Category Archives: Indigenous

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 Mvskoke, Muscogee or Creek Nation of Indigenous/Native American/Indians, 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 Mvskoke, one of the five civilized tribes, were required to participate in a census. Although the Mvskoke 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 Mvskoke (and the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole as well). There were also separate Dawes rolls for Freedmen or blacks formerly enslaved 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, 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, I’ve been an urban Jew my whole adult life but I have been waking up and trying my best to embrace all my heritage.

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

Thanks!
-Yehuda

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