Your Family. Myths and Legends in Genealogy at Ancestor.com.
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. . . .
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