DNA has absolutely zero to do with being Native and Jewish
For starters, it is super important to state that DNA has absolutely zero to do with being Native and Jewish. It does not make you a Native or a Jew.
My Indigenous heritage and Native Nation citizenship derive solely from my Native Mother. My Mvskoke ancestry goes straight through her, to my Grandmother, to my Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather, and to many many ancestors all the way back to time immemorial.
My Jewish heritage is from my Father and my Orthodox conversion, since being Jewish is determined by unbroken matrilineal descent or conversion. My descent is straight line but patrilineal for a couple generations and beyond that also goes back to time immemorial.
DNA can be interesting though
When I was a young child, my Mom told me I was a mutt, and my DNA sure proves her 100% correct, ha! So far, roughly once a year, Ancestry.com revises my DNA ethnicity estimates as the science and sample sizes improves. This post’s header image and the following list are from their 2022 ethnicity estimate.
European Jewish 28%
Sweden & Denmark 18%
England & Northwestern Europe 18%
Indigenous Americas-North 9%
Germanic Europe 9%
Ivory Coast & Ghana
Indigenous Americas-Yucatan Peninsula 1%
This year Ancestry.com detailed my DNA even further and split it into maternal and paternal sections
Delegates from 34 Native Nations at the Creek Council House in Indian Territory, now called Oklahoma, 1880
We Are Native because We Are
These are present tense statements. Our connections to our Native Nations and Native communities are current. They are not something in the past or the distant past. They exist now.
I am Mvskoke because my mother Mona Lee Smith Rothschild is. She is Mvskoke because her mother Leola May Berryhill Smith, my grandmother is. My grandmother is Mvskoke because her mother, my great grandmother Jeanetta May Grayson Berryhill is, and because her father, my great grandfather Pleasant Luther Berryhill is, and ad infinitum.
It is the same thing with my next door neighbors. They are Cherokee because their father is. He is Cherokee because his father, their grandfather is. He is Cherokee because his father, their great grandfather is and so on through numerous great grandfathers and great grandmothers.
My children are Mvskoke because I am. My grandchildren are Mvskoke because their mother is. And so the future will go on further.
None of us are alone either. I come from a large family and I believe my neighbors do as well. I have many 1st and 2nd cousins either reconnecting or in most cases never left the embrace of our Tribal Nation.
All of us have great responsibilities to learn, grow, and teach others, now and in future generations. In person, remote, and digitally documented. Digitize, digitize! Speak it, show it, write it, type it, scan it, photograph it, video it and share it all.
Waking up from the effects of genocide
This is what genocide, colonialism, and assimilation do. They disconnect survivors from our Native Nations and Native communities. They turn our collective focus and growth into scattered individuals with no connections rather than nourishing vibrant communities; rather than connecting citizenry of Native Nations that existed for tens of thousands of years at minimum, way before the United States or Canada. They slowly and sometimes invisibly burn our Native Nations and Native communities down to nothing or next to nothing.
Our ancestors are not prehistoric people either
I saw on Twitter today a post where a skull was found in a construction site in Oklahoma and of course, it was a prehistoric skull. Just one example of the relentless, uncountable and never ending dehumanizing minimization of Native lives. History didn’t start in North America when white colonizers came. Geesh.
We are whole and not fractional people
Colonizers of course, did everything they could to kill every Native in North America. When all was nearly done and colonizers were coveting the final pieces of Native land, they invented blood quantum. To this day Native peoples are categorized by the government as to what fraction of a whole Native they are. No other group have their ‘pedigree’ measured. Yet we are human beings, not dogs or horses; we are never a partial person. Still, colonizers think nothing of minimizing our humanity and of reducing our Native being to inevitable mathematical disappearance.
Truth be told, there are only 2 valid measurements of Indigeneity, either 100% or 0%. There is no in-between or fractional state. A person is either all Native or they are not Native at all. Native Nations and Native communities decide who is Native, not colonizer governments or non-Native people.
Thank the Creator
Our Nations have woken up. There is a great return and indwelling of citizens back to the Native Nations and Native communities. Thank you Creator.
Yes, there is much work to do, but I do believe the future is bright for Natives, Native Nations and Native communities.
A few major changes, now on 3 continents instead of 4
Ancestry.com revises periodically their DNA ethnicity estimations as their science advances and DNA databases grow. Their previous estimate was calculated in August 2020 which is in this post. I do think this is improved and it also matches my children’s DNA better.
Gone are the South American Indigenous groups and Mexican Indigenous was further refined to Yucatan Peninsula Indigenous. Note my Indigenous heritage from my maternal grandmother also includes the African, which is now 3 country groups and some portion of English, Scotch and/or Irish likely.
European Jewish is still my largest group coming from one grandparent, as my paternal grandfather was my only unmixed grandparent.
England & Northwestern Europe follow a close 2nd with all 3 other grandparents contributing to in varying degrees probably, but mostly my maternal grandfather.
Sweden & Denmark increased a lot, which I believe is part of my paternal grandmother’s Dutch heritage along with Norway and Germanic Europe.
European Jewish 28%
England & Northwestern Europe 27%
Sweden & Denmark 12%
Indigenous Americas-North 9%
Germanic Europe 4%
Indigenous Americas-Yucatan Peninsula 2%
DNA is very interesting I think, but it doesn’t necessarily speak to the culture(s) one is, is raised within or claims you
Many people think of culture as language, music, dress, political and social behavior etc., which is true but culture also speaks to the values and thought processes one is taught.
My values and thought processes were taught to me mostly by my Indigenous mother, who was taught by her Indigenous mother, who was taught by her Indigenous mother and so on… Most Native tribes are matriarchal and the maternal nature and direction of my Indigeneity is impossible to ignore. Being Mvskoke is a strong and dominant part of me.
Likewise, my Jewish father was taught by his Jewish father, who was taught by his Jewish father and so on and the patriarchal nature of the Jewish culture were passed to me in a strong fashion. The religion of Judaism is validated maternally, which is why I had an Orthodox conversion in adulthood, but there is no doubt in my mind the Jewish culture is patriarchal.
None of this is to dismiss my European heritages, but for me the dominant cultures of each of my parents burn the brightest. No doubt it took me many years to organize my upbringing into understanding the cultural influences, but at this point I clearly see it.
The white Christian American (European derived) culture is something just not in me. For a long time I didn’t understand why I didn’t fit into (American) life. Now I know.
White Christian American culture & society thinks it is the neutral, & that other cultural standards & behavior fall short
It thinks other cultures aren’t civilized, up to the modern state of advancement or even G-d blessed state that white Christian American culture and society is.
This view is 100% false.
Much of white Christian American interaction with other cultures is about measuring and changing people to follow white standards. Assimilation can be subtle or as forceful as at gunpoint.
White Christian American culture and society, being the designer of race says that skin color is the ultimate determining measure of value.
This is also completely false.
There are a quite a few facets to this but I’m going to discuss one: Light skinned or white passing people of other cultures. It is a clear fact that light skinned or white passing people of other cultures benefit or at least do not suffer exactly the same as darker skinned peoples under white racial structures. But bear with me and learn. This is adjacent knowledge not replacement knowledge to the fact that the darker your skin is, the more you suffer under whiteness.
Skin color is just the art of G-d in the garden of humanity
It has no real value differentiation. Essentially it is decoration and meaningless. However, under the white construct of race, white people have turned it to their cruel and dominating advantage. Many people are square pegs trying to fit into a white round hole.
Going forward, when I say white, just insert ‘white Christian American (European derived)’. Strongly replace your vision of skin color with culture and values.
Regardless of appearance under the false and made up white racial structures, Native and Jewish cultures (to name just two) are not white cultures.
Regardless of varying degrees of assimilation or awareness, I am not a white person. My children and grandchildren are not white people. My parents and grandparents were not white people. We don’t act or think like white people.
This is why Jews say to themselves “oy, goy” with that common understanding and head shake, because Jews do not think like white people.
This is why even white passing Natives will call you a colonizer, settler or a white person. Not just because you are, but because white people have a thought process that isn’t the neutral they think it is and clearly one of its own culture, that is not shared by Natives.
In my own life and others, I can think of many clashes and harms due to this white misunderstanding of other cultures, regardless of the level of a Jewish or Native person’s enlightenment.
ALL government, law, business and social structures are controlled by and polluted with false white viewpoints.
Whether white people know it or not, according to their own limited or non-existent standard of understanding… from the building you live in… to your workplace… all the way to even the world stage… and probably soon even outer space, non-white cultures are getting the short end of the stick, period.
Only YOU can change this by equalizing the ruling, power and economic structures now. Not when it meets white standards, but now. Not when you think it’s right, had enough white meetings, prayer or whatever, but now.
Genocide, murder, kidnapping, torture, abuse, rape, enslavement, theft, dishonesty & more are the dominant attributes of Christianity. Inextricably linked to the ruling empires of whiteness since at least the 4th century ce, Christianity’s sins have towered immeasurably over those it chose to evangelize & “civilize”.
And this is still the situation today.
Many people would put Christianity in the headline and sub-headline in scare quotes as though they weren’t true, but this is my point, they are true.
This post is not a pre-1492 or post-1492 history lesson, so keep in mind if I write about something as though it were a fact, it is because it is a fact. If you do not know the facts, you need to go back to the books. There is plenty of well documented, scholarly and non-propagandized history accessible to the general public. We live in an age of shared knowledge and communication which are the medicines breaking the false hierarchies.
This post is not a theology lesson either, so if what you think are basic tenets of the Christian religion don’t align with what I’m saying, you need to go back to the book. It would be understandable if you thought the Christian Testament was a tool of colonialism and other horrors, because it has been used that way, but again read the book in its full context. Maybe this is the wrong time to let your pastor tell you what the Bible says and means.
You will find there is no biblical support for the combined actions of the European descended colonizer governments and churches in the Americas (North, Central and South) or Africa and other locations.
Murder is murder, theft is theft and lies are lies.
You can’t attack a people, kill their families, steal everything they have, and then lie to yourself and others that their (self-defense) justified your actions.
The entire North, Central and South Americas belong to the Indigenous of the Americas. The Indigenous were doing just fine before 1492, and no Indigenous people attacked Europe and any other lands that were not their own. Anything else that happened was purely instigated by and the results including all future results are owned fully by the European colonizers and their descendants.
Ditto, the Indigenous peoples of Africa were minding their own business in their own continent, when European colonizers invaded their lands and started stealing their lands and resources, as well as selling their people internationally.
Christian colonizers think keeping what you steal is OK
This is big. This is a concept that permeates Christian thinking today from MAGA to Progressive in even the most mundane ways. Rarely is restitution or restorative thinking a part of justice. Every excuse in the book gets pulled out.
Even worse, colonizers think murdering and stealing human beings, and all their possessions has no consequence for white people but BIPOC can rot in the graves or prisons for defensive actions. The self-deceitful enormity and variety of this goofy thinking is mind-boggling and can be worked into all kinds of action avoidance and intellectual mumbo-jumbo.
It might be convenient for murdering thieves and their descendants to think it was a long time ago, or that they didn’t personally do those things but those are just Christian criminal rationalizations for their continued enjoyment of ill-gotten gains. Do you think those excuses would deter the US Government from seizing the assets of a mafioso’s family or a drug lord’s?
If I steal your wallet and it has $1000 in it, when I get caught, are you OK that I bought my kid an iPhone with my ill-gotten gains, and that my kid should keep it with no remuneration to you? Spin in all the circles of self-deceit you want, it’s stolen property, there was no legitimacy from the get go.
Forgiveness is one thing… and the we are all broken mantra is another
But nowhere did Jesus say when you steal something, you and your descendants get to keep it and all appreciations if you get caught or held to a righteous standard. The Mormons might have alluded to this, but nowhere in the Christian Testament did Jesus say skin color is a measure of value and evil and that white is the best of both. Nowhere does Jesus say you can kill people that don’t believe as you do or are in the way of some land you covet. Manifest Destiny is a lie, the Doctrine of Discovery is the crazy rambling of a man (and system) that thinks he is the sole telephone system with G-d. All of this nonsense needs to be filed right next to the flat earth and falling off the edges nonsense.
In recent months watching reactions and actions (or lack of them) to over 1500 dead indigenous children that could scale to over 100,000 dead indigenous children, along with the denial and lack of cooperation from supposedly godly people really turned out to be a knowledge blessing for me.
Christianity sucks. Denial of this is the most anti-spiritual thing you can do. Seriously people, is your god so small that they need your help hiding and minimizing crimes against humanity? If you love G-d, let it rip people! G-d will joy in your embrace of the truth and justice. G-d takes no joy in your silence over crimes in “The Church”. Imagine Jesus staying silent as he toured the country and witnessed corruption in organized religion, its leaders and the people who followed them…
Yet your average American Christian acts like it’s sinful to criticize crimes in “The Church”.
You can’t put new wine in old wineskins
I spent at least 45 years of my adult life trying to figure out how to best fix the inequitable American political system. Vote, protest, vote, protest… crickets. Finally fully embracing my own Native heritage, engaged in 2 way relationship with my Tribal Nation, and plugged into the pain and joy of my Indigenous relatives across the Western Hemisphere, the light-bulb turned on.
You can’t fix what was designed and maintained as broken on purpose. The 2 party system, the Democratic/Republican Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, or even full on Socialism or Communism or any other colonizer construct will not fix the American Empire. Christianity of any kind will not be the guiding light in a governmental sense, ever.
At the pace of change (currently backwards), you’d be lucky if 500 or a 1000 years from now that prosperity would be respectful and equitable. More than likely, the best you’d get, even then, is keep voting, this is the election that will change everything… Yeah right…
The land and sovereignty of North, Central and South America have to go back to the Indigenous. All of it.
Ditto for the treasures and extraction wealth. Additionally, BIPOC peoples need reparations. It doesn’t matter if the governments of the Western Hemisphere go bankrupt in the processes. It wasn’t theirs to begin with.
One thing totally missing from the colonized criminalized Christian mindset is you just can’t keep moving forward without cleaning up your mess. The colonizer violence, theft and oppression are Ponzi schemes. They are unsustainable, they will collapse of their own weight. At its worst, the damage to our only home the Earth we are experiencing today is unforgivable. We must stop this and righting the wrongs of the last 529 and especially the last 200 years is the only way.
The European colonizers cannot bring life back to their murder/genocide victims & they cannot replace the lives they stole in slavery, but they can replace the material things and concepts they stole and murdered (like land & sovereignty) and make reparations to the rightful descendants.
Absolutely, as lands, wealth and power are returned to their rightful owners, this would produce a wildly different North America, South America, Africa & other areas. The status quo would be incredibly disturbed, it would be a lot of work reversing hundreds of years of theft and murder/genocide; it would be painful for some.
Western governments need to disband and fully cease operations. No Big Daddy relationships. The churches need to go back to living rooms where they belong. Both need render their criminal gains to the rightful owners. period.
In the end everyone would be glad, for the Indigenous are not like European Christian colonizers. They do not feed on the oppression and possessions of others.
One final non-secular point: Christianity has to decide, is Jesus more important or is the US/Canada/Europe criminal colonial model and its ill gotten gains more important?
My guess is the criminal colonial model is way more important to everyday Christianity, and all the books, worship, cathedrals, Christian politicians and Christian rock and roll won’t fix the broken and useless witness of Christianity in its likely final demise. Hopefully I’m wrong about this 2nd to last paragraph, but I doubt it.
Personally, I don’t see how you can be a Christian and a follower of Jesus at the same time. Christianity is the anti-Christ near as I can tell.
However, you won’t see me claim I’m African-American
Or a Black person… I’d be thrilled and honored to make the claim. My Senegal, Ivory Coast/Ghana and Nigeria DNA together has Elizabeth Warren’s Native-American DNA beat 3 times over, but I don’t know my African ancestor(s). I haven’t lived a life with any of their experiences. I can’t own this.
It is cool though!
I estimate within 4-6 generations ago that I had at least one African ancestor and I may someday discover the confirmed genealogy of this person.
My curiosity runs wild and that would be a super exciting day, but I still won’t be able to own it. An ally is the most I’ll ever be.
Due to other relatives DNA, I know this is though my Mvskoke Native bloodlines, but that is all I know. If any of my Native cousins out there stumble upon this post on the Internet and know more than I know, please contact me.
Image and countries updated 5-18-2022. The geographic estimate of my African ancestry has bounced around a tiny bit since 2019, but I think it’s safe to say there is 3% from the Western Africa coastal areas from Senegal to Nigeria.
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; ‘insufficient’ blood quantum, refusal to cooperate with colonizers, missed a census, infighting, disenrollments, competing economically with non-Natives and 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.
With the exception of blood quantum, these mitigating factors are rare in factual reality, and represent an extremely small percentage, less than 1% in my amateur estimation. 99%+ of actual Indigenous people meet the requirements for citizenship in a Tribal Nation. No doubt, enrolling in a Tribal Nation sometimes entails some challenging research and difficult to acquire documentation.
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 I will not be relinquishing it.
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.
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 other Indigenous and African DNA. By itself, DNA can [maybe] pinpoint geographic regions, but [definitely] not specific Tribal identities. Some Indigenous Nations have citizens with no Indigenous DNA as well.
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 of my Tribal Nation.
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.
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.
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 Nation 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.
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.
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.
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%
Indigenous Americas-North 8%
Germanic Europe 4%
Indigenous Americas-Andean 1%
Indigenous Americas-Colombia & Venezuela 1%
Indigenous Americas-Mexico 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.