I’ve always known I had some percentage of Native American blood. My mother’s father lived as a youth on a reservation in Oklahoma and his face looked a lot like the head depicted on the reverse of the Buffalo nickel.
In 1979, during a family reunion in Oklahoma, I told my oldest living relative on my father’s side I planned to visit the archives at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee to try to trace my maternal grandfather. Imagine my surprise when she retorted, “Well, honey, you’re just as much Indian on your Daddy’s side as on your Mama’s side.” So I came back from the reunion twice the Indian I was when I left, at least by family tradition. With a bit of questioning, I found out my father’s grandfather, Elijah Tate, was a circuit preacher in Tennessee and had married a Chickasaw woman on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga named Sarrah (with 2 “r”s). After several cursory attempts to trace her failed, I gave up because of many other pressing matters.
I have hopes that now I am settled in the Southeast where both the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations lived before their forced removal, I will be able to track down my ancestors for sure. I have decided that the first proceeds from my website’s virtual jewelry store will go to fund a study of my genealogy on both sides so that I may prove and proudly claim my heritage. After that, 3% will go to three of the conservation law organizations I currently support, ‘though meagerly.
As you can see on my signature ring on this page, I long ago took the Indian sign for rain cloud, removed the lines below the cloud and drew the side “toward the sun” wider to show its silver lining. That’s me – always looking for the good that may come from even in the worst of circumstances. View a documentary about Silvercloud