topics related to international laws of war, international law, related human rights topics, international NGOs, and the theory of the just war. (Everything here is first draft and subject to changing my mind.)

09 August 2008

Nepotism (Kin Favoritism)

Berry makes right call on nepotism - Opinion - Editorial - General - The Canberra Times [Australia]

Berry makes right call on nepotism
7/08/2008 12:00:00 AM

Nepotism, commonly defined as favouritism based on kinship, is a hardy perennial with deep and widespread roots. Considered as an extension to the concept of the selfish gene, there are compelling reasons why people favour family, clan or tribe over strangers. The family is, after all, the rock on which human society is built, and it behoves members to show it allegiance and advance its fortunes where possible.

Blood is thicker than water, but, intriguingly, nepotism does not always advance the long-term interests of the family. Many a family fortune has been squandered, or a dynasty rendered moribund, by those third- or fourth-generation scions who have proved unequal in skill, talent or temperament to the founders. Provided it is kept within the family firm or business, nepotism is considered by most right-thinking people as an acceptable if dubious practice, or at least as being nobody's business but the family's concerned. Where it occurs in public life, or in a business or corporation with a public shareholding, it is held in rather less esteem, if not downright hostility.

Many parliaments and legislatures, mindful of the fact that nepotism discredits entire institutions, have proscribed it in their codes of ethics or conduct. The ACT Legislative Assembly Members' code of conduct, for example, includes the warning under ''conduct as employers'' that ''Members should not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices or any other place of employment where the Member's approval is required''. But like many such codes, the ACT's is non-binding, and though it exhorts sitting and former Members to respect the spirit of the code, some MLAs, including Bill Stefaniak and Vicki Dunne, have ignored it. Indeed, Labor MLA Mary Porter continues to employs her husband as her senior officer. And in a clear indication some MLAs consider the nepotism clause to be unnecessary if not a nuisance, an Assembly committee which conducted a recent review of the code (introduced in 2006) has recommended that the anti-nepotism clause be dropped altogether.

[The rest of the article available at link, but less about kinship than politics. Emphases added by CEB]

Wallace State professor Bob Davis helps trace Indian ancestors

Wallace State professor Bob Davis helps trace Indian ancestors

Friday, August 08, 2008
BILL PLOTTNews staff writer

Bob Davis said he can almost guarantee who will show up for one of his Native American genealogy workshops.

"I get a lot of people who have a family story about a Cherokee princess," he said. "I believe most Southern black and white families have some Native American heritage, even if they don't have family stories about a Cherokee princess."

Davis is director of the Family and Regional History Program at Wallace State-Hanceville"It's purely mathematics," Davis said of his theory about Indian heritage. "Take Pocahontas. She had one grandchild who lived to adulthood, yet today more than 1 million people are descendants of hers. The genealogy's been thoroughly done on that."

Consequently, it's likely most Southerners whose ancestors were around before the United States forcibly moved Indians from their lands in the early to mid-1800s have some Indian heritage. . . .

[My favorite part] "People try to put the cart before the horse. Put Pocahontas back in the box until you've done your basic genealogical research. You've got to know who you're looking for because the Indian records are all indexed by personal names," he said.

[Follow link for entire article]