News of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pittsburgh area, counsel from its leaders, and reflections from its members.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Searching Out Your Native American Ancestors

On November 29 the Plum Family History Center hosted an excellent event in honor of Native American History Month. The event started off with a Native American-themed lunch: a three-sisters vegetable chili with buffalo. It was delicious! It was accompanied by fried bread and side dishes brought by the guests.

After lunch, Pat "Star Dancer" Selinger presented about researching Native American ancestors. Pat is the Turtle Clan Mother in the Lenape Tribe. Everyone in attendance enjoyed learning more about Native Americans and their relations to the United States government and to us.

Pat boldly stated the challenges associated with researching Native American Ancestors. Because they are native, there are no immigration records. And there are rarely any written records at all, for that matter. When records do exist, a Native American may be recorded as being "black," or any other descent they married into. Also, because of the persecution in our country's past, many Native American renounced their heritage in order to protect themselves.

Generally, Native Americans don't have a great interest in genealogy work. So, what tools do you have to research Native Americans in your bloodline? Start with whatever clues you can find. Sometimes Native American were told to keep their heritage an absolute secret in order to protect themselves from the government. If think you have Native American ancestry, recall the stories your elders have told, and you may find connected stories in Native American lore. You may find help through individual tribe websites. Here are a few for starters:

Buffalo three-sisters chili. The three sisters are three vegetables
(corn, beans, and squash) that grow well together by providing protection and support. 

Some of the displays brought by Pat Selinger

Plum FHC director, Ed Snodgrass, helps serve the chili

Chef Jared and Pat Selinger working on the chili and fried bread

Pat Selinger answers questions after her presentation

Thanks to Ed Snodgrass and Pat Selinger for this great event!

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