Over the last several months, I have been spending some of my time delving through documents and research to construct my family tree. I had help from some of my family that came before me, and I use the Ancestry.com template to follow my lines. Unfortunately, there are family lines I could not follow, my paternal grandfather being orphaned at a young age is making discovery difficult. For now, I’ve focused on my maternal grandfather.
I have always known we had Native American Heritage in our family tree. I did not however know that my 6th generation great-grandfather was Tecumseh, who married White Wing Cornstalk, giving birth to my 5th generation great-grandmother, Skwato, who married Irish early American settler, William Rainey. They were Shawnee Indians and once I found this line, I had to keep digging. When I followed Tecumseh’s wife’s line, I realized White Wing Cornstalk had a mother of German decent. Her German mother, Elizabeth See, married Native American, Young Peter Cornstalk, his family also of the Shawnee. When I followed this line, which goes a long way, I come to Thomas Pasmere Carpenter from Devonshire, England, who married Pride Chalakahatha, my 11th generation great-grandmother. Her mother was Namontack; she’s the sister of Pocahontas, who married John Rolfe. Which in turn makes their father, Wahunsonacock Chief Powhattan, my 13th generation great-grandfather and that also brings us to the years 1545-1618. My amazement didn’t come from finding my Native American heritage, but rather the great importance of my forbearers. I am impressed and proud of the histories I have read in regards to my ancestors.
This brings me to my experience in September, when I was invited by my shaman to participate in a Native American Sweat Lodge. I of course said yes for what better way to connect with my heritage. The sweat lodge was a wonderful, healing experience. It’s as black as pitch inside the dome structure, and the door flap is raised four times to bring in more heated stones according to the ceremony’s purpose. Picture sitting in complete darkness, the sound of the drum thrumming through your insides as the words of Native American songs seem to echo from the shaman, while the sweat pours off your body like never before. I moved to the beat of the drum in my cross-legged position, seemingly knowing the words to the songs and wishing to sing them, but I assumed the people inside the structure with me would surely wonder what I was about.
The experience of the sweat lodge is something I will always remember, and will likely participate in again. I’m also likely to start collecting Shawnee artifacts as well, but that cannot be helped. I’m curious to know where the other Native American lines fit into my tree and who these people were, but for now I’m continuing with the lines that are there for me to follow. Louis the Pious and Charlemagne were two of my great-grandfathers, which takes me all the way back to the medieval period. And yes, now I’m amazed all over again. I know everyone does not have time to research their past ancestry, but if you do have the opportunity, I believe you will uncover some fascinating details that will amaze you too.
As of right now I am Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish, German, Italian, French, and Native American, yes it is a hodgepodge of nationalities, but I love it. I now know that my ancestors through my maternal grandfather’s line were some of the first American settlers, and I know there are tons of stories waiting to be written about these people. Perhaps one day I shall shift my focus from Regency England, but that day is not yet here, which means it’s time for me to go back to work on my new Regency novel in the Wintergale Orchard series.
Mitakuye Oyasin (we are all one)