Sunday, April 1, 2012
Mixed Blood, Melungeon, or Metis?
My Native American Connection
This is the fourth part of this series. We have talked about how the Sizemore family came from England to the colonies. At least one Sizemore came from the Caribbean as an indentured slave with Portuguese-Jewish heritage and some believe that some Sizemore’s came here who were of Scots-Irish heritage.
We also have talked about how an early colonist, George Sizemore, married and had children with “A Shawano [Shawnee] woman”. This is probably the earliest mix of European and Native American blood in this line.
Then we saw that during the Trail of Tears several Cherokee escaped and joined with (and took the name of) the Sizemore family and the descendants of this mixture eventually becoming the Whitetop Laurel Band of Cherokee. It is almost certain that this group of escapees was a mixed group as the Cherokee were known to take in stragglers from other bands of Indians toward the end of the Indian Wars.
We learned that when the government was forced to pay money to the Cherokee nation, the Sizemore family applied en masse as Cherokee but were denied. Did you wonder why that was?
The Congress of the United States created a commission in 1893 to list and account for the full number of the remaining members of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole) to “stimulate assimilation of Indians into American Society”. The Dawes Commission, named after Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, created a list known as the Dawes Rolls to accomplish this task. (Dawes Act)
Many Native Americans did not trust the government – imagine that – and went into the hills to try to live out their lives there. Some had already assimilated into white society and were afraid that if it were known, they would lose their land and property. This did actually happen to some. So, they decided for whatever reason not to sign up on the list.
Fast forward to 1907 and now many Indians found that they were not ‘official’ because their fathers or grandfathers did not sign up on the Dawes Rolls and so, were denied the rights, privileges, and money, due them.
However, the name, although a very common Cherokee name, does show up on later rolls like the Guion Miller Rolls , but for Choctaw, Creek, Shawnee and other tribes.
So, then, what to do? What are the Sizemore family descendants?
Well, this debate continues today. Are we mixed blood – Melungeon or Metis? And what is Metis, again?
Well, about the debate, I think Jason Williams, frames it best in his piece – “The Metis Heritage of the Sizemore Family”:
Throughout history, our Sizemore family of southern Appalachia has been variably referred to as Melungeon, Mestee, Metis, Indian, part-Indian, mulatto, Stick People, white and in one branch of which I am aware, black. Most Sizemores have wondered which one is true for a long time, and just recently the answer has presented itself complete with some documentable proof.
We will get to the DNA information in just a minute. But first I think we should see what Mr. Williams says about the term Me’tis:
For those unfamiliar with the term Metis, the word is defined as anyone of mixed ancestry that includes an Indian component. Usually, and in the Sizemore case in particular, it is the founding one. The term also describes people who cannot join federally recognized tribes for whatever reason. Although the term "Métis" is certainly French, and Métis is the term most often applied to Indian/French mixtures, it has also been applied, historically and in modern times, to anyone of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous ancestry. Similarly, the plural French term Mélangeon has been used historically to describe us.
He further adds that Sizemore’s who have joined the Metis are not "wannabe" Indians. As one Metis explained, to the contrary, we "havetobe" Metis because our ancestors did not register with the U.S. Government. As a result most of us are culturally white, and ancestrally Indian and European. (Powell, 2002)
According to the Sizemore DNA Project website, in mid-2009, over a hundred Sizemore males had been tested and found to be in the major Haplogroup Q. I just checked and to date, that project has 136 members listed. This is not a huge sampling, I admit, but big enough to prove our point.
The Q haplogroup is associated with “indigenous people of the United States” in other words Native American Indians. Although this does not say which tribe, location or group of Indians, it is most definitely Indian. There are some Sizemore's that have been found in other groups including haplogroup R of which I am a member.
I am not a direct descendant of “Old Ned” Sizemore but my second great grandmother, Rebecca Jane Sizemore ( b.1819 d.1861 in Wyoming Co. W. Va. ) was his great granddaughter.