More Blackfoot Theory

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This topic contains 47 replies, has 10,553 voices, and was last updated by  Hana 14 years, 11 months ago.

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    A bit of interesting historical musing and material, mostly in Melungeons and Mestis, but briefly mentions Saponi, Lumbee, and others we’ve been looking at.

    The link that got me to the above article had an interesting theory about Blackfoot, as opposed to Blackfeet (meaning the tribe in Montana), having to do with some African-american ancestry. You’ve probably heard this one before, of course. There are also interesting musings on the surprisingly large group of people with a family story of “Cherokee/Blackfoot.” So did the Eastern Cherokee mix with one particular Woodland tribe, which could be this ‘cherokee-blackfoot’ connection, that you know of?



    Do you remember where that link was? There was one lady saying that who I corresponded with. After I explained why I thought that was an inadequate theory about the origins of the Blackfoot ID, she said she agreed with me. I wonder if that’s still her old article out there.


    Bill Childs

    This link is a handout by Mike Nassau, extolling Jean Bible as the “most thoroughal” study of Melungeons. The problem lies in Jean Bible having performed her study in the (what?) 1880s,

    nearly 70 years after the people this term originally was applied to had left the area (admittedly, some descendants may have yet been on Newman’s Ridge). Nassau’s use of Bible as an ‘appeal to authority” on which to base his conclusions should be rejected out of hand.

    In the strickest sense, I have a problem with the contemporary “Melungeon Movement”, in that there are too many assertions (lacking any proof) and Dr. Jones’ DNA “study” claims results which contradict DNA researchers proven threshold of resolution of origins., i.e., the “Turkish” genes claim. It doesn’t wash.

    That the use of the term “Melungeon” has evolved to include any backward, mixed-race people is a “stolen concept” deserving only contempt – but that’s only my opinion 🙂



    Hey, said I thought it was an interesting read, not that i was a disciple!

    (As someone of whom half of her heritage could likely be described as ‘any backwater mixed-race people’ I figure we can use all the help we can get — and if calling onesself Melungeon or Metis leads to civic pride… seriously, I’ve always preferred to myself as half ‘po’ white trash’ (mostly because i like the look on people’s faces when I say it) but that’s just me.)

    The parts that interested me most were the DNA part — without knowing enough about the subject to know how scientifically accurate it is — and the part about flat feet possibly meaning african heritage rather than native-american. (My mother and I have flat feet and her father told her it was a sign of her indian heritage along with our shovel teeth, double-jointed and a few other things. Of course Grandpa was pretty far removed from any heritage and just passed down what he was told by folks who were keeping things pretty secret.)

    Anyway, if you want to refer me to some good discussions on these topics, I’d be grateful. 😎




    When you first posted this (I had already read these two items.), I did not know what to say. I guess that I say this. Any article that says “probably” should be looked at critically. Even to say that the folks calling themselves Blackfoot and who are from the east being Tutelo and/or Saponi is still an hypothesis.

    Have any of you who are into linguistics tried those names that were posted yesterday, to determine if they seem Tutelo?




    For what it’s worth, I still have problems with other people labeling me, I know who I am and I know from what my family has gone through if it was possible we would have just walked away from the “Indian thing’. However we are here and we’re not leaving.

    Theories are fine but look at the (pardon me fro saying) **** the world has put us through , it would just have been easier to say, screw it!




    I hope I am not misunderstanding you, but I think you might have misunderstood me. I don’t deny the “Indian thing.” My reference is to what tribe were the Blackfoot from VA, not that they were not Indian. I accept my Blackfoot grandmother as Indian. In fact, I feel some obligation/pride to openly claim my mixed background, since my ggrandparents moved away from their Indian relatives to hide it and since my ggrandmother wouldn’t even sit in the same room with her mother-in-law who looks Indian. Heck, I look like her Indian mother-in-law. I am not going to say “screw it” either.

    Hope I haven’t misunderstood you or offended you. That was what caused me not to immediately reply to Hana’s posting. I waited to see responses from others.

    How much snow do you have now? We got a few inches earlier this week. Put out my Internet satellite for an entire day until the snow melted off. I wish I still had cable but none is strung to our new house.



    vance hawkins

    Nevil Wayland was the Church Clerk that was cited by Jack Goins as being the first person to write the word “Melungin” in the minutes of Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church. Nevil was a brother to my direct ancestor, William Wayland. Now I have never said my ancestors were “Melungeon’s”, but I have said maybe they were. We have no family story about that term — I’d never heard of it until I got a computer and started researching, altho since my relative was the first to write it — my ancestors had heard the term and knew of it, it just didn’t get passed down to us.

    But we DO have a family story that those ancestors were Indian. A picture of Nevil Wayland’s son is somewhere on this forum (Jonathan Wayland), cousin of my direct ancestor Sarah Wayland Richey. I also have a picture of Jeffrey Hoten Richey (1851-1926), my great grandpa — whose mother was Sarah Ann Wayland, that cousin of Jonathan I just mentioned. Jeff also looks Indian (photo isn’t posted but 2 of hs sons are somewhere, 2 of grandma’s brothers — they also look full blood or nearly so, Indian).

    I personally “think” the Melungeons were Christianized Indians, period and the rest is nonsense . . . all that stuff about Turks or Jews or Portuguese — I might be wrong tho. 🙂 and it won’t be the first time . . .




    Hey Cindy and Vance, no there’s no issues here, if I do have a problem it’s with the sites that label us or surmise that our familiy is hiding black blood , it’s starts to get rather small when outsiders start coming up with theories that pretain to us and not them.

    So far we are very lucky occasionally it has snowed but no staying, cold tho’ for most folks standards.

    I hope all is well with everyone.



    OUchy! Didn’t mean to stir things up — I know a lot of what they guy has to say is… well, annoying. That’s why I referred to the article as musings, rather than anything more serious.

    Should have been more careful to explain where i was trying to head by posting this. Was in too much of a hurry that day, and meant to come back later. Will clarify as best I can.

    There were some certain pieces of what he wrote I found interesting — and he pulls together a lot of other people’s work in one place — I wasn’t so much interested in his overall spin on things, or even his accuracy on specifics (for instance, I’m pretty sure that stuff about how Ashkenazi Jews came to be would fall under the category of fairy tale, and he writes as if it’s an accepted absolute truth), I guess what I wondered about would fall under four categories:

    1. Does anyone think there is significance to ‘blackfoot’ versus ‘blackfeet?’ I know my family was specific and said blackfoot.

    2. Does anyone know about that ‘Blackfoot-Cherokee’ connection being somehow significant? Could there have been, say, a specific clan of Eastern Cherokee, who rather than being Bird clan, were something that could translate as Blackfoot clan? Have others seen a lot of people who call themselves both.

    3. physical ‘signs’ of indian versus, say, african, heritage. (ie. are flat feet a native-american or black trait, typically. I’ve heard both, then read that native-americans more typically have high arches. And yes, I know this won’t pertain to all or even most. Are shovel teeth meaningful, or no?

    4. How about Dna evidence? What’s the authoritative view at this point? My brother is thinking about doing one of those dna thingys that are supposed to tell you what percentage of various ethicities you’re supposed to be. Opinions on whether those tests are meaningful or useful at all? (The sites sure look scientific but….)



    The other reason I got interested in this is that, assuming flatfeet mean anything, it’s the second clue I’ve found that my mother’s family could be hiding a little black ancestry in addition to NDN. (The first clue is that my racist old coot of a great-grandfather was very surprisingly the only person in his small Texas town to hire a black man in a responsible position. Then I found that the I have a distant relative by marriage with the same unusual name as the man g-grandpa hired. Which made me go ‘hmmm….’)


    Bill Childs

    Go back and re-read my previous post and imagine I am speaking in a conversational tone of voice in an open discussion.

    Of course it is my opinion, as everyone elso voices theirs as everyone has a right to do.

    I was critiqing the “authority” Nassau cited as the “proof” in his article, not what anyone here said.

    “Melungeon” was a term used around the 1810s or so by Whites, as a perjorative term for the people living on (& probably around) Newman’s Ridge, Tenn., and it was still a White put-down by the time Jean Bible did her interviews in the 1880s. There is no record of the Newman’s Ridge people ever referring to themselves as “Melungeon”. They always maintained they were “Indians”. Brenda has put a lot of reference material on this site that is very informative on this subject.

    “Flat feet” are a common Human ailment found everywhere at about the same frequency, not specific to any “race”.

    Yes, “shovel-shaped” incisors are relevant. So are molars whose enamel wraps around underneath the body of the molar, and between the roots, which often have enamel “spurs” on them. This often causes early tooth lose because gum tissue does not adhere to tooth enamel, allowing food particles to cause abcessing. These physical characteristics are only found in descendants of Northeast Asian people and are genetically transmitted. Southeast Asians also have tooth formations sometimes referred to as “shovel-shaped”, but are more strictly defined as “pegged” or “flat-topped” incisors. There is also a difference in the “pattern” on top of molars, comparing SE Asian to NE Asian or any of them (a small qualification here would require a separate chapter, due to admixture) to African/European populations; the later “super-group” having no dental differentiation to separately distinquish them.

    DNA tests to determine origins of your ancestors could determine a lot in the hands of a real researcher but DNA experts such as Cavalli-Sforza (the only group to have performed world-wide population genetic studies) have openly laughed at the kinds of DNA tests done commerically for genealogical “purposes”. The problem is that the scope of commercial “tests” that are currently being marketed are not reliable except to generate money.

    If two people suspected they were related, some commercially marketed DNA tests could determine whether they were related within 3, 10 or 40 generations. Even those don’t have the resolution to be more specific – speaking only about the commercial tests marketed as genealogical tools – not speaking about DNA tests for forensic purposes.

    There are “DNA Testing Labs” that pretend to tell you if you are Scandinavian (“Viking”), or French or Irish, etc., but there just isn’t as much genetic variability between “races” as most people suppose – “White” really is only skin-deep 🙂 . Which “Daughter of Eve” do you descend from? It’s possible to tell. What most people don’t know is that the male and female genes alledged to be able to determine if one is of American Native descent are also found in the area of present-day Iran (and several places across Europe). Does that mean that the Indo- European Iranians are American Indians? No. It only says that genetically, human populations are not very different at the genetic level (that’s why we can procreate with any race 🙂 and cause further genealogists big headaches!).

    The genetic differences are at the Allele and Haptloglobulin gene loci which require weeks and weeks of processing time and labor to determine and cost thousands of dollars.

    The commercial tests “might” be able to tell the difference between a Congo Native from Africa and a Scandinavian ( but there is VERY little difference at the genetic level), but the cost of doing so reliably is about 10 times what they are charging so one can only suspect the tests are subjective in nature. So, my personal take on these is to save your money.




    My connection with Mike Nassau is that it was he and a fellow named Carlton who encouraged me to write the “Other Blackfoot” article to be a part of a book on Melungeons that never came together. I’d posted something to a genforum they thought intriguing and invited me to contribute. I’m grateful for that encouragement, since the article has been a focal point in bringing Blackfoot ID’d people together.

    I heard they did some DNA work that revealed what they thought to be evidence of Ice Age migrations to the east coast of North America by people with the “Zena” mother — the meditteranean. I don’t know how strong their evidence is, but I found it interesting, since I have met so MANY Indian people here in the upper south who resemble my dad’s side of the family (Meditteranean). One of those two told me they tested a group of Mohawks that came up positive for Zena.

    It’s all interesting, but impossible at this point for me to know what to conclude. I hear there’s tremendous bickering among Melungeon researchers, so I’m steering clear of it.


    Bill Childs

    I probably should have steered clear of it, too 🙂

    just thought I could add some background for others to consider.



    Bill says above…..have openly laughed at the kinds of DNA tests done commerically for genealogical “purposes”. The problem is that the scope of commercial “tests” that are currently being marketed are not reliable except to generate money.

    I was discussing this the other day with a friend who’s husband is a medical doctor . He told us that unless both sides of the family is tested the person is only getting half of the picture. I keep hearing about them only testing the direct male side of the family. Unless both sides are tested then you can’t get a true picture of the makeup of the ancesters because the NA trait might come from the woman’s side.


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