Category Archives: DNA

Why I identify as Native

Every situation with Indigenous heritage is unique

This is my personal story and how I relate to it. It is not a blueprint to measure others.

There are fake tribes and phony Indians out there, but there are also legitimate tribes and legitimately connected members that haven’t fared well so far under colonizer control or other issues. That is why I say every situation is unique. There could be a number of mitigating factors; refusal to cooperate with colonizers, missed a census, infighting, disenrollments, competing economically with non-natives and many other possibilities… With hundreds, even possibly thousands of tribes, and even more personal relationships to tribes, there is no way I could rationally speak authoritatively about every situation.

Fortunately for my family and I, our Indigenous nation is well known, large, and our connection to it is a straight line and well documented for quite some time. I will say this much, if you meet the criteria for citizenship in an indigenous nation you have heritage with and the only thing standing in your way is your own inaction, in my opinion you need to become a citizen before claiming indigeneity publicly.

I am 100% Native. I am connected. Connected by DNA, blood quantum, descent, relationship, citizenship in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, education, participation and growth. I was born Native. It’s a gift of inestimable value that the Creator, my mother Mona Smith Rothschild and many other ancestors gave to me. No one could validate it except them. No one can invalidate it or take it away except me, and that won’t happen.

FYI, I feel the same about being 100% Jewish, with a few changes. I’m a multi-layered person. I’m not one layer fractured into pieces. My Native layer and my Jewish layer are both full and complete. I will write about this more later, but for now this is about being Native.

Most personal things I write on this website are for my descendants; hopefully these writings will outlive me somehow and prove useful to others who read my writings as well.

DNA

As I have discussed before in previous posts here and here, DNA is not the end all for me or most Natives. Still, it is definitely a bonus and can corroborate other information. I was aware of the heritage of my 4 grandparents – Native, Jewish, Dutch and English. I was not aware that the Native included not only North American Indigenous, but Andean Indigenous, Colombian/Venezuelan Indigenous, and Mexican Indigenous as well as African (Nigerian and Senegalese) DNA. By itself, DNA can pinpoint geographic regions, but not specific tribal identities. Some Indigenous nations have citizens with no Indigenous DNA as well.

Blood Quantum

My great-grandmother Jeanetta Grayson Berryhill was full blooded Mvskoke, so her blood quantum was 1/1. My great-grandfather Pleasant Luther ‘Duke’ Berryhill‘s blood quantum was 1/8. This of course made my grandmother’s blood quantum 9/16, my mother’s blood quantum 9/32 and my blood quantum 9/64 or about 14%. Roughly three-fourths of my Indigenous nation has a blood quantum of less than 1/4. I believe my blood quantum is above the average and above the median.

You might have noticed my great-grandfather’s blood quantum of 1/8 is less than my blood quantum of 9/64. He was born and lived on the reservation, was a Captain of the Lighthorse, and was very active in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Government. A picture hung in the Creek Nation Council House in Okmulgee, Oklahoma of him and my great-grandmother and outside the Council House, a monument honors him. Me, I’m trying. This is an example of why blood quantum is essentially meaningless.

Blood quantum is a colonizer construct. The United States Federal Government designed it to steal land and erase Indigenous culture. Every Mvskoke is 100% Indigenous in my opinion. Blood quantum is by design arbitrary and inaccurate, a corrupt conspiracy from over 100 years ago. Sometimes it is subject to fraud and/or ineptitude, including people that shouldn’t be, and not including people that should be.

Blood quantum also only counts the blood of 1 tribal heritage in an individual, even when there are multiple tribal heritages involved. Blood quantum is a meaningless classification forced upon the Indigenous and no others, but it has its legal and citizenship ramifications today, so it is important in a practical sense ultimately. Some Indigenous nations have even significant numbers of citizens with no blood quantum as well.

Descent

Starting in the early 1700s, before the United States was a country, through today, there are 10 generations of my Indigenous ancestors and descendants that I know of so far, by name, as well as their birth/death dates. This is an unbroken line of descent. Often there are photos, drawings, writings and other documentation of their lives.

My grandmother and her parents were born on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation in Indian Territory before Oklahoma was a state. Ancestors before them traveled to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears from the Old Creek Nation. Others lived and died in the Old Creek Nation, in what is now Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, where they lived with their ancestors for who knows how many millennia, perhaps time immemorial.

Relationship

Obviously my mother and grandmother were not strangers to me or obscure relatives discovered through research or testing. I was raised, nurtured and loved by them. It doesn’t get bigger than this to me. As a common and understandable sign of their times, they were not exactly standing on street corners with megaphones broadcasting their indigeneity. Hopefully this ends with me. I am broadcasting it, literally around the world.

I am Native. I am Indigenous. I am Indian. I am Mvskoke and proud of it.

Citizenship in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation

This is super important to me. Anyone that is a direct descendant of someone on the Dawes Rolls or the relevant census for other tribes, would be crazy not to become a citizen of their Indigenous Nation. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation criteria for Citizenship is that you must be Creek by Blood and trace back to a direct ancestor listed on the 1906 Dawes Roll by issuance of birth and/or death certificates’. This and the forms you need to fill out may seem overwhelming at first, but with hindsight I can tell you it is not that complex.

I don’t need to tell you, historical and ongoing colonizer genocide against Indigenous peoples has been devastating to populations. If you are Indigenous, join your Nation! Your people need you and you need them. Fortunately many Nations are rebounding. My Nation has over 90,000 citizens now.

Education, Participation and Growth

To me being Native is not a static thing. I’m deeply immersed in learning about my culture and tribe, and have been for some time. There is quite a bit of written and video material out there. Realistically, I’m probably too old to gain fluency in our language, but for those who can, I highly recommend it. I hope to incorporate some of our ceremonial and music legacies into my experimental music recordings. When I do I will post the recordings on this website.

As an at-large citizen, I do what I can to participate. I vote in tribal elections and US elections as pro-Indigenous as I can. Sovereignty and provision for my Nation is always foremost on my mind and in my vote. I influence who I can. I hope to be blessed enough to visit my reservation with family someday.

I strongly support #Landback. Nothing short of the restoration of tribal lands, full sovereignty, reparations and the complete removal of the US Government from Indigenous Nations will satisfy me permanently.

Every month that you talk to me or read my writings, I will have grown. I do my best to pass down knowledge to my descendants, and light their fire, which is the best growth card in my deck.

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

Thanks!
Yehuda

Be sure to ‘follow’ Yehuda Rothschild on Twitter!
https://twitter.com/Y_e_h_u_d_a

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 reason why some tribes have black, white and other races or ethnicities mixed in. My tribe, the Muscogee, Creek, or my preference the Mvskoke people, before and throughout the existence of the United States has had this mixture of Indigenous, black, white, and others.

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 many of my descendants are enrolled members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

As I mentioned in my previous post, 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 claim 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

Be sure to ‘follow’ Yehuda Rothschild on Twitter!
https://twitter.com/Y_e_h_u_d_a

A website about me, my life, my thoughts and whatever else I feel like writing about, ha!

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.

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 homogenization and assimilation 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 birth dates of my grandparents 50-70 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 white 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 I’m going to guess, 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 also 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 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 that family patriarch, the most successful of those 3 generations and build an empire that outlasted me. I believed I was special.

Life had different plans for me

All these subjects and more, I will go into greater detail in later posts, but for now we arrive in 1996 roughly, when I had a mid-life crisis and decided that I was a slave to a group of grass plants, called my perfect American lawn.

That crisis started a decade of hell and euphoria, a 2nd divorce and a new common-law wife, downtown living, deep deep depression, drug addiction and eventually homelessness that landed me single again in 2006, and in West Rogers Park, 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.

Eventually by 2012, I was back in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, sort of repaired and soon remarried for the 4th time. Back in my mother’s family tree, I began to search 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.

By the end of 2015, my 4th marriage disintegrated. In the beginning of 2016, G-d smiled upon me in more than one way. I moved into my current residence, the Jesus People, a socialist commune of sorts, or an intentional Christian community of ~200 people in a 10 story high-rise on the lakefront in Uptown Chicago.

In the last 5 years I have deepened my Judaism, believing Yeshua is Moshiach, and 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.

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. Ever since I got the results back in January 2020, I have been on 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%

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

Thanks!
-Yehuda