Monthly Archives: December 2020

About indigenous DNA and blood quantum

Before and after colonizers

In all the millenniums before colonizers, most tribe members had a family connection to their Indigenous tribes in the Americas. You were generally born into or married into the tribe. However, just like every other tribe in the world, tribes were in charge of their own citizens, they could confer citizenship on whomever they pleased. And for a time, even after the colonizers arrived, they did exactly that.

This is one of several reasons why some tribes have black, white and other races or ethnicities mixed in. Being Indigenous is not a pure racial thing. That’s a white construction that has nothing to do with the rest of the world. My tribe, the Muscogee, Creek, or my preference the Mvskoke people, before and throughout the existence of the United States has been a mixture of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. There are brown people, red people, black people, white people, and whatever other skin tones you want to pin a name to people.

Blood Quantum is a colonizer construct

Every Indigenous tribe throughout the western hemisphere has its own history with colonizers. Obviously European colonizers have seriously interfered with Indigenous folk since the day they set foot in ever increasing ways, but in 1898 the United States essentially took control of the membership of my tribe. The Muscogee, one of the five civilized tribes, were required to participate in a census. Although the Muscogee did not consider strict ‘blood’ descent the only way to determine if a person was a member of the tribe, the Dawes Commission did.

Henceforth, the Dawes Rolls were the main factor to determine if you were a member of the Muscogee (and the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole as well). There were also separate Dawes rolls for Freedmen or formerly enslaved people associated with the tribe. There were also mistakes between the two ‘rolls’ as well as people that bribed their way into the rolls to steal land allotted for the Indigenous and Freedmen.

Indigenous DNA is nice, but by itself is meaningless for citizenship in an indigenous nation

You might have seen some claims of indigenous descent disputes before, Elizabeth Warren likely the most infamous. Family myth or lore is silly beyond reason and usually accompanied by a great deal of ignorance.

Minute amounts of DNA, as well, do not mean much. DNA is just not the end all. Sometimes DNA may confirm or buttress some historical beliefs and it may or may not indicate ancestors of the general Indigenous population, but not to the tribal level for sure.

Family and connection to tribe is what it is all about

Traditionally, the lineage of the Mvskoke people, like most Native American tribes, is matrilineal. I have a clear, straight and recent matrilineal line to 2 women on the Dawes Rolls. My grandmother and my great grandmother whom you see in the images above were both born in the Creek nation before the establishment of Oklahoma. Only my mother stands between them and me.

My grandmother of course, was personally known to me. I have talked with her, been held by her, kissed by her, sat on her lap… She lived with us for a time… You get what I’m saying.

If matrilineal descent were the only factor that mattered in any racial, ethnic, or religious affiliation, I would be nothing but a born 100% Native American. Fortunately for my children and grandchildren patrilineal matters too. Like me, they also have a clear lineage to women and men on Dawes Rolls. This lineage is why I and the majority of my descendants are enrolled members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

I believe my 4 major ethnicities (Mvskoke, Jewish, Dutch, and English) are 100% complete layers, not 25% of each and not only that but I feel them, I know the people, I am connected. It’s not myth or lore or the result of a surprise DNA finding.

I do find my DNA results to be informative though. For instance I was thrilled to discover African DNA, that confirms a common understanding that most Mvskoke have black ancestry as well. I’m excited and dying to know more, but I don’t know the people; I can’t run around claiming I’m an African American. An ally is what I’ll always likely be.

Worth noting

None of all this is to say my experiences in life have been as a fully Indigenous person growing up and living life from the reservation onward. I grew up in a time of assimilation and have been white passing most of the time. Culturally it’s a different story, I’ve been an urban Jew my whole adult life.

And that’s it for now, stay tuned for more.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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Thoughts for Descendants & 2019 DNA

Some of the best things about old age are being real, being true to yourself, being who you really are & being willing to share your life, good and bad, honestly without fear of judgment with your friends and family. Rather than write a book, here is my website.

My life, thoughts & whatever else I feel like writing about, ha!

Where do you start?

Though I try to live a simple life, I am a complex person with a complex history. I’m going to start this website out with a super-abbreviated timeline, my DNA and my basic ethnic/racial ancestry.

I was born in 1956, in a time period when pressures to homogenize and assimilate in the United States were very strong. When I was very young, my mother Mona Lee Rothschild, the most amazing person in all history of humankind, told me with a laugh and love, that I was a mutt. She told me the basic breakdown, that each of my grandparents were Jewish, Indigenous, Dutch and English. My mother was Indigenous and English, my father Jewish and Dutch. I am all four.

Of course, when I was a young child, the history of my living relatives as much as 70 years earlier were an unimaginably ancient time ago. I could not even begin to comprehend it. So, that was that basically, and life moved on as a secular American family in suburban Chicago.

In junior and senior high school, I experienced some antisemitism and began to be more aware of how some of the world related to my Jewishness. In the late 1970’s, as a young adult I moved to the north side of the city of Chicago, where I met many more Jews and increasingly identified with my Jewish ethnicity.

Some time in the 1980s, my mother put together a family tree going back about 5 generations along with what photos she could gather. By the end of the 1980s I strongly identified as Jewish ethnically and religiously, and had an orthodox conversion.

The patriarchy was very strong in my family, i.e. the Rothschild side of my heritage, and it passed very clearly from my grandfather Yehuda (Jay Leo) Rothschild to my father Malcolm Valk Rothschild to me Yehuda (Jay Franklin) Rothschild. I am the oldest (Jewish) male of my generation as well as torchbearer of the name. Jay is Americanized for Yehuda, my Hebrew name.

In the 1980s and 1990s, I believed my mission in life was to be the family patriarch, the most successful of all generations and build an empire that outlasted me. I believed I was special.

Life had different plans for me

Then in the mid-1990’s, I had a mid-life crisis and decided that I was a slave to the aspirations of a group of grass plants, known as my perfect American lawn.

That crisis started a decade of hell and euphoria, downtown living, deep deep depression, and eventually even a short moment of homelessness that landed me in West Rogers Park in 2006, a northernmost neighborhood in Chicago. I had a new trait, humility, and an understanding that not everyone can overcome the adverse things in their lives without help. I began to embrace and joy on the diversity of people and life throughout this post-crisis decade and for then on. I no longer believed I was special or destined to build an empire. I was just one equal value person of the billions on Earth.

By 2012, I was back in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. I began to thirst for more knowledge about my Native side. Referring to my mother’s family tree, I searched online for information about my ancestors and started to actually find some. It was rather amazing to me the things I discovered.

Woe is me for the long in person conversations I did not have with my ancestors, especially my mother and father, now all passed on. These are my greatest regrets without doubt.

In the beginning of 2016, G-d smiled upon me in more than one way. I moved into my current residence, a socialist commune of sorts, or an intentional community of ~200 people in a 10 story high-rise on the lakefront in Uptown Chicago.

In these last 5 years I began deconstructing my spiritual beliefs. I have fully embraced my Mvskoke (Muscogee/Creek) Indigenous heritage. I feel that each of my 4 major ethnicities (Jewish, Mvskoke, Dutch, and English) are 100% complete layers, not 25% of each. I strongly identify as a Jew and a Native.

And now the DNA!

For Chanukah in 2019, my oldest daughter Torie and family bought me an Ancestry DNA test. It may have been the best present ever. Getting the results back in January 2020 threw gasoline on the fire for my ancestors and history.

Spanning four continents – white, brown and black.
[See header image above]

  • European Jewish 30%
  • England & Northwestern Europe 27%
  • Scotland 12%
  • Indigenous Americas-North 8%
  • Ireland 6%
  • Germanic Europe 4%
  • Norway 4%
  • Sweden 3%
  • Nigeria 2%
  • Indigenous Americas-Andean 1%
  • Indigenous Americas-Colombia & Venezuela 1%
  • Indigenous Americas-Mexico 1%
  • Senegal 1%

September 26, 2021 Update: It is important to note that DNA ancestry is not an exact science. It can produce incorrect and/or incomplete results, especially if there is a small sampling and underrepresented ethnicities, as there is with Indigenous people. The Central/South American Indigenous results in this DNA interpretation were nullified in a newer interpretation, and shifted into North American & Yucatan Indigenous results, along with other small changes.

Most importantly DNA ancestry is useless for determining if you are Indigenous. NO legit North American tribes accept DNA results for citizenship because of the above paragraph and DNA results do not even hint at tribal heritage. Citizenship requirements vary for each Tribal Nation, but they always at minimum require a direct descendant connection to a previously enrolled citizen proven by birth and death certificates, as well as other requirements. DNA results by themselves means zero in determining if you are Indigenous, Native, Indian or whatever.

Also note that while there are racial and cultural facets, being Indigenous is primarily a political status, i.e. a citizen of a sovereign nation. There are truly all races and colors represented in North American Indigenous people. It is not as simple as a yes/no genetic answer.

All that said, DNA can be informative combined with other information, and you truly can connect with lost and unknown relatives. I know I found people I had lost touch with and discovered many new relatives. I highly recommend it.

May 18, 2022: The newest DNA update is here.

And that’s it for now, stay tuned for more.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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The ultimate amplification system for synthesizers?

What would today’s ultimate mid-level amplification system for synthesizer, guitar & bass musicians be?

What is your -singular- amplification solution for recording, jamming or even live performances?

A few days ago I bought myself a Gibson SG Standard electric guitar. Promptly, I started to think about an amplifier and effects.

Full disclosure, I’m 95%+ all about keyboards and synthesis, a home producer, and even then more of a sound curator and programmer than a talented musician. Most of the time, my music world is a Sequential Prophet X, a Sequential Pro 3, a Waldorf Quantum, a Focusrite interface, an Ableton Live DAW, and a set of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones. I also have a set of Tannoy studio monitors that I would love to get rid of, that I use for minimal open air analysis of my Anxiety Forest tracks. The mass majority of the time, it’s a headphone world for me.

Back to the guitar, I have a Blackstar ID Core 20 amp, which for $159.99 is a practice amplifier with a little bit of everything: solid state stereo; 6 variable overdrives; phaser, chorus/flanger, and tremolo modulations; linear, analogue, tape, and multi delays; and room, hall, spring, and plate reverbs. It is what I consider a great training amplifier. You can play it open air, with headphones or send it to your mixer/interface line level for recording. It is useless for gigging or jamming with friends though.

OK, now the macho in me, the emotional harkening back to my youth, wants a tube amplifier stack. I do want to jam live with some friends in a post-virus world. My crazy brain imagines a tube Blackstar stack with hundreds of watts and $5000 worth of pedals. Of course, this will never happen and it’s as useless as the training amplifier for my needs anyway. I need something in the middle.

I’m not even thinking about synthesizer amplification yet. I should also mention, I do have acoustic guitar recording/amplification needs as well.

I think it is impossible to come up with a multi-instrument gig/stack level type amplification system. At that level you are just going to need instrument specific equipment. If you are playing auditoriums, you are just not going to be moving equipment from your living room to the auditorium, so we’ll completely skip that angle.

So the moderate in me (what me moderate?), decides I could get a Blackstar HT Stage 60 MK2 combo tube amp with 60 watts OR 6 watts and direct out, maybe in the summer. That should be enough to record well with and flood the various room sizes available to jam with friends… then I keep thinking about effects, maybe modeling instead of tube or some combination.

Concurrently, in a semi-private Facebook conversation, my friend Jason Cooper, admin of the Sequential Pro 3 Synth Facebook group really cracks my head open by suggesting the Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx III MKII Preamp/FX Processor pictured in the header image on this post. This is cool, but it is pricey and sold direct only to my knowledge, so no credit terms. Seems like a lot for just my guitar needs. Still, it lights my fire, ha!

So now the concept of FRFR speakers (full range, flat response), studio monitors, and PA speakers is back in my head, and I think well, if I’m gonna go there, I might as well include my synthesizer amplification and effects needs…

AND just how many amps and speakers do I want in my relatively small studio area? AND what about something portable for jamming?

ARGH!!!

The synthesizer world is mostly a studio phenomenon, live amplification is probably the most under-discussed subject

I’m cool on headphones and studio monitors in the studio, however there is no portability or live performance usefulness. Most of the time when I think of portability or jamming, I’m thinking of a combo amp with two 12″ speakers or a single 15″ speaker. For guitars and bass, plenty of options. Of course, the effects pedal rabbit hole still exists, and face it, pedals can be messy and pricey collectively. For synths, there are not a lot of options that I know of for a dual 12″ or single 15″ combo amp. Roland has some keyboard amps. Know of any others? If you want grab and run combo amps, there seems to be little option other than instrument specific.

What are you gonna do though, have 4 combo amps?

One each for guitar, bass, acoustic, and synthesizers? Not in my world or room.

So far, the best solutions or compromises I can think of or know about, are something like that Axe-FX III, a pair of powered PA speakers and maybe a subwoofer, along with a pair of studio monitors for the studio. It’s still difficult for me to shed my traditional yearn for stacks or combo amps… but there is no simple solution I know of.

To save money, the Axe-FX III does have a smaller sibling, the FM3 and the Line 6 Helix family has a range of modeling/multi-effects for line level output and of course, pedal options.

And there is a wide range of power and price in PA speakers.

What do you think? What do you do?

Please share your thoughts, experiences and solutions! If we can expand my preliminary thinking, we’ll do a follow up post.

Thanks!
–Yehuda

Studio related pages
Updated periodically – Ableton Live
Updated periodically – Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra

Gear related pages
Updated periodically – Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave or Waldorf Quantum/Iridium?
Updated periodically – Sequential Prophet X or Waldorf Quantum?
Updated periodically – Sequential Pro 3 or Pro 2?
Updated periodically – Wavetable Synth Comparisons
Updated periodically – Wavetable Editing Tools
Updated periodically – SampleRobot Pro

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